Take Two: Debating the SEC's best quarterbacks in the past decade

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Sometimes those opinions are just wrong.

Maybe even we were off-base at points last week when we tried to nail down the SEC’s top five players at each position over the last decade. In some cases, the SEC blog’s readers let us know just how wrong we were -- so we decided to chime in with our own thoughts this week.

Each day this week, we will revisit those position rankings, with one of our SEC writers discussing his thoughts on the position with the co-worker who came up with the original top five.

We begin the series today debating the quarterback rankings.

Greg Ostendorf: I can’t argue too much with the five players my colleague chose. I can, however, make a case for Dak Prescott as one of the five best quarterbacks. He broke every record in school history and made a middling Mississippi State program relevant in the SEC. If you put Aaron Murray or AJ McCarron in Prescott’s shoes, do they have the same success? Probably not. But at the end of the day, I’m good with the top five.

My biggest gripe might be the order of those five quarterbacks. Obviously, Tim Tebow belongs at No. 1. Nobody is arguing that. But Johnny Manziel over Cam Newton? I realize that Manziel played two seasons to Newton’s one. I get that they both won Heisman Trophies. Newton won a national championship, though. He put Auburn on his shoulders and carried them through that 2010 season. Manziel’s biggest accomplishment was beating Alabama. As transcendent a player as Manziel was, I don’t think we’ll ever see another Cam Newton again. And maybe I put too much emphasis on winning, but I might bump McCarron up a spot or two. After all, does Alabama win back-to-back national championships without him? I’m not so sure.

David Ching: I hear ya, Greg. Totally with you on the Cam thing. And you're right, I gave Manziel the nod based upon his extra time over Cam (no, I don't count the time Cam spent backing up Tebow at Florida as a point in his favor) in the league. Head-to-head, I take 2010 Cam over A&M Johnny Football all day every day, but you're talking about two unbelievable seasons by Manziel over Cam's one. Can't lose there either way, but I'll give a small edge to the guy with extra experience.

Oddly enough, I appeared on a radio show in Arkansas last week to discuss my quarterback rankings and one of the hosts was former Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson. My heart sank as soon as I heard his name because I nearly included him on the “just missed the cut” list -- his SEC-high 3,638 yards in 2011 certainly deserved a mention -- before ultimately leaving him off. Thankfully he didn’t take it out on me on the air. My apologies, Tyler, if you read this.

We discussed another valid criticism of my top five on that radio show, however: Matthew Stafford’s exclusion from the list. Stafford was one of two No. 1 overall NFL draft picks who I left off (the other was LSU’s JaMarcus Russell). Obviously if you go only by pro-caliber talent, players like Tebow, Murray and McCarron don’t measure up to quarterbacks whose overwhelming abilities made them the first picks in their respective drafts. But while I took talent and draft statuses into account, I wanted to include players in the top five with the best overall bodies of work. Murray passed for 3,000 yards in all four of his seasons at Georgia and holds most of the SEC’s career passing records. McCarron won a couple of championships and was a solid player at Alabama in three seasons as a starter. Say what you will about Tebow’s NFL capabilities, but he was one of the great college competitors we’ve ever seen. If I wanted to build an NFL franchise around one of these four, I’m taking Stafford over all of them without a second thought. If we’re looking at what they accomplished in college, Stafford’s extremely solid Georgia career was not quite on this fivesome’s level.

Ostendorf: I love the story about Wilson. And I agree that he probably should have been on the “just missed the cut” list. He led the SEC in passing yards per game in both 2011 and 2012, finishing ahead of guys like McCarron and Murray. I might have also added Chris Leak to that list. Technically, he still counts for this decade since he finished his Florida career in 2006. And he just so happened to win a national championship that year.