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Big Ben hopes 2004 QB class is one day viewed as best

Ben Roethlisberger had a thing for Eli Manning way back when.

They entered the NFL together in 2004, but Manning was snatched up 10 spots above Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback admits he wanted to outshine Eli early on, but now he's thinking about history.

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"As I've gotten older, it's more neat to see (Manning's) success, to see him getting two Super Bowls, because I think it just adds to the legacy of our draft class," Roethlisberger told Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger. "And all four quarterbacks -- Matt Schaub, Philip (Rivers), myself and Eli -- that were drafted there. I hope we can play well enough that one day they talk about us as maybe the best quarterback draft class of all time."

It certainly was one of the more interesting drafts of recent years. After Manning was taken first overall by San Diego, the New York Giants selected Rivers with the fourth pick and worked out a trade with the Chargers to essentially flip quarterbacks. Big Ben then went to the Steelers with the 11th pick, and Schaub went in the third round to the Atlanta Falcons. Less enticing: J.P. Losman, taken No. 22 overall by the Buffalo Bills.

Roethlisberger knows all about the storied 1983 class of passers -- John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O'Brien and some fellow named Dan Marino -- and he has watched this year's crop of newbie quarterbacks adapt almost seamlessly.

It comes down to how you judge success. Big Ben and Eli have produced four Super Bowl wins, more than all of these names combined and certainly putting the 2004 class in the conversation.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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