The NFL has morphed into a high-powered passing league, which means wide receivers have become paramount to a team’s overall success. We recently ranked the top 10 talents in the league.
But all talented receivers need an equally talented quarterback to throw to them. And while some can find success without an elite gunslinger (see: DeAndre Hopkins), they generally go hand-in-hand.
At the end of the day, the quarterbacks get all the glory (and on the other side of the coin, all of the blame). So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 best quarterbacks currently getting it done in the NFL.
10. Eli Manning, New York Giants
This spot could have just as easily gone to Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer or a handful of others, but what’s a list without a little controversy?
Eli Manning is the NFL’s current iron man, having started 199 consecutive regular season games and 211 consecutive games overall. In fact, since taking over for Kurt Warner in 2004, Manning has never missed a start. It’s one of the more underrated and overlooked aspects of what makes Manning a top-end quarterback.
Although the Giants’ offense as a whole struggled in 2016, Manning still managed to pass for 4,000-plus yards and 25-plus touchdowns for the third consecutive season. He’s eclipsed 3,200 yards passing in 12 straight seasons and thrown for over 4,000 yards six different times.
While many focus on his interception totals, which have dropped since the departure of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, Manning ranks in or near the top 10 in almost every single major passing category all-time. In 2017, he will eclipse 50,000 passing yards for his career and he already has 320 touchdowns to his name. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, four-time Pro Bowler and now has more talent at receiver than he’s ever had before.
If Manning keeps his iron man streak alive, he could realistically end next season with over 52,500 yards and 350 touchdowns for his career, making him only the sixth player in league history to compile those numbers.
9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is one of the most consistent and tough quarterbacks in the NFL. Unfortunately, that extends to his health and is the primary reason he’s not placed higher on this list.
Only three times in his 13-year career has Roethlisberger played in all 16 of the team’s regular season games, and in one of those seasons he was limited to only 17 touchdowns.
Still, despite that one downfall, Roethlisberger has been near dominant when healthy. He’s compiled a career record of 123-60, thrown for over 300 touchdowns and will likely eclipse 50,000 yards passing in 2017. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion, a five-time Pro Bowler and won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2004.
Roethlisberger has passed for 3,000 yards or more in 11 consecutive seasons (4,000-plus in four of those seasons) and has thrown 20 or more touchdowns in six consecutive seasons. He also has a career completion percentage nearing 65 percent, so it’s easy to see why he ranked within the top 10.
8. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Raiders this offseason that speaks far more to what he’s going to do as an NFL player than what he’s already done. But either way, make no mistake about it, Carr deserved that massive deal and he’ll prove it in the years to come.
Carr may only check in at No. 8 right now, but he’s trending in the right direction. He’s become a young leader for the Oakland franchise both on and off the field, and he’s singlehandedly turning the team’s recent misfortunes around.
If not for a broken fibula suffered in Week 16, Carr would have eclipsed 4,000 yards passing last season and, quite possibly, reached the 30-touchdown threshold for the second consecutive year. He also completed a career-high 63.8 percent of his passes, which speaks to his rapid development.
Perhaps most impressive of all were Carr’s career-low six interceptions. Not once did he throw two or more in a game, which — paired with his rising completion percentage — tells the tale of what’s to come.
Top five on this list is in the very near future for Carr.
7. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Early in his career, Matthew Stafford was a true gunslinger. He could rack up yards and touchdowns with the best of them, but it would come at the cost of a lower completion percentage and a higher interception total.
In the last three years, Stafford has gotten away from that style of play to some degree and, as a result, his completion percentages have risen and his interception totals have fallen. And never was that change more evident than last year when Stafford finished the regular season with 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns, a career-low 10 interceptions and a completion percentage above 65 percent.
For a player who has thrown for over 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a season, some of those numbers may feel lacking. But perhaps more importantly than anything else, Stafford prevented offensive mistakes in 2016 en route to only his third winning season in the NFL.
With a little bit more time and some added offensive weapons, it will be interesting to see just how good this new and improved Matthew Stafford can be.
6. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson struggled at times during the 2016 season, but he eventually rounded back into shape and finished the year off strongly. However, some of those struggles did some real damage to his year-end numbers — particularly his five-interception performance against the Green Bay Packers in Week 13.
Despite that poor game, which added to a career-high 11 interceptions, Wilson still finished the season with some impressive statistics and the newly-proven ability to bounce back.
Wilson passed for over 4,000 yards for the second consecutive season and pushed his overall record as a starter to 56-23-1. He also has that one Super Bowl championship you can’t overlook. And although his touchdown numbers were down and interceptions were up last year, he continued to prove he’s an ascending quarterback capable of getting things done through the air and on the ground.
Although he didn’t run as often in 2016, Wilson still gained 259 yards rushing and maintains an average of 5.6 yards per rushing attempt for his career. It’s that added element that makes Wilson so much more dangerous than many of his peers. With a few more adjustments, perhaps he can propel himself into the top five league-wide
Source: Yard Barker