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Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger finally considered a 'top tier' QB by ESPN

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After Ben Roethlisberger's 2014 and 2015 seasons, experts and media are finally taking notice of No. 7. The latest was ESPN in their Top Tier QB rankings.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers have known what kind of player, and just how good, Ben Roethlisberger is on a weekly basis. They watch the Houdini escapes, backyard passes and the ridiculous precision on almost all throws every Sunday, but it seemed as if the national media never gave him the credit which everyone felt he deserved.

Year in, and year out, you saw so many players listed above Roethlisberger.

Tom Brady
Aaron Rodgers
Russell Wilson
Peyton Manning
Drew Brees

The list could go on, depending on which media outlet you were reading at the time, but Roethlisberger was always the quarterback on the cusp. The player who teetered between the best of the best, and the best of the rest.

After impressive statistical 2014 and 2015 seasons, people are finally starting to take notice. Although some came around earlier than others, ESPN was the latest to finally give Roethlisberger a big pat on the back when Mike Sando created his 'Top Tier QB Ranking' article.

For those unfamiliar with Sando's work, he takes all 32 quarterbacks and puts them into tiers. Here are the tiers which each signal caller will fit:

Tier 1: Can carry his team each week. Team wins because of him.
Tier 2: Can carry team sometimes but not as consistently.
Tier 3: Legit starter but needs heavy run game/defense to win.
Tier 4: Might not want this guy starting all 16 games.
Tier 5: Do not think this guy should be starting.

Figuring these tiers cannot be easy, especially when Sando tried to keep the groups as small as possible, only 3 in the top tier. Roethlisberger clearly finds his way into the top tier, and is the third ranked in the tier behind Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

See what he had to say about Roethlisberger:

3. Ben Roethlisberger | Pittsburgh Steelers

Avg. rating: 1.21 | Change in rating: +11.5% | 2015 rank: 4

Thirty-three of 42 voters placed Roethlisberger in the top tier, drawing a clear line between him and the quarterbacks listed below. There were zero complaints about the 16 interceptions Roethlisberger threw last season. Insiders understood how much pressure was on the Steelers' quarterback while he averaged 39.1 pass attempts per game.

"I just admire how he can play big-boy football," a GM said.

An offensive coordinator described Roethlisberger's evolution succinctly.

"He is probably as close to a 2 as a 1 can be," this coordinator said. "He has never been a guy who studied the game like Peyton did. He has been playing for 10 years and he is not a dumb guy, so he has figured it out just because he has played it, not so much because of the [extra] time he has put in. He is smarter and he is more mature. He can still make the throws and carry a team. He has won with a lot of different people."

Roethlisberger missed four games to injury last season after starting all 32 over the previous two seasons. He has only three 16-game seasons over the course of his career, however, and that is why some voters placed him in the second tier. But there is lots to like, including how Roethlisberger commands the offense at the line of scrimmage before the snap.

"He is a stud," a quarterbacks coach said. "He does some s--- that is just off the map. There are some things that fall apart, and he gets off schedule and that guy just makes plays. He has a hose. He is huge. He is so hard to bring down. He is competitive. He is gritty. He is smart. We played him this past year and our defense struggled that day because of him. That guy can win for you every week."

It is good to see someone finally give Roethlisberger the credit he is due, and for those who follow the black and gold every year...this is old news.