Cam Newton a top-10 quarterback?

Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter has a thought-provoking column in which he ranks the league’s starting quarterbacks.

I found his rankings on the four NFC South quarterbacks quite interesting and, after a bit of thought, very accurate.

He has New Orleans’ Drew Brees ranked No. 2. I can’t really argue with that. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers will win the Most Valuable Player award, but Brees at least deserves to be in the conversation. The guy is on pace to set the record for most passing yards in a season.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Trotter ranks Carolina rookie Cam Newton at No. 9.

At first, I wondered if Newton should be a top-10 quarterback. Then, I looked at the three guys ranked directly in front of Newton – Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Alex Smith. After seeing that, I no longer have any doubt Newton belongs in the top 10, maybe even up a few spots from where he is.

Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is No. 15. My first instinct was to argue that one, especially when I saw Matt Moore and Michael Vick ranked directly ahead of Ryan. But, then, I thought about Ryan’s performance in Sunday’s loss to Houston and his inconsistency for much of the season. He’s right about where he belongs.

Trotter put Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman at No. 25. That’s one spot behind Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson. If you’re talking purely about talent, there’s no comparison between Freeman and Jackson. Freeman’s way better. But Trotter is talking about production and Freeman hasn’t produced this season.