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 is the Best Quarterback in 2020?
Before I get into the Top 10, here are a few honorable mentions, both of which were in my Top 10 at some point in the season but have since fallen.
Justin Herbert (Original Rank: 9)
Justin Herbert seemed to be somewhat of an afterthought on draft day, but his play has shown he may be a solid franchise replacement for the Chargers after the departure of Philip Rivers. Herbert is surpassed Baker Mayfield's rookie touchdown passing record of 27 passing touchdowns with 31. Despite having done this in a full season and Baker only needing 13 games, it's still an impressive feat for a rookie. At the mere age of 22, Herbert finished the season sixth in passing yards and tenth in yardage. His team's lack of success is a factor, but his play has made the Chargers competitive with the league's best teams. Herbert put up incredible numbers against some of the league's most elite defenses:
- Tampa Bay (20–25, 290 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception)
- New Orleans (20–34, 264 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions)
His team is much better than their record, and Herbert will lead a bounce-back effort in the future. For now, he's a solid QB in the league with high upside.
10. Baker Mayfield
That's right! Baker may not be the most incredible and flashy QB in the NFL, but he's a top-ten option nonetheless! When I wrote this article, Baker was coming off of a three-game stretch of mediocrity, losing to the Raiders and barely beating the Texans and Eagles. Prior to that, he had started his year solidly, but there was still a lot of doubt about the Browns and Mayfield alike.
Since writing this article, Baker and the Browns have erupted! He's been one of the most efficient QBs in the league, throwing for 21 red zone touchdowns with 0 turnovers. He also has only thrown one interception in the entire second half of the season. The Browns have dealt with major blows to their team this year, including the loss of Myles Garrett for 2 games, Nick Chubb for 6 games, Odell Beckham for the season, and even losing their entire receiving corp in their game against the Jets. Despite this, Baker has been the remaining unchanged factor and he's leading the Browns into the playoffs for the first time in 18 years! Baker may not be the flashiest player on this list, but he's been incredibly clutch and focused through the end of the season when the team needed him to be.
Previous Rank: (Unranked)
9. Drew Brees
What can be said about Drew Brees that hasn't been said before? He's one of the most accurate QBs the NFL has ever seen, throws for 5,000 yards like clockwork, and is a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer of the future. Before experiencing 11 broken ribs, Brees was lighting up the field like any other year. After returning from injury in week 15, Brees has had to find his way back to health, playing timid in his last few games and seemingly overprotecting his ribs. That doesn't mean he hasn't been dangerous though, throwing for three touchdowns in two of his last three games. He finished the season second in completion percentage at 70.5% The most impressive thing about his season is he continued his domination in the absence of his number one WR, Michael Thomas, the same guy who led the league in receptions in 2019.
It seems the only thing that can stop Brees is the cracking of nearly half his ribs because no defenses seem to be able to do so. Brees' best performances came against two of the best defenses in the league this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers. Between the three games played against these two opponents, Brees threw for 9 touchdowns and 0 interceptions with roughly 660 yards. Now that he's on his way to being fully healed, the Saints are contenders for the NFC Conference Title.
Previous Rank: (8th)
8. Ben Roethlisberger
"As a Cleveland Browns fan, it pains me to put Ben Roethlisberger in the top five." Those were my words when I first wrote this article. I'd like to believe that my good karma in being a good sport and giving him his credit is what led to the absolute crumbling of the Steelers the week after this article began. The team was a perfect 11–0 at the time and Ben seemed to be a lock for the Comeback Player of the Year Award. Since then, the team lost 4 out of 5 games and their offense seems to have been exposed. It seems that Ben has lost his ability to throw a deep ball and is good for at least one interception a game. It's unclear if defenses got wise as to how to stop the team, or if the fatigue of Ben's recently injured elbow has caught up with him. Regardless of this, he's still been one of the better QBs in the league overall on the year.
While he doesn't have the flashiest numbers of the QBs on this list, he's been highly efficient for the majority of the year. Ben doesn't throw the ball as much as he used to, but he still finished the year tied at seventh overall in passing touchdowns with 33 and had 10 interceptions.
Ben was a surefire lock for comeback player of the year, but after his recent poor play and Alex Smith leading the Washington Football Team to the playoffs, it's probably going to go to Smith. Ben's time may be coming to an end in Pittsburgh soon if he and the Steelers aren't able to turn the recent issues around.
Previous Rank: (4th)
7. Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray began the season looking like a dark horse MVP candidate, being an efficient passer and a deadly rusher. In fact, at the season's end, Kyler finished with the 17th most rushing yards in the entire league and was tied for 7th in rushing touchdowns.
Despite his great rushing ability, he's also a very efficient passer. Kyler finished 13th in passing yards with 3,971 and 14th in passing touchdowns with 26. His numbers have dipped due to a shoulder injury late in the season, leading to a poor final four games of the year where he only threw four touchdowns and two interceptions. The team lost their final two games, eliminating them from the playoffs. Despite the unfortunate end to the season after such a hot start, Kyler has taken the role that Lamar Jackson held last season, being the best dual-threat QB in the NFL.
Previous Rank (5th)
6. Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson has fallen victim to so much football travesty this season. To begin the year, the Texans trade arguably the best WR in football, DeAndre Hopkins, from the team for pennies. Then Watson had to play one of the most grueling schedules in the NFL. Despite these two huge factors, Watson has been absolutely dominant this year. After a slow start in his first two weeks, Watson has put together a top-5 level season statistically. He currently sits sixth in completion percentage, fourth in yards, and fifth in passing touchdowns. He turned Will Fuller, who was once thought of as just a deep threat, into a true WR1. To top all that off, he hasn't thrown an interception in six weeks and only has five total on the year!
Watson's team is one of the worst in the league, but that lack of success isn't because of his play. Unfortunately for him, their high draft pick won't be helping their franchise next year. The Texans don't make a single draft selection until the third round, meaning this lack of success could continue. Hopefully, for Watson's sake, they can figure something out so his talent doesn't continue to be wasted in Houston.
Previous Rank: (6th)
5. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson seemed like an absolute lock for the league MVP at the midway point of the year, but two bad performances, and losses, to the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams seemed to have brought Wilson back down to earth. Still, he's been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and led the Seahawks to another division title with a record of 12–4. Wilson is finished the year tied for second in the league with 40 passing touchdowns but fell in the last few games in yardage resulting in him dropping to ninth in yards and eighth in quarterback rating.
Aside from the statistical play he has also been one of the best leaders in the NFL. Many people expected a step back from the Seahawks this year, but Wilson has completely thrown those expectations out the window. The Seahawks have a terrible defense, but they have overcome that with outstanding offensive play. Granted, they have had an easier schedule compared to many other teams in the league, and an eye-opening loss to Buffalo that has some people questioning the Seahawks' validity, but the team is still rolled into the playoffs with one of the best records in the league. Regardless of schedule difficulty, Wilson has found a way to win games and be a top QB despite his defense that allowed 380 yards and 23 points a game.
Wilson is stuck in another transition of a roster, singlehandedly keeping the team afloat. He was able to overcome the loss of the Legion of Boom years ago and is now awaiting another roster flux that he will have to face. He's shown he's one of the elite QBs in this league this year and should be commended for his ability.
Previous Rank: (3rd)
4. Tom Brady
There's no doubt that Tom Brady is the greatest of all time, but his first season away from New England has certainly had its ups and downs. At the season's end, Brady was second in the league in passing touchdowns and third in passing yards. The issue with his play this year is the number of turnovers he has. In week 12, Brady was tied for the second-most interceptions in the NFL with 11, four of which were pick-sixes. However, the GOAT seems to have turned his play around, throwing only one interception over the last four weeks of play and leading his team into the playoffs.
Brady's leading a red hot Buccaneers into the playoffs and many are picking him to win his seventh Super Bowl. As a 43-year-old player, what he's accomplishing is very impressive, and even though he's the greatest of all time, he isn't the greatest this season.
Previous Rank: (9th)
3. Josh Allen
When his career started, Josh Allen had many questions circling around his play. It was clear he was a solid rushing QB, but his accuracy left much to be desired and he really relied on his deep ball, while the rest of his throws were inconsistent, to say the least. In his first two years, he averaged a completion percentage of only 55.8%. However, this season Allen seems to have completely flipped the switch. He's instantly become one of the more accurate passers in the game, completing 69.2% of his throws, fourth-best in the league. He's also limited the number of rushes, standing strong in the pocket.
His rush ability hasn't lost its value though, with Allen rushing for 8 touchdowns along with his 37 passing touchdowns. Allen is leading a Bills team that was believed to be a run-first team into the playoffs, and are currently one of the strongest teams heading that way. Allen's strong performances and victories over some of the best teams in the league have solidified him as one of the league's elite passers!
Previous Rank: (7th)
2. Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes is having the greatest start to a career that any QB has ever had in the history of the NFL. After riding the bench for one season, he went on to win a league MVP award and a Super Bowl in two years. Now he is leading his high powered offense to try to win back to back championships, and after signing a half-billion-dollar contract, it's clear he was worth every penny.
Despite this hot start, he's ended this season a bit lackluster. After leading the league in yards in week 12, and only having 2 interceptions to his 30 touchdowns, Mahomes has thrown 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions over his last 4 games. The last 8 games of the season were nailbiters, with him leading the Chiefs to only a 3.8 point margin of victory on average over those weeks. His worst game of the year was a win over Miami when he threw for 393 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. The once unstoppable force has shown they can be competed with, even though he still only lost one game this season. Aside from that being his floor, he's absolutely dismembered great defensive teams like the Ravens and the Buccaneers:
- Baltimore: Win, 385 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
- Tampa Bay: Win, 462 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Mahomes is literally unstoppable 99 percent of the time. He led an incredible comeback victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, driving the ball down the field in less than two minutes to finish their revenge game for his one loss on the year. Mahomes is an incredible young player unlike any we've seen before. He's leading the Super Bowl favorites to the playoffs once again, but won't win his second MVP this season. His less than extraordinary finish to the year lost him his spot, and his MVP award this year.
Previous Rank: (1st)
1. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers has the greatest arm-talent of any QB in NFL history. He might not be the GOAT, he might not win the most, but he can put a ball wherever he wants it to go. Rodgers is currently leading the Packers in another playoff run and certainly are Super Bowl contenders. Rodgers is putting together one of the best seasons in the NFL. Despite ranking 13th in pass attempts, Rodgers leads the league with 48 passing touchdowns, 8 more than the next best QB, and sits seventh in yards. He's also only thrown 5 interceptions on the year, 2 of which came in a single game. Rodgers has also thrown for multiple touchdowns in 14 of his 16 games. His only poor performances came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 6 when he threw for 160 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions while completing only 46% of his passes, and in week 15 against Carolina when he only threw for 143 yards and 1 touchdown.
Rodgers is the surefire league MVP, which would be his third of his career. It's hard to argue with his success, especially when he threw for 3 or more touchdowns in 12 of his 16 games this season. Rodgers' playoff performance may determine whether he finishes as the top QB in some people's eyes, but after the year he has put together he is absolutely the best QB in 2020-2021
Previous Rank: (2nd)
Top 10 QB Statistics
|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 playing at this current moment. This list may change in the future with a return to form for Lamar Jackson or another year under the belt of Joe Burrow. There's also plenty of hope for a healthy return of Dak Prescott and the growth of Baker Mayfield with a long-term head coach. These rankings are fluid and will be updated as games progress. Who do you think are the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL? Leave a comment below and let me know!
© 2020 Jesse Unk