Who is the Best Quarterback in the NFL?
There's no doubt that the quarterback is the most important position in football. The league has transitioned from the run-first offense of the old school days to a throw first, score fast mentality. Because of this, we've seen more and more quarterbacks begin to excel in both their passing and rushing abilities. The idea of a pocket-passer QB isn't as ideal as it once was and throwing for 4,000 yards and dozens of touchdowns have seemingly become an average feat. Nowadays we have players like Patrick Mahomes who threw for 5,000 yards and 50+ touchdowns in a season while Lamar Jackson was rushing for over 1,000 yards behind his stellar throwing performance. Quarterbacks have evolved to include more playstyles, backgrounds, and races, expanding from the once traditional white, pocket-passing, tall, and strong-armed QB.
While history has made it clear that Tom Brady is the greatest QB of all time, this article will cover who is the best quarterback in the NFL at this very moment. Momentum, success, and ability are all fluid and can change throughout the season. Because of this, my list will be updated at the beginning, middle, and end of each season. These rankings are determined by various factors, including yards, touchdowns, accuracy, overall record, and overall success due to good or bad teammates surrounding them.
Who will be the Best Quarterback in 2022?
Previous Top QB's By Year
|Year||Poll Results||AP MVP Results|
Lamar Jackson was dealt a bad hand to start the season. His team was sent onto the field with dozens of players on the IR, including both of his starting running backs and nearly the entire defense. His new rookie pieces at WR never panned out and eventually were injured themselves. For much of the year Lamar put the team on his back and defied the odds to keep the Ravens in contention, but upon a late-season injury, he and the Ravens finished in dead last in the AFC North and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in his career. Still, it's clear Lamar will likely regain a position in the top 10 next season and will likely control a new maximum contract to extend his time in Baltimore.
People are beginning to wonder if Derek Carr really is legit. After the awful beginning to the year in Las Vegas, Carr led his team past the firing of their head coach, the tragic loss of life that led to the arrest of their starting WR, and the release of their starting CB after he made death threats. Despite all of the drama both in the offseason and during the season, Carr produced respectable numbers and a 10–7 record. There are rumors he may be on the move, but this season just adds to the seemingly constant mystery of who Carr is in the NFL in terms of talent.
Carson Wentz has had a rollercoaster career since he was an MVP candidate and ended an injured season watching Nick Foles win him a Super Bowl ring. Since then people have said he wasn't the answer, and this season he started a new chapter with the Indianapolis Colts. Wentz wasn't lighting up the stat board, but he was efficient in his play and was one game from leading his team to the playoffs. He crashed and burned against the paltry Jaguars in his final game, but up until that point, he played well. Wentz may take a step into the back end of the top 10 next year if he can get out of his own way for once in his career.
10. Kyler Murray
What can be said about Kyler Murray that hasn't been stated here before, or everywhere else on any major network? Kyler is an elite QB who simply can't stay healthy. After a shoulder injury derailed his 2020 MVP contention last year, this year he missed three games and had injuries affect his play throughout the year. Despite this, Kyler still played at an incredibly high level for the Cardinals all year and has incredible arm talent, and still has lethal legs that can extend plays or break defenses.
While his yards and touchdowns weren't near the top of the league, Kyler consistently had his team in good positions to win games this season. In fact, the Cardinals started the season 7–0, but injury and a devastatingly hard second-half schedule led to the Cardinals dropping 7 of their final 9 games. Still, Kyler is one of the most talented QBs in the NFL this year and will continue to be for years to come.
2020 Rank (7th)
2021 Rank (10th)
9. Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins doesn't, and never has received credit for how good he is. Well, he's going to get credit right now. Cousins is consistently in the top 10 in many statistical categories year in and year out. People argue he is lucky to be throwing to the likes of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, but there are other QBs with talented WR cores that don't take criticism like he does *cough* Burrow, Dak, Brady *cough*
Cousins quietly had the 4th best QB rating in the NFL this season, throwing for 33 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He was 9th in passing yards and 9th in passing touchdowns. The Vikings finished the year with only a .500 record while Cousins was playing, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a game in which Cousins didn't play well this year. In fact, of the eight games that Cousins lost, the average margin of victory was only 4 points, with only 1 loss coming by double digits. The Vikings were one of the best "bad" teams in the NFL and Cousins shouldn't be the one to blame for the team's performance.
2020 Rank (Unranked)
2021 Rank (9th)
8. Dak Prescott
If not for the unprecedented eruption of Joe Burrow, I think my prediction of Dak Prescott being the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year winner this season would have been correct. After his white-hot start to the year last season before his injury, it was expected for Dak and the Cowboys to be a major force to be reckoned with this year. Dak continued to do what Dak typically does when healthy. He was efficient, accurate, and made plays when they were needed. However, despite having nearly 70% completions, nearly 4,500 yards, and 37 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions, his season felt underwhelming. Six times throughout the season he had one or less touchdown passes with weapons like Amari, Gallup, and Lamb on his side. That's simply unacceptable, especially with the pressure and fame of being the face of the storied Cowboys.
Do I believe Dak can be mentioned in an elite company at the QB position someday? Absolutely. However, until he can consistently put up elite numbers with some of the best offensive weapons in the league on his side, he's going to merely be in the conversation of when will he break out.
2020 Rank: Unranked
2021 Rank: (8)
7. Josh Allen
My God is Josh Allen polarizing! The man looks like a vintage Big Ben with mobility, power, and speed. After last season, Allen came into this season with potential MVP contention attached to his name. If you looked at his stats overall on the year, you'd think he would be right in the conversation, but this season Allen had just as many head-scratching games as he did mind-blowing ones.
Allen finished his season incredibly strong with an 11 touchdown to 0 interception final three games. He finished the year 8th in passing yards, 7th in touchdowns, and he ran for more yards and touchdowns than he has yet in his career. Yet, despite these solid numbers he also had a few games where he literally disappeared. How can we call him a top 3 QB like last season when he lost to both the Jaguars and Falcons with a combined 0 touchdowns and 5 interceptions against them? His accuracy concerns also seemed to rear their ugly head again this season, with 7 of his games with completion percentage in the 50s or even 40s!!!
I believe Allen is much better than this rank, but the season he put together was simply too hot and cold to have him in the top 5 again this year. Next season I expect him to bounce back and be electrifying once again, as well as seeing the Bills be one of the top teams in the AFC again.
2020 Rank: (3rd)
2021 Rank: (7th)
6. Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert is one of the best young QBs in the NFL and I think he's being completely overlooked by the likes of other young studs like Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, and Jackson. The disrespect has to end! Herbert threw for the second-most yards in the NFL this year with 5,014. Couple that with 38 passing touchdowns and nearly 66% completion and that makes for a great second season. Sophomore slump? I don't think so. Herbert now has the most passing yards of any player in their first two seasons in the history of the NFL. The craziest thing is, while he has a good WR core, it's nowhere near as good as the likes of other top-tier QBs like Burrow, Brady, Prescott, or others.
Herbert's team finished the year 9–8, but when you take into account the fact that their defense was 29th in scoring defense and the Chargers play in a division with the Chiefs and the Raiders and Broncos who are sneaky good, it's not terrible. If the defense can be fixed a bit I expect to see what Herbert can do in the postseason very soon.
2020 Rank: Unranked
2021 Rank: (6th)
5. Matthew Stafford
Matt Stafford has shown that if a team can go all out to get their QB, he can lead you to the promised land! After spending years with his talent being wasted in Detroit, Stafford was signed as a mercenary for the loaded Rams team and put them over the top to become Super Bowl champions.
Stafford put together an incredible season, stepping into a new locker room and coming out of the season with a ring and a stat line of 4800 yards, 48 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. He did this while boasting a 67% completion in passes and led the Rams to 12 wins before winning a Super Bowl. And while Stafford's 17 interceptions led the league, he put together a great postseason with a 9 to 3 touchdown to interception ratio, as well as over 1,100 yards.
With another year in the Rams' system and the return of many important pieces, Stafford may see the peak of his career next season and move even further up this list.
2020 Rank: (Unranked)
2021 Rank: (5th)
4. Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes had one of the worst starts to a season that he could, considering his skill level. The season began with some questionable losses to a depleted Ravens team and the Chargers, as well as losses to the powerhouse Bills and Titans. In fact, the Chiefs started the year 3–4 and Mahomes had a stat line of 18 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. The Chiefs heard the criticisms and doubts and finished the second half of the season on fire.
Mahomes rallied and finished the year with 4,800 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Even though it was the most interceptions of Mahomes' career, he finished the year with a 9–1 record and 19 interceptions to only 4 interceptions. They rolled into the playoffs as one of the scariest offenses in the league once again, and Mahomes' incredible arm talent was a major factor in their continued dominance.
Since I began ranking QBs, this is the lowest Mahomes has been, but I am confident that next season he will continue his dominance and likely be a top 3 option once again.
2020 Rank: (2nd)
2021 Rank: (4th)
3. Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow. Joe Cool. What a comeback.
Burrow returned to the league this season after a devastating knee injury that ended his promising rookie year. The Bengals were projected to be last in the AFC North, and one of the bottom-dwelling teams that needed many pieces to achieve success. However, Burrow had other plans.
Burrow came back with the addition of his college teammate Ja'Marr Chase and they instantly became the best QB/WR duo in the league. Burrow led the league in completion percentage with over 70% of his passes landing in his WRs' hands. He led the Bengals to a 10–6 record in the competitive AFC North and tore through the playoffs, beating the Chiefs along the way. No matter the level of competition or how big the moment was, Burrow remained calm and clutch. In the end, Burrow couldn't get it done to win the Super Bowl, but he took a team that was the worst in the league only two years ago back to the championship. For that, he deserves his top 3 spot.
2020 Rank: (Unranked)
2021 Rank: (3rd)
2. Tom Brady
Tom Brady is going to retire as the greatest NFL player in the history of the game. At the age of 44 he came back into the league to try to defend his championship title. His team had turmoil and injury late in the season and the worst possible time, and Super Bowl number 8 wasn't able to happen. Despite the failure to repeat, Brady dominated the league once again with the greatest season for a man of his age in NFL history.
Brady led the league in pass attempts, yards, and touchdowns. He finished the year with 5300 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Did I mention he's 44?
While there's not much to be said about Brady that hasn't been said before, it's hard not to rank the man as the best in the league. He's unarguably the greatest of all time. Brady was able to compete with anyone he faced this year and did so as the oldest QB in the league by far. If he does truly retire like he says he plans to do, we will have been blessed to see such an incredible career in our lifetime. If he does return, watch out NFL.
[Edit]: HE RETURNED!!!
2020 Rank: (4th)
2021 Rank: (2nd)
1. Aaron Rodgers
I said before this season that Rodgers could repeat his MVP season despite his offseason drama with the Packers. He did just that. Rodgers led the league in passer rating for the second year in a row, finishing the year with a stat line of 4100 yards, 37 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. What Rodgers has been able to do recently is absolutely insane. His arm talent is unparalleled in the NFL. In fact, over the last four years, he only has 15 interceptions; which is less than or equal to 5 QBs this year alone.
Rodgers had a lot of doubters this year because of his failure to commit to the Green Bay Packers, and it seems he will likely be on his way out the door to a new location in 2022. The conflict with the team didn't stop Rodgers from putting his best performance forward though, leading the team to a 13–3 record that was good for the best in the NFC.
Rodgers continues to show the world that his arm talent is arguably the best we've ever seen. His drama and issues continue on for the second year in a row, but it seems he won't let that get in the way of his dominance in the NFL. He'll likely continue that dominance with his new team if he leaves Green Bay this offseason, and he will continue to be in the MVP conversation for the foreseeable future.
2020 Rank: (1st)
2021 Rank: (1st)
Who are the Top-Ranked Quarterbacks in the NFL?
While there are many great quarterbacks who play in the NFL every year, I believe these ten are the best heading into the 2022 NFL season. With so many young stars making their way into the NFL recently at the position, this list will surely change. I will update my rankings at the midway point of the season, and then again after the Super Bowl! What do you think about my rankings? Share this article with a comment on what you think!
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© 2020 Jesse Unk