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Is Big Ben still a top five quarterback?

In the NFL having a top five quarterback can keep teams in the hunt for a playoff berth with less than superstar talent. The new six year, $140 million contract given to Andrew Luck last week got me thinking about the top five NFL quarterbacks in the league and how those in the AFC North shape up.

Since he entered the league in 2004, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the more consistent and higher performing quarterbacks in the league. Which poses the question: Is the Steelers star still a top five quarterback? Let’s look at some stats.

I asked our editor Liz what she thought and she said: “I don’t personally feel Big Ben is a top 5 player. For me he doesn’t quite fit in to the same category as Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Cam Newton. However, I do understand when he is fully fit he is on top form so maybe this coming season I will be pleasantly surprised!”

Big Ben’s passing rating over his career is 94. In 2015, his passer rating was an above average 94.5 as he threw for just under 4,000 yards. He did all this despite playing only 12 games. That’s a ridiculous level of production. In terms of numbers, there is no doubt in my mind that he’s a top five quarterback, probably top three.

Roethlisberger’s touchdown number dropped drastically last year to 21, placing him 27th overall. But this number can be misleading. With Le’Veon Bell, and later DeAngelo Williams, rushing the ball so effectively the need for Ben to pass the ball (and risk an interception) became seriously reduced. With a fit again Le’Veon, Ben no longer needs to carry the team.

Having said that, there’s no doubting the Steelers signal caller can make plays like no other barring, Cam Newton. His size and strength, as well as his scrambling ability, allows him to run receivers open and, perhaps most importantly, he’s a clutch playmaker with 34 game winning drives.

Of active quarterbacks, only Tom Brady (48) and Drew Brees (38) have more. Moreover, Pro Football Focus has Big Ben throwing the highest percentage of Big Time Throws, at 8.49.

Among starting quarterbacks, Ben’s accuracy was an impressive 68%. That was below only Cousins, Romo, Brees and Wilson. His 8.4 yard average puts him in the top five too.

In terms of average salary at least, Big Ben is a top five quarterback. His average salary a year is $21,850,000, which ranks him fourth according to the guys at Over The Cap. Given the predominance of the passing game in the league, and the fact that the Redskins are paying Kirk Cousins $19 million, that’s outstanding value.

Overall, the stats are good and I personally feel he is a top five quarterback. What’s your view?

Jonathan Cumbleton first got into the game aged 12 when he started playing touch football for the Northants Storm and soon fell in love with the game. His favourite team is the Philadelphia Eagles, but he also has a soft spot for the Buffalo Bills as they were the first team he ever watched live. His favourite all time players are Randall Cunningham and Brian Dawkins. Jonathan can be contacted on Twitter ‪@Cumbleton

Photo copyright FOX Sports

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