Just recently, I recorded my first official podcast concerning the Top 5 NFL Quarterbacks heading into the 2016 NFL season. My rankings went as followed: 1. Aaron Rodgers, 2. Cam Newton, 3. Tom Brady, 4. Ben Roethlisberger, and 5. Russell Wilson. While recording it, I felt like there were so many QBs who I slighted – either by leaving them out of the top 5, or just by not mentioning them enough. Guys like Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, etc, and even young studs on the rise like Winston and Bortles, didn’t make the list, but I still feel like I need to talk about them. They certainly have an argument for a spot on anyone’s top 10, so I want to expand my list and attempt to rank 6-10 in the league.
So, here we go. My rankings for the next 5 best quarterbacks who I’d want leading my squad going into the 2016 season.
6. Andrew Luck
Let’s not forget how good Andrew Luck was in his first few seasons, leading the Colts to three consecutive 11-5 records, just because of his down year last season. Luck played in all 16 games his first three seasons, but only played in 7 last season due to injury. The 26-year-old stud has a lot of football left in his career as long as the Colts’ offensive line can protect him.
In 2014, Luck threw for over 4,700 yards and led the league with 40 touchdowns. He’s smart, can throw well in and out of the pocket, and is one hell of a competitor. There’s no doubt room for improvement – Luck has thrown 55 interceptions in 55 regular season games. But he’s also thrown over 100 touchdowns, and let’s face it, the offense surrounding him has been less than manageable for most of his short career.
The reason I have Luck at #6 is because he’s shown flashes of greatness and he’s still so young. He somehow led the Colts to the 2014 AFC Championship game. As a QB in the NFL, you’re always learning and adapting to the style of the play early in your career. I think Luck is only going to get better, and I expect him to have a huge bounce back year next season.
7. Drew Brees
It’s hard to leave Brees out of the top 5, yet alone top 10, when he led the league in passing yards and completed over 68% of his passes (second only to Kirk Cousins, minimum 200 passes thrown). Brees also had 32 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions. For a guy who is known for throwing a lot of interceptions, 11 was a great number for him last season.
Brees has thrown for over 4,300 yards in every single season with the Saints dating back to 2006, and over 5,000 in four of them (last in 2013). He’s also thrown over 500 passes in each of those 10 seasons, and only missed a total of two games. Oh, and he’s thrown over 30 touchdowns in each of his last 8 seasons, too. His career in New Orleans has been incredible, and it would be a disservice if I were to leave him out of my top 10.
Brees didn’t crack my top 5 because he’s 37 and will be 38 in January, and you could tell he’s beginning to lose some velocity and strength in his throws. Maybe it was because he played through a shoulder injury, but I still feel safer putting him at 7 rather than in the top 6.
8. Carson Palmer
Palmer had a terrific season last year, and you can find him on a lot of “top 5” lists. For me, though, Palmer isn’t getting any younger – he’s going to be 37 in December. Palmer threw for over 4,600 yards and 35 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. He was a true MVP candidate last season, and rightfully so. But his team had a lot to do with that. He has a great receiving core (Larry Fitz, John Brown, Michael Floyd) and a good running game. Plus, the Cardinals’ defense was great. I may have ranked him higher than 8 in my rankings if it weren’t for his constant decline in the postseason.
I expect Palmer to have another great year, and that’s why he’s on my list. But I have to wonder how good he would be, or what numbers he’d put up, if he had a mediocre team around him.
9. Philip Rivers
Rivers is a guy who has been overlooked and underappreciated his entire career in San Diego. Since 2006, Rivers has started all 16 regular season games in every season with the Chargers, completing over 60% of his passes each year. In 7 of those seasons, he’s thrown for over 4,000 yards and at least 25 touchdowns.
Rivers stats didn’t jump out last year, but it would be plain right disrespectful to keep him out of the top 10. He’s one of the game’s best competitors and he consistently keeps his team in the game despite not having much around him. Rivers will have another good season, and he deserves recognition for his consistent play throughout the duration of his career.
10. Tony Romo
If you know me at all, you just knew I couldn’t leave Romo out of my top 10. Biased or not, I think I can make a pretty strong argument for it, too. Without Romo, the Cowboys have been terrible over the years; with him, they are always in the hunt for playoff contention. Romo’s another guy who is getting up there in age (36), but he’s actually gotten better as opposed to worse. In 2014, he could have easily won the MVP award. He threw 34 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions, completed 69.9% of his passes, and led the 12-4 Cowboys just short of the NFC Championship game (Dez did catch that football, and I will never get over it).
Since 2010, Romo has only missed two regular season games if you take away the Cowboys’ disastrous season last year where he went down twice and only started in four games. His collarbone should be fully repaired, and he hasn’t had any issues with his back in a few years now. His offensive line is among the best in the league, if not the best, and the running game should be back in full force with Ezekiel Elliott carrying the load. Romo should be well protected, and the Cowboys should have a big bounce back year with him at the helm.
I truly wanted to put Eli Manning at #10. I think the Giants offense is going to have a great season. Their offensive line is improving and they will have a great receiving core. The KEY reason I put Romo in front of Eli is because of Romo’s ability to make something out of nothing. He has done it his whole career. When the pockets collapsing, Romo can make something happen, a similar trait shared with Big Ben. When the pocket collapses on Eli, the play is almost certainly over, and so he is limited in that sense.
So there’s my top 10. I left young studs like Bortles, Winston and Carr out because I want to do a separate article on them, and I feel like they haven’t had enough experience to play at a consistent level of play to judge them off of yet. I expect at least two of them to have great, breakout seasons this year, and I am confident they will be in most top 10 lists by the end of the season.
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