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Top Quarterbacks Under 30 - Nfl.com

Falcon Forever

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Group A

1) Aaron Rodgers, 29, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers, who will turn 30 next December, was a one-man team in 2012, finding ways to scare defenses and win with an average offensive line and not much of a running attack. The Packers made it as far as they did this season solely due to Rodgers' ability.

Group B

2) Matt Ryan, 27, Atlanta Falcons

Over the past five seasons, Ryan has more regular-season wins than any other NFL quarterback. He led Atlanta to 13 wins this season, plus another win in the playoffs. His fumble and interception in the NFC Championship Game were costly, though the pick wasn't really his fault.

It might seem odd that I ranked Ryan, who will be watching Super Bowl XLVII, above the two quarterbacks who will be playing in it. But when it comes to the numbers that indicate future success, Ryan's are simply better.

3) Joe Flacco, 28, Baltimore Ravens

Flacco doesn't put up eye-popping stats, but he wins big games on the road, especially in the playoffs, where he's got more road wins than any quarterback in NFL history. No one in the NFL has a better arm than Flacco. He played much better after Jim Caldwell took over as the Ravens' offensive coordinator in December.

Incidentally, Flacco's incredible success this postseason -- he's thrown eight touchdowns and zero interceptions -- bodes well for him in the Super Bowl. Five other quarterbacks have thrown eight or more touchdowns and zero picks in the postseason: Joe Montana, Steve Young, Phil Simms, Troy Aikman and Drew Brees. All won the Lombardi Trophy that season while being named the MVP of the title game.

4) Andrew Luck, 23, Indianapolis Colts

Luck is a much better athlete than you'd think. He works very hard on game prep, which is one reason for the success he had as a rookie, winning 11 games and going to the playoffs with a team that went 2-14 in 2011. Luck was asked to do more than the other rookie quarterbacks this season and passed all of his tests with flying colors.

5) Colin Kaepernick, 25, San Francisco 49ers

Kaepernick led the 49ers to the promised land after becoming the starter in Week 11. I doubt that San Francisco would have been able to come back against the Falcons in the NFC title game without the dual-threat signal-caller's second-half efforts. Atlanta took the run away in that game, but Kaepernick was still able to win through the air.

6) Russell Wilson, 24, Seattle Seahawks

The short (listed at 5-foot-11) Wilson reminds some of Doug Flutie, but Wilson is faster and more talented. The biggest difference between him and the four quarterbacks ahead of him on this list is his height, but even that doesn't seem to affect his play much. Wilson, who has great work habits, was as good as any quarterback in the second half of the 2012 season.

7) Cam Newton, 23, Carolina Panthers

If Newton played like he did in the latter half of 2012, he could move up this list. I wish he would demonstrate more involvement in the game when he's on the sideline between series. His arm strength and athleticism give him unlimited potential.

8) Robert Griffin III, 22, Washington Redskins


I had a tough time deciding what to do with RG3, because we don't know exactly how his knee injury is going to affect him going forward. In fact, given the uncertainty surrounding his situation, I toyed with leaving him off this list entirely, just because it's so difficult to predict what's going to happen. However, if we knew RG3 was going to be fully healthy heading into the 2013 season, this is where he would go after taking a team that finished at the bottom of the NFC East in 2011 to the top in 2012.

Newton gets the edge here because when the two quarterbacks squared off in Week 9, Newton'sPanthers got the win.

Group C

9) Matthew Stafford, 24, Detroit Lions

Stafford helped the Lions jump out to a 5-0 start in 2011, but the team has won just nine games since then. Stafford is a bit of an enigma in that he's got everything needed to succeed, including all the mental and physical tools, but couldn't do much with the Lions this season. Would an improved running game help? Stafford can jump into Group B with a better 2013 campaign.

10) Sam Bradford, 25, St. Louis Rams

Bradford, who didn't have very good receivers to work with this season, wound up with the second seven-win campaign of his three-year career. He has all the tools to be successful, including athletic ability, but he just might be, well, too nice. He does have the work habits to prevail in a make-or-break 2013 season.

11) Alex Smith, 28, San Francisco 49ers

Smith was playing well in 2012 before a concussion sent him to the sideline, clearing the way for Kaepernick to take over. The comparatively older Smith is better than advertised as a player, but there are still question marks about him. Would he have been able to bring the Niners back from a 17-0 deficit in Atlanta last Sunday? That's tough to say.

12) Ryan Tannehill, 24, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill has the size, arm strength and athletic ability to eventually jump into Group B. It will help if the Dolphins can surround him with a more talented cast. He'll also benefit -- more than any other player in Group C -- from having a year of experience under his belt.

13) Andy Dalton, 25, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton is a very solid, hard-working player who most likely won't win much on his own. He did take Cincinnati to the playoffs his first two seasons in the league, but he seems to need the help of an outstanding supporting cast to get anywhere.

14) Josh Freeman, 25, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a great 2010 and an awful 2011, Freeman was inconsistent in 2012. He did lose weight last offseason, and it seemed to give him a boost in the early going before he fell back late. He's got everything needed to do the job; why is he so hot and cold?



Vote for the top 10 plays of the 2012 season. More ...

Jake Locker, 24, Tennessee Vikings: Many wrote him off as a failure before he helped take the Vikings to the playoffs this season. ...

Blaine Gabbert, 23, Jacksonville new coordinator Jedd Fisch might help. ...

Brandon Weeden, 29, Cleveland Seahawks: We haven't seen much of him, but the fact that theSeahawks do a very good job evaluating players leads you to think he likely has some serious potential.

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Pretty solid list. I would bump Flacco way down but that is about it.

I know he is in the SB and has won 3 million playoffs games or whatever but having watched him play I just can't buy into him.

Flacco was 6/12 for like 77 yards INTs first half against new England. It's a joke when these boys act like he's carrying that team, much less ignoring the emotional high they are on and the fact that NE was down one of their best players.

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Flacco was 6/12 for like 77 yards INTs first half against new England. It's a joke when these boys act like he's carrying that team, much less ignoring the emotional high they are on and the fact that NE was down one of their best players.

The defense is carrying that team because they want to play well for Ray Lewis. Your right in that the Pats wee missing Gronk. I wonder how good Flacco would be on the Packers.

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The Ravens defense does take a lot of pressure of of Flacco but he has played pretty well this postseason, he is playing better than I thought he would at least.

He is playing better then I expected but man he was god awful in the regular season. Plus his post season success has been largely due to Aquan Boldin going ham and making every single contested catch. Flacco looked pretty awful against Indy and somehow came away with like 250 yards and 2 tds.

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The defense is carrying that team because they want to play well for Ray Lewis. Your right in that the Pats wee missing Gronk. I wonder how good Flacco would be on the Packers.

I don't want to take away from Flacco because I think he's good, but he's highly inconsistent. He has two legit receivers, decent TEs, one of the best all around rb's in the league and a good o line. He's not doing it alone as some would lead you to believe. Also, Their whole team is jacked up for Ray right now though.

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1) Aaron Rodgers

2) Joe Flacco

3) Matt Ryan

4) Russell Wilson


5) Andrew Luck

6) Colin Kaepernick

7) Cam Newton

8) Alex Smith

9) Matthew Stafford

10) Sam Bradford

Mostly agreed, but I'd argue Wilson and Ryan should be 2a and 2b with Flacco at 3, maybe eve 2c. All are in a class of their own at the 5-7 spot or so in the NFL.

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