Top 33 quarterbacks heading into the 2011 NFL season: Fan’s view

With the 2011 NFL season just around the corner, I've decided to take a look at some of the best quarterbacks that will hit the field if the lockout is ever lifted. From seasoned veterans to young up-and-comers, the NFL is loaded with some outstanding quarterback talent that continues to rise and fall from season to season. With that being said, check out my rankings of the Top 30 quarterbacks heading into the 2011 NFL season and the top three rookies who should contribute to their teams.

1. Aaron Rodgers(notes), Green Bay Packers: If I was starting a new franchise and was given my pick of any quarterback in the NFL to lead my team, I would pick Rodgers in a heartbeat. He's a proven winner and has the "it" factor that you want in an NFL quarterback.

2. Peyton Manning(notes), Indianapolis Colts: No one can deny that Manning is one of the best in NFL history, but his career is losing steam. Add that to the Colts' weak offensive line, and his career could be over sooner rather than later.

3. Tom Brady(notes), New England Patriots: Brady is a proven winner and one of the most impressive passers to grace the NFL turf. However, the Patriots have surrounded him with talent unparalleled by any other team.

4. Philip Rivers(notes), San Diego Chargers: The fact that the Chargers had the No. 1 offense in the NFL in 2010 despite multiple receiving corps injuries gives evidence to the elite quarterback that Rivers is.

5. Michael Vick(notes), Philadelphia Eagles: Only two years removed from jail and one year removed from replacing Donovan McNabb(notes), and Vick almost won the NFL's MVP award. You can color me impressed.

6. Matt Ryan(notes), Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons took that next step up the NFL hierarchy in 2010, but their climb was halted by the eventual Super Bowl champs. If Ryan can continue to tear apart defenses, a ring may be in his foreseeable future.

7. Drew Brees(notes), New Orleans Saints: Considering he left San Diego with a near career-ending injury, there hasn't been a much better feel-good story than Brees' comeback with the Saints and the city of New Orleans.

8. Ben Roethlisberger(notes), Pittsburgh Steelers: With rare play-making abilities and a strong track record, the only things holding him back are off-field issues and an inability to perform well on the NFL's biggest stage.

9. Joe Flacco(notes), Baltimore Ravens: If it wasn't for Flacco, the Ravens wouldn't have made the playoffs the last three seasons. If they can learn to take better advantage of their weapons, he can lead them even further.

10. Eli Manning(notes), New York Giants: Despite the fact that he has won a Super Bowl and has impressive stats compared to the rest of the league, he'll always be underrated due to his brother's success.

11. Tony Romo(notes), Dallas Cowboys: I'm not a fan of the guy, but it's hard for me to deny that he's a play-maker for the Cowboys. If only he knew how to win games in the playoffs— Staying healthy might help too.

12. Josh Freeman(notes), Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In only his second year in the NFL, Freeman led a young Buccaneers team to what should have been a playoff appearance. He's still got plenty of room to grow in the future.

13. Matt Schaub(notes), Houston Texans: Schaub could have easily been in the Top 10 if he would have led the Texans to a better outcome. A playoff appearance will seal his fate as an upper-echelon quarterback.

14. Sam Bradford(notes), St. Louis Rams: In just one year, Bradford took the Rams from a 2-14 team to a 7-9 team that was one win away from the playoffs. All signs are pointing towards a bright future in St. Louis.

15. Matt Cassel(notes), Kansas City Chiefs: After a disappointing first year with the Chiefs, Cassel broke out in 2010. With the help of receiver Dwayne Bowe(notes), he made a case for himself as one of the NFL's most underrated quarterbacks.

16. Carson Palmer(notes), Cincinnati Bengals: Even though retirement is possible, he is still one of the better passers in the league. His game is on the decline, but you can't doubt his strong arm and history of success.

17. Mark Sanchez(notes), New York Jets: So much potential lies within Sanchez, yet his immaturity seems to be holding him back. The Jets' running game is definitely helping him, though.

18. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions: If it wasn't for all of the injuries that Stafford has suffered since entering the NFL, he could be in the Top 10. Staying healthy will be the key factor to his future success.

19. Jay Cutler(notes), Chicago Bears: Even though he still displayed his typical Cutler concerns, he led the Bears to the playoffs and helped bring them back to NFC North prominence. If only he could cut down on those blasted turnovers.

20. Kevin Kolb(notes), Philadelphia Eagles: It's extremely unclear where he will be playing in 2011, but he has the potential to be a quality starter for a number of teams desperate for new quarterback.

21. Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins: Well the 2010 season didn't pan out at all how the Redskins expected it to, but there's still some semblance of talent left in the hollowed-out shell of McNabb.

22. Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes), Buffalo Bills: It's got to be a good sign for Fitzpatrick that the Bills didn't draft a new quarterback, but he's going to be on a short leash with his future as the team's starter still in question.

23. Kyle Orton(notes), Denver Broncos: Don't be surprised to see Orton quarterbacking for a new team soon. With Tim Tebow(notes) nipping at his heals and a poor 2010 performance, he's on thin ice at this point.

24. Colt McCoy(notes), Cleveland Browns: Despite being told that he wouldn't be seeing the field in 2010, injuries forced him into early playing time. He wasn't spectacular, but he proved he could win games.

25. David Garrard(notes), Jacksonville Jaguars: After plenty of chances to take the Jaguars to the next level, Garrard has fallen short. With his replacement now in town, he should end up being a spot starter somewhere else.

26. Chad Henne(notes), Miami Dolphins: There was hope for Henne the last couple years, especially with the addition of receiver Brandon Marshall(notes). Unfortunately, the Dolphins don't seem too happy with him anymore.

27. Shaun Hill(notes), Detroit Lions: Hill was arguably one of the most impressive backups in the NFL last year, filling in for Stafford valiantly. He may never be a true starter, but he's valuable off of the bench.

28. Matt Hasselbeck(notes), Seattle Seahawks: It's clear that Hasselbeck is nearing the end of his NFL career, but he may still have another season up his sleeve. That's just enough time for them to find a new quarterback.

29. Matt Flynn(notes), Green Bay Packers: Flynn is easily one of the best young backups in the NFL, but I don't expect the Packers to give him up any time soon unless a blockbuster deal comes along (i.e. Whitehurst trade in 2010).

30. Jason Campbell(notes), Oakland Raiders: Campbell is lucky to even make this list. The Raiders expected him to be the missing piece, but he couldn't even hold his starting spot the entire season.

Top three incoming rookies

1. Andy Dalton(notes), Cincinnati Bengals: If Palmer doesn't return to Cincinnati, Dalton will be his successor. If he can continue to learn and build on his skill set, the sky is the limit for this young gunslinger.

2. Cam Newton(notes), Carolina Panthers: Newton is going to be expected to become the savior and face of the Panthers' franchise. The talent is there, but it's still uncertain whether or not he can develop properly.

3. Christian Ponder(notes), Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are in dire need of a new, young quarterback. If Ponder can stay healthy and live up to his potential, they could be looking at the future of the franchise.

Gil Alcaraz IV has been a diehard fan of the NFL and anything inside the football world since he was nine years old. From playing on the Pop Warner fields to a short stint at the college level, his life has revolved around football. Now that his playing days are over, he has taken to using the written word to spread his football knowledge. For more football coverage, follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV.

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Updated Wednesday, May 25, 2011