This year's rookie quarterback class very well could have been the best the NFL has ever seen. A lot of quarterback's have risen up the rankings chart while others have regressed a bit. Let's take a look at the Top ten offensive leaders heading into next season.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers is two years removed from his Super Bowl MVP performance, but the 29 year old is still at the top of the game. Besides legendary starters Manning and Brady, Rodgers has been one of the most prolific passers in the game. He is the all-time career leader in passer rating and holds the league's lowest career pass interception percentage for quarterbacks during the regular season. With Donald Driver retiring and Greg Jennings future with the team uncertain, management will look to add some more pieces around Rodgers to compliment Greg Jones, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. A faulty running attack has been an achilles heel for the Packers offense, and it will be an aspect that General Manager Ted Thompson will look to address in April's draft. Nonetheless, Rodgers commands the top spot heading into next season.
2. Peyton Manning
Peyton continued his quest to finish as one of, if not the best quarterback of all-time after another stellar season with the Denver Broncos. The neck surgeries he had all of last year were supposed to impede Manning from regaining his All-Pro form but he proved the doubters wrong. With a new team, coach and offense Manning torched secondaries for 4,600 yards and 37 touchdowns. He made Demaryius Thomas a household name after he put up 1,400 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns this year, and will put the Broncos on the map for the foreseeable future. Playing in a division that has Kansas City and Oakland always bodes well for a quarterback like Manning, and he will almost surely have Denver in the playoff hunt once again barring any injuries in December. If injury-laden running back Willis McGahee can once again come back from a nasty MCL injury, the Broncos will be one of the most potent offenses in the league in 2013.
3. Tom Brady
Tom will be 36 years old before the start of the 2013 regular season and definitely has some of the brighter memories of his Hall of Fame career well behind him. He hasn't won the Super Bowl since 2004, but still has plenty of energy and fire to lead the Patriots for at least another 2-3 years to the big game. Year in and year out Brady has dealt with an overhaul at the receiving corps yet still puts up record setting numbers. Like Manning, Brady can make unknown receivers and backs relevant names in the stat box every Sunday such as Stevan Ridley, Julian Edelman and Kevin Faulk. Barring any injuries in 2013, Brady and Co. should put up another electric year offensively under Bill Belichick.
4. Drew Brees
A 7-9 record in 2012 was an unfortunate and disappointing season for Brees and the Saints, but with head coach Sean Peyton back for 2013, the future seems bright. Brees led the NFL this past season with 312 yards per game, and threw for a league-high 5,100 yards and 43 touchdowns. At 34 years old and fresh off signing a $100 million extension, Brees will look to add another Lombardi trophy to his resume before his career comes to an end. Fixing a faulty defense will be key to the Saints getting back into the playoff mix once again in 2013, but having Brees at the helm of the offense will always ensure a close game for New Orleans. With some free agents signings and rookies from April's draft coming in to alleviate some defensive woes, there is no question the Saints will be coming back with a vengeance in 2013.
5. Joe Flacco
As of this past season, Flacco has moved himself into the top tier of NFL quarterbacks. His performance in the 2012 playoffs warranted a move into more elite company, especially after knocking off Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs. At 28 years old, Flacco along with Rodgers are going to be at the forefront of the quarterback scene as they are currently in the prime of their athletic careers. An aging defensive with captain Ray Lewis leaving will surely be addressed this offseason, but General Manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh will make sure the Ravens won't fall off much from this year's Super Bowl victory. Flacco was poised and collected all season and finally got over the proverbial hump after an excruciating loss in the 2011 postseason. With new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell allowing Flacco more freedom with the offense there's no telling what they will look like with Pierce, Boldin, Rice and Smith in 2013.
6. Ben Roethlisberger
Even though Roethlisberger has been hampered by injuries and an almost definite revamped roster change in the offseason seems imminent, 2013 should be a much better year than the Steelers 8-8 record indicated. The Steelers have long been one of the most stable franchises, opting for small changes rather than drastic makeovers. This offseason though could see quite a few changes, especially on the offensive end of the ball. The defense ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in passing and rushing yards per game but is also one of the oldest defensive units in the league. Even though Roethlisberger has taken a back seat to some of the other quarterbacks in the league, his past success cannot be denied. The two-time Super Bowl champion is one of the best on-field leaders in the game, and at 30 years old he still has quite a few more seasons to get the Steelers back to the Super Bowl.
7. Matt Ryan
Ryan led the Falcons to an amazing 13-3 record in the regular season this year, but don't expect a similar record in 2013. They play in one of the tougher divisions in football, and New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Carolina will be looking to knock them off the top. Ryan is in a similar situation that Joe Flacco had found himself in--he was putting up great statistics and has all the qualities of a proven leader, but couldn't get to the big game. This year was Ryan's "year" to prove everybody wrong, but once again it wasn't meant to be. Ryan led the Falcons in two closely contested postseason games in 2012, narrowly getting past rookie Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. At 27 years old, "Matty Ice" will be relevant and elite for many years to come in the NFL. With one of the most explosive offenses in all of football and some key defensive players coming back from injury the Falcons will once again be at the forefront of the postseason discussion come December.
8. Eli Manning
Eli has been one of the more interesting quarterbacks over the past few seasons as well as one of the most curious to follow. He has games that make him worthy of elite status before regressing mightily with a no-so-worthy contest. His two Super Bowl rings at age 32 put him at the forefront of the discussion for the next couple seasons, but he just doesn't seem to have the "it" factor that quarterbacks such as Brady, Peyton and Brees all have. His numbers this year weren't his best, and he was in quite a few shootouts this past season with a defense that is aging and some younger players that are struggling. With a young receiving corps meshing together well and Bradshaw sharing time with David Wilson the offense will be potent once again in 2013. Fixing some of the defensive troubles will be key to Manning leading the Giants back to the promised land once again. He's proved his doubters wrong twice now in the postseason, so there's no reason he cannot do it again.
9. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson has seen amazing success in his first year in the league, and narrowly missed going to the NFC Championship game against the 49ers. Wilson, at 6 feet tall wasn't supposed to be the explosive quarterback that we all know now, but with an undying passion at improving and a keen football knowledge, he has vaulted into the top ten heading into 2013. Wilson is headlining the latest string of quarterbacks that are a dual-threat every time they snap the football. He finished 2012 with the highest rookie passer rating at 100.0 and tied the all-time record for touchdown passes by a rookie with 26. Even with former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley gone, Wilson & Co. are poised for another Super Bowl run in 2013. Along with Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate there is no reason why Wilson can't put up even better numbers next season.
10. Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick had some growing pains here and there after taking over for Alex Smith in December, but overall he played terrific football all the way through the playoffs. He almost led the 49ers back from the largest deficit in Super Bowl history for the win before falling short at the goal line with just under two minutes to play. Kaepernick will undoubtedly be the 49ers starter heading into next season, and with his dual-threat ability both him and Wilson will have some electric divisional match ups in 2013. At 25 years old and with one of the best defenses in the league behind him Kaepernick is the future of 49er football. Head coach Jim Harbaugh gambled and took a chance with 2nd-year quarterback and it paid off wondrously.He broke Michael Vick's single game quarterback rushing record with 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers, and will be giving defensive coordinators headaches for many seasons to come.
Honorable Mention:Andrew Luck, Matt Schaub, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton.