Jesse is a lifelong sports fan with a passion for finding the facts. His writing has been recognized and published by Sports Illustrated.
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 2021?
Previous Top QB's By Year
|Year||Poll Results||AP MVP Results|
For the first time since Calvin Johnson, Stafford is going to have solid weapons around him. After an offseason trade, the Rams went after Stafford to hopefully capitalize on a short window to win a Super Bowl. Stafford will have a young running back in Cam Akers to take some pressure off of him, as well as a great defense. What's most important though is he will be throwing to the likes of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Stafford could easily see himself climbing into the top 10 as the year continues.
After a devastating rookie year full of hits that resulted in an ACL tear, it appears Joe Burrow is getting healthier as the offseason progresses. In the offseason, the young star was reunited with his former college teammate Jamar Chase. Coupling the top WR in the draft with Burrow along with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd will do wonders for Burrow and the Bengals' offense. Joe Mixon is also slated to return and is a surehanded back who will boost Burrow's numbers and help his confidence. The offensive line in Cincinnatti is still shakey, but if the pass coverage can hold up Burrow will be in for an incredible second season.
Tannehill was sneaky good last year and no one outside of Tennessee really noticed or gave him credit for it. With AJ Brown emerging as a Yards After Catch god and the addition of Julio Jones, I think Ryan Tannehill is a sleeper candidate for the MVP. His career has completely turned around since joining the Titans, and the team has been incredibly successful since his arrival. Tannehill still has some things to prove, but he has debatably the best WR duo in the league to help him do it this season.
10. Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert came screaming onto the scene last season as a rookie. With over 4,300 yards with 66.6% completion percentage, Herbert threw for 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions, shattering the rookie touchdown record (27) set by Baker Mayfield in 13 games in 2018.
Heading into this season the Chargers have lost a key contributor on offense in Hunter Henry, but they brought in Jared Cook as a serviceable veteran to take his place. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and pass-catching running back Austin Ekeler are all returning to the team with Herbert. It's hard to think that Herbert can repeat his rookie performance, especially because second-year quarterbacks historically struggle, but he showed flashes of absolute brilliance last year.
2020 Rank: Unranked
9. Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield finished his 2020 season on absolute FIRE! Not only did he lead the Cleveland Browns to their first playoff victory since 1994, but he also cleaned up his interception issues that plagued him in 2019. Baker finished the season throwing for over 3,500 yards with 62.8% accuracy. He threw 26 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
The wildest thing about Baker's performance was his red zone efficiency. Baker threw for 21 touchdowns in the red zone without a single interception. The offense didn't put up insane numbers, but they were one of the most efficient offenses in the league. The Browns weren't going to throw 50 on you every week, but they weren't easy to stop and they'd take long drives to wear down their opponents. Not to say they couldn't score a ton, as evidenced by their shootout with Baltimore and butt-kicking of Pittsburgh in the playoffs.
Going into 2021 Baker has all of his key offensive pieces returning. He has the best offensive line in the entire league protecting him, the best running back tandem in the league, and the highly efficient receiving core has Odell Beckham returning from injury and the incredibly fast rookie Anthony Schwartz joining the squad. Baker can make a huge step forward this year from game manager to the true gunslinger we know he wants to be, and that he was in Oklahoma. I believe the sky is the limit for Mayfield this season.
2020 Rank: (10th)
8. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson started the 2020 season off with insane numbers! In fact, at the midway point of the season, Wilson was on pace for over 5,000 yards, 56 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. Unfortunately, the season began to get away from him with some ugly losses down the stretch and he finished the last 8 games with only 1,600 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. His season was certainly solid overall still, and the Seahawks won 12 games and made the playoffs, but they lost badly and Wilson looked poor in his performance.
Luckily for Wilson, the Seahawks seem to always bounce back. The team added Gerald Everett, an incredibly athletic tight end, to the offense and WR Dwayne Eskridge in the second round of the draft. With the return of Chris Carson and the emergence of a young Deejay Dallas at running back, it seems the offense will be right back where they left off early last season.
We saw what Wilson was capable of at the beginning of the year last year, now we just need to see the team put together a great effort for the entire season. I believe Wilson and Pete Carroll can put together a plan to do just that. The Mr. Unlimited that we saw in the first 8 games last year had MVP and all-time single-season performance written all over it. The question now is can Wilson climb this leaderboard during the season and claim that #1 spot he says he can.
2020 Rank: (5th)
7. Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson went unranked for me last season for a few reasons. He's one of the most dynamic players by far, but historically if he is behind and has to throw the ball to win the game, he flounders. We've seen this in 3 of 4 playoff games. Lamar has a very good arm when he's able to extend plays in the backfield with his legs and allow his receivers to get open, but when that's not able to be done he's good, but not great. However, this could be the year that this all changes and the "running back" narrative goes away.
This offseason the Ravens went out of their way to add speed and talent to their WR core. They drafted two receivers, one in the first round, and they signed Sammy Watkins from the Kansas City Chiefs. The team lost some key defenders, but overall their defense should still be very strong and give the Ravens consistent field position.
Ultimately, this season should be the final measure as to whether Lamar can become the preferred pocket passer the NFL seems to love. Even with the evolution to more athletic QBs, no coach wants their QB rushing the ball an average of 10 times a game like Lamar. Eventually, injuries will follow the rushes and that's not good for anyone. I do believe that Lamar will take a step forward in his passing skills this season, how far though remains to be seen.
2020 Rank: Unranked
6. Kyler Murray
Injuries really ruined Murray's chances of a special season in 2020. After starting the year red hot, a shoulder injury hindered him for weeks and eventually, the Cardinals missed out on the playoffs and sputtered to a dead stop. Over the last 6 weeks, Murray had 3 games without a single touchdown pass. His rushing ability was hindered as well, likely out of self-preservation, dropping nearly 3 yards per carry near the end of the season.
However, the skillset is still there for Kyler and he's shown that he can be one of the league's best both running and throwing the ball. This offseason the Cardinals lost Larry Fitzgerald to retirement but added another solid veteran in AJ Green and a rookie stud WR in Rondale Moore. The team also bolstered their rushing attack by replacing the underperforming Kenyan Drake with James Conner. While none of these moves are blockbusters, each of these players are solid additions who will help the teams success moving forward. I believe Kyler will be able to pick up right where he left off before his injury heading into next season and will be within the top 5 possibly by the year's end.
2020 Rank (7th)
5. Dak Prescott
When Dak went down with his season-ending injury his stats were on pace for incredible totals. Had Dak continued his level of play, he would have ended the NFL season with over 5,900 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. The scoring numbers weren't super impressive, but the yardage was insane!
The Cowboys are returning from a majorly disappointing season that was full of injuries. Dak will come back to an offense with the likes of Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Ezekiel Elliot. There's no reason an average quarterback wouldn't put up insane numbers with these weapons, but the scary part is...Dak isn't an average quarterback. Over the years Dak hasn't received the praise he should for his skills in the NFL. Before his injury he averaged 3,900 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions for his career with nearly 66% accuracy...and that was without Ceedee Lamb in the mix.
There's no reason why the Dallas Cowboys won't be one of the best offenses in the NFL this year and Dak will lead that charge. I expect him to be the NFL's comeback player of the year this season and yes I do know that Christian McCaffrey will be eligible for that award. You heard it here first.
2020 Rank: Unranked
4. Aaron Rodgers
The 2020 NFL MVP would be ranked first overall if not for his soap-opera drama that has taken place over the entire offseason. After an awful call in the NFC Championship that led to a Packer loss and a pissed-off Rodgers, there have been rumors swirling that he wants to be traded and will retire if he doesn't get what he wants. Rodgers of course is not new to controversy within his team, having openly berated his former coach Mike McCarthy and ultimately getting him fired, but this time seems to have reached even higher highs in terms of what he may be willing to do.
Rodgers had one of the greatest seasons we've ever seen last year. There's not much to say about him. His arm talent is the best in the league and arguably the best the NFL has ever seen. He's accurate, mobile, strong-armed, and can make every single throw on the field. If Rodgers returns to the Packers and plays this season he will be great. If they trade him he could still be great if he ends up with the much-talked-about Denver Broncos. At this point, all we can do is wait and see what he and the Packers do. He very well could repeat as the league's MVP this season.
2020 Rank: (1st)
3. Josh Allen
Josh Allen has grown as an NFL quarterback every single year he's been in the league. In 2020, Allen threw for over 4,500 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. His rushing ability also improved vastly in terms of efficiency. Allen rushed for less than 100 attempts for the first time in his career, but ran for more yards than he ever has before while still having 8 touchdowns on the ground. He helped to turn Stefon Diggs from a star to the best WR in the entire league, and even made an old Cole Beasley into a viable receiving option.
Going into 2021 the Bills are returning their main weapons and also added veteran Emmanuel Sanders to the mix. Josh Allen is the most well-rounded quarterback in the league right now in my opinion, and if the team can continue to utilize average players like Beasley and Sanders and make them above-average contributors this season then the Bills could be walking away with a Lombardi trophy. I love watching Allen's game and he's only gotten better and better after coming into the league with the most question marks in his draft class. I expect for him to continue this trend and get even better in 2021.
2020 Rank: (3rd)
2. Tom Brady
Tom Brady. Do I even need to write anything else? The now 7-time Super Bowl champion came into Tampa Bay last season for the first time with a new team at the age of 43. All he did was throw for over 4,600 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Oh, and he won the Super Bowl and now has more rings than any NFL FRANCHISE in history.
The key to Brady's 21st season is going to be that he's returning to a system that loves to air out the ball, and every single player is returning to the offense. Brady will have the top-tier talents of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown to throw to, along with the TE trifecta of Rob Gronkowski, OJ Howard, and Cameron Brate. To top it all off, they signed veteran RB Giovani Bernard who's an incredible pass catcher and fits the mold of the backs we've seen Brady love to throw to in New England for two decades.
Brady isn't called the Greatest of All Time for nothing. He's going to come into this season as prepared and dangerous as he ever was. It seems that father time can't catch Tom Brady for whatever reason. Maybe we should all be following his TB12 method after all.
2020 Rank: (4th)
1. Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes has had the greatest start to an NFL career that we've ever seen. In his first 3 years he's been to 2 Super Bowls, winning 1, won the MVP award, and threw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season. He has one of the greatest offensive minds in the league coaching his team in Andy Reid, and he's going to be HUNGRY. After an embarrassing Super Bowl where his offensive line allowed him to be chased over 500 yards behind the line of scrimmage and get hit constantly, as well as have to throw a 20-yard perfect pass to the endzone while diving through the air sideways only to have the ball dropped, Mahomes and the Chiefs spent the offseason trying to fix their problems.
The Chiefs added 8 offensive linemen to their team this offseason in hopes of better protecting their superstar QB. The team lost Sammy Watkins to free agency, but Mahomes still has his greatest weapons in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on the team, and has super speedsters like Mecole Hardman ready to step up and take Watkins' place. The team also is hoping for an emergence of Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the RB position as well.
Mahomes has some freaky arm talent and can be mobile with the ball. Combining that with blazing speed and the best TE the game has ever seen and I think we'll see a return to Mahomes being the best QB in the league this year without question. I fully expect another Super Bowl run as well as a run at his second MVP.
2020 Rank: (2nd)
Top 10 QB Projected Stats 2021
|Name||Record||Completion %||Yards||Passing Touchdowns||Interceptions|
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 2021 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!
Other Articles You May Enjoy
- American Football Formations Explained
This article will cover various defensive and offensive football formations that commonly appear in American football.
- Who Is the Greatest Running Back of All Time?
This article will go over who is the greatest running back of all time. It covers the overall stats and accolades, as well as each player's usage compared to their differing eras. It's time to settle the age-long debate of who ran the ball best!
- Top Ten NFL Players of All Time
The NFL has produced hundreds of Hall of Fame players, but this article will aim to prove who the ten best NFL players of all time were, regardless of position.
© 2020 Jesse Unk