Last week, I started ranking the 2022 NFL starting quarterbacks from 32 down to 17. This week, I’m finishing the list, as I present to you my top 16 QBs in the league right now.
The key words there are “right now.” As you will see, I have some quarterbacks who have never won or even made a Super Bowl ranked higher than some who have. But this isn’t based on the past; it’s based on the talent that these quarterbacks have right now.
16. Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers)
I feel like this is the perfect spot for Jimmy G as he is the stereotypical mediocre quarterback. He’s not bad, but he’s also not great. His stats won’t blow you away. He’ll make some head scratching decisions under center. And he’ll never have the arm talent or physical traits to compete with guys like Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. But he wins games. That is something you can’t argue.
Whether you think Garoppolo is a game-manager who gets carried by his rushing attack and defense or not, he finds ways to win games. The 49ers made it all the way to the Super Bowl in 2019 before eventually losing to the Chiefs. And then they lost the NFC Championship Game this past season after defeating the Cowboys and Packers. I would think Garoppolo’s ability to win games is one of the main reasons why the 49ers have not traded him (yet). And also why second-year quarterback Trey Lance is still sitting on the bench. We’ll see what they decide to do.
15. Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)
Just like Jimmy G, Kirk Cousins is another quarterback who isn’t bad but he’s just not that good. I could almost say the exact same thing about Cousins that I said about Garoppolo in terms of stats, bad decisions, and physical traits. The big difference between the two is that Cousins has the stats, but not the wins. Since becoming a full-time NFL starter in 2015, Cousins has thrown for 4,000+ yards six out of seven seasons and 25 or more TDs all seven years. But one of the things holding Cousins back is his inability to win big games (or just games in general). In 10 seasons, he has a record of 59-59-2. So maybe Cousins is actually more stereotypically mediocre than Garoppolo.
14. Matt Ryan (Indianapolis Colts)
After getting traded to Indianapolis this offseason, Matt Ryan will become the fifth starting quarterback for the Colts in five years (joining Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, and Carson Wentz.) Ryan’s stats were down last year, but the team around him was also down. Now that the team around him is good, I would expect an improved year from the former MVP. Being 37 years old, Ryan will probably won’t sneak into the top 10 for this list again. However, coming into a good situation with the Colts should help him to bounce back from a down season in which he had a 7-10 record and threw for less than 4,000 yards for the first time since 2010.
13. Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders)
Coming in at 13 is Raiders QB Derek Carr. Considering he is 31 years old and now has one of, if not the best, established receivers in the league, Carr has a legitimate shot to become a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. In seven seasons with the Raiders, Carr has a 57-70 record, but has thrown for 31,700 yards, 193 TDs, and 85 INTs. Given the Raiders’ current roster, I think his best days are still ahead of him. Not only does he have one of the best (outside) wide receivers to throw to, he has one of the best slot receivers, and one of the best tight ends as well.
12. Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)
I’ve always thought Kyler Murray is a bit overrated. Yeah, he’s good, but I don’t think he’s worth all the media coverage. Case in point with the “Hail Murray” in 2020. Sure, it was a great throw and catch, but c’mon… how many times do they have to show it? In three seasons in the league, Murray has never thrown for over 4,000 yards in a season, he’s never thrown more than 26 TDs in a season, and has a 22-23-1 record. He does have almost 1,800 rushing yards and 20 rushing TDs in his career, but I’m still not going to put him in my top 10. Having A.J. Green back and former college teammate Marquise Brown in the wide receiver room now should definitely help Murray to improve. But he may take a few weeks to get going with star wideout DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six weeks of the season.
11. Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
Another dual threat quarterback, Lamar Jackson comes in at number 11 for me. Jackson has changed the game with what he’s been able to do with his legs as he rushed for over 1,200 yards in 2019 and over 1,000 yards in 2020. And for the people who say that he is just a running back playing quarterback… he threw 36 TDs and just 6 INTs in ‘19 and then 26 TDs and 9 INTs in ‘20. However, he did throw 16 TDs and 13 INTs in 12 games played last year. This is a huge year for Lamar as he’s coming off an injury, waiting for a new contract, and has a very young and inexperienced receiving corps to work with. He could either become a top 10 QB or fall down a tier.
10. Deshaun Watson (Cleveland Browns)
I hate even having Deshaun Watson on this list considering everything that’s going on. But, again, this is a list of current NFL starting quarterbacks, and as of now, Watson is the Browns’ starting QB, not Baker Mayfield. Looking at what he has done just on the field, Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. When he played last in 2020, he led the league in passing yards with 4,823. He also had 33 TDs and 7 INTs in a 4-12 season for the Texans. Watson is still just 26 years old so, whether he gets suspended this year or not, he still has a lot of playing time ahead of him.
9. Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos)
I have always been a big Russell Wilson fan. I often root for the underdogs, and that’s what Wilson was in the 2012 NFL Draft as people were saying he was “too short” to be an NFL QB. (I’m sorry to remind you, but that was the year the Bills drafted WR T.J. Graham 69th overall, six spots ahead of Seattle who took Wilson at 75.) And man has he proved the doubters wrong. He may only be 5’11”, but he has one of the best deep balls I have ever seen. He consistently connects with his wide receivers unlike any other quarterback I’ve seen before.
On top of that, he is a fierce competitor. The nine-time Pro Bowler has a career record of 104-53-1 (and a Super Bowl ring) to go with his over 37,000 passing yards, 292 TDs, and 87 INTs. I was upset that he came over to the AFC this offseason. But, hopefully, he and the Broncos can beat up on the other talented AFC West teams, making the Bills’ path to the one seed easier.
8. Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys)
I have Dak Prescott as the eighth-best quarterback in the league. Prescott has dealt with a lot of adversity since coming into the league in 2016, but he always battles back. Statistically, he is one of the best QBs in the league. He has a career completion percentage of 66.6% and has been above 65% every year except for 2017 (when it was 62.9%). Prescott threw for over 4,900 yards in 2019 and almost 4,500 this past season, and has 25 career rushing TDs. The main knock on Dak though is he can’t win in the playoffs. In four career playoff games, Prescott has just one win. Until then, I can’t put him any higher.
7. Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams)
Someone I can put higher because of his playoff success is Matthew Stafford. I was so relieved Stafford finally got to taste some success after many years of struggling (team wise) in Detroit. He put together one of his best statistical seasons last year with 4,886 passing yards, 41 TDs, 17 INTs, and a 102.9 rating. For his career, Stafford is now five yards shy of 50,000 passing yards. He also has 323 passing TDs and 87 INTs. He and the Rams may have lost Robert Woods this offseason, but they gained Allen Robinson. I would expect another huge year from the 34-year old.
6. Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals)
I know Joe Burrow lost to Stafford in the Super Bowl, but I think he is super talented and will only continue to get better. (Not to mention Burrow is nine years younger than Stafford.) After tearing his ACL during his rookie year, Burrow came back with 4,611 yards, 34 TDs, 11 INTs, and a 70.4 completion percentage this past season en route to a division and conference title. Now that the Bengals heavily invested in their offensive line, they are definitely going to be a team to watch this year.
5. Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers)
Justin Herbert is one of the league’s brightest talents heading into year three in LA. Herbert broke numerous records last year and now has more passing yards (9,350), completions (839), and touchdown passes (69) than any other quarterback through his first two seasons in NFL history. Herbert threw for 4,336 yards, 31 TDs, and 10 INTs as a rookie and followed that up with 5,014 yards, 38 TDs, and 15 INTs in his second season. The Chargers are going to be another dangerous team for years to come as long as Herbert is their quarterback.
4. Tom Brady (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
This is a perfect example of what I was saying about the current talent of these quarterbacks. Tom Brady is the best QB of all time… but that doesn’t mean he is the best in the league right now. I have three guys ahead of him, but the soon-to-be 45-year old is still playing at such a high level I’m sure there are people who would make a case that he is the best in the NFL right now.
Brady led the league in passing yards last year with a whopping 5,316 yards. (Herbert was the next closest with 5,014 yards.) I keep waiting for him to finally slow down and drop off. But, at this point, I’ve just accepted the fact that he could still be playing at a high level when he’s 60. Speaking of slowing down… that’s the biggest knock I have on Brady — his limited mobility. He has never been a great escape artist, and it’s only going to get harder for him from here on out. If you can put pressure on him, chances are you can bring him down or he will rush into a throw or just throw the ball away immediately to avoid taking a big hit. But that’s the thing, Brady always has a great offensive line in front of him who gives him a clean pocket to throw from.
If you can scheme the right type of defense and blitz packages, Brady will not be able to shred your defense. We’ll see if this is finally his last year or if he will continue to haunt us for years to come in Tampa or, who knows, Miami??
3. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Brady and Rodgers are very close in talent level at this stage in their careers. However, I have to give Rodgers the edge here considering he is coming off of back-to-back MVP seasons. Plus, Rodgers has the mobility that Brady doesn’t, as the 38-year old is still pretty light on his feet and can avoid pressure. Last year, Rodgers threw for 4,115 yards, 37 TDs, and only 4 INTs while having a 111.9 passer rating.
We all know about Rodgers’ passing yards and touchdowns, so I don’t need to keep going on about those. The thing that amazes me though is last season was the 11th consecutive year he threw less than 10 interceptions. In fact, in his 17-year career, Rodgers has only thrown double-digit interceptions twice (2008 and 2010). He’s thrown 15 over the last four seasons combined!
We’ll see how he responds this year after losing his favorite target in Davante Adams. But, oddly enough, the Packers are 7-0 without Adams during the Matt LaFleur era. In addition, I really like their two rookie wide receivers, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, who will fill out the room with Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, and Sammy Watkins.
2. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)
This is where it got tough. Patrick Mahomes has all of the talent in the world, can make any throw possible (and impossible), and has one Super Bowl ring in two appearances. But it’s still not enough for me to put him number one.
Similar to Rodgers, Mahomes lost his top WR in Tyreek Hill this offseason. But I like how the Chiefs went about rebuilding their wide receiver room. After also losing Byron Pringle (to the Bears), Kansas City signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency and then drafted speedster Skyy Moore out of Western Michigan. I like these moves from a GM’s perspective, but not as a Bills fan because I don’t think their offense will miss that much of a beat, especially since they still have TE Travis Kelce.
When you have a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes, there won’t be that much of a drop-off. Tua Tagovailoa needed someone like Hill down in Miami to cover up his blemishes… Mahomes doesn’t need anyone to cover anything up. With the Chiefs having rebuilt their WR room, the Bills have the edge on paper right now. But conference titles aren’t won on paper.
1. Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills)
And last but not least, it’s the man himself, “The General”, Josh Allen. I know it may look like I’m being biased here by putting Allen #1, but I seriously think that he is currently the most talented quarterback in the NFL. Watching him in the Divisional Game this past season confirmed to me (and I think everyone else) that this guy is a rare and special breed.
I remember a few years ago when we were arguing on Twitter whether he was a top 20 or 30 quarterback in the league. Now, we’re arguing if he is the best quarterback in the world. It’s been a beautiful thing to watch him absolutely silence his doubters and totally change the Buffalo Bills organization, and the city of Buffalo for that matter.
Allen has attributes that I have never seen from a quarterback before. We all know about his big arm and how he can literally throw the ball out of a stadium. But the three things that amaze me are his accuracy, his legs, and his heart.
Accuracy was his biggest downfall coming out of college and his first couple of seasons in the league. He completed 52.8% of his passes his rookie year and 58.8% in 2019 before improving to an incredible 69.2% in 2020.
As for his legs, he has the ability to avoid and escape pressure like I’ve never seen before. So many times it looks like the defense has him dead. And then, he somehow comes out alive and makes a big play. Through his first four NFL seasons, Allen had 14,114 passing yards, 103 passing TDs, 2,325 rushing yards, and 31 rushing TDs. He is the only QB in NFL history with at least 100 passing TDs and 30 rushing TDs in his first four seasons.
The third thing that amazes me about JA17, maybe even the one that makes my jaw drop the most, is his heart, his competitiveness, and his will to win. Whether it’s hurdling Anthony Barr or L’Jarius Sneed, trucking Kyle Van Noy, or making fools out of the Dolphins, Allen does things as a quarterback that we have never seen before… and I’m not sure we ever will again. So Bills Mafia, let’s enjoy this ride now while we have the best quarterback in the NFL. One who will, hopefully, bring the Lomardi Trophy to Buffalo.
Next Week’s Article
Stay tuned for more NFL positional rankings in next week’s article!