QUARTERBACKS ARE important -- we get it. But within NFL locker rooms, are they as important as the rest of the world thinks? To find out, we anonymously polled 42 players from the two positions that know QBs the best: centers and wideouts. The result? The pass catchers and ball hikers voted almost identically (with the one exception broken down by position below), and most sounded like this veteran receiver: "Everything revolves around the quarterback -- the game plan, the media hype, the jersey sales -- so they deserve everything they get, good and bad."
AFC receiver on taking a serious injury to protect the QB
"If I'm giving up my season for a playoff team to keep a quarterback, in a heartbeat, I take the hit. But if we're a 6-10 team, I mean, this is my livelihood. I'm not doing it for a bad team."
AFC center on switching positions
"I'd love to have my quarterback take on a defensive tackle for a few plays, then I'll put my hands under his ass and yell at him to do a better job blocking. He'd have a whole different understanding of how hard it is to snap a ball and have someone immediately smash you in the face."
NFC receiver on why he loves Andrew Luck
"How do you not pick Luck? He's showing exactly how you replace Peyton Manning. He's not doing what Manning is doing statwise, but Luck is winning, and he's respected more than any other young player."
NFC receiver on the best QB-turned-LB
"Russell Wilson has the mentality to hit someone and drive him into the ground but doesn't have the size. So I'd take Cam Newton. I wouldn't want to block him on a blitz up the middle."
NFC receiver on the read-option
"It's the future. The best young quarterbacks can pretty much all run some form of the read-option, and then you watch the biggest college games every week and you see a whole bunch of guys—Johnny Football, Tajh Boyd, Jameis Winston—who will keep it going."
AFC center on QB respect
"Many times in the huddle, I'll ask about blitz pickups, then a receiver will ask about a hot route, and the QB has to know the answers. And that's before the play even starts."
Reporting by Patrick Cain, Louis K. Cornette, Leanne Cozart, Matt Ehalt, Dan Friedell, Thersea Manahan, Eddie Matz, Joseph Person and Kevin Van Valkenburg