Power Ranking All 32 Starting NFL Quarterbacks
Power Ranking Quarterbacks
Arguably, the most important position in all of sports is the quarterback position in football. There is no argument that it's the most talked about position in sports.
Quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes. They can be polarizing and talk a ton, and they can also be quiet and reserved, just trying to methodically do their job. They can be 6-foot-5 or they could be 5-foot-11. Some like to throw it down field, some like to dink and dunk, and some have a run first mentality. There are game breakers and game managers. The only thing that all quarterbacks have in common is they are all extremely talented.
This may be the most talented group of quarterbacks in the game's history. There are 15 quarterbacks in this league that could be considered elite, depending on how the argument is presented. That is the goal when you are a quarterback. It is one word that is worth an entire career. Eli Manning has called to be in the elite class. Joe Flacco has been called to be in the elite class. Elite is the one word that means you have made it as a quarterback.
Rankings for quarterbacks may be harder now than ever. There are four players you could conceivably put in the top spot. There are 20 players that you could argue for being in the top ten. Half of this year's quarterbacks (16 out of the 32) did not have the team's starting job before the 2011 season. Five are taking their first snaps with their current team last weekend. It wasn't easy, but here are the rankings of the all starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
32. Blaine Gabbert
Blaine Gabbert is just not a very good NFL player. He looks scared under center for the Jacksonville Jaguars, although nobody blames him for having to play for that team. His confidence seems to be shot. Whether it is him or Chad Henne, the Jaguars' quarterback is the worst quarterback in the league. There isn't much argument, either. The Jaguars are hoping they win the Teddy Bridgewater bowl. They would like to eventually get themselves out of this spot in the near future.
31. Brandon Weeden
There were many around the NFL who believed that Brandon Weeden was ready for a bounce back season. He had a good preseason, throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was making it look like the Cleveland Browns could be a surprise team in a weak AFC. Then Week 1 happened. He threw the Browns out of the game early with the three interceptions he threw in the first half. He has a ton of work to do before he moves up on the list, that is if he can even keep his starting job.
30. Jake Locker
Jake Locker has everything you could want from your quarterback. He has a cool name. He has the size and strength to excel at the position easily. He is even able to rush well, which seems to be the way the NFL is going. There is only one problem; he isn't good at being a quarterback. If you combine the performances of Gabbert and Chad Henne on Sunday, then Jake Locker threw for less yards than anyone else in the NFL. Last season, he came in at just under 200 yards per game. In a league which makes all of its rules to help quarterbacks, you expect so much more from your starting quarterback. Locker is under the radar in how awful he has been. The Tennessee Titans should try to bomb out the rest of the season to eradicate their mistake of three years ago. If they stick with Locker over Ryan Fitzpatrick they basically are.
29. Christian Ponder
Christian Ponder isn't necessarily a bad quarterback, just one that makes awful decisions under pressure. Ponder seems to be a turnover machine. He has averaged an interception every game in his career, and he has Minnesota Vikings fans reminded on long time quarterback and frustration causer Daunte Culpepper. The difference is that Culpepper had the ability to throw for 33 touchdowns if he felt like it. Culpepper was inconsistent with his production, but what is going on with Ponder may be even more than that. His interceptions are usually really bad looking. For a guy who has every defense in the league putting eight players in the box, he should learn how to take advantage of that.
28. Terrelle Pryor
Those who overreact to the NFL will call this an awful place to put Terrelle Pryor. He is the quarterback of a terrible Oakland Raiders team that should lose every game except the next one. Out of nowhere, he used his legs to get to within a touchdown of beating a playoff team from a year ago. The problem is, the Indianapolis Colts squeaked out wins against the likes of Cleveland, Tennessee, Miami, Buffalo, Detroit, Tennessee again and then Kansas City last season. That represents the worst the league had to offer last season, and they barely beat them. Maybe it is more showing of who the Colts are. Beyond that, Pryor showed he still has terrible decision making ability when he took a sack on first down that made it second-and-20 to take them out of the red-zone at the end of the game. There needs to be a bunch of improvements going forward to truly buy into him.
27. Josh Freeman
This may be low for a guy who just threw for over 4,000 yards last season, but wait until there is any judgment. Josh Freeman was just stripped of his captaincy by coach Greg Schiano. His team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are letting him play out the last year of his contract thinking they can either pay him less when he hits the market or move on to another quarterback. He seems like an near lock to have a down season after we saw his Week 1 performance. To be fair, this could be an overreaction, but the facts say that he is due for the kind of year that leaves much to be desired. He could end up losing not only his own job, but Schiano's as well.
26. Sam Bradford
Poor Sam Bradford. The former number one overall pick seems like he will be most well known for being the last rookie to get super paid under the old rookie contract rules. His stats say that he is a very good quarterback, but the eye test says different. Although Bradford has his moments, he seems to have some bonehead plays and can't get a big drive when his team needs it. He proved that notion wrong in Week 1, but can he sustain it? Will he continue to be a guy who only does well when it is garbage time, or will he finally make a jump as far as being a good starting quarterback in this league? This year is pretty important for Bradford. They brought in Jake Long, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The excuses end this season. He has a $17 million cap hit next season. He needs to be worth it if he is going to make that much. Maybe "poor" is the wrong word to use for Bradford.
25. EJ Manuel
EJ Manuel is one of the two rookie starting quarterbacks in the league this season. It sure wasn't the influx of talent we saw last season, but it is interesting. Manuel seemed to have moments where he was great against the New England Patriots, and then there were other times where you could tell he was a rookie. Manuel's weakness seems to be the deep ball. That might be Doug Marrone being conservative against a defense with good cover corners in Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Denard. There needs to be less of a leash on him so the world can really see what he is capable of, and also to decipher whether he is for real.
24. Geno Smith
Geno Smith was the top rated quarterback in the 2013 draft, but he was not the first quarterback taken. It seems like he wasn't doing well with the quarterback competition this summer, as he did not look good in preseason. In the first game, however, he beat a team that had Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson, and Mark Barron in its secondary. Smith's pocket awareness was what impressed the most. He seemed to know when his pocket was breaking down and he had to get out of there. He had a couple of completions that went for over 20 yards. He orchestrated one drive that gave them a touchdown with less than a minute until halftime, and then another drive at the end of the game that, with the help of Lavonte David, secured a game winning field goal. For now, I pick Smith over Manuel.
23. Philip Rivers
What a fall from grace we have seen for Philip Rivers over the past few seasons. You could legitimately have the argument of who would you want, him, Manning or Roethlisberger. In 2011, he ended a stretch of throwing for 4,000 yards four years in a row. Last season, the decline started and started quick. He was most awful when it mattered the most. In the fourth quarter of a one score game, he threw for one touchdown and seven interceptions. He nearly doubled his career high in fumbles with 13 (his previous career high was seven, which was the year before). When the game mattered most on Monday, Rivers went 1-for-7 with an interception. Rivers is a top ten quarterback in the first half but the worst when it comes to the fourth quarter.
22. Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton must thank the heavens every day that they brought him A.J. Green. Without him, Dalton could be looking like Gabbert on this list. Although he did seem to get hot in the game against the Chicago Bears with a 78.8 completion percentage. He seems like he could be coming into his own in his third year as a starter. He only missed two targets in the second half and seemed to be in control. The running game failed him on Sunday. It will be nice to actually let Dalton go this season to see what the Cincinnati Bengals have in the 25-year-old. He doesn't crack the top 20 quite yet, but he could very well be on his way.
21. Ryan Tannehill
The Miami Dolphins are one of those teams that it wouldn't totally surprise you if they won ten games or if they won four. It is just hard to read what the team is going to do. A lot of that has to do with the uncertainty behind Ryan Tannehill. He is the forgotten quarterback from last season even though he seemed to get better as the season went last year, only throwing one interception in final five weeks. He definitely needs to continue to improve if the Dolphins are going to go anywhere. He has a nice new weapon in Mike Wallace, but he may end up feeling the loss of Jake Long. If he can stay upright he should take a few steps forward.
20. Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler is another quarterback that his seen his stock plummet the past couple of years. Cutler is working with an offensive minded coach in Mark Trestman for the first time in Chicago. He seemed to play a lot better in Week 1. If he can limit his mistakes, he would be a much better quarterback. His decision making is just not where it should be at this point in his career. The point is, since Cutler has been on the Bears he has never thrown more touchdowns than he had turnovers. That is four seasons of bad decisions. It is a contract year, and he needs to stop that if he wants to get paid again, especially if its going to be by the Bears.
19. Alex Smith
Alex Smith got a concussion and lost his job, some say, unfairly. He was on his way to a career year before suffering the injury in Week 10 last season. Smith is the latest bloomer you will see in the NFL. When most teams would give up on a draft pick, the 49ers stuck with their guy through his struggles. It worked out and he ended up yielding them possibly two second round picks in value. The Kansas City Chiefs knew they needed to upgrade the quarterback position after last season. Matt Cassel just could not duplicate his first year with the team when he won 10 games. Now Smith doesn't have to look over his shoulder at who might be coming. He was given the keys by Andy Reid, and the Chiefs are his team.
18. Michael Vick
Michael Vick is an enigma at this point in his career. He makes you want to watch every time he is on the screen. With this new up-tempo offense with Chip Kelly, he may be even better. The problem with Vick is he cannot stay on the field. He doesn't know how to slide and keep himself healthy through a 16-game season. The problem is that the other Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks probably can't play the type of offense that Kelly wants. If Vick gets hurt, so does the gameplan. Vick has top ten upside and bottom five downside. That's why this man is an enigma; you never know which player you are going to see on a weekly basis.
17. Matt Schaub
Most people will say this ranking is too low. They point to how Matt Schaub turned around a franchise that never won. They exclaim that he is the reason the Houston Texans are in the playoff hunt every year, but I disagree. Any of the other 16 quarterbacks ahead of Schaub on this list would be able to take a team with a great defense, quite possibly the best running back committee in the NFL with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, and one of the best receivers in the game with Andre Johnson to the playoffs every year. Schaub seems like he is just "good enough".
16. Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer went from having Jacoby Ford as his main target to Larry Fitzgerald. That is like going from dating Madonna to Kate Upton. This is the biggest upgrade you could possibly see. Palmer is a hard player to rank, seeing he has a Brett Favre mentality of trying to fit balls into space. Luckily, Fitzgerald can get up and get some of those balls. Palmer threw for 4,000 yards last season for the Raiders. In case you didn't catch that, it was for the Raiders! He seems to throw for over 300 yards every game without anyone noticing. If Week 1 was any indication, it is going to be a very good year for Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals. Just next time, make sure you are the team doing the game winning drive.
15. Cam Newton
This is where it starts to get hard. Where do you put a guy who has an electric arm, but isn't very developed yet? Newton is a player who can single handedly beat you with his legs. He has had some games where he looks like Superman and others where he looks like he just started playing the game. The fact of the matter is Cam Newton is a game changer when he is on. He revitalized the career of Steve Smith. God forbid they don't overpay a running back to do nothing, maybe they can get some other effective weapons. He wasn't at his best last weekend, but nobody is against Seattle's secondary. He will have a decent year this season.
14. Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben seems to have his work cut out for him this season. He is in an offense that his facial expressions say he is not a fan of. He lost his deep threat to free agency. His starting center was lost for the season on the first drive of the year. His running backs are having trouble gaining two yards per run. It looks like it is going to be the Ben Roethlisberger show in Pittsburgh this season. Roethlisberger is going to have to put this team on his back if he wants to bring the team back to where it was two years ago. He also needs to stay on the field. Bruce Gradkowski cannot see any playing time with this line and skill players.
13. Tony Romo
What do you value more, a guy who has a big arm but seems to be void in the clutch or a guy who is young and running a new offense that is winning them games? Tony Romo did not look extremely good or bad against the Giants on Sunday night. It seems like the Dallas Cowboys should have won that game by more, with the Giants committing six turnovers. They ended up winning by four and were one onside kick away from possibly losing. Romo has to learn how to finish games and finish seasons. It is well documented about Romo's struggles in the last game of the season when everything is on the line. He needs to find that clutch gene if he is ever going to be a top ten quarterback in this league.
12. Matt Stafford
Matthew Stafford is a hard nut to crack as well. On the one hand you can point to the fact that he once again was right on the doorstep of 5,000 yards passing and helped his receiver Calvin Johnson pass the receiving yards record. Then on the other, you could point to the fact that the Detroit Lions were 4-12 and most of those yards came in garbage time. You could say that his touchdowns were cut in half while his interception number grew. This could be a debate that goes on for days. Stafford is a very good quarterback who tends to try to make plays that aren't there. He should get better with the ball and his luck should turn around. The Lions are a team to watch out for.
11. Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco had one of the best stretches of anyone ever when he took the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl Championship last season. It is unlikely to ever happen that way again. Flacco was always looked at as a guy who was "good enough", and then he threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions during an entire playoffs. Even though he has never missed a game in his career, he doesn't have one season where he even came close to 4,000 yards passing. Hopefully opening night's performance is a sign of things to come this season without his security blanket of Anquan Boldin. Two interceptions against superior competition will not do it. Now that he is asked more than to not mess up and let the running game take over, let's see how he responds.
10. Robert Griffin III
We finally made the top ten. As you can see, we start off with a bang. Robert Griffin III did not look like the same player on Monday night against the Eagles as he did last season. It is most likely just rust from the fact that he hadn't seen live action football for seven months. He seemed to play a much better game after halftime. Although it may have seemed like the Eagles took their foot off the gas, Griffin still orchestrated a comeback that took them from four scores down to only one. If he can play like second half Griffin, then the Washington Redskins fans will be very happy. If he stays healthy he has the most upside of anyone in the NFL.
9. Russell Wilson
I will admit, I did not see much of Russell Wilson last season, but what I did see was magical. The plays that this guy pulled out of his butt when he needed them the most were masterful. The pass to Sidney Rice to beat the Patriots was a thing of beauty. He may end up being the most talented QB from the group all around. His biggest asset, however, is he learned how to use his other assets on the fly. Even though he will miss Percy Harvin for the better part of the season, Wilson will still put on a good show.
8. Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick is the most must-see quarterback in this league today. He could rush for 200 yards or throw for 400 yards and nobody would really be surprised. He took a team all the way to the Super Bowl after only starting six regular season games in his career. He has proven that he was worth the spot that was being held by Alex Smith before him. He came into Week 1 against a very good Packers team and destroyed them. He is doing everything he can to keep a step above all the great young quarterbacks, but he needs to do this on a consistent basis if he wants to stay where he is. He better hope that Boldin stays healthy all season, because he is all he has left.
7. Andrew Luck
The Colts may be the luckiest franchise in the history of sports. After over a decade of having one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, they bottom out because he gets injured and they get to draft the best quarterback prospect in 20 years. Andrew Luck is looking like he is everything he has been advertised to be. If this was a list of the best QBs for the next ten years, he could be number one. He comes into the league when the NFL has seen quite possibly its largest influx of talent ever. There are so many good players from the last few drafts, on top of the veterans, and yet he still stands out above them all. He threw for a few too many interceptions last season, but when it mattered he was the best player on the field. His multiple fourth quarter comebacks were something to really behold. Luck will only move up on this list as the years go on.
6. Eli Manning
Eli Manning sure did not help his stock last weekend. He went up against the rival Cowboys and threw three interceptions, one that was run back for a touchdown with two minutes left in the game and the team down by six. With that performance not withstanding, Manning seems like the sixth best quarterback in the league. He isn't the best in the regular season, but he might be the one guy you want on your team in the playoffs. He was 52 yards away last season from having four straight 4,000 yard seasons. His postseason numbers read as 17 touchdowns to eight interceptions. This season marks a decade in which we have two Mannings in the league, and Eli has been closing the gap every year since.
5. Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan finally got the playoff win monkey off his back last season. He took his team the NFC Championship game against the 49ers and was one play from winning the game. Ryan is trying to build off that success this season. He sure has a ton of weapons with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and a newly acquired Steven Jackson. He missed an opportunity last weekend to steal a game in New Orleans, but the job was not finished. This spot seems to be one where people say "I guess its Matt Ryan". He needs to start playing at that elite level to solidify his spot in the top five.
4. Tom Brady
This is where the hard decisions needed to be made. The top four quarterbacks in the league are interchangeable. They could all be put in any one of the positions from one to four and it would have made sense. Even with throwing to the JV squad on the local high school team, Tom Brady is still making plays for the New England Patriots. It seems like of the top four, Brady is the one who is going to have to work the hardest. He lost Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez, Donte Stalworth, Deion Branch, and Danny Woodhead from last season. He also missed Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Shane Vereen, and Zach Sudfeld for the game versus the Jets. Think about that, between this season and last he is missing ten familiar targets due to them leaving the team or due to injury. That is preposterous. Somehow you still believe in this team. They have Brady, and between that and Bill Belichick it shows that you cannot give up on this team just yet. That is what it means to be an elite quarterback.
3. Drew Brees
Does Drew Brees get his rightful due? Even last season as he dealt with the whole Bountygate ordeal and he played with a historically bad defense yet still single handedly brought his team to seven wins. He threw for 5,000 yards and over 40 touchdowns for the second year in a row. He is the reason the New Orleans Saints are a contender every year instead of bottom dwellers. Imagine if the Saints ended up with Daunte Culpepper instead of Brees in 2006. It is just unthinkable to see Brees in anything but a Saints jersey. He makes his receivers better, as you see with every one that goes out and gets a big pay day from other teams and fails. He brought New Orleans back single handedly and will continue to do the same for the team.
2. Peyton Manning
What else is there to say about Peyton Manning besides "wow"? That seven touchdown performance was the best thing the NFL has seen since the Patriots went 16-0 back in 2007. Manning seems to be even better than he was last year when he came in second in the MVP voting. That is a scary thought for every team in the AFC. He has a new weapon in Welker, on top of Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. He seems to be on another level this season. If he continues on this pace, he will have thrown for 112 touchdowns. Understanding how impossible that is, it still is a jarring stat. The Denver Broncos are the top dog in the AFC, and it is strictly because of their quarterback.
1. Aaron Rodgers
It's still Aaron Rodgers on top of the quarterback world. The Green Bay Packers QB is the best at his position during a time when the position has never been better. He has been playing with a sub par defense for years, yet the Packers are still title contenders every single year. That is because of Rodgers and only Rodgers. He makes stars out of all his receivers. He makes opposing defenses, even really good ones like the 49ers, look average. He is the best in the world at what he does, and that title doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. As good as the previous three are, and they deserve the number one spot just as much, there is something about this guy that makes it impossible to even consider anyone else. It takes someone really, really good to make Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning forgettable.