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Revisiting the 2004 Quarterback Draft Class

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Who has had the best career between Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Matt Schaub?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Since we are in the thick of draft season talk, and the Chargers will (more than likely) be picking a QB for the future within the next year and a half, I thought it would be an appropriate time to revisit the 2004 draft, which will go down as one of the best QB drafts ever.

With the first pick in the 2004 NFL draft, the Chargers selected Eli Manning, who had repeatedly said he would not play for the Chargers. The Chargers selected him anyways, and the look on his face showed it all... He did not want to be a Charger.

So the Chargers got to work and contacted the Giants. It’s hard to know if the Chargers had Manning or Rivers rated higher, due to knowing Manning wouldn’t play for them, but they had both guys over Roethlisberger and knew that the Giants would pay a pretty penny for Eli.

The Chargers traded Eli Manning to the Giants, and the Chargers received Philip Rivers, a 3rd round pick (Nate Kaeding), and a 2005 1st round pick (Shawne Merriman), and 5th round pick (Traded for Roman Oben). In terms of draft trade value, the Chargers gave up 3,000-point 1st overall pick, for the Giant’s 4th pick (1,800), 65th pick (265), 2015 12th pick (1200), and 144th pick (34). Obviously, the trade worked out marvelously for the Chargers. They got one of the most accurate kickers in history, a short-lived beast at the linebacker position, and Philip Rivers, a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

7 picks later, the Steelers picked Ben Roethlisberger, the Bills picked up J.P. Losman with the 22nd pick, and the Falcons picked up Matt Schaub with the 90th overall pick in the 3rd round.

In terms of success, Roethlisberger leads all four with 136 wins, 67 losses (.670), followed by Eli Manning with 116 wins, 95 losses (.550), and Rivers at 101 and 84 (.546). Matt Schaub is at 48 and 46 (.511), and J.P. Losman went 10-23.

Roethlisberger leads all four with 3 Super Bowl victories, followed by Eli Manning with 2, and Rivers and Losman with 0. It’s hard to blame Rivers for the lack of Super Bowl rings, as ownership of his team is completely incompetent, and blew any and all chances at making a deep run.

Ben Roethlisberger (Pick 11)

Ben Roethlisberger currently sits at 46,814 yards with 301 TDs, 160 INTs, 1205 rushing yards, and 16 rushing TDs. He completes 64.1% of his passes for 7.9 yards per attempt and has fumbled 88 times in his career. This is through 185 games (not including postseason) over 13 seasons. During that time, he has played only 3 full seasons and has missed 23 regular season games due to injuries and suspensions. His last full season was in 2014. His career passer rating is 94.1, and he has eclipsed 100, 3 seasons in his career (2014, 2009, and 2007).

Philip Rivers (Pick 4)

Philip Rivers is about 1,000 yards behind Roethlisberger at 45,833 yds, 314 TDs, 156 INTs, 575 rushing yards, along with 3 TDs. He has completed 64.4% of his passes for 7.7 YPA, He’s also fumbled 29 times in his career. In 11 years as a starter, he has not missed a regular season game and appeared in 2 games each in 2004 and 2005. He has played in 180 games and thrown for more TDs, fewer INTs than Roethlisberger. Add that he is a role model of health, and Rivers looks great on paper. Rivers has a career passer rating of 94.7, and has eclipsed 100, 4 seasons (in 11 as a starter), with 3 in a row from 2008-2012, and another in 2013.

Eli Manning (Pick 1)

Manning has 48,214 yards, 320 TDs, 215 INTs, and a career passer rating of 83.7. He has completed 59.7% of his passes for 7.1 yards per attempt and has added 514 rushing yards, 5 TDs, and 24 fumbles. He has not missed a regular season game since his first year in 2004 and has played in 201 games. He has never eclipsed a 94 passer rating in a single season and has thrown 20+ interceptions in 3 seasons, with 27 in 2013 (to only 18 TDs. He’s been consistently on the field but has also consistently been very meh as a quarterback (outside of his obvious postseason success).

Matt Schaub, Pick 90

For fun, Schaub has played in 17 games over the last three seasons, including 11 for Oakland in 2014, 2 for the Ravens in 2015, and appeared in 4 for Atlanta in 2016. Over his career, he has 24,867 yards, 133 TDs, 90 INTs, and a career rating of 89.1. He’s added 360 yards and 4 TDs on the ground, and 13 fumbles. His TD:INT ratio is only slightly lower than Manning’s. That being said, he has not posted a solid season since 2012, where he passed for 4008 yards, 22 TDs to 12 INTs. Since then, he has thrown for about 2950 yards, 13 TDs, and 20 INTs. He is still backup for the Falcons, but won’t see any time as long as Matt Ryan is healthy. It doesn’t help that he threw 6 pick sixes in his last 9 games, against only 4 TDs.

J.P. Losman, Pick 22

In addition, the 3rd quarterback taken in the 2004 draft, J.P. Losman, ended his career in 2011, with 6271 yards, 33 TDs, 34 INTs, and a career rating of 75.6.

From a success standpoint, it’s hard to argue against Roethlisberger. From a health standpoint, you have to go for Eli. But from an overall standpoint, you have to take Rivers. He doesn’t have huge injury problems, is still playing well despite getting up in age, and has better passing statistics than either Roethlisberger or Manning, in a shorter period of time.

Who would you choose to be your quarterback? Would it be the durable (but statistically mediocre) Eli Manning, the talented (but injury-prone with off-field issues) Roethlisberger, the statistically great (but always part of an underperforming team) Philip Rivers, the bust J.P. Losman, or the short-lived starter in Matt Schaub? Let us know in the comments.