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NFL execs pick Andrew Luck as top-5 quarterback

Who is the NFL's top quarterback? Aaron Rodgers? Peyton Manning? Tom Brady? Drew Brees? The world needs to know.

Everyone has their opinion on where quarterbacks rank. NFL players voted on NFL Network's The Top 100. Chris Wesseling rolled out his preseason list Tuesday.

Even general managers, coaches, coordinators and personnel executives are getting in on the ranking game.

ESPN Insider Mike Sando surveyed 26 NFL insiders to rank 32 starting NFL quarterbacks. Sando broke down the list into four levels. Five signal-callers landed in the first tier, 10 in Tier 2, nine in Tier 3 and eight in Tier 4.

As fate would have it, the 26 men decided the debate over the top QB will continue.

Brady, Manning, Rodgers and Brees all tied for the top slot in the first tier.

Each quarterback has his own virtues.

Brady "did a lot of good things with limited resources," one evaluator told Sando. Manning is coming off a 55-touchdown season. Rodgers "throws into this tight window that nobody would throw into," said one D-coordinator. Meanwhile, Brees "bring(s) everyone else's level up," an offensive coordinator said.

So the battle atop the quarterback mountain will rage on. In the meantime, here are some other interesting tidbits from Sando's survey:


Watch "The Top 100 Players of 2014" every week at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network as we count down to the top player in the NFL. "The Top 100 Players of 2014 Reactions" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.

» Andrew Luck ranked as the fifth and final signal-caller to crack the top tier. "He can put it on his back as a younger player, where some of these other guys had good help running the ball like Ben (Roethlisberger) or Matt (Ryan) or Russell (Wilson) or Joe (Flacco)," a defensive coordinator said. "They have had people you could hand it to. They say you can win with a young QB when you have a top-10 defense and a top-10 running game. Luck hasn't had either."

» The survey clearly favored Super Bowl rings. Russell Wilson tied for eighth with Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Eli Manning.

"I love Russell Wilson," one GM said. "I like him for the intangibles, which (Colin) Kaepernick has not displayed. I have Wilson as a three and think he might ascend to a two. I don't think he will ever be a one. Kaepernick has a chance to be a one, but he also has a chance to be a three or a four."

Seems like Eli was boosted thanks to his two championships -- and not dragged down by his brutal 2013 season.

» Cam Newton was surprisingly graded in Tier 3, mainly due to his "inconsistent" play, according to a head coach.

» The list won't be used as leverage in contract negotiations for Alex Smith or Andy Dalton, who came in 18th and 19th, respectively.

» From the "Say Whaaaat?" department: "A head coach said he'd rather have Sam Bradford than Wilson purely from a talent standpoint."

» Tier 4 was littered with bridge-quarterbacks like Chad Henne and unproven second-year signal-callers (i.e. EJ Manuel). No rookies were ranked.

» Coming in No. 32 on the list was the New York Jets' Geno Smith, who staved off landing in the Tier 5, backup quarterback designation.

"Would a (tier) five be an Akili Smith or JaMarcus Russell?" one coordinator asked. "I think the way Geno Smith played last year was close to that. He was a rookie and he struggled and some of his reads were poor, but I would give him a four."

The latest "Around The League Podcast" debates Jay Cutler's ceiling and looks back at the NFL in the '90s.

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