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J.J. Watt vs. the best QBs: Who is more valuable?

As part of our position rankings series last October, I rated the NFL's top 10 franchise cornerstones. It came as no surprise, at the time, that 2014 Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidateJ.J. Watt was the only non-quarterback on the list.

That brings us to an intriguing question proposed by Around The NFL reader, @TheClemReport:

If you were starting a franchise from scratch, who is the best active QB under 35 that you would take over JJ Watt?

Let's unpack this one:

Peyton Manning (39), Tom Brady (37), Drew Brees (36), Tony Romo (35) and Carson Palmer (35) are out of the equation.

If I was starting a franchise from scratch, I would rank the eligible quarterbacks as follows:

For me, the "Watt Demarcation Point" is between Newton and Ryan.

Ryan is the better player right now, but I'm not willing to overlook Newton's superior physical gifts. If his career plays out in a best-case scenario, Newton can conceivably surpass every quarterback on the list save Rodgers and Luck.

As for Ryan, I am an avowed fan. He is one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks in the game. But this is about what he's not.

Ryan is not even the best player on his own offense. That honor goes to Julio Jones, the engine that has made the Falcons' attack go since he arrived in the league.

Whereas a Tom Brady- or Peyton Manning-led team has not won fewer than 10 games since 2002, Ryan's Atlanta squad has managed 10 wins total over the past two seasons.

If I'm choosing a quarterback over the most dominant defensive lineman of the 21st century (and perhaps of all-time), he must function as a rising tide capable of lifting all boats.

Ryan has yet to prove he can be that force.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses offseason clichés and who are the NFL's most valuable non-QBs. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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