In the pass-happy NFL, more teams than ever can feel confident about their starting quarterback. A combination of established elite performers and rising stars, however, make it difficult to rank the league’s quarterbacks for 2010.
That’s why Sporting News enlisted an NFL team’s director of pro personnel to rank the top 20 quarterbacks and then provide analysis.
The scout’s take:
1. Peyton Manning, Colts
He’s like a machine with everything he does. He’s the total package. It’s still pretty easy starting with him on top, considering his study habits, ability to make every throw and leadership skills.
2. Tom Brady, Patriots
He’s coming off a little bit of a down year, but his terrific mindset and focus should get him back on track. You must be a fan of his mindset and focus. His accuracy separates him from the quarterbacks below.
3. Drew Brees, Saints
For a guy of his size (6-0, 209), he gets the most out of himself and his teammates. He’s as competitive as anybody. Despite his stature, he still can find all his targets and make all the throws.
4. Carson Palmer, Bengals
Maybe it’s a bit of a surprise to have him this high, but he has the prototypical size, frame and arm strength and just guided his team into the playoffs last year. He also has come back strong from a major knee injury.
5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
He is blessed with a strong arm is a deceptively smooth athlete. He was brought along the right way; he was groomed and allowed to work through the flaws of most young quarterbacks. He is tough, absorbing a lot of sacks and still performing.
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
He hangs in the pocket well and for having a big, statuesque frame has great mobility. When forced to move, he does a great job of improvising and making big throws on the run.
7. Matt Ryan, Falcons
Had a tremendous first year, and he struggled a bit in Year 2 but got through it. He is a smart and wise decision-maker who gets better because he puts in the work.
8. Tony Romo, Cowboys
Here’s another self-made guy in the Brady vein. He really has worked hard, and although the great team success hasn’t been quite there his personal growth has been impressive. His arm, mobility and improvisation stand out.
9. Philip Rivers, Chargers
Looking beyond the unorthodox delivery, his toughness and competitiveness fly off the page. He’s on the border between confident and cocky, and it’s an attribute his teammates love and opponents fear.
10. Donovan McNabb, Redskins
His skills are in a bit of a decline, but he still has a strong arm and enough mobility to spark Washington with some much needed big pass plays.
11. Jay Cutler, Bears
He is very talented with one of the strongest arms ever. He is a fearless gunslinger who works best when in a rhythm. He shows some mental toughness in not letting interceptions faze him.
12. Brett Favre, Vikings
Leadership attributes and arm strength are still there. He also has that uncanny knack of raising the play of teammates.
13. Eli Manning, Giants
He has shown the mental and physical makeup to ace New York’s system.
14. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
As his health goes, the Seattle offense goes. He remains a good rhythmic underneath passer with smarts and savvy decision-making.
15. Mark Sanchez, Jets
There is a confidence and a swagger that elevates his game. Getting a team to the playoffs and improving along the way was a boost to his mental toughness.
16. Matt Schaub, Texans
Here’s another big, strong, smart passer who has been in an ideal system since he was a sophomore in college.
17. Joe Flacco, Ravens
For a big guy, he has deceptive mobility. He works well in the pocket and shows a great feel for the downfield passing game.
18. Matthew Stafford, Lions
Expect much more in Year 2—his 400-yard game is a good indication. He has a knack for making the plays that win games, something Detroit desperately needs.
19. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
A smart passer, he will benefit greatly from being back in Charlie Weis’ system.
20. Chad Henne, Dolphins
He showed promise when getting the chance to start last year, especially in developing decisiveness. He has the strong arm and mobility Bill Parcells likes.
This story appears in July 22’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only digital sports daily, sign up today.
Vinnie Iyer is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.