Ranking All 32 NFL Team's Quarterback Entering 2021
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
We are back baby. The 2021-2022 NFL Season is only days away, and as a Washington Football Fan, I can proudly say this is one of the first times in my life that I am looking forward to a season starting. We have seen a lot of change this offseason at the quarterback position, and a youth movement that has seen guys like Josh Allen and Justin Herbert become big-time names. Joe Burrow was on pace for a great season as well, but an ACL injury led to his rookie season being cut short. 43-year-old Tom Brady is still getting the job done coming off his 7th Super Bowl Victory, and Aaron Rodgers won his third MVP Award at the prime age of 37. Some quarterbacks are entering make-or-break seasons in 2021, like Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, Daniel Jones in New York, and Jimmy Garopollo in San Francisco. There are still questions to be answered as well, with the public still not knowing if this will be Aaron Rodgers's last season in Green Bay and if Deshaun Watson will be suspended by the NFL for numerous sexual assault allegations.
To construct this list, I sorted through statistics from last season and watched videos on the strengths and weaknesses of every projected starting quarterback. It is extremely difficult to rank college quarterbacks like Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trevor Lawrence, because let's be honest, we have no idea if their college success will fully translate to the professional level. Take last year as an example. I ranked Justin Herbert as the worst quarterback heading into last season because of the questions that were raised about his leadership and inconsistency in college. Some said Tua Tagovailoa was the most accurate and best quarterback in the draft last year, but he had an underwhelming first season in Miami. After sorting through statistics and videos from last season, I looked at the quarterback's age, supporting cast, and statistics from previous seasons to make this list.
Now, here is my 2021 NFL Starting Quarterback rankings heading into this season, and here is my list that I created last year heading into the 2020 NFL season.
#32 Teddy Bridgewater- Denver Broncos
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Right before I put out this list, the Denver Broncos named Teddy Bridgewater the starter. Throughout the summer, I was sure they would give Lock a shot and then go to Teddy when he struggled, and this is what I originally wrote about Drew:
"Kicking off this list with the worst starting quarterback in the NFL heading into this season, Drew Lock. It was a no-brainer. There were only two spots on this list that I had to put minimal thought into, which was Drew Lock at #32 and the quarterback I labeled the best in the NFL at #1. The 24-year-old Drew Lock is entering his third season in the NFL and has still only started in only 18 regular-season games. After being injured most of his rookie season, Lock started the last 5 games for the Broncos in 2019, going 4-1 in those 5 games. This tied Lock with John Elway for the most wins as a quarterback in Broncos history as a rookie, with the 4 wins that he accomplished in only 5 games. Lock had 7 touchdowns and 3 picks, with a 64.1% completion percentage in those games. With the momentum and initial success that Lock achieved in the NFL after being drafted 42nd overall by the Broncos in 2019, the expectations for this young and up-and-coming Broncos team were high. I can even sadly admit that I had them slotted as the third wild card in the AFC last season as said on the MoeCast Episode 23. It ended up being a nightmare season for the Broncos and Lock in 2020.
Lock started off the 2020 season well, throwing for 216 yards and a touchdown in the 2020 opener against the Tenessee Titans. He injured his shoulder in Week 2 vs the Steelers, and after returning to the field on October 18th against the Patriots, Lock went on to throw interceptions in 7 straight games, with 8 touchdowns and 13 interceptions over that 7 game span. Lock was so bad, he even got benched for Kendall Hinton in Week 12 vs the Saints! (This is obviously a joke after all three Broncos quarterbacks were out due to COVID-19 protocols in Week 12, Broncos practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton had to play quarterback in a 31-3 blowout loss). Lock has shown flashes, highlighted by his last 4 starts of the season where he threw 7 touchdowns compared to 2 interceptions, capping off the season with a 339 yard 2 touchdown performance vs the Las Vegas Raiders. Lock finished the season with 16 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions which was tied with Carson Wentz for the most interceptions in the NFL. On top of that, Lock also lost 3 fumbles and had a 57.3% completion percentage. With the offseason addition of Teddy Bridgewater, Lock will have to perform well early to avoid being benched in Denver. "
Now with Drew Lock losing the starting job to Teddy Bridgewater after only 18 games started in his career, that goes to show you the Broncos were as confident in Lock as I was. I am a fan of Teddy Bridgwater and I think that he is better than Drew, but after last season it is hard to put Teddy above anyone else on this list. Still only 28 years old, Teddy has a good shot in Denver to establish himself as a solid quarterback in the NFL once again. Filling in for an injured Drew Brees in 2019 with the Saints, Bridgewater was spectacular in his 5 starts, going 5-0 and throwing for 9 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. His completion percentage was 67.9 with a quarterback rating of 99.1. After leaving New Orleans with Drew Brees set to play at least one more season, Teddy was rewarded with a 3-year $63 million dollar contract with the Panthers. The problem is he just never got it going the way he wanted it to.
In 15 games as a starter for the Carolina Panthers with new Head Coach Matt Rhule and quarterback whisperer offensive coordinator Joe Brady, the Panthers went 4-11 and Bridgewater threw for 15 touchdowns but with 11 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles. He is an accurate quarterback and can be a part of a winning football team, but his only season in Carolina was disappointing, to say the least. Even though Christian McCaffrey was out most of the season, Bridgewater still had Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel as major weapons, and he did not put up great numbers. I am looking forward to seeing what Teddy can do in Denver as the solidified starter and hopefully he can regain the form that he had at times in Minnesota and with New Orleans.
#31 Tua Tagovailoa- Miami Dolphins
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Tua Tagovailoa may be the most interesting case on this list. After this season, he could be a top 15 quarterback, or I could see the Miami Dolphins giving up on him. Coming out of college Tua was one of my favorite quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was comfortable in the pocket, one of the most accurate college quarterbacks I have ever seen, and he had proven his big-game potential after the 2017 National Championship performance as a true freshman coming off the bench at halftime. Tua was projected to be the first overall pick in the NFL draft heading into his last year at college, before being injured and Joe Burrow rising to stardom. Injuries were a real concern for the potential suitors of Tua heading into the NFL draft, with Tua having five notable injuries in his three years at Alabama. After being selected by the Dolphins Tua was the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick until Week 8 of the season. Even though Fitzpatrick was playing well Head Coach Brian Flores turned the keys over to rookie Tua to lead the Dolphins for the rest of the season.
The Dolphins have done a great job to construct a winning roster in the up-and-coming AFC East. The Buffalo Bills are now an elite football team, the Jets cannot be worse than last year, and the Patriots are primed to be better after a disappointing 2020 season. The Dolphins offense has weapons and a solid offensive line to protect Tua and allow him to succeed. Now it's up to Tua to see if he can execute. In 2020 Tua threw 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, with a 64.1% completion percentage in 10 total games. He was 6-3 as the starter but was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick on a couple of occasions in close games when the Dolphins needed a spark. Tua was too timid with the football. He did not take any deep shots, locking in on different short targets instead of taking a shot downfield. Even though Tua did not take many deep shots, he had 5 interceptions and multiple risky and questionable short throws that were nearly picked off. His QBR was 26th in the NFL, right behind Andy Dalton. Tua benefited in college by being surrounded by an elite Alabama football team and to remain a starter in the NFL Tua needs to take a large leap next season.
#30 Jalen Hurts- Philadelphia Eagles
Even though I am a huge Washington Football Fan and absolutely despise the Eagles, I am a big fan of Jalen Hurts. I know this is hard to tell with Hurts being ranked as the third-worst starting quarterback in the league in my mind, but Hurts is a winner and one of the best leaders in the NFL. It is hard to believe that Hurts is the starter in Philadelphia heading into this season. Carson Wentz had a monster contract and had the love of the organization and fans in Philadelphia before 2020. Now, the 22-year-old Jalen Hurts (wow I'm old) is the clear-cut man in Philadelphia. It was a puzzling move to select Hurts 53rd overall when the Eagles had so many holes on the offensive end especially with Wentz locked up for 5 more seasons at the time. Hurts began the season as a backup to Wentz, coming in on some plays that were designed runs or as a decoy. As the season went on and Wentz struggled Hurts came in relief of Wentz in Week 13 vs the Packers and made his first start in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints.
Hurts did not put up eye-popping stats, but he provided the spark plug as the Eagles had a huge upset over the Saints in his first career start, throwing for 167 yards and a touchdown on 17 of 30 passing during the 24-21 win. Not only did he throw for 167 yards, but he also flashed his 4.59 40 yard dash speed with 106 rushing yards. In Week 15 vs the Cardinals, Hurts had 338 passing yards with 3 passing touchdowns and 63 rushing yards with a rushing touchdown. Hurts was setting the world on fire with his initial success before throwing 2 interceptions in Week 16 vs the Cowboys and completing only 7 of 20 passes vs Washington in Week 17 before being "benched" by disgraced former Head Coach Doug Pederson for Nate Sudfeld. Hurts experienced this initial success and showed the threat that he can be on the ground but he needs to limit his risky throws and he needs to be more confident in the pocket. He had an eye-popping 9 fumbles in his limited time in 2020. Hurts is not a bad quarterback by any means but I would take the quarterbacks with fewer question marks ranked ahead of him on this list heading into next season.
#29 Mac Jones- New England Patriots
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In a shocker that rocked the sports world this morning, Mac Jones has been named the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, beating out Cam Newton who was subsequently released. Here is what I had to say about the new free agent Cam Newton, and what I have to say about Mac following it.
"Superman Cam found his kryptonite in New England last year. I do not care how corny you think that was. I liked it. Cam Newton had quite the offseason last year, not knowing where he would land and there seemingly not being a perfect fit for him before signing with the Patriots late in the offseason. Cam and New England did not mesh well but believe it or not I will cut them some slack here. Newton had so little time to learn a completely new offense and it is fair to say that it was an adjustment for the coaching staff shifting from the playing style of Tom Brady to Newton. Newton was also playing pretty well in the first three weeks of the season before missing Week 4 against the Chiefs with COVID-19 and struggled after coming back. We know how good of a player Cam Newton once was. He is a former 1st overall pick, a 3-time Pro Bowler, and the 2015 MVP after leading the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record before losing in the Super Bowl. Cam has struggled with injuries mightily as his career has progressed but he remained healthy throughout last season only missing the Week 4 game against the Chiefs. Newton only played in 2 games in Carolina in 2019 and was a risk for New England to sign and it was pretty surprising to see Cam return to the Patriots this offseason on a 1-year deal for another run in 2021.
Newton posted a quarterback rating of 82.1 and completed 65.2% of his passes which was higher than his MVP season in 2015. He quickly flashed the potential that he will possess until the day he retires in Week 2 against the Seahawks throwing for 397 yards and rushing for 47 yards with 3 total touchdowns and an interception. Similar to Daniel Jones, Cam was all or nothing at times, with 9 weeks in total of not throwing a passing touchdown and posting a passing grade below 60 in 8 out of his 14 starts. Newton ended the season with 2,657 yards to go along with 8 passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His QBR of 47.0 was ranked 30th in the NFL. He did lead the league in rushing touchdowns among quarterbacks with 12 to go along with only 1 lost fumble. His 592 rushing yards were the most since 2017 with the Panthers. Newton is entering a great opportunity in 2021 with a rejuvenated offense after the additions of Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, and Nelson Agholor. This is a major upgrade over 2020 leading receiver Jakobi Myers who was undrafted coming out of NC State in 2019. Newton could be primed for success this upcoming year, especially if Taylor Kyles, the 2-time MoeCast guest who has in-depth breakdowns of Cam and is extremely high on him, has anything to say about it. It will be a make-or-break year for Cam in New England and he needs to improve as a passer especially to the right side of the field or Mac Jones could get an opportunity."
Big Mac Jones is now the guy in New England after the Cam Newton era ended up only lasting one season. I had the pleasure of seeing my co-host on the MoeCast Podcast Chris Blake's face when they drafted Mac, and I would have paid money to be inside his brain when Mac was named the starter. Talk about how good of a camp Mac had all you want, he still has made plenty of mistakes and Cam Newton is only 6 seasons removed from being the NFL MVP. I thought New England would give Cam another shot like most people did especially since he played well before getting COVID-19 last season, but Mac put in the work and obviously impressed Bill Belichick enough to receive the starting nod. I will admit that I am low on Mac Jones based in part by the more talented Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts struggling so far in their NFL careers, and the lack of success by quarterbacks coming out of Alabama historically. There are many similarities to Mac and Tom Brady, with their not flashy but game manager play style, and Jones's playstyle is much more similar to the play style that Belichick and Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels were comfortable with under Tom Brady compared to Cam Newton. Mac Jones will look to build off his offseason success and become the next franchise quarterback in New England.
Coming out of Alabama, Jones was rumored to be going to the San Fransisco 49ers with the third overall pick in 2021 until draft night when San Fransisco decided to go with Trey Lance. Jones slid all the way to the 15th overall pick and was scooped up by New England. As I let out a sigh of relief that he was not going to the Washington Football Team, my relief turned into sudden laughter when I saw the famous look on Chris Blake's face. After accessing the similarities between Mac and Brady, should I be scared? I will never say that publically and Mac Jones will never be Tom Brady, but with the defense and offensive line like New England has the quarterback does not have to do too much on the football field. And that's exactly what Jones did at Alabama. He was the full-time starter in 2020 and was steller, throwing for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions. He provided nothing when running the football but I would consider his mobility and footwork in the pocket to be underrated. He completed 77.4% of his passes and he threw for 464 yards and 5 touchdowns in the National Championship game vs Ohio State. He was the beneficiary of elite offensive talent like the Alabama quarterbacks before him, with 5 Alabama offensive starters including himself selected in the top 24 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. Mac is the fifth-best quarterback to come out of the 2021 NFL Draft in my mind and it is shocking that he was named the starter going into this season.
#28 Justin Fields- Chicago Bears
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Justin Fields is another very interesting quarterback that I will keep my eye on this season. Even though Andy Dalton will probably start Week 1 for Chicago, I am writing about Justin Fields because I do not think there is a doubt in anyone's mind that he will start the majority of games for the Bears this year. Fields is a big-time prospect coming out of Ohio State and many people believe that Fields was the second-best quarterback in the draft. Fields slipped to the 11th pick and was the fourth quarterback selected after the Bears traded up for him. It was hard not to let out a smile for Bears fans because not only did a guy like Fields fall into their lap after the Mitch Tribusky debacle haunted them for years, Fields did not slip to the Patriots at the 15th pick. Fields is a freak of nature at 6'3 and 230 pounds with speed and a strong arm. He is poised to have a nice career in Chicago and has the outlook to take over the starting job quickly heading into next season.
Even though Fields had a great 2019 season at Ohio State many people including myself were not sold on the quarterback. I believe he lacked a killer mentality and had too many games where he tried to force the ball too much especially against good defenses. The game where Fields put the haters like me to bed was the College Football Playoff Game against Clemson in 2020. Ohio State killed Clemson 49-28 and Fields outperformed the #1 overall pick, Trevor Lawrence, by throwing for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns. If this wasn't impressive enough, Fields played through an abdominal injury he suffered on a hard hit towards the middle of the game. Fields did have an awful game against Indiana earlier in the season, throwing 3 interceptions on 18 for 30 passing. Indiana did have a ball hawk defense last season but this was a red flag and added to the fact that some people can call him inconsistent at times. Fields has an outstandingly accurate arm on deep passes and has poise in the pocket. He can take too much time and will need to adjust that for the faster pace in the NFL. Field's combination of arm strength and speed can allow him to be an extremely good NFL quarterback in the future, it could just take some time.
#27 Jared Goff- Detroit Lions
Jared Goff is as average and boring as his name makes him sound. It's hard to believe that Goff will be entering his 6th season in the NFL and is still only 26 years old. He is a 2-time Pro Bowler and was the starting quarterback for the Rams in Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots in only his third season in the league. That season in 2018 was the best of his career, throwing for 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. So, why is Goff my 28th ranked quarterback as a 26-year-old with these accolades? He just has not gotten any better. Not only has he not gotten better, but the case could also be made that Goff has gotten worse even though he was surrounded by a strong supporting cast in Los Angeles. Goff was traded to the Rams in a blockbuster that sent Matt Stafford to Los Angeles, and it will be interesting to see how it works out of Goff. The Lions do not have high expectations, and Goff could take a step back with a Lions team that is much worse than the Los Angeles Rams. This could potentially be a make-or-break year for Goff after his stats last year.
Goff started the season fairly strong for the Rams. Goff did not make many mistakes and the Rams started the season 2-1 with a tough loss to the Bills in Week 3. The Rams were down 28-3 and came back to take a 32-28 lead before Buffalo scored late in the fourth quarter. Goff finished the season with some highs and lows, throwing for 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. This was after a 22 touchdown and 16 interception performance in 2019. These numbers are surprising when considering the strong weapons on the offensive end like Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, and the Rams being known around the league for the number of screens they throw a game. Goff played well when he was confident and had a clean pocket. He struggles on the deep ball especially in 2020, and he led the league in completions of 5 yards or less in 2020. Goff struggled in his final two seasons in LA with a good team around him, by not throwing deep passes and making bad mistakes leading to interceptions. It will be interesting to see how the fresh start in Detroit treats him.
#26 Zach Wilson- New York Jets
Much to the dismay of my Co-Host on Moe Money the notorious Ethan Noone, I am higher than high on Zach Wilson out of BYU. I think that Wilson could be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL within the next few years if he develops correctly and the New York Jets don't New York Jet. The argument will continuously be made when talking about Wilson's achievements in college. He simply did not play against much good competition. The schedule for BYU did not much up similar to the schedule of a school like Ohio State, but it is important to note that Wilson put BYU on the map and he was not surrounded by many players close to the talent level of players on a team like Ohio State. After the 2021 NFL projections started to come out at the beginning of the college season, my mouth began to water at the thought of a guy like Zach Wilson slipping to the Washington Football Team in the mid to late first round. Word quickly spread about what the 21-year-old Wilson was doing at BYU, and he was selected by the Jets at 2nd overall. The Jets then traded up to get Wilson some protection on the offensive line, ensuring stepping stones for a successful rookie season.
At BYU Wilson was fairly considered to be a late bloomer. After being the youngest quarterback in BYU history to start a football game in 2018, Wilson put up a strong Freshman season with 12 touchdowns to go with 3 interceptions in 7 games started. He shined in the Idaho Potato Bowl, throwing for 317 yards and 4 touchdowns on a perfect 18-18 passing. This flashed the high potential that would fully pan out for Wilson in the future. In 2019, Wilson threw only 11 touchdowns with 9 interceptions in 9 games started. He took a step backward, but was coming off shoulder surgery and suffered a fractured right thumb during the season. His skills fully clicked in 2020. He completed a ridiculous 73.5% of his passes, with 33 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions in 12 games started. Wilson also flashed his running ability, with 254 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was extremely accurate when throwing the football, and his athleticism allowed him to make difficult accurate throws. Wilson has all the potential in the world but we will see how he adapts to the much higher competition he will face in the NFL.
#25 Daniel Jones- New York Giants
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The time is ticking in New York for Danny Dimes after another average season. To put it as simple as possible, Daniel Jones is a turnover machine. Jones is determined to gift the opposing team the football. The New York Giants had a bad season last year but almost squeaked into the playoffs with a 6-10 record (yes you read that correctly). The season got derailed early on after the injury to Saquon Barkley and the Giants could never get anything going on either side of the football. On the bright side Head Coach, Joe Judge seems to be a fan favorite and the players seem to like him as well. After being selected with the 6th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft Jones began his career as the backup to Eli Manning even though he shined in the preseason. Jones became the starter in Week 3 vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quickly stole the hearts of the Giants fanbase with a dramatic comeback victory. He had ups and downs in his rookie season, highlighted by a Week 16 victory over Washington while becoming the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 350 yards and 5 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. Jones threw 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions his rookie season but also lost 11 fumbles. Jones finished the season strong but headed into 2020 with a new head coach after Pat Shurmur was fired.
After the retirement of Eli Manning, Jones was named the captain of the Giants heading into the 2020 season. Similar to the 2019 season, Jones had many ups and downs throughout the whole year. The Giants were riddled with injuries and the offensive line was atrocious. The wide receiver core was not much better, and the addition of Kenny Golladay and a rejuvenated John Ross to go along with first-round pick Kadarious Toney (who I'm not a huge fan of) will certainly bolster the Giants receiving core. Jones finished the season with an abysmal 80.4 passer rating which was worse than his 87.7 rating in 2019. He threw for fewer yards even though he played in one more game and he only threw for 11 touchdowns in 14 games. There was even a 4-week stretch from weeks 2-5 of the season that Jones did not throw a touchdown. Jones finished the season with 10 interceptions to go along with 6 lost fumbles, and he finished the season with more turnovers than touchdowns. He has the raw talent to be a compatible quarterback and his intriguing sneaky speed can stun defenses on occasion. This is a year for Jones to take a big step in an offense he is now familiar with in 2021.
#24 Jameis Winston- New Orleans Saints
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Sad. Heartbroken. Devastation. Travesty. One of the many adjectives to describe how I am feeling right now after it was recently announced that Jameis Winston has been named the starting quarterback in New Orleans.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Jameis Wintson, I just wanted to see how Taysom Hill would do under center in New Orleans as a full-time quarterback. Drew Brees was so riddled with injuries and so limited with what he could do on the playing field I honestly think a guy as athletic as Taysom Hill with training camp under his belt and in a dynamic offense could thrive. Taysom is laughed about and is now a certified NFL meme but people do not appreciate how huge of a weapon he is to be deployed in so many roles and thrive in all of them. At any moment he can throw a bomb touchdown pass, run for a 10 yard gain out of the backfield, power a touchdown run in at the goal line as a running back, catch a pass and run good routes as a tight end, and make tackles on special teams. But Jameis has won the competition, and it is hard to be upset over the decision because of the success that Winston has had by betting on himself. It is also hard to doubt Head Coach Sean Payton.
Winston had well-documented struggles after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has always had a major play-making ability but he turned the ball over way too much to be an above-average NFL quarterback. He has thrown 121 career touchdowns to 88 interceptions, a TD to interception ratio of only 1.38. His completion percentage sits at 61.3% for his career and he has also had a fumbling problem with 23 career lost fumbles. His stock was hurt even more so after a Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl win last season after they went 7-9 and missed the playoffs in 2019 which was the last season that Famous Jameis was the starting quarterback. In that 2019 season, Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 30 touchdowns and have 30 interceptions. His 30 interceptions in one season were tied for the 7th most of all time and were the most in a season since Vinny Testaverde had 35 in 1988. The starting quarterback position in New Orleans is a coveted one and I would not be shocked if Winston and Sean Payton work well together. Even though Winston had 30 interceptions in that nightmare 2019 season, his 33 passing touchdowns and 5,109 passing yards were career highs. Winston seems a lot more mature and if he can limit turnovers he can thrive. Winston has received nothing but positive reviews in New Orleans for his work ethic and for his desire to learn and become a better player when he signed with the Saints in 2020 knowing that he would not be the starter. A lot of eyes will be on him in 2021.
#23 Sam Darnold- Carolina Panthers
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I think that Sam Darnold has the upside of a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. There is just one problem. He was drafted by the New York Jets. But, there is a major bright side, that he is still only 24 years old and is now has a great opportunity with the Carolina Panthers. Darnold was the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets and was the second quarterback selected behind Baker Mayfield and ahead of Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. Darnold has outstanding arm strength and is more mobile than people give him credit for. His athleticism was one of the key traits that helped him be the second quarterback drafted, after not putting up terrific numbers at USC. He was the youngest starter in NFL history in Week 1 of the 2018 season at only 21 years old and 97 days. He threw for 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with a completion rate of only 57.7% as a rookie. His accurate issues continued into the 2019 season but he improved all of his offensive statistics. Then came 2020. Darnold had a disastrous season with the miserable Jets, throwing for 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 12 games. This was the third season in a row that he missed at least 3 games due to injury and his 72.7 quarterback rating was the worst of his career. After the season the Jets shipped Darnold to the Panthers for the 2nd, 4th, and 6th round picks.
Darnold enters this season with a much better organization and weapons that surrounded him. Christian McCaffrey is one of the best running backs in the league when healthy, and he can catch the football as well as he can run the football. D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson were both 1,000-yard receivers last season and are extremely athletic to fit Darnold's ability to escape and extend plays. Darnold was the worst quarterback in the NFL last season based on passing grade but he played the whole season with no help and knowing that it was probably his last season with the Jets. He is an inaccurate passer at times and needs to give his receivers a better chance to catch the ball and make plays. He rushed for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns in 12 games last season and will look to expand on his dual-threat capability in Carolina. Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady and Matt Rhule are known for their great offensive minds and their ability to develop quarterbacks. Joe Brady was responsible for the historic 2019 LSU offensive and Joe Burrow's rise to fame. Darnold is in a great situation for him in Carolina and is more talented than a lot of quarterbacks, but he needs to improve his accuracy to take the next step in the NFL.
#22 Jimmy Garoppolo- San Francisco 49ers
Isiah J Downing
Jimmy G has accomplished a lot more than most people will in life. He appeared in the Super Bowl and he got paid a 5-year $137.5 million dollar contract from the 49ers based on his performance over a 5-week span. I'm not kidding when I say that. After getting traded from New England to San Francisco in the middle of the 2017 season, Jimmy G became the starter for San Francisco over the final 5 weeks and he led a bad 49ers team to a 5-0 record. In those games, he had a 67.4% completion rate with 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. The contract that he was rewarded with was absolutely shocking and it was the largest contract in NFL history at the time based on an annual basis. Long tagged as the heir to Tom Brady in New England after being drafted in the 2nd round in 2014 out of Eastern Illinois, Bill Belicheck decided to trade Jimmy to the 49ers for a 2nd round pick. When Garopolo took over the starter's role in San Francisco his stats were not eye-popping, but he provided an undeniable boost to the offense. The offense scored on an unreal 62% of their offensive drives with Jimmy under center, and 29% of offensive drives with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard under center. This season was indicative of the future to come for Jimmy, never putting up great stats but being a good game manager. The biggest problem is his injuries. From 2018-2020 Jimmy has started 25 games and missed 23 games. In 2019 his stats were above average, throwing for 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 102 passer rating in his only full season. With 2 years left on his contract, his days as a 49er could be coming to a close with the 49ers drafting Trey Lance with the 3rd overall pick.
Trey Lance is everything that Jimmy G is not. Lance is extremely athletic, has a rocket for an arm, and he can run. In 2019 as the starter for the North Dakota State, Lance threw for 2,786 yards and rushed for 1,100 with 42 total touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Z-E-R-O. He led North Dakota State to an FCS National Championship and was named the most valuable player in the victory. Kyle Shanahan has publically stated his distrust for Garoppolo and this was clear by trading up in the draft to select Lance. Jimmy deserves a big shot to be the starter in 2021 for the 49ers for an extended period of time because this is the same guy who led them to a Super Bowl in 2019 coming off an ACL tear in 2018. When he plays, he is capable of running the 9ers offense successfully but he also makes some very questionable decisions on some throws. He lacks the arm strength and deep ball accuracy to take a lot of long shots and he really has to show his worth this year under immense pressure. If Bill Belicheck decided that he would go a different route as the heir to Brady, you have to wonder if he knew something that the public did not about Jimmy. He has proven to be a game manager that can do just enough to lead a team to the Super Bowl, but this could be the final year of Garoppolo being the starter in San Fran.
#21 Carson Wentz- Indianapolis Colts
Carson Wentz had one heck of 2020, and his 2021 is not off to the best start either. After a disastrous 2020 season in Philadelphia, he was traded to the Colts for a 3rd round pick and a conditional 2nd round pick that could turn into a 1st round pick based on how much Wentz plays in the 2021 season. During training camp, Wentz recently underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot that could require him to miss the start of the 2021 season. After his nightmare season in 2020, Wentz required a fresh start and Indianapolis provides him the best opportunity to do so. The Head Coach of the Colts since 2018, Frank Reich, was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia with Carson Wentz from 2016-2017. Wentz is finally in a situation where he can feel comfortable and thrive after he has not been himself since tearing his ACL and the Eagles still going on to win the Super Bowl vs the New England Patriots that season behind Nick Foles. I am not one to pat myself on the back, but it is highly documented on different articles and the MoeCast my thoughts on the Nick Foles vs Carson Wentz conversation. There is no denying that Wentz has more talent than Nick Foles. Foles is just the better leader. The city of Philadelphia and Eagles teammates rallied behind a guy like Foles as I have never seen before. A statue of Foles is outside of the stadium in Philadelphia, and if I was the GM in Philly I would have sold high on Wentz and stuck with Big Blank Nick after the 2018 Super Bowl. Not only has Wentz not been the same since 2017 but he has injury issues that have lingered with him throughout his career.
In 2017 Wentz was the shoe in to be the NFL MVP if he stayed healthy. Through 13 games Wentz had 33 touchdowns and 7 interceptions to go with 3,296 yards. The Eagles were 11-2, and Wentz was lighting the world on fire in his second season in the NFL. Then came the ACL tear. Wentz missed the first part of 2018 and came back to lead the Eagles to a 5-6 record with 21 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He was shut down for the last 3 weeks of the season with a back injury, and Nick Foles stepped in once again and led a below-average Eagles team to squeak into the playoffs and upset the Bears on the road in the Wild Card Round before losing to the Saints in the divisional round on a dropped pass by Alshon Jeffrey. Wentz had a bounceback season in 2019 playing in all 16 games throwing for 27 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and 4,039 yards which were the most in his career. But, in the playoffs, the Wentz curse struck again. He left the game after just 9 snaps after suffering a concussion and the Eagles went on to lose against Seattle. He came into 2020 still with confidence, until the Jalen Hurts draft pick broke his brain. Wentz looked lost and distracted when in the pocket, with numerous questionable throws and the inability to throw the ball away under pressure. Wentz led the NFL in interceptions at 15 which led the NFL AND HE DID NOT PLAY IN A GAME AFTER WEEK 14!! The Colts have a lot of work to do to fix Wentz and bring him back to his 2017 form, but this is a big-time boom or bust situation.
#20 Trevor Lawrence- Jacksonville Jaguars
AP Photo/John Raoux
It is pretty hard to capture how exciting of times it is for Jacksonville fans, which is saying something especially coming off a 1-15 season. The morale has never been higher, not even when the Blake Bortles train was at full speed during the 2017 playoffs when the Jags barely lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The Jaguars have only 3 playoff wins since 2000, but their golden-haired hero Trevor Lawrence is leading Jaguars fans to count down the days until the season begins. To truly encapsulate the feeling down in Duval Florida, I wanted to get a statement from my Moe Money co-host and Good Griefs Picks Season 1 Winner Ethan Noone:
"Trevor Lawrence is a generational talent and the QB that will bring winning to Jacksonville. I look forward to seeing him become MVP, Super Bowl Champion, and be there in Canton to see him inducted into the Hall of Fame."
Before you chuckle over Ethan's statement, who might be the only Jaguars fan in Virginia and maybe the world, the beautiful thing about it is he is not kidding in the slightest. The expectations for Lawrence are sky high and he is one of the most polished college quarterbacks we have ever seen in our generation. Since his freshman year at Clemson, he was the undisputed #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft when he was eligible. After all the success in college, it will be interesting to see whether he can emulate it in the pros.
Trevor Lawrence has everything you want in a quarterback and more. He is 6'6, 240 pounds, has a strong and accurate arm, is a winner at every level, and is only 21 years of age. His accomplishments and awards are as much as any college player to ever play the game. He is a National Champion and has shown that he is the best player on every strong team that he has played on. What is there left to prove? He needs to perform at the highest level in the perfect situation in Jacksonville. New Head Coach Urban Meyer has had immense success at every place he has coached at the college level, and he has been working to build the perfect offense around Lawrence for months. The Jaguars receiving core lead by D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault is one of the more underrated duos in the league, and the addition of Marvin Jones and drafting Clemson teammate Travis Etienne to go along with stud running back James Robinson is an offense oozing with potential. Lawrence led Clemson to a 34-2 record with 10,098 yards and 90 touchdowns with 17 interceptions in 3 years at Clemson. Not enough for you? He also ran for 943 yards and 17 touchdowns. To end with how good Lawrence can be, ESPN College Football Expert Mel Kiper Jr. has been evaluating and putting grades on college quarterbacks since 1984. Out of the thousands of quarterbacks, Lawrence is his 4th highest-graded quarterback of all time. This is behind only John Elway, Andrew Luck, and Peyton Manning. I think it is fair to say this Lawrence guy can be pretty good.
#19 Ben Roethlisberger- Pittsburgh Steelers
I am not as low on Big Ben as some people are. Coming off major surgery last season the 38-year-old threw for 33 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions and the Steelers began the season with an 11-0 record. This is the kind of toughness that Ben has displayed throughout his whole career. Now, is he still a top 10 quarterback in the NFL? No. After that 11-0 start, the Steelers went 1-5 including an embarrassing loss to the Browns in the playoffs. Did the Washington Football Team break the Steelers when we gave them their first loss of the 2020 season? It is a fair question to ask. Big Ben only played in 2 games in 2019 before season-ending elbow surgery. Before that, he had been an elite quarterback from 2007-2018 highlighted by 2 Super Bowl Victories in 2005 and 2008. He also has 7 Pro Bowl selections and is a 2-time NFL Passing Yards Leader. The Steelers have always done a great job to surround Roethlisberger with weapons that fit his strengths and a strong offensive line to go with a solid running back to exploit defenses using play action. He is known for his clutch gene and the ability to go on a game-winning drive, ranking 3rd all-time behind only Tom Brady and Dan Marino with 46. Big Ben still has some ability left in the tank after his storied career, but his performance in the last 5 games of 2020 is indicative of what is to come in 2021.
The surrounding weapons for Big Ben this year are not a problem. Eric Ebron, Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and first-round pick Najee Harris are all big-time weapons that will allow Ben to stretch the field and put up good numbers, but his arm strength just isn't there anymore. Last season he led the league in pass attempts that were under 10 yards, and at times it seemed like a screen pass was going to be thrown every other play. Former Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner did not help the offense either and it will be interesting to see if new coordinator Matt Canada gets the offense back on track. Over Ben's last 5 games last season including the playoffs, he threw for 12 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 22nd in the league at 60.1, and his 3,803 passing yards ranked 16th. Ben is now an average quarterback that is past his prime. Every season his weight is always a question mark and recent pictures of him show that his new offseason diet might have just consisted of 2 scoops of ice cream instead of 3. I have been a fan of Roethlisberger in the past, but let's call a spade a spade and know that his best days are behind him. I am not saying that he can't have a good year but I would put my money on this potentially being the 39-year old's last season in the NFL.
#18 Ryan Fitzpatrick- Washington Football Team
Ahhhhhhhhh Fitzmagic baby!! Win, lose or draw, I get to root for Ryan Fitzpatrick every Sunday. That's a win in my book. I have made it clear that I am a huge Washington Football Fan, and I am over the moon over this signing for this young and up-and-coming club. Call it bias or whatever you want but Ryan Fitzpatrick is a good quarterback in a great situation in DC. Sure there are some ups and downs in Fitzpatrick's game but for the people who think I put him too high on this list let me give you a few relative statistics. Over the past 3 seasons, Fitzpatrick has a higher completion percentage than Tom Brady, more yards per attempt than Russell Wilson, and a higher QBR than Deshaun Watson. Wow, this could be a lot of fun. Last season the Football Team shocked the world and won the NFC East with a 7-9 record. Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, and Taylor Heinicke all started games at quarterback last season and Washington's quarterback production ranked dead last in the NFL. Alex Smith led the Football Team to a 5-1 record in games that he started with only one good leg but was 35th in the NFL in passer rating slightly ahead of Dwayne Haskins ranking 36th. Fitzmagic is now the guy in DC and is feeling the best that he has ever felt in his career and this might be the best situation he has had in his career. He is everything that Washington QB's were not in 2020.
Fitzpatrick had a rollercoaster season last year with the Miami Dolphins. I was one of the many people that were high on the Dolphins coming into the season last year and under Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins were playing solid football. He had a rough first week against New England but he finished the season with the second-highest quarterback rating of his career at 95.6. He threw for 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions with a career-high 68.5% completion percentage in 9 games. A very underrated part of his game is his mobility in and outside of the pocket with the ability to extend plays. He is a leader and a veteran that brings energy and knowledge to this franchise. He is now 38 years old and is playing the best football of his career. The Washington offense is loaded with Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, Antonio Gibson, and the addition of Curtis Samuel is a ginormous weapon that Fitzpatrick can do work with. He has a rocket for an arm and is never afraid to take a deep shot. This leads to times where he is known for not taking care of the football and it will be important for him to not make many mistakes when he has a top 5 defense in the league behind him. Fitzpatrick will be playing with a chip on his shoulder after surprisingly being benched for Tua Tagovailoa in Miami last season, and I have never been this excited for an NFL season to begin in my life. I will love all the highs and sulk through the lows, but that's the beauty of Fitzmagic.
#17 Joe Burrow- Cincinnatti Bengals
Joey Burrow baby. Who doesn't love this guy? Burrow became a superstar seemingly out of nowhere in 2019 when he led LSU to a National Championship and was the Heisman Trophy Winner. The odds of Burrow winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy were 150-1 before the season and he shocked the world by putting up one of the best offensive seasons we have ever seen by a college quarterback. After transferring from Ohio State and putting up decent numbers with LSU in 2018, Joe starting the 2019 season off with a bang and through 2 weeks he already had 749 passing yards and 9 touchdowns with 1 interception. The crazier part about those first 2 weeks is that he continued on that monstrous trend and finished the season with 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions and an unthinkable 76.3% completion percentage. He had 493 yards and 7 passing touchdowns in the College Playoff Semifinal in 2019 and 463 yards and 6 total touchdowns in the College Championship Game. Burrow went from relatively unknown to the clear-cut first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and he did not disappoint the Cincinnati Bengals. In 10 games Burrow led a bad Bengals team to a 2-7-1record with 2,688 yards and 13 touchdowns with 5 interceptions. He set numerous records in the 10 games he played in including most completions by a rookie quarterback in a single game (37), the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 or more yards in 3 straight games, most completions by a rookie over their first 8 games (221), and the first rookie quarterback to ever throw for more than 400 yards, 3 passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown in a single game. Burrow wowed in 2020 and will be looking to come back strong in 2021.
Like I said before and would like to say again, the Bengals stunk last year. Their weapons were not very good and their offensive line did a terrible job at protecting Burrow. A lot of the blame has to go on the Bengals front office for throwing Joe Burrow out there on Week 1 with zero protection. The issues all came to a head when the Bengals faced the best defensive line in football in Week 11 vs the Washington Football Team and Burrow tore his ACL and MCL in the second half on a drop-back pass. He is now fully recovered and looks to be in the best shape he has ever been. Some of his great stats last season can be attributed to the Bengals being down late in games and Burrow increasing his numbers with defenses not as tight but he was one of the best-rated quarterbacks in the NFL on throws under 20 yards. He struggled on the deep ball but the addition of college teammate Ja'Marr Chase will help in that department. They also drafted 2 offensive linemen and added a couple in free agency to protect Joe. This is a huge year for him to solidify himself as a premium quarterback and if he is fully healthy he has all the tools to be the Bengals franchise quarterback for a very long time.
#16 Kirk Cousins- Minnesota Vikings
What an interesting career Captain Kirk has had. I have always been a fan of his and I have talked about how you do not appreciate a quarterback like Kirk Cousins until he leaves your franchise. Will he set the world on fire and put up eye-popping numbers on a weekly basis? No. But he knows how to win football games. The Vikings need Cousins to return them to the playoffs and time is ticking to do so but he does not deserve most of the flack that he receives. The usually strong Vikings defense was not last season and the offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL. Kirk lost one of his favorite weapons in Stefon Diggs but rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson proved to equal Diggs if not be even better. Cousins posted a career-high in passing touchdowns last season with 35 while throwing for 4,265 yards. His 105.0 passer rating boosted his career total to 97.9 which is 6th all-time. Not only is his historically good passer rating noteworthy, but Cousins also has the 3rd best completion percentage of all time at 67%, minimum 1,500 pass attempts. Cousins has only missed 1 game since 2015 and proved that he could hold his own in big games in the 2019 playoffs vs the New Orleans Saints. Simply, Kirk Cousins is a solid quarterback.
Kirk Cousins fits the role as the Vikings quarterback perfectly. With a good offense around him, Cousins can thrive. He is not a huge playmaker but his accuracy allows him to put up good numbers and make the players around him better. In the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Vikings selected quarterback Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M who is labeled as a very underrated player with the potential of becoming a solid starter. This pressure on Cousins could benefit him to step up and push the ball more in 2021. As a starter Cousins has thrown for over 4,000 yards in 5 out of his 6 seasons and in every year he has thrown at least double the touchdowns over interceptions. The biggest criticism for Cousins is the inability to show up in big games. In his career with Washington and Minnesota, Cousins is 7-35 against teams with a winning record. He is not all to blame because believe me he was on some bad teams in Washington, but regardless the record has to be better than what it is. The trend has continued to stay the same from Washington to Minnesota with a .173 winning percentage in Washington vs winning teams and a .157 winning percentage in Minnesota. It also took Kirk his 10th try to win a Monday Night Football game. Kirk is a solid and accurate quarterback who will not wow you but he can get the job done with the good weapons around him. If the Vikings do not make the playoffs this year there might be a change at the position.
#15 Matt Ryan- Atlanta Falcons
Matty Ice gets a bad wrap. Some were speculating after a down season from the Falcons that they could be looking in a different direction at quarterback especially with the 4th overall pick in the draft, but instead they drafted Kyle Pits who some people believe is a once in generational talent at the tight end position. The departure of Julio Jones will hurt but Calvin Ridley is a star that will get a heavy volume of action. Matt Ryan has had a career that will surely lead him to Canton Ohio as a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. He is a 4-time Pro Bowler and won the NFL MVP just 5 years ago in 2016. He is now entering his 14th-year as the Falcons starting quarterback out of Boston College and is coming off one of his better seasons. Ryan threw for 4,581 yards and 26 touchdowns with 11 interceptions while leading the league in completions at 407. His passer rating was 93.3 and he started in all 16 games for the 11th time in 13 seasons. He has a 100.8 passer rating for his career in the playoffs and he was so close to becoming a Super Bowl Champions before the historic collapse against the New England Patriots. Ryan has had a very good career and based on his 2019 and 2020 numbers he is now slowing down on his consent solid play. Odds are that he is not going to win another MVP award but Ryan is still an above-average NFL quarterback.
Matt Ryan has always been known for throwing the football a lot with the Falcons but last season was the first time he ever led the league in completions and passing attempts. The days of Devonta Freeman patrolling the backfield and alleviating some of the pressure off of Ryan are over, and Falcons running backs struggled in 2020. Todd Gurley started off the season strong but faded off towards the end of the season. Ryan is best with a good running game so he can use the play action to his advantage. Enter new Head Coach Arthur Smith. Arthur Smith is known for leading the Tenessee Titans offense to new heights and perfected the play action with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. If Matt Ryan and the Falcons can get anywhere near that production their offense will be on another level. The last time that Matt Ryan was an elite quarterback was when Kyle Shannahan was still in town, and Arthur Smith could provide that kind of impact for Matty Ice's career. His completion percentage has been over 65% since 2012 and he has thrown for over 4,000 yards in every season since 2011. Calvin Ridley was so good in 2020 that he was named to second-team All-Pro and Ryan put up great numbers with Julio missing 7 games last season. Matt Ryan will at worst be an above-average quarterback next season with a chance to be great if he and Arthur Smith mesh well together.
#14 Baker Mayfield- Cleveland Browns
A big congratulations to Baker Mayfield who I have labeled as the quarterback who took the biggest leap in 2020 going from #28 on this list in 2019 to now #14. Baker had a miserable 2019 season and a Baker hater like myself hated to see it. That's sarcasm for the folks who didn't get that. I was a Baker fan in college when he took the football world by storm at the University of Oklahoma. I was praying that he would fall into the lap of the Washington Football Team, but fate had it be a man by the name of Dwayne Haskins. Yeah, that didn't turn out too well. Baker started to rub me the wrong way when he translated his attitude and swagger into the NFL on a miserable Browns team. The first season was fun, but 2019 might have been one of the worst seasons I have ever witnessed from a quarterback with so much hype behind him. In Week 1 vs the Titans, he threw 3 fourth-quarter interceptions in a blowout loss and in a way blamed his teammates after the game in his post-game press conference for his awful performance. His passer rating dropped from 93.7 as a rookie to 78.8 in his second season with 22 touchdowns to go along with a league-leading 21 interceptions. He looked lost at times even though he was surrounded by great weapons. He forced the football and the Browns finished 6-10. The Freddie Kitchens Head Coaching experience was over after one season, and the Baker Mayfield truthers had faith that new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski would unlock what Baker could do. And boy were they right.
The first couple weeks of this past season started slow for Baker, throwing for 189 yards with a touchdown and interception while getting blown out 38-6 to the Baltimore Ravens. This trend continued through Week 6, showing some flashes but still turning over the football especially in blowout losses. The more the Browns would go down the more Baker would try to press the football when he did not need to. He tried to do too much. From Week 7 on, Baker threw for 16 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. This included a 3-week stretch where he did not throw a touchdown. With an improved roster around him, Baker did not force the football and he looked relaxed in a clean pocket. He had a terrific playoff game vs the Steelers where he threw for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. The Browns have done an outstanding job surrounding Mayfield with talent, and they now have the highest PFF-graded offensive line in football. Not only do they have the best offensive line in football, their Head Coach Kevin Stefanski won the 2020 Coach of the Year and is known around the league for his ability to develop and utilize an offense based on their strengths. The Browns have the best offensive line, a top 5 running back in Nick Chubb, a great receiving core led by Jarvis Landry, and a now-healthy Odell Beckham Jr, so all Baker needs to do is manage games and protect the football. Based on his trends and how great he was in the second half of the season, Baker is in line for a big year.
#13 Derek Carr- Las Vegas Raiders
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
When I hear the name Derek Carr I think of two things. Why is his name spelled "Derek" not "Derick" and why is he so underrated every single year. It is shocking to still hear that year to year there are questions about whether Carr is the man in Las Vegas. I truly believe that he could be the most underrated quarterback in the NFL. Will he set the world on fire and become a Hall of Fame quarterback? I don't think so, but he's a quarterback that should end up being a 10-15 year solid starter in the NFL. The Las Vegas Raiders are at a crossroads and Carr gets too much blame for things out of his control. I am a huge fan of bringing back Jon Gruden but this is a huge year to silence the doubters. Carr needs to continue to manage football games and he needs to limit turnovers and his occasional boneheaded plays. You do not necessarily have to be a mobile quarterback to be successful but when you average just 90 rushing yards per season over your career it is easy to pinhole the quarterback and break down the pocket. This led to Carr losing 8 fumbles last season which was his career-high. Other than that Carr threw for 4,103 yards, also a career-high and 27 touchdowns with 9 interceptions. His 71.0 QBR was ranked 11th in the NFL and his quarterback rating of 101.4 was another career-high. This was the second straight season with a quarterback rating over 100 and Carr is ready to take the next step in Las Vegas.
The Raiders have the weapons for Carr to be successful and lead them to the playoffs. It's now time to execute. A starter in 7 years with the Raiders, he has compiled a 47-63 record and they have not made the playoffs since 2002. Carr is a 3 time Pro Bowler and completed 67.3% of his passes last season. He has proven that he can win big football games as evident by beating the Chiefs in the regular season last year. The Raiders struggled at home surprisingly and the addition of fans for their new stadium should hopefully help them out in that department. The Chiefs have a stranglehold on the AFC West but the Raiders will have an opportunity to get a wild card spot. Their defense needs to step up and they could be an 11-6 team. Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller are great offensive weapons and Josh Jacobs is one of the better running backs in the NFL. Carr averaged 7.9 yards per pass attempt and according to PFF, he was the 8th best quarterback by passer grade in 2020. The Raiders have a weak offensive line but with the weapons surrounding Carr, he could have another solid season. He is an accurate passer with a strong arm and he can make big-time throws. The only knock against Carr other than the turnovers is Marcus Mariota producing well when Carr injured his groin in Week 15 against the Chargers, but in my mind, Carr is not as replaceable as many people think. He is a solid quarterback that could easily lead the Raiders to the playoffs with a good defense.
#12 Justin Herbert- Los Angeles Chargers
Hans Gutknecht/ Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG
I am officially all in on the Justin Herbert train. This guy was incredible in his rookie season in 2020 and the sky is the limit for him. In last year's rankings, Herbert was rated dead last on my list at #32. I had some belief in him but I bought into the criticism that he was not a vocal leader and he made some bad throws. I was wrong. Herbert had one of the best rookie seasons from a quarterback of all time and it would not shock me in the slightest if he is a top 10 quarterback without a doubt next season. I have to give credit to my cousin Christopher Nattania whos an Oregon Ducks fan who called Herbert's success from the beginning. He knew that once Herbert was surrounded by pros on his skill level that's when he would take off. The Chargers were surprisingly 7-9 last season and they are looking to battle with the Las Vegas Raiders in the division to maybe sneak into a wild card spot. The most impressive part about Herbert's season in my opinion was the way he became the starter and what he did after that. After Tyrod Taylor suffered a fluke chest injury in pre-game warmups Herbert became the starter just hours before game time in Week 2. Not only did he make the start but he was extremely impressive vs the Kansas City Chiefs, throwing for 311 yards with a passing and rushing touchdown while almost pulling out a victory before losing in overtime. The true test would be if this was a fluke as the Chiefs did not get to gameplan or was Herbert the rule deal. I think we know what my answer to that question is.
Herbert continued his impressive play in Week 3 vs Carolina before showing the world what he could really do from Weeks 4-6 of the NFL season. Against the Buccaneers, Saints, and Jaguars, Herbert threw for a combined 901 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and just 1 interception. His starts against the Buccaneers and Saints were extremely impressive, with the games being on the road and against two defenses that were rated in the top 10 for yards allowed. Herbert continued to play well and even led the Chargers on a 4 game win streak to end the season. He achieved the rookie touchdown record and played well in the face of pressure. The less time he had in the pocket and the more ability he had to make a big play allowed him to thrive. He threw for 4,336 passing yards which were 6th in the league, he threw for 31 touchdowns, just 10 interceptions, and a 66.6% completion percentage. His 69.5 QBR was the 13th best in the league and he also flashed what he could do on the ground with 234 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. The Chargers have a good offense with Austin Ekeler (who missed 6 games last year), Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams. Herbert will have a full season under his belt and he is the clear-cut starter who will all receive all the attention in the playbook and throughout training camp. The Chargers did a great job in the offseason their offensive line and it will be interesting to see if Herbert becomes a better passer when he has more time in the pocket. Herbert is bound for a monster year.
#11 Dak Prescott- Dallas Cowboys
It's time to finally admit that Dak Prescott is a good NFL quarterback. Last season the Cowboys were a laughing stock, with a 6-10 record in a season where they had high expectations. Yes, Dak Prescott got hurt in Week 5 vs the Giants but the Cowboys were 1-3 up to that point and only leading the 0-4 Giants at home 24-23 at the time of Dak's injury in the middle of the 3rd quarter. Through Dak's 4 games played he set an NFL record for 3 games with 450 or more passing yards in one season. Let me say that again. Dak Prescott set an NFL record for most games ever of 450 passing yards or more in a single season in only 4 games played. The Cowboy's defense was historically bad but the offense flashed the potential to be elite when led by Dak. After a strong rookie season, Dak regressed slightly in 2017 before putting up great numbers in 2018 and 2019. He has not missed a single game and played through injuries before breaking his leg last season and he has learned how to limit turnovers. In 2019 he threw for 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with 151 rushing yards which were the lowest in his career. He is still a threat to run the football but his passing ability has progressed immensely since his college days. He does not have a rocket arm but he knows how to extend and make big plays and he is a much more accurate passer than people give him credit for. He was on pace for a record-breaking 2020 season before suffering the brutal leg injury and all eyes will be on him after signing a monster extension to see if the leg is fully healed and how bad the shoulder injury he suffered in training camp is.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy had a nightmare first season coaching in Dallas and his 6 wins were the least amount of wins by a new Cowboys head Coach since Dave Campo in 2000. Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore is known as one of the brightest minds in the game today and this will be the 5th year that he and Dak are working together as player and coach. Dak Prescott has Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Ezekiel Elliot looking to bounce back after being extremely ineffective when Dak was out. Prescott has a career 97.3 quarterback rating and he's thrown 61 touchdowns compared to 23 interceptions in his last 3 seasons. He has 24 career rushing touchdowns and even though he is running less he is still always a threat to scramble and pick up the first down when no one is open. He benefits from the elite play of his offensive line and the weapons around him but he does not make too many mistakes to take the Cowboys out of close football games. The defense needs to step up in a big way in 2021 to contend, and I do not think they did enough in the offseason to do so. Prescott has all the tools and numbers to be a top quarterback in the league once again next year, but he may start the season off rusty, with him unlikely to play in the preseason with his shoulder problem.
#10 Kyler Murray- Arizona Cardinals
Rick Scuteri/ AP
Kyler Murray took a huge leap in 2020 and he does not get enough credit for how good he truly was. I believe that he was a shoulder injury away from battling Aaron Rogers for the NFL MVP. Look at his stats before and after the shoulder injury on Week 11 vs the Seattle Seahawks. Through Week 11, Murray had 19 passing touchdowns, 10 rushing touchdowns, 2,644 passing yards, and 8 interceptions. After the injury, from Weeks 12-17 Murray threw for 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions with only 1,327 passing yards. His touchdown to interception ratio dropped from 2.4 to 1.8. He went from 264.4 passing yards per game to 221.2 passing yards per game. Also hampered by a foot injury, he only rushed for 1 rushing touchdown after Week 9 and his rushing yards per game went from 61.9 yards per game till Week 11 to 33.3 yards per game after that. This significant dropoff led to the doubters creeping back in even though Murray improved significantly from year one. He threw more passing touchdowns with 26 compared to 20, more passing yards with 3,921 compared to 3,722, rushed for more yards with 811 compared to 544, and more rushing touchdowns with 11 compared to 4. He also improved his completion percentage by almost 3% to 67.2% and increased his passer rating by nearly 7 points to 94.3. After improving upon a record-setting rookie season Kyler and the Cardinals should ride high into 2021, and a fully healthy Murray could lead to a Cardinals playoff berth.
The addition of one of the best wide in the league in DeAndre Hopkins paid dividends for Kyler in the passing game. He was second in the league in receptions and receiving yards and he took the pressure off Kyler and the others to try and force them to make big plays. Kyler did a great job to scramble when he needed and wanted too but he also had the confidence and poise to be a strong passer in the pocket. He does need to improve on mid-range throws to open up more space for the deep balls and his runs. He has shown his ability to throw the deep ball with accuracy especially on the unbelievable Hail Mary in Week 10 vs the Bills but he needs to stay healthy in 2021 for the Cardinals to be successful. Although he has not missed a game in his NFL career the shoulder and foot injury hindered his play dramatically and the Cardinals went 2-4 in the games played when his production slid off after Week 11. The Cardinals have done a spectacular job in surrounding Kyler with weapons in the running and passing game to fit his needs and play to his strengths. The offensive line is solid and I anticipate a huge season if healthy for Kyler and the Cardinals might be a team to sneak into a wild card spot.
#9 Matthew Stafford- Los Angeles Rams
Michael Owen Baker/OCR
As you all may know Matthew Stafford just has a littttttle hype surrounding him this season. Stafford is a top quarterback that is traded to a team in the Rams who were a very good quarterback away from becoming Super Bowl contenders once again. I'm ALL IN on the Rams and Matthew Stafford this year. Head Coach Sean McVay had this to simply say about Matthew Stafford. "This dude's a bad MF--er... whatever people say about him, as good as it can be, he's even better than advertised." I tend to agree with McVay here because everyone knows that Stafford is good but we did not appreciate how good he was in a bad situation in Detroit. Early on everyone attributed his success due to having Calvin Johnson on the roster but he has elevated his play since Megatron retired. A prodigy coming out of high school he had an outstanding college career before being drafted 1st overall by the Lions in 2009. After struggling mightily as a rookie in 2009 he missed 13 games in 2010 due to a shoulder injury. Two years into his NFL career questions were already being raised about his ability and his healthy with more games missed (19) than played (13). I will never forget when he broke into the league in 2009 the game he had vs the Cleveland Browns. He threw for 5 touchdowns in a 38-37 win over the Cleveland Browns and threw a touchdown as time expired after a brutal hit that should have taken him out of the game. That's the kind of player he is. In 2011 is when he put it all together. Stafford threw for a career-high of 5,048 yards and 41 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 63.5%. He was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and went on to start 136 games in a row. He had been an elite quarterback since.
It is easy to get lost in Detroit. Stafford has only played in 3 playoff games in his career and is 0-3 with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. But man has he put together one heck of a run on a historically bad Lions team in the regular season. Stafford has 45,109 career passing yards and 282 touchdowns with 144 interceptions. In 2020, he threw for 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with 4,084 passing yards and a 64.2% completion percentage. His 96.3 passer rating was the fourth-best in his career and he put up great numbers with not many weapons around him. In games vs elevated competition, he played his best and played to his strength of playing in an offense that is high paced. He is one of the best pocket passers in the NFL and he does not need to be mobile to be successful. The Rams are legit Super Bowl contenders with their high-powered offense of Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, and if DeSean Jackson can somehow stay healthy this Rams offense could potentially be unstoppable. The possibilities are endless for Sean McVay and the Rams with Matthew Stafford behind center, and the ability to throw the deep ball and make plays in the pocket will elevate them to a new level.
#8 Lamar Jackson- Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson put up another great season in Baltimore and backed up what he did in his breakout MVP season. He was neither a Pro Bowler or in the MVP consideration but as a 24-year-old he has solidified himself as a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. It makes you wonder how so many teams could pass on a talent like Lamar and still for some people to hate on a great player and person. We all know what he did in 2019 and the question lied of how he could back that up in 2020. It is difficult to top a season when you were the youngest MVP in NFL history at 23 and you had 36 passing touchdowns, 7 rushing touchdowns, 3,127 yards passing, 1,206 yards rushing, and a passer rating of 113.3. Those are unbelievable statistics that we may never see in our lifetime again. 1,206 rushing yards from a quarterback to go along with a 66.1% completion percentage and the 113.3 passer rating is utterly unbelievable. Anything that he did in 2020 would almost be disappointing because you cannot have a better season than he did in 2019. Don't let the Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers storylines distract from the fact that Lamar is an elite quarterback and he had another good season in 2020. The Ravens fell in the playoffs once again, but Lamar has a chance to become the best dual-threat quarterback of all time.
The biggest thing that the Ravens need to focus on is surrounding Lamar Jackson with weapons. Last season their wide receivers were terrible and Hollywood Brown led the Ravens in receiving with only 769 yards and he had a drop problem. Baltimore tried to recruit more receivers to help Lamar out this season and they did a decent job drafting a wide receiver in the first and fourth round while also signing Sammy Watkins. Tight end Mark Andrews is a player on the rise that will help as well. Regardless, Lamar still threw for 2,757 yards and 26 touchdowns with 1,005 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. Although his passing stats were not eye-popping his 73.7 QBR ranked him 7th in the league ahead of guys like Russell Wilson and Tom Brady. He was consistent all season long and never had a bad game that resulted in a Ravens victory. Lamar led them to an 11-5 record and his first playoff victory vs the Tenessee Titans but lost to the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round and he threw a bad pick-6 interception at a key point in the third quarter. Lamar is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and his passing skills are extremely underrated, and with the improvements with the weapons surrounding him, I anticipate another big season.
#7 Tom Brady- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Alright, it's time a talk about my arch-nemesis the one and only Tom Brady. It is undeniable how remarkable his 2021 season was. Last year Tom was ranked 12th on my list, and after the Super Bowl, it cemented him to be at least a top 10 quarterback entering his age 44 seasons. I am not one to toot my own horn, but I did predict a Buccaneers vs Chiefs Super Bowl last year on the MoeCast Episode 23 for our NFL predictions. I knew that Tom Brady was the perfect fit for the up-and-coming Buccaneers. They have a terrific defense, some of the best offensive weapons in the game, and a top 5 offensive line. Jameis Winston and the Buccs struggled in 2019 because Jameis threw 30 interceptions. With a leader like Tom Brady, he did not force the ball and did just enough for that team to flourish. I thought the Chiefs would defeat the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl but Tampa's 31-9 astounding victory submitted Brady's astounding legacy. He went from 20 years in one system to becoming an NFL Champion in his first season with a new franchise as a 43-year-old. This was with no training camp or preseason and the disconnect showed throughout the first part of the season. The Buccaneers lost to the Chicago Bears, lost 38-3 at home vs the New Orleans Saints, lost back to back weeks later in the season to the Rams and Chiefs, and still found a way to play their best football in the playoffs. Brady did not make the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team but he clicked at the right time and had extremely good weapons around him to make it work.
In his last 2 seasons in New England, the tires started to fall off for Brady. He still put up above-average numbers but there were some questions about a decline after his 2018 and 2019 seasons when he threw for a combined 53 touchdowns but with 19 interceptions. His passer rating and completion percentage were as low as they had been since 2013. But in 2021 Brady was only sacked 21 times and he finally gave Head Coach Bruce Arians a quarterback who would not turn the ball over. He finished the season with 4,633 passing yards which were his most since 2015 and 40 touchdowns which were the most since he put up 50 in 2007. He did have 12 interceptions which were his most since 2011 but his touchdown mark more than made up for it. He had Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, and Leonard Fournette at his disposal, making his life a lot easier with the transition to a new team. He still has the good arm strength and he ranked second in passing yards on passes over 20 yards last season. He was the MVP of his 7th Super Bowl victory throwing for 3 touchdowns and 209 yards with 0 interceptions. He did throw 3 interceptions in the NFC Championship game vs the Green Bay Packers marking the 4th time in his career that he has done so. What is his record in playoff games where he has thrown 3 interceptions you might ask? 3-1. Regardless, Brady did a remarkable job in Tampa last season and put up great numbers especially as the season grew on but he is backed up by elite talent around him. Expect a huge season with all starters returning for the reigning Super Bowl Champs.
#6 Ryan Tannehill- Tennessee Titans
If you know me you know how big of a Ryan Tannehill fan I am. What he has done since becoming the starting quarterback for the Titans is absolutely incredible. If you do not consider Tannehill to be an elite quarterback yet, now is your time. I know it's hard to grip for some people because of his ups and downs in Miami but he is now in the perfect fit in Tennesee and they could have the best offense in the NFL this season. Even though Ryan Tannehill is not even the best player on his team, I truly think that Tannehill is an under-the-radar MVP candidate for this season. Derrick Henry has accomplished everything you can do to be an MVP. He rushed for 2,027 yards becoming only the 8th player in NFL history to eclipse over 2,000 yards, and 17 touchdowns last season but never even got much momentum to become the NFL MVP. Since 2001, there have been 18 quarterbacks who have won the MVP compared to only 3 running backs. A quarterback has won the award every year since 2013. Here is my case for Ryan Tannehill for this upcoming season.
Tannehill began his career in college at Texas A&M as a receiver and he broke numerous freshman records. He was not the full-time starter at the quarterback position until he was a senior and was so good that he was selected 8th overall by the Dolphins in the 2012 draft. After his rookie season, he put up solid numbers in Miami on a bad football team until he started getting hurt in 2016. He missed all of 2017 and missed 5 games in 2018 before being traded to the Tenessee Titans in 2019 to back up and rival Marcus Mariota. After replacing Mariota midway through the game in Week 6, the rest is history. He guided the Titans to a 7-3 record in his 10 starts and he threw for 22 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions. His unbelievable 117.5 passer rating was the best in the NFL and his 70.3% completion percentage was a career-high. He beat the Patriots and Ravens in the playoffs before narrowly losing to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. He won NFL Comeback Player of the Year and was rewarded with a 4-year 118 million dollar contract. In his first year of the deal and as the Week 1 starter in Tenessee Tannehill threw for 33 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He once again led them to the playoffs even though they lost in the Wild Card round. On top of his 33 passing touchdowns, he ran for a career-high 7 rushing touchdowns and he expressed his desire to run more as the season went on. The criticism lies that he is only good in play-action but he is rated as an elite passer in straight drop-back passes. If his job is so easy with Derrick Henry, why couldn't Marcus Mariota do it? Tannehill is in store for a monster year with Derick Henry and AJ Brown at his side and oh yeah, they just added one of the best receivers of all time in Julio Jones. It's time to hop on the Tannehill bandwagon now.
#5 Russell Wilson- Seattle Seahawks
After a career year, it is hard to believe that Russell Wilson fell from #2 to #5 in my newest quarterback rankings. After a monster start to the season, his second half was not very good. Don't get me wrong, Wilson is still undoubtedly a top 5 quarterback in the NFL in my mind but going into next season I would take the 4 guys that I have ranked ahead of him. Entering his age 33 season Wilson is coming off 4 straight Pro Bowl selections and he is coming off a 40 touchdown season. There was a little bit of controversy in the offseason when there was a rumor that he wanted to leave Seattle and his agent released a list of teams that Wilson would be open to being traded to. The fences were quickly mended and he is going to be Seattle's starter this year. In my mind, Wilson was in the right with his dissatisfaction with the organization due to how feeble their offensive line has been for quite some time now. He took the most sacks in the NFL over the second half of last season and in every season since 2013 he has taken over 40 sacks. He took a career-high of 51 sacks in 2018 and led the league with 48 in 2019. Regardless, the Seahawks have had a winning record in every season since Wilson has become the starter. Seattle has made the playoffs in 8 out of the 9 seasons that Wilson has been the starter and Russell has not missed a start in his 9 year NFL career. He is an elite quarterback and will continue to be one in 2021.
Through the first half of the season, he was a shoo-in for the NFL MVP. It went from Russ to Kyler, to Mahomes, and then ultimately to Aaron Rodgers. Wilson's passer rating was over 105 for the 3rd year in a row and he showed the NFL that he can still run with 513 rushing yards which were his most since 2017. Not only was his 40 touchdowns a career-high but his 384 completions and 68.8% completion percentage were highs as well. He threw 13 interceptions which was also a career-high, but any team in the NFL would take a quarterback with a 3 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio. Through the first 3 weeks of the season, his 14 passing touchdowns were the most ever. He threw for 28 touchdowns over his first 8 games, but only threw 12 in his last 8 to go along with 5 interceptions. His rushing stats went up as a result of the bad offensive line and it all came crashing down on Seattle in the playoffs. Russell completed just 11 out of 27 passes with 174 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception. His QBR was just 16.6 which was his lowest mark since Week 16 of 2019. Wilson holds on to the all too much in the pocket at times but he has been one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL over the past 5 seasons. If the line can hold up and he can continue to establish his connection with DK Metcalf, the Seahawks could make some major noise in the overlooked NFC West.
#4 Josh Allen- Buffalo Bills
Mile High Sports
Josh Allen was AWESOME last year. This guy is extremely fun to watch when he is on top of his game like he was last season. We all saw the flashes and knew the potential that he had and he finally put it all together last year. In my mind, Allen was the best quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft but slid to the 7th overall pick after the Browns took Baker Mayfield first and the Jets took Sam Darnold third. Allen was spectacular at the University of Wyoming, but the questions about his accuracy lingered and stuck with him through his first few years in the NFL. The Bills are a team that is hard to hate and they rode their magical run to the AFC Championship game last season before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs. Allen had a great playoff run and he kept the momentum to the regular season going and almost led the Bills to a Super Bowl at just 24 years old. Before 2020 Allen had a good 2019. He threw for 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions but his completion percentage was 58.8% to go along with a passer rating of 85.3. His rookie season was even worse, with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to go along with a 52.8% completion percentage and a passer rating of 67.9. Accuracy was clearly an issue that he needed to improve on before taking the next step in the NFL. He had the size and a rocket for an arm to succeed in the NFL and in 2021 he became an elite quarterback.
The most underrated part of Josh Allen's game is his running ability. As a rookie in 2018, he ran for 631 yards and 8 touchdowns in only 11 games started. He had 4 games where he rushed for over 95 yards and he only lost 2 fumbles showing off his physical nature and being wise beyond his years protecting the football. In 2021 he rushed for 421 yards which was the lowest in his career and 8 touchdowns but in the passing game is where he took the biggest leap. He posted career highs in every single category, throwing for 4,544 yards, a 69.1% completion percentage up 10.3% points from 2019, 37 passing touchdowns, a 107.2 passer rating, and only 10 interceptions. His improvement from year 1 to 3 is one of the fastest and strongest improvements I have ever seen from such a young quarterback. He set the record for most games ever with 375 or more passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a passer rating over 130 in one season with 3 In Weeks 2, 9, 13 in 2020. He began the season strong and never let up on his solid play. The key to his success was the addition of Stefon Diggs and his success with the play-action pass. He and Ryan Tannehill led the NFL in attempts and success with the play-action pass after Allen struggled with that facet of the game early in his career. He is extremely young with all the talent in the world and will win at least one NFL MVP one day. Allen and Diggs will build on their initial success in 2020 and be one of the most feared duos in the league next year.
#3 Deshaun Watson- Houston Texans
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