- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2012

1. Packers — Aaron Rodgers

The reigning NFL MVP has a Super Bowl ring and is just entering his prime at age 28. His quick decision-making compensates for an average offensive line. His 68.3 completion percentage last season was second-best in the league.

2. Saints — Drew Brees

He set an NFL single-season record last year with 5,476 passing yards. His 71.2 completion percentage also was the best in NFL history, breaking his 2009 mark of 70.6. He consistently puts the ball in a spot for receivers to gain yards after the catch.

3. Patriots — Tom Brady

Brady led the Patriots to the Super Bowl last season despite a bit of a dropoff. He’s out of the top two after mechanical flaws led to 12 interceptions. At age 35, he must improve his footwork and base to remain elite.

4. Giants — Eli Manning

His stats aren’t always the best (25 INT in 2010), but he threw for a career-high 4,933 yards last season as the Giants transitioned to a pass-heavy attack. He has eclipsed 4,000 passing years each of the past three seasons. Manning has two rings; Jim Plunkett is the only retired quarterback to win two Super Bowls and not be in the Hall of Fame.

5. Cowboys — Tony Romo

Romo was the NFL’s third-most accurate (66.3 percent) and fourth-best rated (102.5) passer last season. His statistical excellence in 2011 (31 TD/10 INT/4,184 yards) is widely overshadowed by clutch failures. The Cowboys missed the playoffs in three of the past four years, and they lost their opener in 2007 after finishing with the NFC’s top seed.

6. Broncos — Peyton Manning

Manning is as smart a quarterback as any in NFL history, but he must re-establish himself with a new team after missing a year with a neck injury that compromised nerves in his throwing arm. He could easily regain a spot near the top of these rankings, but he had to install his offense with a Broncos team transitioning away from Tim Tebow. His grade is incomplete.

7. Lions — Matthew Stafford

The No. 1 pick in 2009 was brilliant last season as he improved his decision making in his first injury-free campaign. His 97.2 passer rating was fifth-best in the NFL. Only Brees and Brady beat his 41 TD passes.

8. Falcons — Matt Ryan

Ryan has evolved in almost every facet since being drafted third overall in 2008. His reads are better. His arm is strong and he can extend plays with his legs. Receiving tandem of Julio Jones and Roddy White will make him even better.

9. steelers — Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger, Brady and Eli Manning are the only QBs on this list with two Super Bowl titles. He’s extremely tough and consistently plays despite injuries. His size (6-5, 241) and willingness to take a hit allow him to extend plays as well as anyone.

10. Chargers — Philip Rivers

He has thrown for more than 4,000 yards in four straight seasons, but 2011 was a down year. For the first time since 2008, his passer rating (88.7) was below 101.4. A career-high 20 INT had a lot to do with that.

— By Rich Campbell

11. Texans — Matt Schaub

His 61.0 completion percentage in 2011 was his worst in five seasons with Houston

12. Eagles — Michael Vick

A poor ratio of 18 TD/14 INT last season, plus missed another three games due to injury

13. Panthers — Cam Newton

Reigning Rookie of the Year was a nightmare for defenses because of his size and arm

14. Ravens — Joe Flacco

Last season’s 57.6 completion percentage was his first below 60 in four NFL seasons

15. 49ers — Alex Smith

Rejuvenated by coach Jim Harbaugh, Smith had 17 touchdowns and only five INT last year

16. Bears — Jay Cutler

Proof that a quarterback must have a quality supporting cast to be elite

17. Bengals — Andy Dalton

Promising rookie season included 20 TD, 13 INT and solid passer rating of 80.4

18. Bills — Ryan Fitzpatrick

Led the NFL last season with 23 interceptions but still completed 62 percent of his throws

19. Raiders — Carson Palmer

At age 32, let’s see if he can recapture past success in his second year with the Raiders

20. Buccaneers — Josh Freeman

A major disappointment last season (16 TD/20 INT) after a breakout 2010

21. Jets — Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow

Sanchez’s inaccuracy is exceeded by Tebow’s, although Tebow will siphon Sanchez’s snaps

22. Chiefs — Matt Cassel

Chiefs got it wrong in giving Cassel $28 million guaranteed in 2009

23. Colts — Andrew Luck

This year’s top pick demonstrated great pocket presence and throwing ability in preseason

24. Redskins — Robert Griffin III

Griffin’s full talents were kept under wraps during a bland preseason

25. Rams — Sam Bradford

The 2010 No. 1 pick is rotting on a terrible team and behind a terrible line

26. Titans — Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck

They’d be ranked much higher if Hasselbeck were still the starter

27. Vikings — Christian Ponder

Completed only 54 percent of his passes in 11 games as a rookie

28. Seahawks — Russell Wilson, Matt Flynn

The 5-11 rookie must answer questions about his size; Flynn couldn’t beat out a rookie

29. Cardinals — John Skelton, Kevin Kolb

Kolb was a mirage for a team looking to replace Kurt Warner as a franchise QB

30. Dolphins — Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore

Tannehill is an all-around athlete many around the league expect will succeed

31. Browns — Brandon Weeden

Must improve his decision making to bring his collegiate 72.3 completion percentage to the NFL

32. Jaguars — Blaine Gabbert

Struggles to stay poised against the pass rush; finally has some receiver help in Year 2

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