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Chiefs' Alex Smith just ahead of Bengals' Andy Dalton in ESPN's QB rankings

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ESPN ranks the quarterbacks, and everyone reacts.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Since the end of last season, I have said that Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith is an above average quarterback, which means if I were ranking the quarterbacks, he would be ranked No. 15 or higher.

ESPN's latest quarterback rankings have Smith as a below average quarterback. 26 league insiders helped make up Mike Sando's rankings at ESPN, where Smith lands at No. 18.

That's one spot ahead of Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Both Smith and Dalton are looking for new long-term deals this offseason, so it's fitting their right next to each other, Smith at No. 18 and Dalton at No. 19.

ESPN's piece has quotes from insiders who say Smith's arm doesn't scare and from a defensive perspective there's nothing you have to take away when playing him.

"But he is better than an Andy Dalton because he protects the ball. Dalton does not protect the ball,' one GM told ESPN. "There are just too many games he gives it to the other team."

Smith is seeking a new deal this offseason and one of the players we have compared him to for contract purposes are Jay Cutler and his seven-year, $100-something million deal (which is in reality a three-year, $54 million deal). From ESPN's perspective, that comparison is fair. Cutler is ranked No. 17, one spot ahead of Smith.

For the rest of the AFC West, Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning at No. 2 is just behind New England Patriots' Tom Brady as top tier quarterbacks while San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers is ranked No. 6.

You can read the whole thing at ESPN Insider ($$).