1 of 10Peter Read Miller, Bob Rosato/SI; Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Class of 2004
April 24, 2014, marked the 10-year anniversary of the 2004 draft, which produced the best quarterback class in the past decade. Here's SI.com's ranking of those classes, starting, of course, with the best.No. 1 pick Eli Manning and No. 11 selection Ben Roethlisberger have combined to go 4-1 in Super Bowls, including two of the most memorable victories in the 48-year history of the game (the 2007 Giants upset of the 18-0 Patriots and the '08 Steelers' thrilling last-minute comeback against the Cardinals). No. 4 pick Philip Rivers has led San Diego to five playoff trips in the eight seasons since he took as the Chargers' starter. Even third-round pick Matt Schaub of Atlanta proved to be a productive quarterback for many seasons, helping Houston to its first two AFC South titles in 2011-12, and logging a playoff victory in the latter season.
2 of 10Al Tielemans/SI; Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images
Class of 2012
There's almost nothing not to love about the first two prolific seasons churned out by this headline-stealing group. The Big Three of No. 1 pick Andrew Luck, No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III and third-round extraordinaire Russell Wilson have combined to make the playoffs seven out of a potential nine times, with Wilson's 6-2 record as a postseason starter and Seattle's eye-opening Super Bowl victory over the Peyton Manning-led Broncos leading the embarrassment of riches. The rest of the class, it isn't too shabby either, with Miami's No. 8 pick Ryan Tannehill turning in a solid first two seasons for the Dolphins (15-17 as a starter), and Philadelphia's third-round pick Nick Foles emerging as one of the stories of the 2013 season. Even the curious fourth-round pick of Kirk Cousins by Washington in 2012 turned out to look sage in hindsight.
3 of 10Bob Rosato/SI
Class of 2005
The Packers snagged the free-falling Aaron Rodgers at No. 24 in the first round, and he has made the most of his opportunity, leading the Packers to the playoffs an NFL-high six consecutive seasons and winning a Super Bowl ring in Titletown in 2010. The depth of the 2005 class is perhaps its most impressive quality. Alex Smith (No. 1 overall) Jason Campbell (25th overall), Kyle Orton (fourth round), Derek Anderson (sixth round), Matt Cassel (seventh round) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (seventh round) have all had their standout seasons as starters.
4 of 10Simon Bruty, Fred Vuich/SI
Class of 2008
If you're trying to pinpoint the origin of the recent trend of first-round quarterbacks looking instantly ready to play as rookies, look no further than 2008, when both Atlanta's Matt Ryan (No. 3 overall) and Baltimore's Joe Flacco (No. 18) took over last-place teams and led them to the playoffs. Both the Ravens and Falcons went 11-5 in those turnaround seasons as Ryan and Flacco proved you don't always need to sit and wait or take baby steps as a rookie quarterback. Miami second-round pick Chad Henne was one of the other few survivors in this class, winning just 13 of 31 starts for the Dolphins from 2009-11, before moving on to Jacksonville.
5 of 10Simon Bruty(2), David Bergman/SI
Class of 2011
Carolina's Cam Newton, the Heisman winner, rewrote the passing record book as a rookie, fell into some bad habits at times in Year 2, then rebounded with stellar play in 2013, leading the Panthers to their first playoff berth in five years. Newton's fellow first-round QBs -- Tennessee's Jake Locker (No. 8), Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert (10th) and Minnesota's Christian Ponder (12th) -- haven't come close to matching his start. But there have been two significant second-round success stories in Cincinnati's Andy Dalton (No. 35) and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick (No. 36). Lastly, fifth-round pick T.J. Yates turned in strong work as a rookie in the second half of 2011.
6 of 10David E. Klutho, John Iacono, Bob Rosato/SI
Class of 2009
This class looks worse all the time, but there were some upswings along the way. Mark Sanchez (No. 5 overall) won four road playoff games and started in the AFC title game in each of his first two seasons with the Jets. Josh Freeman (17th) looked like the long-term answer in Tampa Bay after the Bucs went a surprising and hopeful 10-6 in 2010. And Detroit's 10-6, wild-card playoff season of 2011 seemed to announce No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford's arrival among the NFL's quarterbacking elite. But upon further review, only Stafford is still considered the goods.
7 of 10Robert Beck, Bob Rosato, Peter Read Miller/SI
Class of 2006
The Highlights: Turns out there wasn't as much staying power as there was star power in 2006's first-round trio of quarterbacks. Tennessee's Vince Young (No. 3), Arizona's Matt Leinart (No. 10) and Denver's Jay Cutler (No. 11) hit the league with great resumes and a ton of fanfare, but only Cutler is still active. Four passers taken in rounds 2-7 were still drawing a check in the league for clipboard duty in 2014, and occasionally playing well when given the chance: Kellen Clemens (Jets, second round), Tarvaris Jackson (Vikings, second round), Charlie Whitehurst (Chargers, third round) and Bruce Gradkowski (Bucs, sixth round).
8 of 10Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images; Bill Kostroun, David Goldman/AP
Class of 2013
This non-descript quarterback crop did little to elicit excitement on the months-long road to the draft, and from that perspective it lived up to its billing. EJ Manuel was the only first-round selection and wound up starting just 10 of the Bills' 16 games, going 4-6 for 6-10 Buffalo. The Jets' Geno Smith lasted all the way until New York's No. 39 pick in the second round, but his rookie season was a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride from start to finish. Tampa Bay third-round pick Mike Glennon was actually the most pleasant, throwing for 19 touchdowns and 2,608 yards in 13 starts after the Josh Freeman benching.
9 of 10David E. Klutho, Peter Read Miller/SI
Class of 2010
The Rams' Sam Bradford went first overall, and by no means did St. Louis bomb with the selection. But the Rams haven't gotten their full money's worth from the last of the big-dollar No. 1 pick quarterbacks either. Bradford started 16 games just twice in four years (2010 and '12). Meanwhile, who can forget the unexplainable magic carpet ride that was Tim Tebow's 2011 season in Denver, where he willed a .500 Broncos team into the divisional round of the playoffs with a series of late-game heroics and comebacks? Tebow was out of the league by 2013, as was the draft's No. 48 pick, Carolina's Jimmy Clausen.
10 of 10John W. McDonough/SI; Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography
Class of 2007
As quarterback draft classes go, this one sets the bar impossibly high when it comes to unfulfilled expectations. Oakland's No. 1 overall pick, JaMarcus Russell, is the closest thing the league has ever seen to Ryan Leaf, going 7-18 as the Raiders' starter and being out of the league by 2010. Brady Quinn, taken 22nd overall by Cleveland is just 4-16 as a starter in his career, and has been the property of five teams. Second-rounder Kevin Kolb couldn't stay healthy and keep/win the starting job in Philadelphia, Arizona or Buffalo. John Beck was a second-round pick in Miami (40th overall), but had only brief and failed chances with the Dolphins and Redskins. The Lions took Drew Stanton in the second round (43rd) and he was a capable backup in Arizona, but the likes of Trent Edwards (third round, Buffalo), Troy Smith (fifth round, Ravens), Jordan Palmer (sixth round, Redskins) and Tyler Thigpen (seventh round, Vikings) never were able to change our impression of the failed 2007 quarterback class.
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