ESPN's AFC East blogger, James Walker, asked his readers this week to pick the next top quarterback in the division, after Tom Brady retires. Brady, who turns 35 before this season starts, is entering the twilight of his career and, even as his performance remains near the top of the league each year, there is no running from age, and Brady should be headed for retirement in the next three years, or so.
When Brady does retire, the New England Patriots should return to the rest of the AFC East pack, and the competition will turn to which quarterback will take his place as the top quarterback in the division. Will it be the Buffalo Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick? Or, perhaps the Patriots will again find lightning in a bottle with Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer? What about the New York Jets' starter Mark Sanchez? What about the Jets' backup Tim Tebow?
According to Walker's readers, it's none of those. Instead, it's Miami Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill.
According to the SportsNation poll Walker had on his blog, 33% of the over 8,000 votes went to the Dolphins' 2011 first round pick, despite Tannehill having never taken a snap in the NFL. Fitzpatrick took second place with 29% of the vote. The Patriots backup quarterbacks Mallett and Hoyer came next with 24%, while the Jets' had Sanchez gain just 9%, while Tebow had 5%. Even combined, the Jets still found themselves 10 points behind the Patriots' duo.
Walker poses a good question in his look at the poll results. Did Tannehill come out on top because people believe in him, or because people have no faith in the other quarterbacks? Let us know what you think below in the comments, and vote in our poll looking at who is the biggest threat to Tannehill not taking the top spot in the AFC East.