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Marc Sessler of NFL.com recently ranked every quarterback draft class since 2000, and to no surprise, he had the 2004 quarterback draft class ranked as No. 1. The class consists of three future Hall of Famers in Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. Yeah, Rivers never won a Super Bowl like Roethlisberger and Manning, both of whom have two apiece, but his statistical numbers suggest that he'll someday be in Canton.
Of the three, only Roethlisberger is still playing, who's heading into his 18th season with the Steelers in 2021. Rivers retired after this past season and Manning retired the year before.
Below is the summary from Sessler on why he ranks the 2004 quarterback draft class as the best since 2000.
"The gold standard for quarterback classes of the 21st century. The 2004 collection of signal-callers boasts four Super Bowl wins, while the group's big three -- Eli Manning , Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger -- can all make cases for the Hall of Fame. The trio's 705 regular-season starts also tell the tale of ironman passers counted on to dress game after game and year after year by their respective teams. The Chargers and Giants will always be linked because of the draft-day trade that sent Manning to New York and Rivers to San Diego. Deep history today, though, with Eli dipped in retirement and Rivers calling it quits after his one-year stint with the Colts. Big Ben remains the finest of the bunch, but it's fair to wonder what he can offer come September after a rough-and-tumble ending to 2020. The first round also included a titanic bust in J.P. Losman, but third-rounder Matt Schaub beat the odds to play for 17 seasons. Shame on those of you who don't recall the feats of Matt Mauck. If this class came around every year, the league would be turning signal-callers away at the door."
The 2004 quarterback draft class is without a doubt the best since 2000, but it's also arguably the greatest quarterback draft class in NFL history. The only quarterback draft class that rivals it is the 1983 quarterback draft class that had John Elway, Dan Marino and Jimmy Kelly. All three are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Marino and Kelly never won a Super Bowl, but Elway won two with the Broncos at the end of his career. He appeared in a total of five Super Bowls, losing the first three. In total, Elway, Marino and Kelly appeared in 10 Super Bowls compared to the five by Roethlisberger, Manning and Rivers, but the 2004 class has the upper hand in Super Bowl wins with four. Of the six quarterbacks, only Rivers never appeared in a Super Bowl.