It is the heart of the offseason now. At just under 100 days until the NFL season kicks off, there is nothing to do at this point but look ahead. Quarterbacks always warrant conversation, so why not take a good look at the current crop and decipher who is among the best? With so many talented young (and old) passers in the game today, there is a lot to be excited about.
So who are the best? Here are my NFL quarterback rankings going into the 2021 season.
1. Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs
Despite getting whooped on in the Super Bowl, Mahomes is still the best in the game. Just too talented for me to believe otherwise.
2. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
The reigning MVP still has some left in the tank. He deserves the respect of the number two spot.
3. Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans
Despite some very concerning off the field issues going on, Watson is still an incredible talent on the field.
4. Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills
Allen had an MVP caliber season last year. He threw for 4544 yards and 37 touchdowns through the air as well as 421 rushing yards and an additional 8 touchdowns. Bucs fans are accustomed to this type of dual threat quarterback after watching Cam Newton play in Carolina for nearly a decade. However, Allen has proven to be a far more prolific passer; having already eclipsed Newton’s career high in passing yards in a season by over 500 yards.
There is no question that Allen will be the best quarterback the Bucs see in the regular season. His arm strength is among the best in the NFL and his ability to make plays outside of the pocket is electric. This could very well be a super bowl preview, much like last year when the Bucs saw Patrick Mahomes mid season.
5. Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
As long as you have Wilson at quarterback you can just pencil in double digit wins regardless of what’s around him.
6. Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys
Prescott looked like he was on pace for an incredible season last year before breaking his ankle in week five. In that limited time he threw for 1856 yards, which is over 370 yards per game. He has begun to establish himself as one of the best passers in the NFL and will likely cement that status in 2021.
Fortunately for the Buccaneers, they will see Prescott in week one of the season. This means he will have a degree of rust having not seen NFL action in nearly a calendar year. This will be one of the most difficult quarterback match-ups of the season, but Tampa Bay might be catching him at the perfect time.
7. Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens
A special runner from the quarterback position. Jackson has a chance to be the best running quarterback we’ve ever seen.
8. Matthew Stafford – Los Angeles Rams
For too long Stafford has been overlooked as one of the premiere quarterbacks in the NFL. Now he is out of Detroit and going to one of the most friendly situations in the league with the Rams. It is likely that the best of Stafford’s career will be coming in the next few years. This is impressive considering the resume he has already built.
Stafford currently ranks 16th all time in total passing yards. He has a chance to reach the 50,000 career passing yards mark this season and will likely pass hall of fame quarterbacks Fran Tarkenton and Warren Moon at some point in 2021 if he can stay healthy this year. At 33 years old, Stafford is still in his prime and has plenty in the tank. Do not overlook this dark horse MVP candidate.
9. Tom Brady – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Hail to the king. The best to ever do it is still doing it at a high level. Going for back to back championships with the BUCCANEERS!
10. Kyler Murray – Arizona Cardinals
A rising star who can hurt defenses equally as a runner and as a passer. The best is yet to come.
11. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Bucs fans are very familiar with what Ryan brings to the table. With his stable of top end pass catchers this Falcons passing attack is as scary as any in the league. Even as he enters the back side of his 30’s, Ryan is still getting it done at a high level.
Last year Ryan put up 4581 yards and 26 touchdowns. Those numbers could be on the rise with the addition of rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, the top skill player drafted this year. Even as the bottom feeder inches NFC South, this passing attack is one of the best the Bucs will see.
12. Justin Herbert – Los Angeles Chargers
After an incredible rookie year it’s exciting to think about how he can continue to grow and develop if he’s already this good.
13. Joe Burrow – Cincinnati Bengals
Burrow showed excellent intelligence as a rookie and should only get better.
14. Ryan Tannehill – Tennessee Titans
Nothing flashy, but effective as a passer and a runner. Probably won’t win you many games, but won’t lose you many either.
15. Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns
Mayfield has had some ups and downs in his young career, but he’s mostly a good quarterback who you can win with.
16. Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings
Too good to move on from as a contender, but a guy who it feels like is talked about as replaceable every year.
17. Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders
Efficient and effective. Carr is the bar of an excellent game manager or a low end franchise quarterback. Either way, a good player who you can win with.
18. Trevor Lawrence – Jacksonville Jaguars
A future star. Before he even takes a snap in the NFL Lawrence looks like he’s going to be fantastic.
19. Justin Fields – Chicago Bears
This is such a good situation for both the Bears and Fields who may be the most talented rookie quarterback in this class. He can run and throw with incredible accuracy. How he slid into the mid first round is still a mystery to most who scout these prospects.
Regardless of how he got here, Fields will have a star wide receiver in Allen Robinson to throw to, as well as a few other quality pass catchers. I expect him to hit the ground running right out of the gate. Don’t be shocked if he is the rookie of the year this season.
20. Jameis Winston – New Orleans Saints
The highest highs and the lowest lows. If you aren’t familiar with the Jameis Winston experience then you obviously haven’t been following the team long. After sitting behind Drew Brees last year, Winston is expected to take over as the trigger man for the Saints offense this season.
When last we saw the former Buccaneers quarterback, he threw for over 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also threw for 30 interceptions with some of the ugliest plays you’ll see a quarterback make. If Winston has learned more discipline then he could be a real problem for defenses. If not, he could be a real problem for his own offense.
21. Cam Newton – New England Patriots
It’s hard to say what Newton has left in the tank at this point in his career. After an up and down 2020 he will hope to win the starting job over first round rookie Mac Jones. I believe Newton can do that at this point of his career and if not it likely says more about how good Jones is than it does anything about Newton.
The former MVP is a menace as a runner. If he gets going on a scramble or designed run then he can really gash a defense. Although inaccurate compared to other passers, Newton is still a strong arm with a good deep ball. As far as bridge quarterbacks go, he’s probably the best in the game right now.
22. Zach Wilson – New York Jets
The number two overall pick in the draft has highlight reel talent. He makes all the wow plays, particularly outside of the pocket. In a few years he could very well crack the top ten of this list, but as a rookie it’s hard to give him the benefit of the doubt at this point.
This is especially true considering the situation he’s walking into. The Jets don’t have a ton of talent at wide receiver. Even if Wilson gets the most out of those around him, he’ll probably be middle of the road at best in terms of NFL quarterbacks.
23. Carson Wentz – Indianapolis Colts
Wentz has done a lot of good things in his career. He was in the MVP discussion in 2017 before getting injured and watching his team win the super bowl without him. Everything seemed to slowly spiral after that.
Last year he threw more interceptions than the previous two years combined before being benched for rookie Jalen Hurts. He was traded to the Colts in the offseason and the reclamation project is in full effect. We will find out soon if Wentz is the guy we saw last year or the guy we saw for the early part of his career.
24. Jared Goff – Detroit Lions
Goff is ever accomplished in his young career, but he’s more of a placeholder than a guy you want to build around.
25. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Washington
You know him. You love him! The man they call Fitzmagic is back again. After leading Miami to a ten win season the 38 year old now joins Washington to attempt to stabilize the quarterback position.
Fitzpatrick has plenty of highs and lows, but after the greatest journeyman career of all time he brings a wealth of experience. This is what Washington needs. A smart veteran who can get the ball to their skilled pass catchers. Buckle in and enjoy the ride.
26. Tua Tagovailoa – Miami Dolphins
Tagovailoa had one of the more historic college careers in memory. He’d basically been projected as a top pick since his freshman year and that’s exactly what he was. So it was a little disappointing when he was the third best rookie quarterback last season.
That’s not to say that Tagovailoa won’t be great. In an offseason like no other with no preseason, many rookies across the league struggled. There’s a good chance he’s able to make a big leap in year number two and rocket up this list.
27. Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers
After an unceremonious end in New York, Darnold is getting a fresh start in Carolina. He is still young and has potential to work with. Granted, the Panthers had made multiple attempts to bring in other quarterbacks, so this certainly wasn’t their first option.
Darnold has thrown for 8,097 career yards with 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in three years. He now enters a better situation than what the Jets provided. Darnold could end up out performing some of the names above him, but he has a lot to prove
28. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
An aging star who is probably over the hill at this point. I’m not sure he has much of anything left to give.
29. Jimmy Garoppolo – San Fransisco 49ers
From the Super Bowl a year and a half ago to watching his replacement get drafted. That’s all you need to know about what the coaching staff thinks about their bridge quarterback.
30. Daniel Jones – New York Giants
This is a make or break year for Jones. Despite some flashes as a passer and a runner, Jones has turned the ball over at an alarming rate. He averages nearly two turnovers per game (22 interceptions and 29 fumbles in 27 career games). And I don’t have to tell Bucs fans how that many turnovers can deflate an offense.
Jones has started his career 1-1 against the Bucs. Despite all of his issues, the Giants have been a difficult match up. After signing Kenny Golladay in the offseason and with Jones entering his third season this will likely be the best version of the young quarterback we’ve seen to date.
31. Drew Lock – Denver Broncos
There is talent here, but it’s unclear if it will ever develop. Denver will likely be in the quarterback market come draft time.
32. Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles
Hurts is more of a big name than he is a big time NFL player. After winning a national championship with Alabama and transferring to the quarterback factor that is Oklahoma, there weren’t many college football fans who didn’t know his name coming into the draft.
Despite warranting a second round pick from Philadelphia, Hurts has shown very little to be excited about. His accuracy is subpar and is unlikely to consistently beat opponents as a passer. Hurts does bring mobility to the position, but it’s hard to see him out running a guy like Devin White.