The National Football League has become a quarterback's game more than ever before. I do not agree with a lot of things the NFL does, but shifting the game to a quarterback driven league was the smart thing to do. There is nothing more entertaining then watching two great quarterbacks try and out-duel each other. I know it has made the game harder for defenders, but that is just how it is going to be from this point on.
There are many examples of how the NFL has become a quarterback driven league. For starters, it is easier for quarterbacks to put up bigger numbers, which can be seen in the 5,000 yard passing seasons we see from some players on a regular basis. In addition, quarterbacks are more protected today than they ever have been (although Cam Newton may have something to say about that). Finally, the NFL has also adjusted rules making it harder for defenders. Defenders are not allowed to be as physical as they once were and sometimes they get flagged for plays that would never been flagged in the old days (these are just some of the reasons why I hate comparing quarterbacks from different eras, but that is a story for another day).
All of these rule changes and a "quarterback's game" should mean that we are seeing great play at the position, right? Well, in some cases we are, but that does not mean we have not seen our fair share of bad play at the position. There are still greats like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. We are also seeing new talent emerge such as Derek Carr and Dak Prescott. Then of course we are seeing struggling quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler. Well, who is the best? Keep reading to find out, as this article will rank every current NFL starting quarterback.
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32 Houston Texans - Brock Osweiler
Like all Texans fans, I have been extremely disappointed with Brock Osweiler. Simply put, he got paid a bunch of money this past offseason and he has not delivered. What makes the play of Osweiler even more disappointing for all Texans fans is that Houston plays in the worst division in football. The time to capitalize is (was) now, but it clearly has not panned out for Osweiler, yet.
I am very surprised by Osweiler's struggles. He showed he could be a good quarterback when given the chance in Denver. Houston also has some very good weapons on their team like DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Lamar Miller. Overall, I still think Osweiler can turn things around when he gets more comfortable in the new system, but for now he is the worst starting QB in the league and it is not close.
31 Cleveland Browns - Robert Griffin III
Oh, how things have gone downhill for Robert Griffin III. He had a tremendous rookie season and looked like he was well on his way to becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Then, injuries started to occur and the steep fall down started. Griffin lost his starting job in Washington and eventually signed with the Browns. I do not blame the Cleveland Browns for taking a risk on RG3, as Hue Jackson is a great quarterback coach. If anyone was going to turn him around, Jackson could have been one of those people.
To be fair, I know Griffin has barely played this season, but is that not the problem? He has not shown he can stay healthy, which is kind of important for a quarterback. When he does play, his accuracy is average at best, and he appears to no longer have the athletic ability that made him such a great prospect. Overall, RG3 still has time to turn it around, but as of today, he ranks near the bottom of starting signal callers.
30 San Francisco 49ers - Colin Kaepernick
I have never been sold on Colin Kaepernick as a a quarterback, even when he took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. I also thought trading Alex Smith was gonna come back to bite the 49ers. Sure, Kaepernick caught teams off guard with his athleticism and scrambling abilities to begin his career, but after teams figured him out he was unable to do much.
In my opinion, you need a quarterback that can stand in the pocket and make play after play when times get tough. This is something Kaepernick has struggled with throughout his career and likely will continue to do so. Certainly, he is a better option than Blaine Gabbert, but that is not saying much. Overall, I would not be surprised if Kaepernick is out of the league soon.
29 New York Jets - Ryan Fizpatrick/Bryce Petty
It is amazing to see how quickly things can turn in one year. Last season, Ryan Fitzpatrick was a very good quarterback and was on the verge of leading the Jets to the playoffs. He even set some team records for the position. Fast forward a year later and you can see why the Jets were hesitant to give Fitzpatrick a big money contract. Fitzpatrick has been a turnover machine, especially in the red zone. You cannot blame a lack of weapons, as Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are both good receivers (I know Decker got hurt, but even when he was healthy Fitzpatrick stunk).
As a result of Fitzpatrick's poor play, Bryce Petty has recently taken over the starting job. He did get a win against San Francisco, but other than that he has not shown too much for the Jets to believe he is a future starting quarterback. He has shown inconsistent accuracy and also turns the ball over at a high rate. To be fair, he is only a rookie and may turn things around. However, for now, all we can say is the Jets are struggling at quarterback.
28 Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler
I know Jay Cutler is injured and not playing right now, but when he is healthy he is the starting QB for the Chicago Bears. It is clear Cutler has a very strong arm and some athletic ability, but he has just not been able to be a consistent quarterback. There are games where he looks so good and you see why he received a big contract, but then there are other games where he looks like he does not care.
I will give you a perfect example. This season on Monday Night Football against a terrific Minnesota Vikings defense, Cutler played very well with a shorthanded team. He threw for 252 yards with a QB rating of over 100 and led his team to a victory. What happens the next week? We see a completely different Cutler and he throws for only 182 yards with a rating of 55 (also threw two interceptions). In the end, you never know what you will get from this man and the Bears will be a non-playoff team until they fix their quarterback situation.
27 Blake Bortles - Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles himself has called the current season a nightmare and boy, is he right. Jacksonville sits last in their division and they play in the worst division in football. They have good weapons on both sides of the ball but due to poor coaching and the play of Bortles, Jacksonville has not been able to take a step forward this year. Bortles has thrown many careless pick sixes this season and no team is going to win many games if your quarterback is making so many mistakes.
I still believe in Blake Bortles as a franchise quarterback. One day he will prove to Jacksonville fans that he was worth the high selection and he will lead the Jaguars to consistent playoff births. However, his future does not excuse the terrible season he has had this year.
26 Buffalo Bills - Tyrod Taylor
Tyrod Taylor has shown some promise, but that is not enough for him to be in the top half of this list. With the running game Taylor has, he should be a much more productive quarterback. He also even has some pretty good weapons at the receiver and tight end position. Taylor is good at protecting the ball and limiting turnovers, but this is not enough for him to establish himself as a legitimate starting quarterback. He does not take enough chances to help the Bills win games and is sometimes too safe.
Overall, we will probably be seeing major changes in Buffalo after yet another dissapointing season. This will likely include the release of Taylor, as he is simply paid too much for his current production.
25 Los Angeles Rams - Jared Goff
Many people will question why Jared Goff is so high on this list. My answer is that given the chance today, any team would take Goff ten times out of ten over any of the aforementioned quarterbacks in this article, with the exception of Bortles.
I know Goff has struggled in his few starts this year, but let us not forget Goff is in a horrible situation with the Rams right now and he is still a rookie. He was playing for a terrible head coach in Jeff Fisher who is only defensive minded. In addition, the Rams receivers have not helped Goff out much. They have been dropping pass after pass. Overall, make no mistake about it, Goff will be a good quarterback in the NFL. He has lots of work to do, but he is only a rookie and within a couple of years he will be leading his team to wins.
24 Arizona Cardinals - Carson Palmer
Many people may think I have Carson Palmer way too low on this list. However, I argue his play this year has taken a major step backwards and he is a huge reason the Cardinals are no longer in playoff contention. Sure, he has had his games where he puts up some big yardage numbers, but he has also had too many turnovers at critical points in the game. In 13 games, Palmer has already thrown more interceptions this year than he did all of last year. In addition, he is only completing around 61 percent of his passes, which is about a 3 percent decrease from last season. He is on pace to throw fewer touchdown passes and his passer rating is about 20 points lower than last season.
What has been the problem? Well, Palmer has taken a lot of abuse over the years and it seems like it is finally catching up to him. He has had a solid career, but I feel it may be time for the Cardinals to look for other options at the position.
23 Denver Broncos - Trevor Siemian
The main problems I see with Siemian relates to consistency. You really do not know what you are going to see from him on a week to week basis. Sometimes Siemian will go off and throw for over 300 yards and other games he will show you why he was such a late draft pick with his erratic play. However, to be fair to Siemian, inconsistency is a problem we see with most young quarterbacks. Even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady had some struggles at the beginning of their careers.
Overall, Trevor Siemian has been a pleasant surprise this year. I was expecting him to be one of the worst quarterbacks in the game, but he has proven me wrong. He has been a solid player and will only continue to get better, as he is still very young. If Denver had a half decent running game, they would be in much better shape.
22 Sam Bradford - Minnesota Vikings
Perhaps I am being unfair to Sam Braford with this ranking. After all, he did have a pretty good season in Philadelphia last year. He also got off to a great start in a new system this year with the Vikings and continued to prove why he was drafted number one overall. Really, it started to go bad for Bradford and the Vikings when the offensive line could no longer protect him.
So what is the problem and why is Bradford ranked in the bottom half of this list? Well, he has not proven to me that he has that "will to win." He has not led a team to the playoffs in his career. In addition, I also still question his durability. Remember, Bradford is not that far removed from multiple knee surgeries. A great talent? Yes. A great quarterback that can lead a franchise? There is still time for Bradford to answer that question, but for now no.
21 Philadelphia Eagles - Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz has had a very respectable rookie season and at times he has looked like a five year veteran. Anyone else remember when the Eagles started 3-0, which included a victory over Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers? Wentz even threw for over 300 yards that game. That in of itself shows Wentz has a great future in this league. If the Eagles are able to surround him with some more talent at the running back and wide receiver position, look for the Eagles to take a big step forward.
Overall, Carson Wentz is a very promising rookie quarterback, but he is not yet at the point where he is better than 20 other quarterbacks in the league. Perhaps if this article was being written two years from now Wentz would be much higher on this list, but for now we have him at 21.
20 Marcus Mariota - Tennessee Titans
Another young quarterback that will eventually be much higher than number 20 for quarterback rankings. Marcus Mariota is showing everyone why he was taken second overall by the Tennessee Titans. Not only can he throw the football well, but he is also athletic and can bail his team out during broken plays. I also really like how Mariota is smart and responsible with the ball, a trait we often do not see from young quarterbacks.
Thus far this season, Mariota has improved in nearly every major statistical category for a quarterback. His passing percentage is up slightly, he has more touchdown passes than he had all of last year and his quarterback rating is up significantly. Mariota will be a great player for years to come in the NFL and I look forward to him and Andrew Luck battling it out for their division.
19 Ryan Tannehill - Miami Dolphins
Props to Ryan Tannehill for taking a giant step forward this year when at the beginning of the season it looked like it was going to be the same old Tannehill and Miami Dolphins. However, suddenly something clicked and Tannehill finally started to justify the huge contract he received from the Dolphins. He was spreading the ball around nicely and it was clear he had the respect of his teammates. Tannehill had Miami in a playoff spot and just recently got hurt.
It really is unfortunate that Tannehill recently sustained a likely season ending injury, as I could have seen the Dolphins making some noise in the playoffs. We will have to wait and see if Tannehill can get back to the high level of play he showed before going down.
18 Andy Dalton - Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton is one of those quarterbacks I just cannot wrap my head around. There are moments where he is great and looks like a top-five quarterback, but then there are moments where you scratch your head and wonder what Dalton is doing.
Add in the fact that Dalton has not had very much success in the playoffs, or against good teams in the regular season andit was an easy choice to place Dalton in the middle of the pack. Dalton certainly has the talent and team to prove me wrong, but that does not look like it is going to happen this year with their current record and all of the injuries their key players have sustained. Overall, for Dalton to really establish himself as one of the better quarterbacks he needs to perform in the postseason.
17 Dak Prescott - Dallas Cowboys
Honestly, Dak Prescott has some traits that make him look like he will be a great quarterback. He is calm, composed, has a strong arm, and he seems like a great leader. Everyone on the Cowboys sideline appears to have belief in him (well everyone except Jerry Jones, maybe). He also has the smarts not to force any bad plays, which can be reflected in his low turnover numbers.
I also have other thoughts that are not so positive when it relates to Prescott. Prescott has an outstanding running back and probably the best offensive line in football. Is he really as good as he plays or did he just land in a perfect situation? I need more time to answer this question, which is why I have Prescott in the middle of the pack. I have a feeling he is going to prove me wrong in the long run, but for now I need a bigger sample size to see what he really is.
16 Eli Manning - New York Giants
If this was a list in relation to playoffs, Eli Manning would probably be number one. He has been clutch in the postseason, even if some of his plays were "lucky." However, this article is looking at the whole body of work and Eli has been much too inconsistent to rank in the top half of current starting quarterbacks in the NFL at this time. There have been too many games where Eli throws multiple interceptions, costing his team the game. Remember, we have even seen this horrible play while Odell Beckham Jr, a once in a generation talent, is one of his receivers.
Overall, the most interesting debate revolving around Eli is if he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Some people say no and some people say yes. If it was up to me, Eli would be in the Hall. Winning two Super Bowls is no easy feat and it would not be a major surprise if he wins a third this year with the way the Giants are clicking right now.
15 Jameis Winston - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This season has been a huge year for Jameis Winston. He has taken that next step up in his sophomore season and remember, he is still only 22 years old. He is only going to get better and has some pretty good talent around him in Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, and Doug Martin. It would also be unfair to dismiss Dirk Koetter, who seems to have an outstanding working relationship with Winston.
Perhaps the most impressive feat by Winston this year is his play since telling the media he is not a loser. He has played exceptionally well and when a quarterback is able to back up his words like this, you know there is something deep down inside that will make him great.
The next step for Winston in his game is to learn to control his emotions better. He cannot have plays where he is headbutting other players and costing his team 15 yard penalties. Being an enforcer is not a job for quarterbacks. Leave that to other players.
14 Joe Flacco - Baltimore Ravens
Is Joe Flacco elite? This is a question that many fans have debated over the years. My answer is that he is an elite big game performer, but if it came down to the whole body of work, Flacco is in the middle of the pack when it comes to quarterbacks. Like Eli, Flacco has just been too inconsistent throughout his career. There are games you watch him and ask yourself, why can we not see this great quarterback more often. Then there are games and you ask yourself, how did Flacco get such a rich contract from the Baltimore Ravens?
Overall, Flacco had a great run and helped lead Baltimore to the Super Bowl a few years back, but has not done much since. If he wants to be considered higher in quarterback rankings, he needs to show he can lead his team without a great defense and also be more consistent during the regular season.
13 Alex Smith - Kansas City Chiefs
People may be surprised that I have Alex Smith this high, but I pose a question to those people... Has Alex Smith not been one of the winningest quarterbacks ever since he came into the league? Sure, he may not have lived up to the number one pick status, but he has found a way to be a winning quarterback, which at the end of the day, is all that really matters.
People that call Smith just a "game manager" are also mistaken. Sure, he may not put up the best stats, but I have seen Smith make key plays, and even a deep throw whenever his team needs it. It is not like his team is winning games 7-3, or 14-7.
I personally always felt it was a mistake for the 49ers to choose Colin Kaepernick over Smith and look at both of those franchises now. Kansas City is a legitimate Super Bowl contender and San Francisco is a mess.
12 Philip Rivers - San Diego Chargers
Where would the San Diego Chargers be without Philip Rivers? He is the only reason they remain somewhat relevant and if he was not on their team, they would be a candidate for the number one overall pick year after year. The brutality of their franchise was shown in how they handled the Joey Bosa contract at the beginning of the year and if not for Rivers, this team would already be in Los Angeles. Sure, Rivers has his days where he throws a lot of interceptions, but he has had many more days when he wills his team to victories with his passionate/energetic leadership.
Despite losing many of his top weapons this season such as Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen, Rivers has had a marvellous year. He is continuing to help old man Antonio Gates look relevant and has turned Tyrell Williams into a rising number one receiver.
I hope that San Diego is able to figure things out, because they are truly wasting one of the great quarterbacks in the league.
11 Kirk Cousins - Washington Redskins
Props to Kirk Cousins. He has proven many people wrong about him being a starting quarterback. Although his last two or three games may have brought back some doubt, I still believe in Kirk Cousins long term. In my opinion, the biggest reason for his recent downfall is the loss of his number one weapon, Jordan Reed. You might argue that if Cousins is a good quarterback, he should be able to make other players step up. My counter is how good was Aaron Rodgers without Jordy Nelson last year? How good is Tom Brady when Rob Gronkowski goes down? Both of these quarterbacks do not look as good without their top weapons and the same can be applied to Cousins.
Overall, if Tyrod Taylor can get around $20 million annually, Cousins should get the same. He has not reached his prime yet and will continue to get better.
10 Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton is a very good quarterback and I would love to have him as my starter. However, even if I had written this article during last season, I do not think Cam Newton would crack my top five. People may call me ridiculous and I know he has amazing talent, but I just feel like Newton does not play a game that is built to last. He takes so much abuse and punishment, that it is hard to see him lasting into his late 30s like other quarterbacks before him. I personally would rather have a quarterbacks that makes more plays in the pocket with his arm than a quarterback that makes plays with their legs, which is often the case with Newton.
Who knows though, perhaps Newton will get some more legitimate talent at the wide-out spot and prove me wrong by becoming a traditional pocket passer. Only time will tell.
9 Andrew Luck - Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck has had a tough career so far. His general manager has failed to surround him with a capable defense, or a capable offensive line. These are sort of two important positions to help out your franchise quarterback, eh Ryan Grigson? Maybe he should stop focusing on "deflated" footballs so much and try to surround his once in a generation talent with some real help.
If not for poor management, I truly believe Luck would be much higher on this list. He can take hit after hit and make throw after throw. He is as tough as it gets at the quarterback position. What makes Luck different from a quarterback like Newton is that Luck can stand in the pocket and make plays when it is really needed. He does not need to rely on his legs, even though he has the ability to do so.
8 Russell Wilson - Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson is one of those quarterbacks that landed in a great situation. He had a stout defense and a great head coach. This allowed him to develop his game at a natural pace and he did not have to look over his shoulder because he knew that even if he was struggling a bit, his defense and head coach would keep the team close. It also helps a rookie quarterback to have a running back like Marshawn Lynch to feed the ball to during tough times, much like Dak Prescott can do with Ezikiel Elliott today.
Overall, there is not much to dislike about Wilson's game. He can make great throws from in or outside the pocket. He is very smart when he runs with the ball, unlike many other quarterbacks. For as much as he runs the ball, you rarely see him take big hits. Look for Seattle to be in contention as long as Wilson is there.
7 Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints
I am really torn about Drew Brees' ranking. Some people will say he should be higher and they may be right. After all, he is still at the top of nearly every statistical category for quarterbacks. He is a sure Hall of Famer and may go down as one of the top ten quarterbacks to ever play this game. He is also my preferred type of quarterback, as he does most of his damage in the pocket, which has allowed for his longevity.
However, there comes a point where a lack of winning and non-playoff berths drives you down in the rankings. I know New Orleans has had many bad defenses during this playoff slump, but if you follow New Orleans closely, you will see Brees is not free of blame.
There have been times where his defense has stepped up, but Brees and the offense could not get it going. It is like one of those situations where anytime the D played good, the O would play bad and vice-versa. Overall, Brees is a great quarterback and a ranking of seven shows he is still great.
6 Matthew Stafford - Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford is a legitimate MVP candidate this year. It is unfortunate that he hurt his finger recently, because it looked like it impacted him in his last game. Hopefully this does not impact him in the MVP race and more importantly, leading his team to the playoffs.
I must be honest about one thing when it relates to Stafford. I thought he was mostly a product of Calvin Johnson. I mean who would not? There were some games where it seemed like all Stafford was doing was throwing jumpballs to Johnson. Then this season started and Stafford has proved me wrong entirely. Without Johnson, Stafford has spread the ball all over the field and has established himself as one of the game's better signal callers. I look forward to Stafford and Aaron Rodgers battling it out for the division title for years to come.
5 Derek Carr - Oakland Raiders
Of all the quarterbacks that improved their play this season, Derek Carr is far and away number one. The man has a killer instinct I have not seen in a quarterback since Tom Brady. My point was validated when Khalil Mack referred to him as having a "Mamba Mentality." No matter how much Oakland is down, you know they are never really out of a game as long as they have Carr under center. I know Carr has slowed a bit the last few games, but a lot of this can be blamed on his injured finger. He cannot even take snaps directly under center.
I will admit that Carr needs to improve his cold weather game, as it seems every time I watch him in these games, he struggles. I feel that better play in these conditions will come with experience.
4 Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers
Do not let some of Ben Roethlisberger's "bad" statistical games this season fool you. There are three factors you must consider. The first is that he has been missing a major weapon all year in Martavis Bryant and as a result, defenses are able to load up on his other game changing receiver, Antonio Brown. Secondly, the weather in some of Pittsburgh's games this year has been downright brutal and no quarterback would put up the best stats. Thirdly, Le'Veon Bell has been hot, so the Steelers have been riding the hot hand. This shows to me Roethlisberger is all about winning and does not care about his personal numbers.
In the end, if I had to pick one team with the best chance of beating New England in the AFC in the playoffs it is Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger is a main reason for that. He knows what it takes to win and could easily lead his team to victory over the Patriots.
3 Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons
If there was any question about Matt Ryan being one of the best quaterbacks, he has answered it this year. In my opinion, he should win the MVP and remember, he has even dominated games this year without his number one receiver, Julio Jones and his change of pace running back, Tevin Coleman. Ryan is at the top of the leaderboard in almost every statistic for quarterbacks and has his team first in the division. If this not MVP worthy, I do not know what is.
The next step for Ryan to fully prove that he is one of the great quarterbacks in this league is by winning in the playoffs. To this point, his playoff record has not been very good, as he has only won one game in the big dance. I have no doubt Ryan will perform well in the playoffs this year, and if he does not perform well and I had to re-write this list, I would probably drop Ryan down to the 10 area.
2 Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers
I personally feel like the only factors that prevent Aaron Rodgers from being number one on this list is himself and his sometimes non-chalant attitude. There are times where he does not even look like he cares and is almost too cool for school.
In addition, there are other times where he calls out his teammates and coaches to the media and it just makes you lose a little bit of respect for him. Calling players out on the field is one thing, but doing it to the media is just something a franchise quarterback should never do.
Nonetheless, Rodgers is probably the most talented quarterback (there is a difference between talented and best). He has the ability to make outstanding play after play and single handedly carry his team to victories. However, if he ever wants to be up there with Brady and Manning, he needs to win at least another Super Bowl.
1 Tom Brady - New England Patriots
Pretty much a no brainer here. How many quarterbacks do you see improve their game this late stage in their career? Probably none, besides Brady. Brady has improved his mobility inside and outside of the pocket. A few years h ago he was not able to throw very accurately while on the run, but he has now become very respectable in that part of the game.
In addition, Brady has improved his deep ball. Just going back a few seasons, and even to last season Brady was not hitting his deep outside throws all that often. Now, I know some of this can be attributed to his lack of deep threat weapons, but suddenly, he has hit deep ball after deep ball this season.
Overall, Brady is great and it is remarkable that he is still able to play at such an elite level at the age of 39. He is going to slow down eventually, but who knows when that will be.
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