Top Quarterbacks Headed into 2022: #6-10

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After studying the list given by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, I thought it would be best to get some second opinions on who the top ten quarterbacks are going into the 2022 NFL season. We look at the top ten lists for quarterbacks from CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin and Pro Football Network’s Dalton Miller. Below we discuss the placements of each of these top quarterbacks and their potential impact on their respective teams going into the 2022 season.

The Top Ten Quarterbacks in the NFL for 2022: 6-10

Honorable Mention- Lamar Jackson

ESPN (N/A), PFN (8), CBS (9)

2021 Stats: 12 Games, 246/382, 64.4% completion percentage, 2882 yards, 16 Touchdowns, 13 Interceptions

Lamar Jackson not making the ESPN top ten quarterbacks list was a sobering experience on the NFL’s view of the dual-threat quarterback. Benjamin and Miller compare Jackson to Michael Vick because that’s the only frame of reference we have for him. His arsenal of skills is unique. Jackson possesses a strong arm that is more accurate than Vick’s was. An innate ability to find the open lane in the running game or create a new one if one is not readily available.

However, his 2019 MVP season seems like it was so long ago. It feels like we had just heard about this experiment and questioned whether or not it could work. Mike Greenberg stated on his show “Get Up” that the list released that him being left off the list for ESPN could be confirmation for Lamar Jackson dissenters. It was confirmation that this style of play is not only unsustainable but was reckless for the Baltimore Ravens to sink all their offensive eggs in the Lamar Jackson basket. Confirmation that defenses have figured out the elixir to the hangovers caused by coordinators having to figure out the Ravens offense. However, if Jackson and company can stay healthy, this could be the year that Jackson proves the opposition wrong. And with talk of a new contract looming, another breakout season couldn’t come at a better time.

10) Dak Prescott

ESPN (10), PFN (7), CBS (10)

2021 Stats: 16 Games, 410/596, 68.8% completion percentage, 4449 yards, 37 Touchdowns, 10 Interceptions

Yes, Dak Prescott is one of the top-ten quarterbacks. And it’s about time that he got his due. Is Prescott better than Lamar Jackson? From a pure passing standpoint, he sure is. He was third in DVOA and VOA in the 2021 season, behind only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers – both of which are very high on this list. He has a knack for reading the defense and placing the ball where it needs to be on time and on target. Prescott’s pre- and post-snap acumen have led his offense to be one of the more dangerous in regards to DVOA (sixth) and overall production (first in points and yards gained). He has done all this while showcasing the leadership ability necessary to galvanize this Dallas football team around him. What more could Dallas want from their franchise quarterback?

We may find out the answer to that this year for Prescott. With the subtraction of Amari Cooper out of the Dallas Cowboys equation, will the Cowboys offense suffer? Ceedee Lamb is still donning the star. Pair him with weapons like Michael Gallup, Dalton Schultz, and newly-acquired James Washington. The offense shouldn’t skip too many beats if any. But, with one of the easiest schedules in the league, the questions for Prescott this year won’t be in the regular season. They will be rooted in the Cowboys and their recent postseason woes. Is Dak Prescott the answer? Is he enough to propel this Cowboys offense into super bowl contention? Or is he just another good regular-season quarterback?

9) Russell Wilson

ESPN (8), PFN (N/A), CBS (7)

2021 Stats: 14 Games, 259/400, 64.8% completion percentage, 3113 yards, 25 Touchdowns, 6 Interceptions

There is a new sheriff in town down in Denver, Colorado, and he moonlights as a cook? That’s horrible. Let’s start over.

Russell Wilson has taken his beautiful deep ball passing game to the Denver Broncos and a crowded AFC West. Wilson is a beacon of hope for an offense that ranked 12th in DVOA despite the quarterback position. Wilson comes in behind a solid offensive line and weapons galore from Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton to Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, III. The “Let Russ Cook” movement hit a snag as Wilson had a rough go of things after his unfortunate finger injury that needed in-season surgery. However, it seemed that once he got on track, the Seahawks offense didn’t skip a beat. Solidifying himself as one of the top ten quarterbacks on this list.

Nathaniel Hackett comes in with a modern-day offense that should appease Russell Wilson and his desire to throw the deep ball. Hackett’s pre-snap motion can help Wilson identify defenses quicker, allowing another advantage against the defense. Wilson will steadily have trouble staying in the pocket and making timing throws. But let’s be honest, that’s not where Russ operates. That’s now where he’s dange-Russ. Wilson is at his best when he’s going off-script, off-platform, and making a play that only a few others can make in the NFL.

8)  Deshaun Watson

ESPN (9), PFN (10), CBS (N/A)

2021 Stats: N/A

While dealing with everything off the field, Deshaun Watson’s stock as a top-ten quarterback hasn’t changed drastically in the eyes of pundits across the league. As more of these cases are settled and pushed back for another day, it seems more and more likely that Watson will play, at least a portion, of the games this year for the Cleveland Browns. Should he? That’s another story. However, if he is going to play, he will have to make a good impression on the people of Cleveland quickly. If not only because he signed a 5-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract back in March

But other factors indicate why Watson should come in and almost immediately succeed. The offensive line of the Browns is one of the best, if not the best front fives in football. Behind them is the dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson. And next to them are newly found weapons Amari Cooper and David Bell paired with Donovan Peoples-Jones. Oh, and David Njoku will be attacking the seams. If the Browns don’t come out the gate firing whenever Watson is under center again, it will be tough to blame the surroundings.

7) Matthew Stafford

ESPN (6), PFN (9), CBS (7)

2021 Stats: 17 games, 404/601, 67.4 completion percentage, 4886 yards, 41 Touchdowns, 17 Interceptions

To say that Matthew Stafford felt at home with Sean McVay and his offense may be a bit of an understatement. Stafford hadn’t seen numbers like this since he and Calvin Johnson almost single-handedly dragged the 2011 Detroit Lions into the playoffs. Stafford racked up over 5,000 yards that season, leading the Lions to the fourth-best scoring and passing offense. He finished behind only the Drew Brees-led Saints, Aaron Rodgers-led Packers, and Tom Brady-led Patriots. All of which were top quarterbacks in their prime. Even this year, he was only 114 yards away from the 5,000-yard milestone again, but I’m sure he’ll take the super bowl ring as a more than worthy consolation prize. 

When you see the big plays from the Los Angeles Rams, you may assume that they are due to long passes down the field. You would be correct in that assumption. The Rams were third in the NFL in intended air yards per attempt and first in completed air yards per attempt. His ability to grip it and rip it down the field on any down opened up chances for Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham, Jr. to wreak havoc underneath in that vaunted offense. His crazy arm opened up the playbook for McVay, and they took advantage early and often. There are, of course, the questions of his decision-making at times where Stafford trusts his arm more than he should. But, with the addition of Allen Robinson and Odell Beckham, Jr., maybe, returning, the Rams are in a firm position to run it back yet again.

T-5) Joe Burrow

ESPN (5), PFN (6), CBS (6)

2021 Stats: 16 games, 366/520, 70.4% completion percentage, 4611 yards, 34 Touchdowns, 14 Interceptions

Joe Burrow’s playoff run is one for the books. He carved up the Las Vegas Raiders in impressive fashion. He survived a beating against the Tennessee Titans, where he withstood nine sacks and pulled out the win somehow. Then, he went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes in Arrowhead Stadium. The Cincinnati Bengals remarkable playoff surge centered around the play of their point guard at the quarterback position. Burrow stayed composed throughout, drawing Joe Montana comparisons throughout the playoffs. Now, he is back with a revamped offensive line and that same high-powered offense with names like Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase. There doesn’t seem to be anything that can stop this Bengals offense. 

Let’s keep this in perspective, though. Cincinnati caught lightning in a bottle. They caught lightning in a way that is tough to replicate. And with that kind of success, a super bowl hangover seems to be on the horizon. The hangover isn’t a forgone conclusion, but it does seem the most likely to hit this Bengals team. We’ll just have to see if Burrow will allow it to happen.