- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’s time for one of the highlights of the preseason.
John Clayton has his annual rankings of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks. These usually make for great debates and this year is no exception.
In fact, I’ll at least throw out some (respectfully) dissenting thoughts on where Clayton has each of the four NFC South quarterbacks ranked.
He has New Orleans’ Drew Brees at No. 3. That’s a very lofty ranking, but I think you could at least make the argument that Brees could be No. 1 or No. 2. Clayton has Aaron Rodgers at No. 1 and Tom Brady at No. 2. They’re both great quarterbacks, but are either one of them clearly better than Brees? I’m not so sure.
Clayton has Atlanta’s Matt Ryan at No. 10. I totally agree that Ryan is a top 10 quarterback. In fact, I think you could make the case he could be a spot or two higher. Tony Romo is No. 8 on Clayton’s list and Michael Vick is No. 9. We’re all entitled to our opinions, but I easily would take Ryan over Romo or Vick as my quarterback.
For that matter, I’d also take Carolina’s Cam Newton over Romo and Vick. I’d even rank him (very slightly) ahead of Ryan, which is exactly what I did earlier this summer when I listed my NFC South top 25 players. But Clayton has Newton at No. 15 and that’s my biggest dispute with his ranking of any of the NFC South quarterbacks. I know Newton only has played one season and I’m projecting what he’ll do in 2012, but he’s a top 10 quarterback in my book.
That brings us to the final NFC South quarterback, Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman. Clayton has him at No. 16. I think Freeman’s going to bounce back from last year’s disaster, but I don’t know that you put him right next to Newton at this point. Clayton also seems to be counting on Freeman getting back on track because he’s got him ranked one spot ahead of San Francisco’s Alex Smith, who took his team deep into the playoffs last season.
I’m sure you have your opinions as well. Fire away in the comments section below.