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A Look at NFL QBs

by Steven Taylor on 3 September 2009

Trent Dilfer ranks NFL QBs in an interesting, if somewhat unorthodox, manner over at ESPN.

manning-bradyThis project has been in the works for a while, fueled by frustration over pundits’ repeated failures to acknowledge and appreciate the most difficult position in sports. After studying quarterbacks throughout my career and spending the past year evaluating the position daily, I believe a strong argument can be made that quarterback play today is as good as ever — and possibly even better.

It’s frankly impossible to rank quarterbacks definitively. It’s not how good they are so much as how well they are playing and the situation they are in. Their talent, game-day abilities, the offensive systems they run, the personnel around them, the experiences they’ve had to this point in their careers — they all come into play.

Rather than labeling quarterbacks, I’ve created categories to reflect where each of them stands at this point in his career, subject to change. Anyone can criticize. I’ve set out to appreciate the position through a level of analysis that simply isn’t available without a full understanding for what these players experience and how the game has changed.

I brought up fantasy football in the beginning because the fantasy mindset has skewed perceptions, encouraging us to view quarterbacks through a statistical lens. We have lost perspective as a result. I purposely did not consult a single statistic in formulating the analysis that follows. My playoff notes, end-of-season notes and firsthand knowledge were my guide.

No one asked me to put together a list ranking these 49 quarterbacks. The subject is my passion, the motivation simple. If you can take a five-step drop, keep your eyes downfield and deliver the ball while a 300-pound beast is bearing down on you in a big game, you deserve commendation and appreciation for what you do. There isn’t a bad player on my list, regardless of category!

He places Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the category of The Elite, and breaks down the rest of the league’s QBs (including many backups) on a range from “Superstars” to “Don’t Write Them off Yet”.

If anything I learned that Billy Volek was still in the league.  Who knew?

About Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor is a political science prof who blogs daily at PoliBlog.

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