The AFC North boasts one the very best quarterbacks in the entire NFL, even if he is too often overlooked for that distinction. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will probably be in the Hall of Fame five years after he retires. But if you look at the rest of the division, it’s really nothing special, at least not currently.
That is why I wasn’t surprised at all when I noticed that the AFC North was ranked last on a list of all the quarterback rooms in the league, based on division. The Baltimore Ravens have Joe Flacco on the top of their depth chart, who has been the personification of mediocre for the past five seasons. Unless that was Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals…and as for the Cleveland Browns, yet just dumped their entire room from last season.
Compare that to the NFC North, which includes Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers and Matthew Stafford for the Detroit Lions, both of whom are top-10 quarterbacks. The Minnesota Vikings just added Kirk Cousins, though Mitchell Trubisky with the Chicago Bears is still finding himself. Still, it’s enough to warrant the top spot on the list.
The NFC West and South come next, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t flip the order here. The West has Russell Wilson, a top-five quarterback, but the South has Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton. You’re putting a lot of stock in the futures of Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo to rank them ahead.
That might be my biggest disagreement with the list though, and really, the most interesting thing that I take away from it is that the strength of the quarterback position right now rests pretty heavily in the NFC.
Sure, the AFC has Tom Brady, Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers, but who else would even make a run at a top-10 spot? Andrew Luck has a lot of prove to try to regain his previous stature after he missed an entire season due to injury.
Even the NFC East, the lowest-ranked division in the NFC, and the only one ranked below any AFC division, has Carson Wentz, who looked like a legitimate MVP candidate before he suffered a torn ACL last year. Eli Manning may be on his way out, but Alex Smith proved last year he can still play at a high level, and Dak Prescott is still developing.
Do you agree that the AFC North is the lowest-ranked division in terms of quarterbacks? The AFC East might have Brady, but it is also looking at starting two rookies, plus whatever is left of Ryan Tannehill. And the South is counting a lot on Luck, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, and Deshaun Watson. There are a lot of injury concerns in that group.