Manning gets King-sized honor

Peyton Manning's stature as the premier quarterback in the National Football League is official. Well ... sort of. Peter King of, tabbed him No. 1 in this week's Monday Morning Quarterback column.

For all the former Tennessee superstar accomplished in his first eight seasons at the pro level, Peyton Manning usually took a backseat to New England's Tom Brady whenever the NFL's top QBs were discussed. After all, Brady was winning Super Bowls, while Manning was struggling to win playoff openers.

All of that changed last January, however, when Manning broke through to beat Brady and the Patriots in the American Football Conference title game, then won Super Bowl MVP honors as the Indianapolis Colts thumped the Chicago Bears in pro football's most celebrated event.

King based his rankings on what each quarterback did last season (2006) and the year before (2005). This lowers the risk of overrating a one-hit wonder. Here are Manning's stats over the past two years, compared to Brady's:

Manning won 26 games, Brady 22. Manning won 4 playoff games, Brady 3. Manning completed 66.0 percent of his passes, Brady 62.4 percent. Manning had a plus-40 touchdown/interception ratio, Brady plus-24. Manning threw for 8,144 yards, Brady for 7,639.

King gives Vince Young, who started the last two months of 2006 as a rookie for the Tenenssee Titans, a relatively high No. 7 ranking. Conversely, King gives high-profile Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick a surprisingly low No. 21 ranking.

King chose to rank the projected 2007 Game 1 starters for each of the 32 NFL teams, not necessarily the guy who was quarterbacking the team at the end of the 2006 season.

Interestingly enough, six former Southeastern Conference QBs are likely to start their teams' NFL openers this fall. In addition to producing the top-ranked QB (Manning), the SEC also cranked out King's bottom-ranked QB (Brodie Croyle). For what it's worth, four of the six SEC products are in the bottom third of the ratings.

Here are King's rankings of the NFL's starting quarterbacks with SEC pedigrees:

1.Peyton Manning (Tennessee), Indianapolis Colts

10.Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt), Denver Broncos

23.Eli Manning (Ole Miss), New York Giants

26.Jason Campbell (Auburn), Washington Redskins

27.Rex Grossman (Florida), Chicago Bears

32.Brodie Croyle (Alabama), Kansas City Chiefs

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