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The NFL, where everyone is–or is about to become–a top-10 quarterback

Have you heard the news? Bart Scott expects teammate Mark Sanchez to become a top-10 quarterback. Yeah, Scott believes, in fact, that it'll happen this season. 

Oh, and in Atlanta, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has made no bones about it. Matt Ryan is a top-10 quarterback already. "No question," Dimitroff told NFL Network this week. 

One more headline for you, and it involves Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman. Now, I'll bet you think I'm going to say that someone is calling Freeman a top-10 signal caller, too. Wrong. Vincent Jackson would like to make it perfectly clear that he feels Freeman is a top-five quarterback

This all comes six months after Joe Flacco's agent implied his client belongs in the top-five conversation.

You know what's odd? The only guys who are rarely talked about as top-five or top-10 quarterbacks are the dudes who actually are–by merit–in the top five or the top 10. We don't have this debate regarding Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick and Tony Romo.

Statistically or otherwise, it's pretty much impossible to argue that any of the aforementioned players are better than those eight. And so long as I'm calling the shots in this spot, I'm tossing Philip Rivers and Matt Schaub in there without looking back. 

I'll give Ryan this: he's on the fringe. And his GM wasn't out of line in expressing confidence that he has one of the best young pivots in football. Fine. But by even making such a statement, Dimitroff has inadvertently grouped his franchise QB with scrubs like Sanchez and Freeman, both of whom have either regressed or progressed at crawl speed throughout their respective three-year careers. 

And Flacco? The guy had his lowest completion percentage and yards-per-attempt average as a pro last year. Statistically, he's not even in the top 15–despite the fact he's been supported by a world-class defense and a superb running game. 

Flacco's agent had a clear agenda (duh…) but it was interesting that his argument for the Ravens' QB was connected solely to wins and losses. Flacco's team has indeed been successful throughout his time in Baltimore, but quarterbacks don't single-handedly decide game-by-game outcomes. I think the majority of us football fans agree that wins and losses have no business in an individual player's stat line, but we'll never escape "quarterback wins" because of guys like Flacco's agent. 

There's a clear trend here. All four of the gentlemen speaking on behalf of their supposed top-whatever quarterbacks have skin in the game. They're either inflating or projecting or both, and it's clear that in some cases they're resorting to hyperbole because they don't know what else to say.

"Last year you saw Joe Flacco take the next step in his fourth year," Scott said. "And you can see Mark do the same."

But like I said, Flacco's numbers actually dipped quasi-dramatically last year. He was criticized heavily for the majority of the season and might've been chased out of town had he not saved face by outplaying Tom Brady in the divisional playoffs. 

But that's probably all Scott saw of Flacco. Cerebral cortex be damned. 

Those around the NFL have become numb to comments like these. The sad part is that they've reduced our ability to have qualified debates regarding who the top five or 10 quarterbacks are. Arguing over who makes it into clubs like those is one of the best parts about sports, but those making preposterous claims like the ones listed above have cheapened the discourse and turned the term "top-10" into a gruesome cliché.

But because I can't help myself, I'd like to state that there are in fact only 10 top-10 quarterbacks in this league. Their names, in no particular order, are Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Manning, Manning, Romo, Vick, Roethlisberger, Rivers and Schaub. And sure, that list will likely change in 2012. It does every year. Ryan has a good chance to move into the club, but I'd also argue that guys like Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton are closer to the 10th spot than Flacco, Sanchez or Freeman are. 

You know why I like those guys' chances? They don't have anyone who feels the need to manufacture hype on their behalf.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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