ESPN's John Clayton rolled out his quarterback rankings, which always provides insight and spurs a lot of debate, especially in this division.
In terms of his breakdown, there are two AFC North quarterbacks in the elite category (Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco), one in the "Chad Pennington" category (Andy Dalton) and one in the "Hit or Miss" division (Brandon Weeden).
Here's how Clayton explained his placement of the AFC North passers:
No. 4: BEN ROETHLISBERGER, STEELER
Clayton: Roethlisberger earns the edge over Eli Manning based on his extra trip to the Super Bowl. Like Rodgers, Roethlisberger is surrounded by talent in three-receiver sets. He might battle new offensive coordinator Todd Haley over some play-calling, but Haley is smart enough to know Roethlisberger wins when he escapes the pocket and throws downfield. Big Book QB ranking: No. 4. Ron Jaworski ranking: No. 6.
Hensley: I would have put Roethlisberger at the same spot as Clayton. He gets the edge over Eli Manning and he sits behind Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees because those quarterbacks consistently carry their teams.
No. 13 JOE FLACCO, RAVENS
Clayton: I almost was ready to give Flacco a one-year vacation from the elite category, but a visit to Baltimore's training camp convinced me to keep him in the group -- even though I dropped him down a couple spots. He is taking more ownership of the offense and plans to be more aggressive through the air. Big Book QB ranking: No. 14. Jaworski ranking: No. 9.
Hensley: The toughest quarterback evaluation to make in the NFL is Flacco. His playoff success says he should rank higher than No. 13, but his statistics say this spot is valid. My biggest criticism is putting Flacco three spots behind Matt Ryan.
No. 19 ANDY DALTON, BENGALS
Clayton: Bengals fans blasted me last year for putting Dalton at the bottom of my ratings. Well, if the entire first round of teams pass on you, it's difficult to give a top grade. Dalton played like a Pro Bowler last year and jumped up 14 spots. Big Book ranking: No. 20. Jaworski ranking: No. 19.
Hensley: It's tough to make an argument to put Dalton higher than Jay Cutler (No. 14) and Cam Newton (No. 15). But I was surprised to see Dalton three spots behind Josh Freeman. Based on last season, I would've switched those spots.
No. 31 BRANDON WEEDEN, BROWNS
Clayton: Weeden has a good arm and decent grasp of Pat Shurmur's offense. It helps him that Shurmur did a good job two years ago in St. Louis with Sam Bradford. But it's going to be a tough year for the Browns and Weeden because the receiving corps is so young. Big Book ranking: Not ranked. Jaworski ranking: Not ranked.
Hensley: It's fair to lump Weeden at the bottom of the rankings with Ryan Tannehill and Blaine Gabbert. It's hard to make an accurate assessment of Weeden after a couple of preseason games. Honestly, it will be difficult to evaluate Weeden after his rookie season. The Browns are rebuilding their wide receiver group, and that will reflect in Weeden's first-year numbers.
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