Age can be a benefit in wine and cheese. It's not typically seen as a trait of outstanding ability in the NFL. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger turned 32 years old in March, typically an age at which it's fairly obvious a player is in the large minority in terms of age.
With quarterbacks in today's NFL, though, older is better. The experience those players have gained and familiarity with his job helps him overcome declining physical skills. They read defenses with that experience guiding their decision-making, they're able to beat teams with their minds as opposed to just with their physical tools.
That apparently hasn't convinced one AFC personnel man, as described by CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, who released his installment of the trendy Top 100 list recently.
Writes Prisco about Roethlisberger, putting him at No. 36 on his list, the fifth quarterback to appear behind Peyton Manning (No. 1), Aaron Rodgers (No. 2), Tom Brady (No. 5) and Drew Brees (No. 7):
He didn't have great receivers last season and his line is perpetually a mess. But all he does is make plays.
AFC personnel man on Roethlisberger: "He is still capable of being one of the best in spurts, but not what he was. A top-10 quarterback, but he's taken a lot of hits and would benefit from a better offensive line and running game."
This summary itself seems a tad generic, but perhaps some truth is laced in there. It's the same story written about Roethlisberger back in 2010. The attention-grabbing piece of this is his first statement, "he didn't have great receivers last season." Perhaps he literally means "receivers," the plural for "receiver," of which Roethlisberger threw 165 times to one who was named to the All Pro second team.
Prisco ranked Antonio Brown, that All Pro receiver, No. 63 overall.
With Mike Wallace gone to Miami, he emerged as a true No. 1 receiver last season, catching 105 passes with eight touchdowns.
AFC personnel man on Brown: "A good player who is a really nice No. 2. Alone, he doesn't scare you that much, but he fits the scheme in Pittsburgh very well."
He may as well have said Brown is a "game manager" wide receiver. Despite the game ending in a loss, it doesn't seem like personnel men of the Chicago Bears would think Brown doesn't scare people. He finished that game with 196 yards and two touchdowns in nine catches. His 110 catches on the season were the second-highest in the NFL, as were his 1,499 receiving yards.
Certainly, everyone's got their opinion, it just seems Brown's production is somewhat undervalued around the NFL, and I'll admit there are reasons why I can be painted as biased in this conversation, but those thinking Antonio Brown's skill set is not befitting the distinction of being the team's top receiving target are missing the boat.
They simply are not watching him if they think that's all he's capable of being.
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu ranked No. 99 on the list as well.
Both Brown and Roethlisberger have the opportunity to show this season justification for higher placement on such lists, for whatever that's worth. They'll both be able to do that.