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Tony Romo obsession continues with overrated and elite pre-season labels

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Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo is an undeniably talented quarterback. Dallas Cowboys/Facebook
Tony Romo
Romo's reputation is dogged by what he hasn't accomplished. Courtesy of Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo
Tony Romo puts up great numbers but also chokes consistently in big games. Dallas Cowboys/Facebook
DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo
Romo hands off the ball to running back DeMarco Murray. Photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo
Tony Romo
DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo
Matthew Postins headshot

This is the time of year when NFL writers have a little too much time on their hands, so they write stories about overrated and underrated players and compile lists of the best players at each position. Naturally, Tony Romo’s name comes up constantly.

On the heels of being named as the NFL’s No. 3 overrated player by CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman, Romo was named the No. 9 quarterback in the NFL by CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson.

This begs the question: Can Romo be a top 10 quarterback and one of the most overrated players at the same time?

Poll Cowboys fans, and they would probably nod their heads in agreement with Freeman’s assessment of Romo — and nod their heads in disagreement with Brinson. I realize I’m probably in the minority, but I think Romo is a top 10 quarterback. In fact, I’d argue he’s been in that club for years.

 Romo’s reputation is wrapped up in the big moments he’s fumbled and what he hasn’t accomplished yet. But he is an undeniably talented quarterback.

Brinson’s list includes four quarterbacks he considers elite: Aaron Rodgers (No. 1), Tom Brady (2), Peyton Manning (3) and Drew Brees (4). No disagreement here.

All four have at least one Super Bowl ring and have put up monster numbers the past five years. Plus, they’ve each won at least 49 games as a starter during that span. Two of them — Brady and Manning — missed a full season to injury.

Brinson’s argument isn’t about whether Romo is elite or not. It’s clear he’s not. Romo has the big numbers but doesn’t have the Super Bowl rings. Romo has just one playoff win to his credit. Elite quarterbacks have the rings and the big numbers. That’s why they’re elite.

The argument is how Romo relates to the four quarterbacks Brinson grouped him with and the quarterbacks in the groups after the top 9.

The next group comprises two distinct subsets. The first is the three Super Bowl champions: Eli Manning (5), Ben Roethlisberger (7) and Joe Flacco (9). Manning, Roethlisberger and Flacco aren’t known for putting up big statistical numbers, but they win games at an elite level. Flacco has 54 wins; Manning and Roethlisberger have 48 each.

The other set is made up of Ryan and Romo, a pair of quarterbacks known for putting up great statistics but not for winning big games. Ryan chipped away at that reputation somewhat by leading the Falcons to the NFC championship game in January.

Romo, of course, is coming off a 2012 in which his errant screen pass against Washington is the most glaring mistake in a game where, had the Cowboys won, they could have won the NFC East and reached the postseason. That wasn’t the first time it’s happened, either.

Romo’s reputation is wrapped up in the big moments he’s fumbled and what he hasn’t accomplished yet. But he is an undeniably talented quarterback.

So what separates him from the quarterbacks listed immediately after him on Brinson’s list?

Brinson considers Carolina’s Cam Newton his No. 10 quarterback. Newton is not a better quarterback than Romo at this stage. Newton is inconsistent and completes fewer than 60 percent of his passes. Romo has completed 65.1 percent of his passes the past five years, a completion percent that matches well with the elite quarterbacks.

No. 11 is Highland Park product Matthew Stafford. Like Newton, he suffers from a sub-60 percent completion rate and inconsistency. He also has a history of injuries, something Romo has largely avoided, aside from his broken collarbone in 2010.

I would take Romo over both. I would also take Romo over Brinson’s No. 12-15 quarterbacks — Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Washington’s Robert Griffin III. You may scoff, but there are still too many unknowns surrounding these players, based on track record, for me to buy into thinking they’re better than Romo right now.

I know some people will disagree. But I see Romo as talented enough and productive enough to be considered a top 10 quarterback entering the 2013 season. If he can just figure out the big moments, maybe he’ll make the jump.

A general manager with a clue wouldn’t hurt, either.

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