Scout NFL Roundtable: Pick Your Quarterback

If you could select any NFL quarterback to lead your team for the next five years, who would it be ... and why? That's the question we posed to our Scout NFL publishers and writers. Find out what eleven of them had to say ... and then go talk about it in your favorite team's fan forum!

Jim Wexell ,
Pittsburgh Steelers

This one's easy: Tom Brady.

Yeah, I was a bit surprised that he's 30, but he's still fit and doesn't appear on his way down in any way. He's the smartest quarterback in the league and easily the top leader. While his tools may not be sensational, they're good enough. Besides, the tool a quarterback needs most is a brain and that makes Brady the tops at his position.

Craig Massei,
San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are set for the near future with 23-year-old Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2005 NFL draft who has been the league's youngest starting quarterback each of the past two seasons. Smith is a tall, athletic QB who has the smarts, physical tools and mental toughness to become a complete, winning NFL quarterback. He started tapping into his vast potential last year after a horrible rookie season, when at age 21 he simply was not ready to be thrown to the NFL wolves with expansion-like talent around him.  

The 49ers feel good about where they are in their progression with Alex Smith, but are you kidding me? If I could take a quarterback to lead this team for the next five years, it would have to be Vince Young. There is nobody like him. With a running game like San Francisco's to complement him, Young would be killing opponents for years to come with his natural ability to make plays. Sure, Young still has a lot of work to do as a pure passer, but he has the arm strength, and if his rookie audition was any indication, the touch and pocket awareness that separates the elite quarterbacks should continue to come as he develops, which - let's face it - he did at warp speed with a subpar Tennessee team last season. Over the next five years, he will become a dominant player. And the scary thing is, after that Young's best years still will be ahead of him.

Howard Balzer,
St. Louis Rams

A case could be made for many quarterbacks, but for the next five years, the choice has to be Peyton Manning.  There is no better quarterback in the league who combines physical skills along with knowledge of the game and inherent work ethic that has him always preparing more than anyone.

Age? Well, Manning just turned 31, has never missed a game, and will still be going strong when he's 36.

John Crist,
Chicago Bears

If we are talking about a quarterback to lead a team starting today and for the next five years, Carson Palmer should be the runaway winner. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are still the two best QBs in the league in my opinion, but Manning will be 36 years old by the end of that run and Brady 35. I know Palmer hasn't won anything yet and the Bengals were incredibly disappointing in not making the playoffs last season, but it certainly wasn't his fault.

Palmer has everything you look for from a measurables standpoint. He's 6'5" and 230 pounds with a Howitzer for a right arm, and while he had to deal with the lingering effects of that torn knee ligament last season, he is now completely healthy. He still managed to throw for 4,035 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2006, so just imagine what he could do on two good knees for the next five years as he enters the prime of his career.  Cincinnati may have a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball, but aside from Chad Johnson, nobody is truly an elite player at his position.  That makes Palmer's accomplishments even more impressive.

Manning might make better commercials and Brady has all the Bunchen sisters on speed dial, but Palmer is the All-Pro quarterback of the future in today's NFL.

Matthew Postins,
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady, New England.  He's a leader - he has three Super Bowl rings. He produces - he's thrown for at least 3,600 yards each of the last five years. He's accurate - he completes 61.9 percent of his passes and has never thrown for more than 14 interceptions in a season. He's durable - he's never missed a game due to injury. He's personnel-proof - he's produced at least 23 touchdown passes each of the last five years with a receiving corps that could be charitably
described as average.

Brady is this era's Joe Montana, a future Hall-of-Famer who is, scarily, entering the prime of his career.

Ken Palmer,
New York Giants

Without a doubt, if I could choose only one quarterback to lead my club for the next five years it would be Matt Leinart. Did I mention that's without a doubt?

Leinart is the total package. He has both the mental and physical aspects of the game down cold - and he's only going to get better. Playing in a pro-style offense at USC has prepped him for the pro game. And playing under the bright lights at Southern Cal prepped him for all the media hype of the NFL. And he's already dated Alyssa Milano. Talk about being at the top of the mountain.

His leadership skills and maturity have also already been well-noted. Hands down, Leinart's my guy now and for the next five years.

Jon Scott,
New England Patriots

While the idea of having a young Carson Palmer is intriguing, both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have the ability to read defenses and put their team in more favorable matchups than Palmer. Age plays a big factor in deciding which player to select. In five years, Brady will be 35 while Manning will be 36. Palmer would only be 33. Trent Green passed for over 4000 yards at age 35, so performing at a high level is still possible at that age.

I'd take Brady for the ability to win with nearly any cast of characters surrounding him. Rosters change year to year and there's no one who knows that better than Brady who had a completely revamped wide receiver corps in 2006, yet still managed to guide his team to the AFC championship game. His ability to make something out of nothing, to play with virtual unknowns and his slight age advantage are enough to get my vote. I've seen Brady do more with less, and I can't say the same for Manning, Palmer or some of the other younger quarterbacks worth considering.

Michael Lombardo,
San Diego Chargers

There is no quarterback more qualified to lead a franchise than Drew Brees, who has now won division titles with two different teams over the last three years. He is the Steve Nash of the NFL; he knows where all of his players like the ball and uses his uncanny accuracy to put it in their sweet spots every time.

As good as he is on the field (4,418 passing yards and 26 touchdowns in 2006), he is even better in the locker room. His workaholic personality is infectious and all of his teammates admire and respect him. At just 28 years old, the next five years will represent the prime of what could be a Hall of Fame career.

Ed Thompson,

While many younger QBs are on the rise, they have at least a couple of years to go before they reach the level of play of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, putting them behind in this 5-year snapshot right out of the blocks. As for their age, the dynamic duo from Indy and New England will be the Elway and Marino of this era, taking their teams to championship-caliber levels of play perhaps even beyond their mid-thirties, so I'm not so concerned about that factor. 

Since recent performance can be a good indicator of future performance, that's what I focused on - and that's where Manning holds the edge. In QB rating, Manning has posted better than a 100.0 rating for the past three years. Meanwhile, Brady has a pair of 92s and just an 87.9 rating last year - and has never posted better than a 92.6 rating during his career. Over the past two seasons, Manning has more TDs and wins, less inteceptions and sacks, and a higher completion percentage (66.0 vs. 62.5) than Tom Terrific. That recent performance trend information, plus his intelligent audibles that confound even the best defenses, makes Manning my choice between those two great quarterbacks. 

Charlie Bernstein,
Jacksonville Jaguars

If I could choose one quarterback to lead my team for the next five years, it would be Tom Brady without a doubt. Brady is one of the greatest winners in the history of sports already, and is also the hardest worker on his team. Brady's resume speaks for itself, five AFC East titles, three Super Bowl titles, and two Super Bowl MVP awards. He's commanded one of the best offenses in football, despite having any real top-flight receivers.

Tom Brady has all the tools to be successful, strong arm, durability, mobility inside the pocket, great leadership, and a full understanding of the game around him. Brady makes everyone around him better, and although he doesn't put up huge stats, he consistently wins football games, and has been doing so since being inserted into the Patriots lineup in 2001. I've covered all of the current "great" quarterbacks in person, and Brady has been the most impressive by far. Brady hasn't turned 30 yet, and with the minimal number of hits he's taken over his career thus far, he's likely to still be playing at a very high level in five years.

Steve Waters,
Denver Broncos

One doesn't have to look very far to see the best quarterback selection to lead the Denver Broncos for the next five years - he's already in their locker room.  Jay Cutler was picked by the Broncos with their first choice (#11) in the 2006 draft and many experts claim he was the best quarterback in a class that included Matt Leinart and Vince Young. Cutler has one of the stongest arms in the NFL, with comparisons being made to a young Brett Favre as well as a certain former Broncos quarterback. On the third play of his third start last season, Cutler showcased his arm strength with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Javon Walker that traveled 65 yards in the air. He's mobile with good size (6' 3, 233 pounds), composed, confident and a weight room junkie with a reputation as a team player.

Although he posted a modest 2-3 record during his 2006 play, Cutler became only the second rookie quarterback to throw more than one touchdown in each of his first four starts (the other was Dan Marino). Working with the first team during the offseason, training camp, and the preseason this year should give Cutler a big boost in the only area he seems to be lacking - NFL experience.

Agree? Disagree? Start a post in your favorite team's fan forum, link to this story and talk it over with your community of fans!

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