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ATL writers weigh in on NFL quarterback debate

Around The League's Marc Sessler unveiled his list of the top quarterbacks in football on Friday. His ATL colleagues had their own opinions. The following was taken from an actual email exchange.

I knew this wasn't a Dan Hanzus production when Shonn Greene was somehow left off the list. My other immediate reaction: Are we crowning the young quarterbacks too soon? This list is about what QBs will be the best in 2013, not the future.

History indicates that a few QBs from the Luck-Wilson-RG3-Cam-Kaepernick group will take a step back. Guys like Flacco, Cutler and Romo have produced year after year.

DH: I refuse to sell Gregg's joke, so I'll just let it hang there.

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I know Sessler, the Browns fan, has been burned many times by Roethlisberger, but I have a hard time putting him ahead of Ryan at this stage.

Matty Ice (horrible nickname) is coming off an MVP-level season for a 13-3 team. He finally won a playoff game, too, and played well in the NFC Championship loss to the Niners. The Steelers were a .500 team and Roethlisberger got beat up some more, which has become a recurring theme.

Ryan has more upside. I also think he's the better quarterback.

MS: Dan, I don't see a wide space between Big Ben and Matt Ryan.

I went with Roethlisberger not because he's torched my Browns time and again (who hasn't?) but because it's impossible to count out the Steelers when he's on the field. An 8-8 season is a disaster in Pittsburgh, and that's telling and a credit to their quarterback. Big Ben wins games and he'll do that again in 2013.

Gregg might have a point: I fell hard for the young guns, but after what they accomplished last season, I'm not sold on a group-wide regression. Griffin and Wilson brought outstanding fundamentals to the NFL and Luck might ultimately be the best of them all. On Romo: I don't lash him for the problems in Dallas, but how much higher should he be?

GR: I think Romo is far better than people think, yet No. 14 is not that crazy. That's how deep the quarterback position is in 2013. The second-highest paid quarterback and Super Bowl MVP is ranked No. 13 and we haven't argued much about him. (Although I expect Marc to get plenty of feedback here.)

The elephant in the room is Robert Griffin III's ACL. We're all just assuming that a second-year pro that uses his fantastic speed is not only going to be the same, but get better?

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DH: I'm cool with Griffin in the top 10. We continue to get positive reports on his recovery -- QUASI-JUMPING JACKS, PEOPLE -- so I'll just continue to work under the impression he'll be healthy and effective by September. My bigger concern is what RG3 will look like by age 30, but no sense getting ahead of ourselves.

At the bottom of the list, Marc has a typo that needs fixing. Blaine Gabbert is ahead of someone. Make sure you take care of that in edit.

But seriously, I can only assume putting Sanchez behind Gabbert was for shock value. Sanchez has played four seasons, been a part of two deep playoff runs and had a combined 32 touchdowns in a season as recently as 2011. Last year was a dumpster fire, but one dreadful season puts him behind one of the worst QB draft busts of all-time? Puh-leeze.

MS: How telling it is, Dan, that your biggest issue with Sanchez is that he's below Gabbert -- versus even attempting to argue him into the top 30. If both players were cut free, I believe just as many teams would pursue Gabbert, thinking they could fix him.

Sanchez was ranked by ProFootballFocus last season as 37th out of 38 qualifying passers. During that 2011 campaign you mentioned, PFF -- again -- ranked him 37th out of 38 QBs. That's the back-to-back performance that concerns me. Sanchez went south as soon as the Jets asked him to throw the football, and those playoff seasons are ancient history.

I'd love to hear Wesseling's opinion on this, but, alas, he is sequestered away on his special island in the Atlantic somewhere.

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