Mobile quarterbacks seem to be the NFL’s new fad. The excitement of watching gifted athletes, who are the centerpiece of an offense, run can be quite entertaining. The NFL and their raging fans were shocked this year by all of the quarterbacks who were deceivingly fast and agile, looking quicker than some of the running backs on their teams.
Mobility from the quarterback position is nothing new, as it has been overlooked, but has always been around the league. For decades, quarterbacks have had ample skill to scramble out of the pocket and pick up a few yards with their legs, rather than their arms. Being a mobile quarterback simply does not mean a quarterback who can run the football. Mobile quarterbacks are a dual threat athlete, as they can thread the needle when opportunity strikes and they can scramble out of the pocket avoiding a loss of a down and some yards. Mobility in the quarterback position can make a good quarterback a marvellous one.
Our list only has three current NFL players, though, and one of them has looked to be washed up for a couple of years. The reason we could not put more current NFL players on the list is simply because they have not yet proved themselves to be better than the mostly retired list we have put together. That doesn't mean that they can make it onto this list in the future!
15 Colin Kaepernick
We are aware that Colin Kaepernick has seen better days. Kaepernick came to the league and instantly became a huge commodity. His best seasons were between 2012-2014 and while this is a short timespan, he was unstoppable during those years. Kaepernick is still a young player at age 28 and he still may be able to put on a show for another few years. With Chip Kelly coming to San Francisco, his partnership with Kaepernick will be vital to the team's success. Chip Kelly is known to love rushing quarterbacks and run the college offense, leading many to believe that Kaepernick will be able to fit in perfectly with this scheme.
Kaepernick’s QBR in 2012 was 98.3 and in 2013 it was 91.6. These are amazing numbers and, as fans of the NFL, we hope to see Kaepernick have another great season, as he brings a lot to the league.
14 Greg Landry
Greg Landry’s career started in 1968 and ended fourteen years later in 1982. Landry had very solid statistics throughout his career, averaging around 2000 yards throwing and 500 yards on the ground during the prime years of his career. Those might not seem like a big deal now, but those were different times. In 1971, he was elected to play in his only Pro Bowl game after one of his best seasons.
Greg Landry is not a household name. but, in our opinion, he deserves more credit due to his unique skill set in an era that didn't appreciate them. Landry also assisted Scott Mitchell with the help of creating one of the best offenses in the year 1996.
Landry ended his sports career by being inducted to the National Polish-American Hall of Fame in 2012.
13 Doug Flutie
Doug Flutie is responsible for one of the best plays in college football history. It was one of the first Hail Mary touchdown pass. Flutie also received the Heisman trophy in 1984, before Flutie was drafted in the 11th round. He was a small quarterback at only 5'10" and 180 pounds. Flutie bounced around teams after being drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, as he then signed with the Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots. After flaming out int he NFL, Flutie moved to the CFL where he became a a star. This is where he showed his mobility by passing and rushing for plenty of yards and touchdowns.
Flutie was so good North of the border that he was able to return with the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers, where he impressed and even made a Pro Bowl in 1998, which is the same year he won Comeback Player of the Year.
12 Jim Zorn
Jim Zorn played in Seattle for the majority of his career from 1976 to 1984. He was known for his outgoing personality and the way he was able to lead his team. Zorn had a rough start to his NFL career, but with the help of Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, Zorn became a star in the NFL. Zorn had three consecutive seasons passing over 3000 yards. Zorn may have needed Largent’s help for those yards, but he did not need him when it came to scrambling. Zorn was a natural when it came to running with the football and scrambling out of the pocket. He was exciting to watch and he surely raised the fan base in Seattle, where he was known as “the left handed Fran Tarkenton.” Though he never made a single Pro Bowl appearance, Zorn was enjoyable player to watch and went on to become a coach with the Washington Redskins in 2008/2009.
11 John Elway
Of course, John Elway is known for his terrific throwing ability and the way he could thread a needle 40 yards down field without stopping to think. Because of those skills, Elway is often considered one of the better quarterbacks of all time. So, why does he make our list of top 15 mobile quarterbacks of all time? Simply because of his throwing legacy mixed with his consistent scrambling, which he used to toy with opposing defenses. Elway could escape a collapsing pocket, set his feet, and then bomb a touchdown pass. If younger fans need a comparison, picture Aaron Rodgers, who is similar to the Broncos' great. Elway won two Super Bowls, which is not an easy task. He won the MVP and had nine Pro Bowl seasons. His all time QBR is just shy of 80 at 79.9, as he had a fantastic career with many milestones and great achievements.
10 Bobby Douglass
Bobby Douglass was a player who was thrilling to watch and he was one of the best rushing quarterbacks of all time. Sadly, his throwing game was drastically worse, but his athleticism alone has placed him on our list. Bobby was simply a freak of nature and Douglass was the record setting quarterback for anything that had to do with rushing before guys like Michael Vick came along, as he was essentially a running back with a decent arm. Decent enough to get him to number ten on our list. He finished his career with 6,492 yards throwing and 2,654 yards on the ground. In 1972, he almost broke the 1,000 yard mark, when he rushed for 968 yards in 14 games.
When Douglass’s NFL career was over, he pitched in minor league baseball, with 7 innings, 13 walks and 0 strikeouts. Football was definitely his sport.
9 Kordell Stewart
Kordell Stewart's most impressive milestone is that he has the fourth most rushing touchdowns as an NFL quarterback. Kordell was very versatile as an NFL QB with his sizable amount of rushing touchdowns and three seasons throwing for over 2,500 yards.
During his time in the NFL, Stewart was not given much help, as he had some poor O-Lines in front of him, but he did not necessarily need it. Sure, his career did not consist of Super Bowl rings, but it consisted of an AFC Offensive Player of the Year award and a Pro Bowl selection in 2001. Kordell was a skilled player and his rushing touchdown number places him right in the middle of our list.
His nickname was “slash” because he could play receiver, quarterback and even running back. Quite simply, Kordell Stewart was the focal point of his offense and a very unique player.
8 Cam Newton
If you are surprised to see Cam Newton name so high on the list, bare with us. Newton is truly an amazing player, as he is extremely versatile and easily could pass many others on this list. The only thing holding him back at the moment is that he needs more time to prove himself for a longer duration of time. If he is still doing what he did this most recent year by 2021, we believe he will be in the top three of our greatest mobile quarterbacks of all time. Cam led his team to a 15 win season and an NFC championship, only to lose in the Super Bowl. Newton won the MVP award last year and deserved it in every way possible. His season was terrific and we hope to see many more, as he is a great competitor and a very gifted athlete.
7 Steve McNair
Steve “Air" McNair was a record setter, starting with his Football Championship Series records of 16,283 all purpose yards. That record still stands.
Steve McNair went 3rd overall, which at the time, was the highest an African American quarterback had been drafted. McNair could really do it all and, as a rusher, he was one of the greatest at the quarterback position. McNair would spend most of his career with the Oilers/Titans franchise, making three Pro Bowls and winning a Co-MVP with Peyton Manning.
The only thing holding McNair back from the top five of this list is his inability to win the big game. He had one shot in a Super Bowl, coming up short in 1999 against the St. Louis Rams.
6 Roger Staubach
Roger Staubach served in the Navy where he did a tour of duty in Vietnam. Two years before that, Staubach won the Heisman award, before becoming a 10th round pick by the Cowboys. In the NFL, he led the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl five times and won the big game twice. Roger is a six-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl MVP. Nothing stopped Staubach, as he was a tough guy with an amazing skill set.
STaubach was also quite smart and started his own real estate business, saying, “couldn’t have retired at my age and just played golf. First of all, they didn’t pay quarterbacks what they do today. And I was 27 with three kids. I kept thinking about what would happen if some linebacker takes off my head and I can’t play anymore.” Roger Staubach was a versatile and fantastic mobile quarterback, placing him at number 6 on our list.
5 Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb is a Philadelphia Eagles and Syracuse legend.McNabb was not just versatile in football, he played basketball at Syracuse as well. He put up pretty decent numbers, although not comparable to the ones he put up in the field.
McNabb was an absolute beast, as he could truck a linebacker and outrun a cornerback or pick apart the safeties with his arm. Drafted second overall to the Eagles, he became a legend in Philly and played in six Pro Bowls. The number 5 is retired in Philadelphia in honor of McNabb. He was a combination of all other great mobile quarterbacks, as defensive coordinators didn’t know what to do or how to stop him. He eventually suffered injuries, which led to the ultimate downfall of his elite career. Without a doubt, McNabb is an all time great and fits the exact standards of an elite mobile quarterback.
4 Randall Cunningham
Another great Eagles QB, although it was not easy to see at first, Cunningham soon became an elite mobile quarterback. His scrambling and rushing ability kept the defense on their heels which ultimately led to amazing downfield passes and complete dominance on the field. Not only was Cunningam a threat to run with his legs, he also had another unique skill with his legs. That puts him up there with the previously mentioned Kordell Stewart as one of the most versatile football players.
He was a three-time MVP, had four Pro Bowl appearances and even won a Pro Bowl MVP award. He almost reached 4,000 yards throwing in four separate seasons while being known to be a running quarterback. Cunningham had a QBR of 106.0 in 1998 while playing on the Vikings in one of his MVP seasons. Randall Cunningham would be a fantastic player to watch now that the NFL has evolved into a league where being a mobile quarterback is almost a necessity.
3 Fran Tarkenton
Let’s start off with how he introduced himself to the NFL. Tarkenton came off the bench to throw 250 yards and 4 touchdowns, a prolific debut that has only been repeated once by Marcus Mariota. Fran took over the offense by changing the entire style to a mobile quarterback's playbook. He was good at moving in the pocket that Tarkenton was given the nickname “Scramblin Fran” due to his abilities. He was elusive and rarely sacked by his opponent.
He had a few rough seasons, but he was one of the first true mobile QBs and one of the best to ever do it. Tarkenton set many records and could easily be recognized as one of the greatest of all time.
2 Steve Young
Here is where the biggest debate of this article lies, as the top two choices could easily have been swapped. How is Steve Young not the most mobile quarterback of all time? The only answer we have for that is competition level compared to our number one player on the list. Steve Young is definitely one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Young could do it all, as he could run, scramble and throw. He did all this flawlessly and was able to earn himself Super Bowl rings. Young was the league's MVP twice and competed in seven Pr-Bowls. He also leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns as a quarterback (tied with Cam Newton), though that's likely to be broken in 2017. He really has done it all and established himself as one of the top mobile QBs of all time.
1 Michael Vick
With Steve Young at number 2, you should've expected to see Michael Vick at number one. Vick is the all-time quarterback rushing leader, played in four Pro Bowls and was one of the most revolutionary players of his generation. This isn't the venue to discuss Vick's mistakes and that he threw away a career that could have been recognized as the greatest of all time. Despite his problems, it's hard for us to deny that Vick is the best rushing QB of all-time.
Our thought process for putting Michael Vick at number one on this list can not be justified by statistics, though they definitely help tell the story. Ib 2006, he had more than 1,000 yards rushing... as a QB. His ability as a playmaker, with his legs and arm, make him our number one selection here.