Much of the talk surrounding the 2010 Draft is about the depth of this year’s quarterback crop. Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Dan LeFevour and Tim Tebow are all considered big time prospects that will be selected in the first two rounds. Only time will tell how good of a class this is. But what are the Top 10 quarterback classes of the modern era (1970-Present)? Read on.
Starring: Vinny Testaverde (No. 1), Jim Harbaugh (No. 26), Rich Gannon (No. 96), Steve Beuerlein (No. 110), Don Majkowski (No. 255)
This could almost be dubbed the “what could’ve been” draft because a lot of these quarterbacks could’ve been great NFL quarterbacks. For one reason or another, none of them never reached elite status, but all of them were serviceable. They do have an impressive nine Pro-Bowl appearances among them. Majkowski – a.k.a. “The Majik Man” – is the NFL’s Wally Pipp; he injured his ankle in 1992 and was replaced by a relative unknown: Brett Favre.
Starring: Bert Jones (No. 2), Ron Jaworski (No. 37), Joe Ferguson (No. 57), Dan Fouts (No. 64)
Almost everyone knows Jaworski and Fouts, not only for their on-the-field exploits, but also for their work as analyst. But this class also featured two underrated signal callers that history seems to forget. Jones may not have become a Hall of Famer for the Colts, but he certainly wasn’t a bust as the No. 2 pick. Replacing the great Johnny Unitas, he won three consecutive division titles and was the 1976 MVP. Ferguson was one of just two rookies ever to win four of his first six games.
Starring: Peyton Manning (No. 1), Brian Griese (No. 91), Matt Hasselbeck (N0. 187)
This draft is almost ruined by Ryan Leaf, whose career meltdown almost counts for two and a half people in the real world. But at least the No. 1 pick was the correct one. No top pick since then has turned a franchise around as much as the Colts picking up Manning (not that Lions fans needed that reminder). Griese and Hasselbeck also had solid careers in their own right, with Hasselbeck being named to three Pro Bowls and making an appearance in the Super Bowl with Seattle.
Starring: Chad Pennington (No. 18), Marc Bulger (N0. 168), Tom Brady (No. 199)
Much like in 1998, this draft class is defined by a home run draft choice. Only in this case, it’s more like the equivalent of scoring eight runs on a home run when you think about Tom Brady being picked up at No. 199 overall by the Patriots. But don’t ignore Pennington and Bulger, both of whom lead competitive playoff teams during their careers. Unfortunately for both, it seems their best years are behind them – Bulger was recently released and Pennington is now third on the Dolphins’ depth chart.
Starring: Boomer Esiason (No. 38), Jeff Hostetler (No. 59), Jay Schroeder (No. 83), Steve Young (Supplemental)
It’s hard to fathom going 38 picks before the first quarterback is taken, but that’s what happened in 1984. Then again, maybe Steve Young would’ve been picked higher if he had entered the regular draft. Boomer won an MVP award, Hostetler lead the Giants to a Super Bowl and Schroeder led two teams (Redskins and Raiders) to conference championship games. Young? He did pretty well for himself, having a Hall of Fame career and winning three Super Bowls – one as a starter.
Starring: Norm Snead (No.2), Billy Kilmer (No. 11), Fran Tarkenton (No. 29), Don Jonas (No. 182)
Tarkenton may be the most well-known name, but the other quarterbacks of this class weren’t too shabby. Snead was a four-time Pro Bowler during his career, Kilmer went to two Pro Bowls himself and is considered an all-time great Redskin and Jonas is considered by some to be one of the greatest quarterbacks to not pay in the NFL; he won two championships and five MVPs over 12 seasons in Canada.
Starring: John Brodie (No. 3), Len Dawson (No. 5), Milt Plum (No. 17), Sonny Jergensen (No. 43), Jack Kemp (No. 203), Ken Ploen (No. 222)
If this class happens a decade later, it would probably be more well known. But it could be the deepest of any on this list strictly by numbers. Dawson was the Super Bowl MVP in 1969, Brodie was the 1970 league MVP, Plum led the Browns during the Jim Brown days, Jergensen was a five-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer and Kemp won two AFL championships and was an AFL MVP with the Bills. As for Ploen, he won four Grey Cups and is in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Starring: Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger
This class has plenty of years ahead of it and it’s already put itself into the discussion as the greatest of all time. In fact, Rivers, Manning and Roethlisberger (3) already have more Super Bowl wins than Elway, Kelly and Marino (2). While the class of ’83 produced three Hall of Famers, it’s still unclear which (if any) of this crop could be enshrined. Regardless of what happens, this class has plenty of time to overtake ’83 as the greatest ever. But it will require Rivers winning in the playoffs, Manning finding consistency and Big Ben staying out of trouble.
Starring: Phil Simms (No. 7), Joe Montana (No. 82)
What can you say about Simms and Montana? Both are among the all-time greats, and many still consider Montana the best ever (kind of a steal at No. 82 we’d say). Between them they have six Super Bowl wins and four Super Bowl MVPs. And let’s not forget Steve Fuller, selected No. 23 overall in this draft. Yes, he was only a backup quarterback on the Bears ’85 Super Bowl team. But he was also one of the 10 players with a solo during “The Super Bowl Shuffle”. This class was talented on and off the field.
Starring: John Elway (No. 1), Jim Kelly (No. 14), Dan Marino (No. 27)
As if we could pick any other class. It’s been the gold standard of QB classes for two decades, as the trio of Elway, Marino and Kelly combined for 22 Pro Bowls and nearly 150,000 yards passing – that’s about 85 miles. All three are in the Hall of Fame. The only possible knocks on this class is that only Elway won a Lombardi Trophy and the class also included monster bust Todd Blackledge. But let’s not nitpick.
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