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On the QB food chain, how high up is Eli?

Eli Manning Monday night against the Falcons. (Getty Images)
Just how good has New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning been so far this season?

During Monday night's broadcast of the game against Atlanta ESPN's Ron Jaworski, who is to quarterbacks what Mel Kiper is to the NFL Draft, said he would rank Eli 8th currently among starting NFL quarterbacks.

I don't have the list of the seven QBs Jaworski puts in front of Eli, but where he ranks on the quarterback food chain is always a fun game to play. So, let's do that.

During the off-season Sports Illustrated's Peter King told us Eli was the 22nd best of the 32 projected starters. To me, that was just further evidence that King is off his rocker. Not a chance there are 21 better quarterbacks around the NFL than Eli.

But, fast-forwarding to right now, are there only seven in the league who are better?

If you go by the NFL's screwy Quarterback Rating System Manning is not even close to the top 10. By that measure, he has a QB Rating of 83.7 thru 6 games, 17th in the league. Such luminaries as David Garrard, Matt Schaub, Derek Anderson and Damon Huard are ahead of him.

If you've watched the games, though, you know there are not 16 quarterbacks in the league playing better football than Eli.

I was critical of him Monday for the two interceptions he threw. The fact remains, though, that he completed 12 consecutive passes at one point and passed for more than 300 yards.

He is playing with more confidence and throwing the ball more accurately (60.7% completions) than at any time in his career. He has also become the unquestioned leader of the Giants offense.

When I chat with bloggers from other teams around the league they always ask about Eli. Mostly, they want to know if he will ever be a star?

To that I say, watch the games. In my mind, he already is one of the league's best quarterbacks. He may not be his brother, Peyton, or Tom Brady -- but nobody else is, either.

Eli is an upper echelon quarterback, without question.

Who is ahead of him?

Peyton, Brady and Brett Favre, of course. Then, I'll give you Tony Romo and Carson Palmer. After that, I can give you an argument on just about quarterback you name.

Jeff Garcia? Please. He's having a nice season, but he's still a retread.

David Garrard? No interceptions, but Jacksonville still hardly ever scores. He can't be that good.

Ben Roethlisberger? No, sorry. He is still more of a caretaker. He throws the ball about 10 fewer times per game than Eli. The Steelers hardly ever ask him to win, they just don't want him to mess games up.

Drew Brees? Having a terrible year.

Donovan McNabb? You're nuts if you want McNabb instead of Eli right now.

Matt Hasselbeck? Philip Rivers? Jon Kitna? Derek Anderson? Matt Schaub? Alex Smith? No, no, no, no, no, no.

I don't think you can say that any of those guys is clearly better than Eli.

So, conservatively, you would have to put Eli in the top third of NFL quarterbacks. You might even have to put him in the top 25%.

I can live with that.

Your thoughts?