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NFL Top 10 quarterbacks 2012

Updated on August 10, 2012

One of my favorite quotes from The Wire was "when you come at the king, you best not miss." That quote really resonated with me. It was quite simple and easy to understand, but it had a much more complex meaning to it. What it meant to me, was not the tone in which it was used so brilliantly in The Wire. It doesn't have to just apply to violence in a television show. It applies to everything you do and aspire to be in life. If you want the crown, you have to take it. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. In order to beat the king, you have to know who that is, right? Many QBs in the NFL aspire to be the king of the sport. Many put up great numbers. Some win playoff games. Few win SBs. Some come through in the clutch. Some come up short in the clutch. Some do more with less. Some do less with more. The million dollar question is, how do we use all of this information to accurately rank the top-10 QBs in the National Football League? Here's how I do it.

Criteria for the top-10 QBs

  • Stats, Obvious
  • Clutch, What they do when their team needs them most
  • Success, Obvious
  • Accuracy, Ball placement
  • Vision, Reading and recognizing defenses
  • Intangibles, You just can't teach it

To your right you will see the criteria I use to rank my top-10 QBs. How you choose to rank your QBs are up to you, but this is how I do it. The stats are pretty much obvious. They have to put up great statistics. Talking about how well QBs are in the clutch is always a touchy subject. I don't like to call QBs chokers, and I don't like to try to quantify how great a QB is in the clutch. The bottom line is, the QBs that are considered the most clutch in the NFL can "choke," and the QBs that are considered "chokers" can be clutch. I don't believe there is some kind of magic out there that makes a QB clutch, or makes a QB choke. I think you are who you are. If you are an elite QB in the season, you more than likely will be elite or close to it in the playoffs. There isn't some voodoo that makes an elite QB "choke." The same goes for average or below average QBs. If you are an average or below average QB in the season, you more than likely will be one in the playoffs. How I'm quantifying clutch in my rankings is how often a QB comes through for his team when they need it most. Success is also pretty obvious. This includes accolades such as SB rings, All-Pro teams, NFL records, Pro Bowls, and all of that other good stuff.

Accuracy is how well the QB places the football. I'm pretty sure you don't want a QB that can't throw a football through a hula hoop. Does he put it where it's supposed to be more often than not? Are his deep balls money? Does he fit the ball into tight windows? Can he throw it well on the run? That's what I'm looking for when I'm talking about accuracy. How about a QB's vision? This is the most important for a QB. How well can he read the defenses? How well does he adjust at the line of scrimmage? How well does he see and throw in the pocket? How well does he manipulate the defense with his eyes? You gotta be good at stuff like that, right? You gotta do the little things. And on that note, let's talk intangibles. Those little nuances like when Peyton Manning sees 12 defensive players on the field and will rush his offense to the line of scrimmage to snap the ball in order to get five free yards. It's the little things like that. How about how well a QB sells a play-action fake or how well he can make a running play look like a pass play? That can make all the difference in the world. And now that we have all the little ingredients I use to rank the top-10, let's get on with it.

The king.
The king.

The Top-5

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

This may come as a shock to some. Many people seem to be giving Aaron Rodgers the nod these days. I'm sticking with Brady at #1 because frankly, I think Brady is just more in command on the football field than ARod. He dissects defenses seemingly at will. Nobody but Peyton Manning can rival him in preparation. He has all the ingredients of an elite QB. He has the stats. The success. The intangibles. The impeccable vision. The accuracy. And more often than not, he comes through when his team needs him the most. That doesn't mean that Brady hasn't come up short, because he has come up short in recent memory. But the body of work is just too great. He is also not bad to look at either. Cough. He is simply too good to list any lower than #1. He is the king, and will continue to be so until someone knocks the crown off of his head.

The future #1?
The future #1?

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

He possesses all the things that Tom Brady possesses. He has the good looks. Don't know where that came from. He has it all. He even has the added mobility to his game. He can seemingly throw a well-placed pass on the run as well as he does in the pocket. He also has more arm strength than Brady. Why I have him below Brady? I just don't think Rodgers has done enough to dethrone the king. Remember The Wire reference? Well, Rodgers certainly had a shot to do that last year. I thought he was gonna legitimately surpass Brady given the season he had. Going 14-1 in the regular season, winning the MVP and setting all types of NFL records. This is all after having a great playoff run and winning a SB which included winning the SB MVP. So Rodgers was in position to surpass Brady. The problem occurred when Rodgers and his Packers lost the Divisional at home against the scorching hot, New York Football Giants. Yeah yeah, I know. I'm not saying he "choked." He lost when he was favored, and he wasn't all that good either. And that Brady guy did go on to make the SB at least, even though he lost it. This goes back to my reference at the beginning. If you go at the king, you better not miss. Rodgers missed, and that is what holds him back. I realize it seems like 100 years since Brady last won a SB, but the thing is, Brady won multiple SBs, and while he hasn't won SBs while putting up these all-time great numbers, you still can't just make those three SB rings disappear. He still has them. I'm quite certain Rodgers will be on my #1 list in the near future, but on this day, Brady remains the king.

King of the south.
King of the south.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

In high school, I was always told that size mattered. At least that's what...okay I'm not gonna get into that. But I was also told that sized mattered in football too. Apparently that doesn't matter to cool Brees. Defying all odds, Brees has become one of the best QBs the game has ever seen while being as tall as I am. He is one of the more accurate QBs in the game if not the most accurate. Not many QBs can throw the ball with such precision as Brees. You could almost make a case that he could be #1 on this list after his SB run. He had one of the more phenomenal SB runs in history. He took my breath away as he held up his son as he celebrated his SB victory. He was so cute. I'm talking about the baby. All jokes aside, Brees has put up historical numbers for the Saints, and he deserved every penny of that contract he just received. He has helped rebuild that city, and gave them hope when they needed it the most. Brees has put New Orleans on the map, and in light of the Bountygate, they won't stop winning any time soon as long as they have him behind center.

You can't spell "elite" without "Eli."
You can't spell "elite" without "Eli."

4. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Go ahead, laugh. He doesn't need your respect. He has two rings. And while he was criticized for putting up average statistics, he's proven he can put up elite numbers. It's really tough to describe Eli. You never know what you will get from him. Sometimes he'll have a nearly flawless game. Sometimes he'll play so bad that you'll think he's one of the worst QBs in football. But no matter what, when it's crunch time, he comes through more often than not. Probably more so than any QB in football. You just have to wonder how Eli was so ridiculous money in the clutch given his offensive line was below average, and his running game was average at best this past season. Eli certainly wouldn't have two SB rings without that defensive line, and some luck, but the Giants don't go far without him in those SB runs. There isn't another QB in football I rather have when the game is on the line and my team needs points. He simply comes through more often than not. When it's crunch time, he puts his balls in the right place at the right time. And he throws the football pretty darn well in crunch time too. (^_^) Oh, and he just happens to have the intangibles, and vision as well. He has certainly lived up to his words when he proclaimed himself an elite QB. He has my vote for elite status.

Does Peyton still have it?
Does Peyton still have it?

5. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Really weird seeing "Denver Broncos" beside his name. Still gonna take some time to get used to. Also weird not seeing Peyton #1 or #2 on this list. There hasn't been a year I didn't see Peyton as a top-2 QB until this year. And that's not for lack of skill or talent. Frankly, we just don't know what we will see from Peyton from this point forward. There has been every indication that he has looked great in this offseason, but talk is cheap. When those pads go on, and it's time to start taking hits, things get real. The only reason why I don't have Peyton higher on this list is because I don't know how much longer his neck will hold up. I don't know how much of an impact his injury will have on his skills. He is a wildcard. Oh, and his little bro bro has more rings than him, too. That's got to sting. But I still felt like giving him the respect of a top-5 QB. The Broncos surely did, given the contract they gave him. If Peyton is like the old Peyton this season, expect him to be higher on this list come this time next season.

The Rest

6. Big Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Clutch, 2x SB champion, can make the big throws when needed, and is tough as nails.

7. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

A warrior. Puts up great stats. Hasn't come through enough when it matters most, but is still a great QB with a perfect deep ball. Has all the tools to be elite.

8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Unjustly hated by many to the point he's become a little underrated. Hasn't come through enough when his team needed it most, but they wouldn't go far without him. Not many can make a running play look like a passing play as well as him. Looks off defenders well. Much smarter than he's given credit for.

9. Mike Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

Came into his own two seasons ago as a legitimate passer. One of the most dynamic forces at QB the game has ever seen. He's still nearly impossible to gameplan for. Has the talent around him to get it done and move up higher on this list. Just needs to stay healthy.

10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler has become a little underrated. Having played behind mostly a makeshift offensive line and mediocre WRs since being traded to Chicago, Cutler has matured before our very eyes. Leading his team to the NFC Championship game showed his guts even if he was criticized for not finishing the game. An injury last season that led to a collapse showed just how important Cutler was to the Bears. He can be a little trigger-happy, but he has cleaned that up and then some.


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    • TheFittestDad profile image


      5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      What a great story Peyton Manning is this year. I would love to see him back in the Superbowl!

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 

      5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Well done ..I would agree on the quarterbacks..thanks

    • starchet profile image

      Chetan Jariwala 

      5 years ago from San Jose

      Nice list. However Alex Smith (49ers) should have made your list. Best of wishes.

    • GiancarloLorenzo profile imageAUTHOR

      Ray Williams 

      5 years ago from Little Rock, Arkansas

      LOL, Vick has been awful this year. No way he top 10 now. And yes I should put Ryan.

    • profile image

      Warren Peace 

      6 years ago

      This is a pretty pointless exercise, no? You don't provide any new insight, you only repeat the obvious things any 12 year old knows

    • JoeyAtts1313 profile image


      6 years ago from New York

      Good list...Brady is number 1, even after week 2's disaster of a loss to the cards. Rodgers is a good number 2, and bees a solid 3... I hate the Giants. A lot. Eli is still clearly number 4. Peyton at 5 I am not too sure about anymore. He is old, he always choked under pressure, even in college, Tennessee could never beat Florida in a big game. And the neck thing. And the rust. Ben is a good QB. Not a good fantasy guy, but a solid real NFL qb. Rivers can't win, nor will he with perennial playoff jinx Norv Turner. Vick is Vick. I personally think Cam Newton and RG3 will both end up being a better Mike Vick than he is. Stafford deserves to be on a top 10 list. He is young and unproven, but puts up huge numbers. Overall, great read...


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