With Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, two quarterbacks who will be linked for the rest of their careers, set to play each other for the first time in the Thursday night spotlight, the comparisons are unavoidable -- try as Flacco might to scramble away from them. NFL.com's Steve Wyche punted the conversation forward in this interesting piece, throwing Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman in the mix, too.
The gang from NFL Network chatted about the NFL's young quarterbacks in this video (Sam Bradford was also a candidate this time around). Phil Simms likes Sam Bradford. Cris Collinsworth does as well, and he praised Freeman, saying "that sucker wins games." Warren Sapp predictably took Freeman, but he also raved about Stafford's toughness. Flacco and Ryan weren't really discussed.
Here is how I rank the league's young quarterbacks based on where they are right now, not how good they will ultimately be in the future (note that Bradford is the only rookie on this list because we haven't seen enough from guys such as Colt McCoy and Timmy Tebow to pass judgment):
1. Matt Ryan: He's physically gifted, but what sets him apart is his understanding of the game and his ability to read defenses -- something that has drawn comparisons to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
2. Joe Flacco: He has an elite arm, underrated mobility and is mostly unflappable. He can be a very good quarterback in this league if he figures out how to routinely pick apart exotic coverages.
3. Matthew Stafford: Talented enough to top this list, but you can't win games in the trainer's room.
4. Josh Freeman: Already much better than I thought he would be, plus he has an afro.
5. Sam Bradford: His small sample size kept him from rising higher on this list, but the fact that the Rams are winning and Bradford has played well with no-name receivers didn't go unnoticed.
6. Mark Sanchez: I'm not saying Sanchez is bad; I'm just not a believer. He'll be OK.
7. Chad Henne: Yeah, he has been streaky, but I am still stunned the Dolphins pulled the plug already.