The AFC North is a division long thought about in terms of its defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have long been thought of among the top defenses in the NFL year after year. Even the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns have improving units with some excellent pieces in place.
But the AFC North also boasts an excellent group of quarterbacks that deserve to be recognized. Some are veterans with a thick resume and hardware to make their case while others are talented youngsters (sort of) with gobs of talent. Top to bottom, this conference is as solid and talented as any in the league.
But how to they measure up to one another? To decide just who is better or worse, there are really three things to consider. Past success, age, and projecting future success. Based on that, here’s how the four starting quarterbacks in the AFC North measure up to one another.
4. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns: Weeden is the bottom of this group, but that’s not to say he’s short on talent. He’s got great size, can make all the throws and plays with tremendous confidence. But when you take into consideration that he’s heading into his second year in the league and he’s only five months younger than Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is heading into his 10th, you get why his upside is somewhat limited.
3. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: Dalton is heading into his third year in the league, is only 25 years old and looks to have all the makings of a franchise signal caller. The confidence lapses that plagued him in college seem to be behind him, and with just a little help from his skill position players, he seems poised to take that next step. He’s only third on this list because he just doesn’t have the resume of the top two.
2. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: Flacco shook off all the hate he’s been getting since he came into the league back in 2008. After coming so close to the Super Bowl in 2011, he finally got there and won it in impressive fashion this past season. The word elite gets tossed around a lot, and while I’m not sure Flacco is quite there yet, he certainly quieted his critics and looks to have the Ravens going in the right direction.
1. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Call me a homer if you want, but Roethlisberger has a resume that none of the other quarterbacks on this list can touch. He’s also just hitting the arc of his career, so looking ahead four or five seasons, I can still see tremendous production out of him. He’s had nine seasons and has led his team to three Super Bowls, winning two of them. He’s the greatest quarterback in franchise history, and if he retired tomorrow, he would likely be a Hall of Fame player. Putting Roethlisberger at the top of this list wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.