1 Peyton Manning - It took a year of injury for people to appreciate how good he is. His line sucks, his run game sucks, and his defense sucks. He's been taking a 1 or 2 win team to the playoffs every year.
1(A) Tom Brady - One of the best ever.
3 Aaron Rodgers - He's the best QB in the NFL right now and he's not done winning Super Bowls.
4 Drew Brees - The top 4 are all elite.
* There is a drop off from after the top 4, they are in their own tier.
5 Eli Manning - He can win on the road, win big games, call his own offense and audibles. He's excellent in 2 min drill ( part of explaining why he's good in the clutch and 4th quarters). He was sacked only 28 times last year in 589 passing attempts. He's excellent at avoiding sacks and injuries. Rodgers for example was sacked 36 times in 502 passing attempts. Eli's offensive line was worse than any of the other good QB's but he was sacked less due to pre snap reads, adjusting pass protection before the snap, and going through his progressions quickly. Giants run game was awful this year but Eli put the offense on his back and threw for 4,933 yards. Eli also has the disadvantage of having one of the hardest home fields to play in which negatively skews his stats.
6 Ben Roethlisburger - Also has two super bowls. One as a young game manager but he also won a super bowl on his own. His offensive line has sucked the last two years, and Ben holding on the ball creates some big plays but it also means hits and injuries. I'd consider Big Ben elite.
7 Philip Rivers - People are down on Rivers after a a bad 2011 but there's no doubt in my mind he's in the top 7. Last year people were saying he was top 5. In 2010 he had 30 TD - 13 INT and 4710 yards. He was better than Big Ben and Eli last year but overall I think those two are better and have won the big playoff games. I believe Eli and Big Ben can replicate a lot of Rivers success in San Diego, but I'm not sure he can do what they do. Eli and Big Ben's offensive lines were weak this year.
* Here is another drop off/ 4-7 complete the next tier.
8 Jay Cutler - This is the first one that might be a surprise to you. Cutler is a very good QB and maybe the most physically gifted guy in the league, he just plays with one of the worst units in the league. It's not just that his line has stunk his whole stink in Chicago, his receivers have as well. Unless you are Peyton Manning, nobody would have success with that team. Every QB's stats would suck with that unit so you can't just judge him on his numbers. He also plays in one of the hardest home stadiums for QB's. Very cold and very windy means weaker stats. So how good were the bears when he was replaced? Cutler is easily better than Romo, Schaub and the next guys on the list. If they were Bears they would suck too. If Cutler had Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and an offensive line he'd be WINNING playoff games not just getting to them. Look at what he did in Denver as a very young player when you surrounded him with talent.
9 Tony Romo - Guy put up some numbers last year admittedly with a talented team around him. 31 TD 10 INT, nearly 4200 yards. He's a good quarterback but not great. He'll have to start winning some games in the playoffs but I don't really see him ever winning a SB. It's hard to rank him much worse though when he's statistically that good and he has a lot of positive attributes.
* I do think Cutler and Romo are better than #10 and on, these guys are better than the average starting NFL QB but too close to call and still establishing themselves. They have good stats but I think a lot of it is a function of their talent and I'm not sure how replicable it is. For example Matt Cassell fooled people while he stepped in as a Patriot and had good stats but then he sucked it up as a Chief. I'm not saying these guys are Matt Cassell's but I don't like to vary my rankings too much from year to year.
Matt Schaub - Great stats but a lot of it is a product of the best offensive line in football, great running back, great tight end, great WR, other good receivers... good defense this year. I mean the guy has a great supporting cast but I'm not going to fault him for it. I'm just saying if you put him on Pitt/SD/NYG/CHI he wouldn't do as good as the guys above him.
Matt Stafford - Great numbers young grass hopper but you were bailed out by Calvin Johnson wayyyyy too much. If he was on pretty much any other team a lot of those jump balls are intercepted. Playing in a dome helps his stats also.
Matt Ryan - The guy has the line, the running back, the tight end, two receivers... but he's not there yet. He can't win on the road and he can't win in the playoffs. The reason is because he's simply not as good as those other guys in the top 10. He MIGHT get better I dunno but he's not top 10 yet despite the good stats early in his career. A lot of it has to do with the superior talent around him.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - You might disagree with this one but the guy gets the most out of Buffalo as you can get. I watched him almost single handidly defeat Pittsburgh and Baltimore teams that were better at nearly every single position. His decision making was phenomenal. He almost reminded me of Peyton or Eli Manning in that you couldn't really do better than he did with the team around him.
Cam Newton had a good year but I want to see if he can do it again. I watched a little bit of him this year but I wasn't terribly impressed. Great year for a rookie. 21 TD, 17 INT and 4,000 passing yards but overall I think he left a lot on the field.
Carson Palmer is a guy that can be a solid above average quarterback again.
Vick is overrated. 17 TD - 14 INT and always injured. Played in 16 games once since 2001.