After a hectic offseason, the NFL season is just around the corner. In today’s NFL, passing has never been more important, and the quarterback is easily the most important component of team success. These NFL quarterback rankings dive into where each starting quarterback stands among their peers heading into the upcoming season.
Note that this list does not include past accomplishments. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, but he’s not better than Patrick Mahomes at this point in time (spoilers). Because of this, Brady is not atop the NFL quarterback rankings.
2020 NFL Quarterback Rankings
1. Patrick Mahomes
2. Russell Wilson
What can be said about Patrick Mahomes that hasn’t already been said? The former first-round pick has simply been unstoppable during his first two years as a starter. After winning MVP honors in 2018, the Texas Tech proved that he was no one-year wonder while leading Kansas City to their first title in 50 years. If he stays healthy, he could end up as one of the all-time greats.
Never forget that the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted a punter over Russell Wilson. The former third-round pick has dramatically outplayed his draft stock ever since stepping into the NFL and has only improved during his time in the league. He’s one of the most efficient passers in football and could go blow-for-blow with anyone if the Seahawks ever abandoned their run-heavy ways.
3. Drew Brees
4. Lamar Jackson
5. Tom Brady
6. Matt Ryan
7. Deshaun Watson
Drew Brees might not air it out like he used to, but it doesn’t really matter when he’s so dangerous in the short part of the field. Functioning at such a high efficiency despite his low average depth of target just speaks to his amazing football IQ and accuracy. Lamar Jackson has a chance to join Mahomes and Wilson if he can recapture the success from his fantastic 2019 season.
Tom Brady might not have another 2007 in him, but the all-time great is still one of the best in the league. His atrocious supporting cast was the biggest reason for his statistical dip last year, and he should return to form with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin catching the football.
Matt Ryan, meanwhile, might just be the most overlooked quarterback in football. The one-time league MVP remains one of the best downfield and intermediate passers in the league and consistently manages to carry an underwhelming Atlanta roster. Deshaun Watson is one of the best young quarterbacks in football and his star should only continue to rise with experience. If he can maintain his production without DeAndre Hopkins around, then he’ll be much higher in the rankings at this point next season.
8. Matthew Stafford
9. Dak Prescott
10. Carson Wentz
11. Aaron Rodgers
For the first time in forever, the Detroit Lions actually coached to the strengths of Matthew Stafford. The former first-overall pick aired the ball early and often while producing one of the best seasons of his career. If he can stay healthy, he could help lead Detroit to the playoffs. Dak Prescott proved last year that he’s more than just the product of Ezekiel Elliott. Now that he has three fantastic receivers and a better head coach in Mike McCarthy, he should be set for a career year.
What Carson Wentz did last year with what he was given is nothing short of astounding. The former first-round pick is capable of elevating the play of his supporting cast and has the potential to be a top-five quarterback. Aaron Rodgers used to have a claim for the best quarterback in the league, but those days are gone. However, he’s still a good starter and has what it takes to keep Green Bay competitive.
12. Ryan Tannehill
13. Jimmy Garoppolo
14. Kirk Cousins
15. Baker Mayfield
16. Kyler Murray
17. Philip Rivers
Adam Gase ruins everything he touches, and Ryan Tannehill is no exception. The former Miami Dolphins played phenomenally during his time with the Titans and singlehandedly saved the season. While some regression is expected, he should still be better than he was in Miami. The San Francisco 49ers might not ask much of Jimmy Garoppolo, but he’s good when they do put the ball in his hands.
Kirk Cousins is a great quarterback when everything goes according to plan, but struggles to make plays on his own and out of the system. He’s still a good quarterback, but he is a little limited in that sense. Baker Mayfield took a step back last year, but a lot of that blame can be placed on bad coaching and an injured Odell Beckham.
Kyler Murray flashed plenty of promise as a rookie, but had a few truly atrocious outings mixed in. He certainly has the tools to outplay this ranking, but I need to see it for a full season before I move him up the ranks. Philip Rivers had a rough year last year, but we’ve seen these dips from Rivers before. An improved offensive line should help his overall production. He should have one or two years of solid play left in his tank.
18. Gardner Minshew
19. Jared Goff
20. Teddy Bridgewater
21. Derek Carr
22. Sam Darnold
23. Daniel Jones
Gardner Minshew actually had the highest PFF grade among rookie quarterbacks last year. However, his relatively pedestrian physical tools keep him below Murray on this ranking. Jared Goff is the definition of a system quarterback: perfectly capable of executing a play call, but unable to carry the team if the play breaks down or protection fails.
Teddy Bridgewater is basically just Alex Smith. While it’s amazing he came back from his devastating knee injury, there is a clear ceiling to how good he can be. Ditto for Derek Carr, who only has one season of above-average play in his six-year career.
Nobody has had less help over the past two years than Sam Darnold. The USC product hasn’t played at a high level for an extended period of time, but can you really blame him with his atrocious situation? Daniel Jones made some of the best and worst plays you’ll ever see last year. However, the bad tended to outweigh the good, and he’ll need to do a better job taking care of the football moving forward.
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24. Josh Allen
25. Both Bears Quarterbacks
Josh Allen is a bad quarterback holding back an otherwise championship-caliber roster. Only time will tell if the Bills can overcome his subpar play, or if he ruins everything like 2018 Blake Bortles and 2019 Mitchell Trubisky. Speaking of which, Trubisky is currently locked in a battle for Chicago’s starting job with career journeyman Nick Foles. No matter who wins, Bears fans lose.
Not Enough Info
It’s simply impossible to find the right spot for Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger in these NFL quarterback rankings. Both players are coming off serious injuries and their range of outcomes is far too wide to pin down on this list.
The Broncos went 4-1 with Drew Lock last year, but he didn’t play particularly well when on the field. Of course, we’re dealing with a five-game sample, so there’s basically nothing to go off of here. Dwayne Haskins was a trainwreck out of the gate but actually improved from Weeks 11-16. Perhaps better coaching and another offseason can help hone his skills and continue his upwards trajectory.
Joe Burrow is coming off arguably the greatest season in the history of college football. The Cincinnati Bengals have a pretty strong supporting cast, so Burrow could end up as a top-15 quarterback at this time next year. Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert will both start the season on the bench, but both quarterbacks have the talent to win the starting job sooner rather than later.
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