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Where does Drew Brees rank in the hierarchy of quarterbacks?

As some of you may know I have a weekly post on This Given Sunday, Bloguin’s flagship NFL football blog. This past week I took on the duty of ranking all 32 current NFL quarterbacks. I wanted to put Brees first in those rankings, sure, but I’m biased. And if I’m being honest with myself, Peyton Manning is a better quarterback. He was a better quarterback last year, and a better quarterback in terms of his place in history. I think. So I listed Brees #2, ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and some others that people rank high. Based on the efficiency he played with last year despite playing behind what I consider by far the worst offensive line he’s played with in 8 years as a Saint, this to me was the right call. I’m sure you agree.

But it’s tough to compare these guys. If Super Bowls are the measuring stick, then Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are both better than Drew Brees. And Trent Dilfer is better than Dan Marino. If it’s rating in 2013, then Josh McCown is better than everyone I’ve mentioned so far. There’s a lot of different statistics you can point to in fueling your argument as to why your guy is better than the others. Obviously Brees has a lot of records of his own and most point to the four 5,000 yard passing seasons when no one else has two. The single season completion percentage record is an impressive one, too (by the way Brees is 2nd all time career at 65.9% behind Chad Pennington at 66.0% so he could pass him before he’s done playing).

So where is Brees in the all time hierarchy? Surely he’s already cemented his place in the NFL Hall of Fame. He’s 5th all time in career passing yards and he’ll pass John Elway for 4th all time by week 2 of this season at the latest. Catching Dan Marino will probably take three more seasons, and then he’d be chasing only Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. Brees is also 4th all time in passing touchdowns, just ahead of Brady. If you look at career passer rating Brees is 7th all time behind Rodgers, Manning, Steve Young, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo (?!) and Brady. Then you’ve got your all time greats like Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas and Terry Bradshaw who may not have the same numbers but are generally respected as some of the very best.

So where does Brees fit in among all these guys? It all depends which category you deem most significant between overall production, efficiency, the era the player was in, and wins. Brees is a top 10 quarterback all time at minimum. I just don’t see how you can argue that at worst he’s behind Peyton Manning, Favre, Brady, Young, Montana, Unitas, Bradshaw, Elway and maybe another. And you can certainly make a case he’s better than at least a couple of those guys.

If you were forced to rank the all time greatest, where would Drew fall?