Ranking the 2004 Quarterback Draft Class 16 Years Later


With the news that the Los Angeles Chargers will be moving on from Philip Rivers just days after New York Giants two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning announced his retirement, we decided to take a look back at the 2004 draft class. 

That draft class included names like Larry Fitzgerald (who recently signed on for his 17th season with the Cardinals), Sean Taylor, DeAngelo Hall, Vince Wilfork, and Ben Watson (who announced his own retirement after the Patriots’ season came to an end).

But along with Manning, the first overall pick, and Rivers at No. 4, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger at No. 1. After an epic draft-day trade between the Chargers and Giants, Roethlisberger was the only one of the three to actually play for the team that drafted him.

Here’s my ranking of the three signal-callers. 

Philip Rivers (2004-present)


An eight-time Pro Bowler, Rivers is closing in on 60,000 career passing yards and is just three touchdowns away from reaching 400. He led the Chargers to six playoffs berths, although he hasn’t played in a Super Bowl. Four of his playoff runs ended at the hands of the Patriots. Will someone take a shot on the veteran? Since he’s moved his family from California to Florida, would Tampa Bay sign him? He would cost less than Jameis Winston and his $30 million dollar asking price


Ben Roethlisbeger (2004-present) 

A six-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to 10 playoff berths, including his rookie season. He was named 2004 Offensive Rookie of the Year and has accumulated 56,545 career passing yards and 363 career touchdowns. He missed all but two games this past season after an elbow injury. We’ll have to wait to see if the injury will impact him going forward.

Eli Manning (2004-2020)


The one guy on this list who had the added pressure of being Peyton’s little brother is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time Super Bowl champion, plus Super Bowl MVP. He compiled 57,023 career passing yards and 366 passing touchdowns. He gets the top spot because, for both titles, his team was a huge underdog against the Patriots team. 

These three quarterbacks from the draft class have combined for over 173,000 passing yards and 1,126 passing touchdowns. That does not sit well for the fans of the Lions (cornerback Roy Williams), Browns (tight end Kellen Winslow), Jaguars (wide receiver Reggie Williams) or Texans (cornerback Dunta Robinson), who all let Ben Roethlisberger slip through their fingers. 

It will definitely weird next season not seeing Chargers highlights without Rivers and Giants highlights without Manning. It has been 16 seasons since we’ve been able to say that. 

Three quarterbacks. Three who to this point have only played for one team. Three future Hall of Fame selections.

Three legends.


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