RSS Evaluating 2004 QB Draft Class

Posted Jul 1, 2014's Gil Brandt evaluates the 2004 QB Class heading into 2014

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NFL.COM'S GIL BRANDT: As the QBs of 2004 Draft Class approach their 11th seasons in the league, I thought I would look at the five quarterbacks drafted in 2004 who are still on NFL rosters today and rank them according to who I'd pick to lead an offense in 2014 -- a ranking that does not quite match up with what one might have expected 10 years ago.



It's impossible to discuss Manning without mentioning the two Lombardi Trophies he brought to New York, but it's almost equally impossible to overlook his struggles last season, when he had career highs in interceptions (a league-leading 27) and sacks (39) and near-lows in touchdown passes (18) and quarterback rating (69.4). He's topped the NFL in picks before -- in 2010 and the Super Bowl-winning campaign of 2007 -- but 2013 marked his first full campaign as the Giants' starter in which he had more interceptions than scoring tosses. It was also the first season in which he finished with a losing record.

I would by no means write Manning off just yet, however. He's still a very hard worker with excellent throwing mechanics and footwork, and he's still accurate, with a quick release. Plus, he should be healthier than he was last year after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. Ultimately, he's got so much pride that I'm sure he'll do everything possible -- like cutting down on bad throws -- to erase memories of last season. We should note that even with the issues that dogged Manning and the Giants in 2013, including a lesser supporting cast, the team still managed to pull out a 7-9 record after starting 0-6.

Ten years ago, Manning was the first quarterback off the board, heading to New York -- and famously swapping teams with Rivers -- in a draft-day trade between the Bolts and the Giants. Heading into the 2014 season, however, I'd slot him behind Roethlisberger, as Big Ben has a stronger arm and is a bit more athletic -- though it's ultimately a close call. I'm confident Manning will be a factor in 2014.