NFL Top 10 Quarterbacks 2011
10. Josh Freeman, Bucs (NR)
Still learning to read the field, though progressing rapidly in this realm. Has the size and athletic tools to become the NFC’s version of Roethlisberger. What’s more, his leadership and football IQ are much, much further developed than Roethlisberger’s were at this point.
9. Matt Ryan, Falcons (NR)
Has been so poised and fundamentally sound that you forget he’s only entering his fourth season.
8. Michael Vick, Eagles (NR)
Obviously, raw playmaking skills are like nothing this sport has ever seen. You have to be a little concerned about durability and presnap awareness (both became issues down the stretch in 2010).
7. Eli Manning, Giants (8)
An unheralded trait of an elite quarterback is the ability to help wide receivers overachieve. Younger Brother has done that the past several years.
6. Philip Rivers, Chargers (6)
Was without most of his top weapons for much of last season and still didn’t skip a beat.
5. Drew Brees, Saints (3)
Consummate leader and decision-making field general. Today’s NFL is built for these types of players to thrive.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (4)
Character concerns seem to be clearing up. (Not that they were ever that much of a problem; the guy won two Super Bowls and was the most physically gifted quarterback in football before his suspension.)
3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (7)
The most physically gifted quarterback in the NFC has made quantum leaps in his pre- and post-snap acuity.
2. Peyton Manning, Colts (1)
We say it every year: without him, Indy is a perennial 5-11 team. No hyperbole.
1. Tom Brady, Patriots (2)
His lead in this “top quarterback” might be smaller than past years, but from the 30,000-foot perspective, his rings and records still matter (a lot). His most recent accomplishment: leading a callow offense that underwent a major midseason strategic shift to a 14-2 regular season record.
On the cusp:
Jay Cutler, Bears
Dropped from list:
Brett Favre, Vikings (5)
Carson Palmer, Bengals (9)
Donovan McNabb, Redskins (10)
Favre retired (we think), Palmer is about to retire (we think) and McNabb wouldn’t be unwise to retire (Mike and Kyle Shanahan think.)
Youngster who could burst onto next year’s list
Sam Bradford, Rams
He was thrown to the wolves without much of a supporting cast as a rookie and survived, if not thrived. Now he has a chance to play in Josh McDaniels’ system, which every quarterback before him has succeeded in.