Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was drafted in the same first round of the 2004 NFL draft as Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. But because Rivers sat on the bench behind Drew Brees for two years, his career numbers always lagged behind his two fellow 2004 first-rounders. That could change as soon as Sunday.
Rivers, Manning and Roethlisberger are now all within 500 career passing yards of each other. Here’s where they rank heading into Sunday:
Roethlisberger 56,545 yards
Manning 56,537 yards
Rivers 56,121 yards
But Rivers remains the Chargers’ starter while Manning has been benched for Daniel Jones and Roethlisberger is out for the season with an elbow injury, so Rivers should end this season comfortably ahead of both Roethlisberger and Manning.
Rivers could pass them both as soon as Sunday night against the Steelers. If Rivers throws for 425 yards on Sunday night, he’ll be first among the three of them (and sixth in NFL history behind Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Dan Marino). More likely, Rivers will eclipse Manning and Roethlisberger in two weeks.
What’s truly remarkable, however, is just how close their career stats are, all these years later. It’s been more than 15 years since the three quarterbacks were drafted, and their career passing yardage is almost identical.