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Top 10 quarterbacks going into 2016: No. 10 (and more!)

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We love making lists when it comes to sports, movies and life.

We also love to trash such lists as soon as the author publishes his work to the world, since many of these lists indeed come about on the inter-webs. “How can “The Dark Knight” ever be considered a better movie than Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, “Schindler’s List”?” Internet commentators scream at IMDb’s Top 250 List, .

Mar 25, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Boys dressed as Superman and Batman spar each other during a timeout during the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors basketball game at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

While Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy is more thematic than the perceived man playing dress-up in a bat costume, the general public has a point. The inherent flaw with rankings are, well subjectivity. The ways in which I express my opinion may not be agreeable with all, but there will definitely be enough statistical info available to form a basis for debate.

With that being said, I’ll be starting a 10-ish week series outlining my Top 10 QBs going into 2016, giving us a fresh look at the competition around the league.

Fringe Guys who didn’t make the cut, in no particular order:

Joe Flacco

– Is he elite? In my opinion, no. However, his success in the playoffs cannot be overlooked, regardless of how crappy he usually is during the regular season. He is coming off an ACL tear, though, so a slide further down the list is not out of the question.

Jun 15, 2016; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • Derek Carr– Raider Nation has been quick to pronounce Carr an elite QB way too early in his career. The kid has talent; the kid has poise; the kid has receiving threats; and the kid possibly has the best offensive line in the NFL. All of those things add up to a guy who can easily make that leap into the Top 10 in just his third season in the league. Raiders fans, he is not there…yet.
  • Blake Bortles– Who is the best QB from the 2014 draft class? We can certainly rule out one former Cleveland Brown. Thus far, Teddy Bridgewater is just not as good as Vikings fans make him out to be. That leaves us with Carr and Bortles, the latter looking to prove the Jags right for taking him No. 2 overall. He has a huge arm, strong legs and two great, young receivers, but his decision-making needs work for him to become a Top-10 QB.
  • Now that we’re done with that, let’s move on to No. 10 on our list!

    No. 10: Eli Manning, New York Giants

    2015 Stats:  387 CMP/618 ATT, 62.6% CMP%, 4,436 YDS, 35 TD, 14 INT, 93.6 Passer Rating

    Feb 5, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning throws in the pocket during the first half with pressure from New England Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson (95) in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
    Feb 5, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning throws in the pocket during the first half with pressure from New England Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson (95) in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 5, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning throws in the pocket during the first half with pressure from New England Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson (95) in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Now, as a Chargers fan, I hate (Sh)Eli Manning as much as the next guy. I even found someone who hates him even more–Pro Football Focus (PFF), the advanced analytics guys who use numbers to not only decide which player is better than the next, but also decipher the meaning to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

    PFF has this to say about Eli:

    This past season, Manning (now 35 years old) posted one of the best statistical seasons of his career; he set a career-high in touchdowns (35) and threw for the second-most yards in his 12 professional seasons. However, he finished the 2015 season with PFF’s 26th-highest grade among QBs (67.4 overall grade on a 1–100 scale).

    Author Ryan Smith goes on to explain how Eli tended to get lucky with numbers that did not show up in the stat sheet, as he threw 30 “turnover-worthy plays” but only 14 true interceptions. Also, Smith states Eli was near the bottom of the league when facing pressure; the final conclusion claims Peyton’s lil’ brother is on a general career downturn overall.

    I am a huge Eli hater–my dad, a Giants fan since childhood, can attest to this fact from a first-person basis. However, I do not think analytics tell the whole story, and the basis for this list is definitely a mix of ability to stay healthy, ability to put up so-called “empty” statistics, an ability to win in both the regular season and playoffs, and a little PFF mixed in.

    The 2016 version of Eli Manning may not fill the latter two categories. The analytics aspect has already been explained. And sure, he’s had two of the greatest playoff runs of all time. Nonetheless, his Giants have not resembled a competitive squad since the last time they won the Super Bowl, and it will take a huge change in trajectory for 2016 Eli to lead the Giants to the playoffs.

    Jun 15, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo calls plays during mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

    Eli makes this list because he has three things going for him: health, a good fit at coach, and a great receiving core. In his 12-year career, Manning has never missed a start. Even if a guy like Tony Romo can put up more “empty” statistics than Eli, it does not matter if Romo cannot even stay on the field.

    Second, replacing Tom Coughlin with Ben McAdoo fully is the perfect match for a statistical renaissance for Manning. I will not beat a dead horse here, as enough pointless media writing has covered the Giants change in philosophy to McAdoo’s West Coast Offense. Nevertheless, I do feel that the Giants organization has set up Eli in the perfect situation for success as the twilight of his career commences.

    Third, and finally, that receiving core. Sure, take out Odell Beckham, Jr. and this group is below average…but that’s after you take out OBJ. The man is 23-years-old–23!–and he is already quite possibly on track to being the best receiver of all time. Now, that is a little bit of hyperbole, as he needs a lot of luck to pass Jerry Rice (and maybe even Antonio Brown), but the dude is all-world athletic and committed. Odell is enough to guarantee Eli a successful year, but don’t sleep on new rookie Sterling Shepard, a recent University of Oklahoma grad.

    Jun 15, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) and wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and wide receiver Myles White (19) look on during mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

    Personally, I think he could challenge for rookie of the year, and maybe even best receiver from the class, as the Tyler Lockett clone comes in with unseen route running ability. Even if Shepard is just okay, checking in across from Odell makes Shepard a threat to opposing offenses. And don’t forget about Victor Cruz, either. Though many question his work ethic after multiple season-ending injuries, Cruz was once an up-and-coming megastar who may still be able to flash that ability as the third option.

    Do I think Eli is an elite QB? Eh, not particularly, no. I do acknowledge that he is set up for a big year statistically, though, as he could easily top his career season from a year ago. Whether he does much else to warrant his spot on this list, we will have to wait and see.

    I’ll be returning next week to reveal my #9 QB heading into the 2016 NFL Season!

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