Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If It Ain't Steel's 2013 Top 12 NFL Quarterbacks

by Jason and Jayden

It's that time of year again where we at If It Ain't Steel rank the NFL's golden boys. Since the quarterback is generally the most important position on the field, we annually put together a list of the top signal callers. And this year's crop does not disappoint.

The top seven alone has 11 Super Bowl winners, along with another participant who almost got his first instead of his opponent who is higher in the list. Also included is one who proved all the doubters wrong - all except one blog that told you to remember his name.

There are many "Top..." whatever lists out there. Why is ours different, and why twelve? Good question. Though we mentioned SB wins previously, we don't allow that to weigh too heavily in our evaluation, either, because of all that's involved in achieving one. That said, there are your elite QBs and then your QBs knocking on the door - all of whom could direct their teams to the big show. That never goes more than about a third deep.

How do we compile our list, you may ask? As we've said in the two previous editions of our list, we don't care about fantasy points or other networks' rankings. We look at the quarterbacks as they are now and project as to what will be - basically, those who simply get the job done. And the criteria is as follows:

‎1) Overall Ability
2) Leadership/Elevating Players
3) Wins
4) Mental Toughness/Comeback Ability
5) Accuracy
6) Pocket Presence
7) Toughness and Escapability.

Without further ado...

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN:
1. Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers: (2012: 11-5, 67.2% completion percentage, 39 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 108.0 QB Rating)
This guy just has it all. He has the numbers to warrant his being the top selection. But he also has the intangibles, the leadership and the toughness that makes him a leader of men.

2. Tom Brady - New England Patriots: (12-4, 63.0%, 34 TDs, 8 INTs, 98.7 QBR)
One of the two elder statesman of the group, yet a man who still strikes fear into the hearts of opponents. He hasn't won a SB since SpyGate, but he is still lethal when he needs to be. He may have his biggest challenge yet this season with one tight end being traded to the Massachusetts State team and a crop of young receivers. Still, like mama said, respect your elders!

3. Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints: (7-9, 63.0, 43 TDs, 19 INTs, 96.3 QBR)
Brees is sometimes hard to evaluate. He actually has a low overall winning percentage and comparatively low QB rating, yet he is as tough as they come. The Napoleon of the group, he is a true competitor who has a never-say-die attitude despite his small stature. And getting his coach back could mean another run at a Lombardi.

4. Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos: (13-3, 68.6%, 37 TDs, 11 INTs, 105.8)
Frankenstein's monster terrorized villagers all season, bolts in his neck and all. Then came the playoffs and suddenly he looked more like the Bride of Frankenstein. At times the best the NFL has ever seen, and at other times (coughplayoffscough) he's the most overrated ever. Still, he's good enough to be given the benefit of the doubt...at least until January.

5. Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers: (8-8, 63.3%, 26 TDs, 8 INTs, 97.0 QBR)
Before his injury in a night game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Big Ben was ranked 5th in the NFL in passing with a .671 comp. pct. (200-298, or an average of 25-37) for 2,203 yards, 16 touchdown passes, only four interceptions and a 101.1 QB rating. He also was on pace for the fewest sacks of his career since the 2005 season. Now that he's healed and has a greater understanding of Todd Haley's offense, look for Big Ben to throw that chip on his shoulder at every opponent this season.

6. Joe Flacco - Baltimore Ravens: (10-6, 59.7%, 22 TDs, 10 INTs, 87.7 QBR)
A very pedestrian regular season turned into a nearly perfect postseason. He had the two lowest QBR numbers ever with a 0.3 and 0.4 in 2012, but somehow he overcame himself and won the Super Bowl. Does he have a good enough track record to support giving him this high of a ranking? The answers are polarizing, but if we err we'll err on the side of expectation.

7. Eli Manning - New York Giants: (9-7, 59.9%, 26 TDs, 15 INTs, 87.2)
If ever there was a benefit of the doubt pick, it's here. Two SB Rings will do that for a man. The other Manning is entering his 10th year and has to deal with more being brought onto his shoulders because of questions in the Giants' running game and their having trouble stopping the run. If those areas are edified, another kind of run could again be in his future.

THE NEXT BEST:
8. Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons: (13-3, 68.6%, 32 TDs, 14 INTs, 99.1 QBR)
Putting Matty Ice this low may seem off to some, but we believe that a little bit more still needs to be seen. He finally put together a truly good postseason, almost getting his team to the NFC Championship game. Another such season, maybe one more win, and he'll be top five.

9. Robert Griffin III - Washington Redskins: (10-6, 65.6%, 20 TDs, 5 INTs, 102.4 QBR)
Last year's Top 12 list had a watch list(ITALICS) attached to the main list. We believed the rookies would make their presence known in the NFL. We were correct. We (specifically Jason) were high on RGIII, even comparing his game to the likes of Randall Cunningham and Steve Young. We (I was) were correct as he was named the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year. He definitely has pocket-presence, but also the pocket-awareness that allows him to use his escapability. It is that ability that propelled him into the top 12 this season.

10. Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers: (7-9, 57.7%, 19 TDs, 12 INTs, 86.2)
This pick is based on potential as much as anything. Is Cam Newton a QB around whom you can build a team? We don't need seven seconds of dead air to contemplate that question before answering. We simply give an emphatic "YES." We know he has maturing to do and has to fine tune certain things, but the sky is the limit. He'd better get on it, though. That little kid won't need to loosen his arm forever.

11. Colin Kaepernick - San Francisco 49ers: (11-4-1, 62.4%, 10 TDs, 3 INTs, 98.3 QBR)
Kaepernick is similar to RGIII in how he can be described and compared. His talents are absolutely undeniable as he could be considered an evil football scientist's lab creation. Take Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Terry Bradshaw and...It's alive! Alive! Explosive, accurate and athletic big-armed freaks of nature who can sprint 30 yards untouched into the end zone in the biggest game of a 10-game career don't come around often. Expect a lot of teams to get Kaepernicked for years to come.

12. Russell Wilson - Seattle Seahawks: (11-5, 64.1%, 26 TDs, 10 INTs, 100.0 QBR)
Another on that aforementioned watch list was Wilson. We (specifically Jayden) knew he had the goods and he then proved that size doesn't matter. We (she) said that we would "be keeping (our) eye on these two rookies and, you never know, they may crack our Top 12 next season." Andrew lucked out in that department, but RGIII and Wilson, who was awarded the Pepsi Max Offensive Rookie of the Year, obviously didn't. In Luck's defense, though, we did vote for Russell Luck III as the offensive ROTY.

Just Missing The Cut -

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Just keep it flowin', youngin'.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Threw the most passes (727) ever in one season. He needs to do better with throwing fewer passes.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: On the borderline. Stay healthy and you may get back to the big dance.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: Opie Taylor just keeps getting better, but at too slow a pace. Is this the year that Richie Cunningham breaks out of his Cocoon and makes a big Splash?

Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs: The 29-year old blossomed in his last two years, completing at least 61% of his passes and posting passer rating above 90.0. Will Kansas City provide that next step?

The "You're killin' me, Petey!" Group -

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: Um...I can't call it.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: "Pussface" has all the skills, but throws it to the other team a little too much.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: You either get Batman or the Joker. Make up your mind, Josh. You could be legen...wait for it...dary!