We have officially hit the dead time in the NFL offseason with OTAs and mandatory minicamps coming to a close. With training camp about five weeks away, I thought it’d be a good time to go around the league and rank some of the main positions for the 2022 season. For starters, I am ranking the back half of the quarterbacks this week, and then the front half next week.
An important note before we get started: As of now, these 32 QBs (16 this week) are all supposed starters heading into the season. I didn’t get into the backup quarterbacks because you could probably find five backups who would be a starter if they were on a different team. (Baker Mayfield, Trey Lance, Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Gardner Minshew are names that come to mind.) For instance, I had to leave Mayfield off this list because we don’t know if he’ll even have a job this year. If he does end up getting traded to the Seattle Seahawks, then I would put him in the upper teen range, which would bump everyone else down a spot, and Drew Lock/Geno Smith off the list. But as of now, he is a backup quarterback and will not make an appearance on this list.
So with that, here are the expected starting quarterbacks for the 2022 season, ranked 32 through 17.
32. Drew Lock/Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks)
This is definitely the worst quarterback situation in the league as both Lock and Smith are backups at best. Everyone has been waiting for Seattle to acquire Baker Mayfield, especially after not drafting a quarterback this year, but it hasn’t happened yet as the Seahawks seem content with letting Lock and Smith battle it out. In three NFL seasons (24 games/21 starts), Lock has an 8-13 record while throwing for 4,470 yards, 25 TDs, and 20 INTs. Meanwhile, in nine seasons (45 games/34 starts), Smith has a record of 13-21 and has thrown for 6,917 yards, 34 TDs, and 37 INTs. It should be an interesting year for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.
31. Marcus Mariota (Atlanta Falcons)
Another situation that isn’t the best, but at least the Falcons have a sense of direction after drafting Desmond Ridder in the third round this year. The reason I have Marcus Mariota so low on my list is because he was signed to be the bridge QB until Ridder is ready. However, he hasn’t started an NFL game since 2019, when he was with the Titans. He served as Derek Carr’s backup for two years in Vegas, where he made 11 appearances. In five seasons with Tennessee, Mariota started 61 out of 74 games played, had a 29-32 record, and threw for 13,437 yards, 77 TDs, and 45 INTs. He also added 1,399 rushing yards and 11 TDs. We’ll see how long the former number two overall pick will last before it’s Ridder time down in Atlanta.
30. Sam Darnold (Carolina Panthers)
Carolina is in a similar situation as Atlanta. The reason I gave the Panthers the slight edge is because Sam Darnold has at least started games over the last two years. How well he played in those two games… well that’s a different story, but at least he has the recent experience and knows the Panthers’ system. Darnold went 4-7 for the Panthers last year while throwing for 2,527 yards, 9 TDs, and 13 INTs. In four seasons in the league, the former number three overall pick has a 17-32 record, a 59.8 completion percentage, 54 TDs, and 52 INTs. It’ll only be a matter of time until Panthers fans are cheering to put third-round pick Matt Corral in. Or, who knows, maybe Carolina will throw us a curveball and pursue Mayfield.
29. Zach Wilson (New York Jets)
After one of the worst seasons by a quarterback in 2021, I gave Wilson the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t put him even lower simply because of the talent the Jets surrounded him with this offseason. Between that and the fact that he is naturally going to get better as time goes on, we should see Wilson improve this year. How much he improves is still to be determined, but this is a huge year for the 2021 number two overall pick. If Wilson can’t right the ship, the Jets have 37-year old Joe Flacco on the bench, as well as Mike White. In 13 games last year, Wilson had a 3-10 record and a league-low 55.6 completion percentage while throwing for 2,334 yards, 9 TDs, and 11 INTs.
28. Daniel Jones (New York Giants)
This is a prove-it year for Daniel Jones. The Giants have constructed their team similarly to what the Bills did with Josh Allen – they built up the defense while giving their young quarterback some weapons to work with on offense. The problem is, in three years in the NFL, Jones hasn’t been able to do anything with them. He has a career record of 12-25 while throwing for 8,398 yards, 45 TDs, and 29 INTs. It seems as though he is just a turnover waiting to happen. Hopefully, for his sake, former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll can resurrect his career. But if he can’t and the Giants get off to a rough start, it may be Tyrod Taylor time in the Big Apple.
27. Mitch Trubisky/Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh Steelers)
The Steelers are in an interesting position after drafting Kenny Pickett 20th overall. I love that they took the hometown kid, but I was a little surprised that they drafted a QB that early after acting like Mitch Trubisky was going to be their guy for at least this year. Even Trubisky was surprised, as he said the Steelers never informed him they were taking a quarterback. I’m rooting for Money Mitch though.
If Pickett doesn’t beat him out in training camp, I think Trubisky will be a lot better than people think. Coming to Buffalo as Josh Allen’s backup was a perfect reset for the former number two overall pick. Given the right system, I believe that Trubisky can still succeed in the NFL. The Steelers might be a perfect fit for him, given that their offense was built on 5-10 yard passes last year with an aging Ben Roethlisberger who could barely throw. In four years in Chicago, Trubisky had a 29-21 record with 64 TDs, and 37 INTs.
26. Davis Mills (Houston Texans)
Davis Mills surprised a lot of people last year, including me, as he was one of the better rookie quarterbacks on one of the worst teams. You almost knew he was going to become the starter after Tyrod Taylor was announced as the starter before the season. Sure enough, Taylor got hurt early in the season and Mills got a lot of experience, starting 11 out of the 13 games he appeared in. He threw for 2,664 yards, 16 TDs, and 10 INTs while having a 66.8 completion percentage. I think it was pretty telling that the Texans didn’t try acquiring Mayfield in the Deshaun Watson trade. They did sign Kyle Allen, but he’s more of a backup QB who can start if need be. After having a solid offseason, Mills and the Texans should improve this season.
25. Justin Fields (Chicago Bears)
Coming in at 25 is Bears quarterback Justin Fields. After being drafted 11th overall in 2021, the Bears thought they finally found their franchise quarterback. They still may have, but are going to have to wait a bit longer to find out for sure after a tough first season. Many thought the big-armed dual-threat quarterback would easily be able to transition into the NFL. However, it wasn’t so easy for the rookie who once threw 41 TDs and just 3 INTs at Ohio State. Fields played in 12 games last season, had a 2-8 record and a 58.9 completion percentage while throwing for 1,870 yards, 7 TDs, and 10 INTs. He has a lot of upside, considering his physical traits, and hopefully can improve in his second season with a new set of coaches not named Matt Nagy.
24. Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Trevor Lawrence also had a disappointing rookie year last year, as he and the Jags went 3-14. Lawrence threw for 3,641 yards, 12 TDs, and 17 INTs while having a 59.6 completion percentage. However, if I’m him and the Jaguars, I am using last year as a learning example while washing the rest away. Urban Meyer was one of the worst things to happen to that team, and I think Doug Pederson will get a huge bounce back from Lawrence in year two. Jacksonville also spent a ton of money this offseason, giving Lawrence a lot of new targets such as Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. Not to mention, they will be getting the speedy Travis Etienne back after he suffered a season-ending foot injury last preseason. I think we will see Lawrence come into his own this season.
23. Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins)
Just like Daniel Jones, this is a prove-it year for Tua Tagovailoa. Unlike Jones, this is his third year in the league, but the writing has been on the wall ever since they drafted him. I have never been a Tua guy. I never understood the hype coming out of college and I really didn’t understand how Miami drafted him over Justin Herbert. His stats aren’t terrible, but they’re also not great. In two years, Tua has a 13-8 record while compiling a 66.2 completion percentage, 4,467 yards, 27 TDs, and 15 INTs while adding 237 yards and 6 TDs on the ground.
The problem with Tua is he just flat out cannot throw deep. He will never have the elite physical traits like Josh Allen has. But the Dolphins have been smart with how they’ve built their team. They’ve added a ton of speed with guys like Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson, Chase Edmonds, and Raheem Mostert who can catch a screen pass or a 10-yard slant and take it to the house. We’ll see if the talent the Dolphins added was enough to cover Tua’s blemishes.
22. Mac Jones (New England Patriots)
Mac Jones is another guy, like Tua, who will never have the elite physical traits. I’ve heard some people say he has already reached his ceiling as an NFL QB. I don’t know if I’d go that far, I think he will still improve given the right weapons and coaches (if the Patriots can ever figure out their offensive coordinator situation). But I also don’t see Jones ever cracking the top 10 for best quarterbacks in the league. He led the Patriots to a 10-7 record and a Wild Card berth in his rookie season before getting absolutely demolished by Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. Jones threw for 3,801 yards, 22 TDs, and 13 INTs while having a 67.6 completion percentage during the regular season. I would expect similar numbers this year.
21. Carson Wentz (Washington Commanders)
Carson Wentz is someone who a lot of people aren’t high on, but I think he’s better than most give him credit for. Is he the best quarterback? No. But he’s also not the worst. Aside from not being able to beat the Jaguars in Week 17 and lead the Colts to the playoffs, Wentz did throw 27 TDs and just 7 INTs on 3,563 yards last season. His best season came with the Eagles in 2017 when he had an 11-2 record, 33 TDs, and 7 INTs before tearing his ACL in Week 14. I’m curious to see how he’ll fit in with Ron Rivera and the Washington Commanders, who didn’t draft a quarterback until the fifth round this year (Sam Howell) and still have Taylor Heinicke on the bench. Time will tell if Wentz can hold onto his starting job.
20. Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints)
Cracking the top 20 for me is New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston. After spending one year as Drew Brees’ backup, Winston got the Saints off to a hot 5-2 start last season before suffering a season-ending torn ACL (and damage to his MCL) during a Week 8 victory over Tampa Bay. He finished the season with 1,170 yards, 14 TDs, and just 3 INTs before getting hurt on Halloween. The Saints re-signed him to a two-year, $28 million deal this offseason. I was happy to see that, as I want to see them with Winston under center for a whole season. Let’s not forget, the former number one overall pick did throw for 5,109 yards and 33 TDs in 2019. (But let’s also not forget that he also threw 30 INTs that same year!)
19. Jared Goff (Detroit Lions)
Just like I was happy to see the Saints re-sign Winston, I was also happy to see the Lions not draft a quarterback. Like Wentz and Winston, Goff is another bridge QB who people are just waiting for their time to run out. I think there’s still more sand left in Goff’s hourglass though, especially now after Detroit signed WR DJ Chark and drafted WR Jameson Williams. Not to mention, they have a revamped defense led by DE Aidan Hutchison. Even though the Lions went 3-13-1 last season, Goff had a solid season individually. He threw for 3,245 yards, 19 TDs, and 8 INTs while having a 67.2 completion percentage, which was ninth-best in the league. The only other quarterbacks on the Lions roster are Tim Boyle and David Blough, so it is Goff’s job to lose.
18. Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee Titans)
Ryan Tannehill has always bothered me. It’s mainly because he has played for the Dolphins and now the Titans, our new rival. But I think I get so irritated because Derrick Henry carries that offense and Tannehill comes off as the beneficiary. If Tannehill doesn’t hand it off to Henry, you know a short/medium pass is coming. Then, A.J. Brown would use his speed to his advantage and turn 15 yards into 50, again making Tannehill look like this amazing quarterback. (Now, it’ll be Robert Woods or Treylon Burks catching the passes.) Or the one that always gets me: the classic play action rollout where Tannehill walks into the end zone untouched because everyone is so preoccupied with Henry.
In three years in Tennessee, Tannehill has thrown for 10,295 yards, 76 TDs, and 27 INTs while adding 721 yards and 18 TDs on the ground. He has a 30-13 record with the Titans, and he’s 2-1 versus the Bills over the last three years. The Titans did draft Malik Willis this year, so I guess the sand is falling in Tannehill’s timer as well.
17. Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles)
Rounding out the back half of the 2022 NFL starting quarterbacks is Eagles QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts led Philadelphia to a 9-8 record (Hurts finished 8-7) and a Wild Card berth last year after starting the season just 2-5. Both Hurts and the Eagles definitely improved as the season went on, and I’d expect the same this year after the additions they’ve made (including A.J. Brown, Zach Pascal, Hasaan Reddick, James Bradberry, Jordan Davis, and Nakobe Dean). Hurts threw for 3,144 yards, 16 TDs, and 9 INTs last year while adding 784 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs. I saw a picture of him a couple of weeks ago and it looks like he put on a lot of muscle. We’ll see what he and former Jamestown, N.Y. native Nick Sirianni can do in their second year together.
Stay tuned for next week’s article as I will rank the quarterbacks 16-1!