The most important position in all of professional sports is the National Football League’s starting quarterback. From Johnny Unitas to Bryce Young, the man under center dictates the flow of the game more than anyone else.
You don’t have to agree with me. I’d be astonished if you did, as there are 32 starting quarterbacks and 32 unique situations and schemes that dictate the success or failure of any given player, and for you and I to agree on each and every one is unlikely. All I ask is that if you’re going to come into the comment section or twitter replies with the heat, give me your 32. You’re a Bears fan, and you don’t like that he’s behind [redacted] on my rankings, but there are 30 other quarterbacks to consider. Don’t just come in and complain that I’m not as obsessed with your team as you are, try to rank all 32 starting quarterbacks and I promise I’ll reply.
With that said, here’s the list.
Ranking All 32 NFL Starting Quarterbacks (2022)
32. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
As a rule, I don’t like to put rookie quarterbacks ahead of NFL veterans. I assume the Pitt product will beat out the slew of mediocre future-journeymen that the Steelers have collected to become the team’s starting quarterback, but until he does, I can’t put him ahead of players who have taken the field and won in the NFL.
31. Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Early word out of Seattle is that it is Geno Smith, not Drew Lock, who will be taking the snaps for Seattle this September, and that feels like a mistake. I’m far from a Drew Lock fan, but at least he’s proven to be relatively competent from time to time, unlike Geno, who is universally pretty terrible. It’s hard to see the direction the once-proud Seattle Seahawks are going in as the last vestige of the Legion of Boom era suits up in Denver, Colorado.
30. Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Has anyone ever been in that relationship where neither of you are happy, but it’s not convenient to move on? Maybe it was the height of COVID and leaving the house was hard enough, let alone trying to date? Maybe you’re both in debt or you just got a dog? That’s where the New York Giants and Daniel Jones find themselves now. Jones has not proven to be the Baby-Manning that draft “experts” anticipated he would be, and Big Blue hasn’t given the Duke grad a whole lot to work with.
29. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
I want Justin Fields to be good. I want him to be good so badly. For a franchise as history-rich as the Chicago Bears, they’ve been snake-bitten when it comes to quarterbacks. If Jay Cutler is in the GOAT conversation for your franchise, you’ve had a really rough go of it. It’s still early for Fields, and he had flashes, but he hasn’t shown enough to be any higher on this list.
28. Zach Wilson, New York Jets
Much like Fields, I’ve gotta see more from Wilson. Wilson had more big plays and better numbers than Fields in 2021, but I’ve gotta see the production. The Jets seemingly had a strong off-season, so we’ll see if he can improve upon his rookie year with a strong sophomore campaign.
27. Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold is in that “Baker Mayfield” echelon of quarterbacks that are either destined to be career backups or could catch fire in the right system. He still has all the tools. He’s still a young quarterback (he’s only 24), and with the right help, there’s a glimmer of a franchise quarterback in there. However, it gets darker and darker every day, and it’s impossible to put him much higher than this unless he proves everyone wrong.
26. Davis Mills, Houston Texans
I am a Davis Mills guy. I saw splashes from him that really made me think he could thrive under the right circumstances. I don’t know if those circumstances will ever come around, but considering the situation he found himself in last year, I think he performed admirably and I hope he continues to get opportunities to play in the league.
25. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
From a guy I believe in that I don’t think will get enough chances in the league to the exact opposite, we have Tua Tagovailoa. I didn’t believe in Tua at Alabama and not much has changed. The guy throws up lame ducks like your dog ate a Duck Hunt cartridge and I haven’t been impressed by his dink-and-dunk NFL career to this point. However, if Mike McDaniel can bring over some of that Kyle Shanahan magic with weapons like Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, he could really luck into a great season.
24. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Jared Goff is in the twilight of his NFL career now. Once, he benefitted from Sean McVay’s genius, and now he holds the unfortunate honor of being the guy who quarterbacks for the Lions until they find a young guy they believe in. As long as Goff is starting in Detroit, none of us should take either of them seriously.
23. Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons
I think Marcus Mariota could do some really good things if the Atlanta Falcons give him an honest chance. I know that sounds ridiculous because he hasn’t really played in a few years, but I thought he impressed in splashes with the Raiders. The one game he played most of against the Chargers, he shook off the rust pretty easily and made some nice plays. With Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts, I think he could really surprise some people this year.
22. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
I know that Trevor belongs in the “I haven’t seen enough” category with the other second-year QBs, but they didn’t have to live through Urban Meyer. For him to have the moments that he did, with a coach that prioritized other “activities” over football? I think we can remain optimistic for “the chosen one.”
21. Mac Jones, New England Patriots
Is it possible to be unfavorably compared to Troy Aikman? Because that’s how I referred to Mac Jones the other day. He’s a smart, accurate quarterback, and so far, all he’s done is win. Being the franchise quarterback that first occupies Tom Brady’s shadow is a tall task, and while Jones hasn’t frozen in the wake of #12’s legacy, he hasn’t done much to escape it yet. A solid, if pedestrian rookie season from Jones leaves a lot to be desired, but he should have plenty of chances to impress.
20. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo is the weirdest quarterback in football. Is he good? Not really. He’s never thrown for 4,000 yards or 30 touchdowns. He’s not realistically a fantasy football option and he never will be. However, you can’t argue with results. He’s won a lot of games, and he doesn’t make costly mistakes. The scheme doesn’t really ask him to do a whole lot either. Considering the 49ers traded up to take Trey Lance and it still looks like Jimmy G’s show, he’s obviously doing something right.
19. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
Remember when Jameis Winston had a 5,000 yard, 30+ touchdown campaign? That wasn’t long ago. And believe it or not, he was actually having a pretty solid 2021 before injuries ended his season. Unfortunately, Dennis Allen isn’t exactly Sean Payton, and while that statline from earlier is impressive, it’s also incomplete. Winston added a league-high 30 interceptions as well, and it’s hard to take the yardage and touchdowns seriously when you realize he also led the league in passing attempts.
18. Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders
If I told you that Carson Wentz actually had a solid 2021, would you believe me? Sure, he lost the faith of Indianapolis Colts fans, and ultimately, with the season on the line, he couldn’t beat the worst team in the league, but on paper, he was very similar to the quarterback that wowed the Philly faithful only a few short years ago. The Commanders have a good defense and some weapons on offense, if he was ever going to return to glory, this is his opportunity.
17. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Where do you realistically rank Jalen Hurts? Is he an elite quarterback? In no world. 61% completion percentage, only 209 passing yards per game, 16 passing touchdowns, and nine picks? Ugly. Pedestrian by early 2000’s standards. But by the same token, you can’t ignore the nearly-800 yards and ten touchdowns he added on the ground, helping to send the Eagles to the post-season. 2022 will be a big year for Hurts. He’ll have to prove he’s more than just another gimmick guy.
16. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
There isn’t a more scheme dependent quarterback in professional football than Ryan Tannehill. He consistently puts up average numbers and lives and dies by splash plays off of play-action. Derrick Henry’s injury slowed him down dramatically, and nearly 20% of his touchdown total on the entire season came in week 18 against the hapless Houston Texans. If the run game is going, there’s an opportunity for Tannehill to succeed, otherwise, he’s in trouble… especially now that he doesn’t have Julio Jones or AJ Green.
15. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Here he is! The most okay quarterback in professional football! The numbers are good, the Vikings win sometimes, but he’s absolutely nobody’s favorite quarterback. The master of the magical land where he’ll probably make the Pro Bowl but he’ll never be league MVP. The Michigan State product has been blessed with incredible receivers and a top tier running back, and the numbers reflect that but the win/loss column stays a hopeless place. Anyone worse will be replaced, anyone better gets another contract.
14. Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts
It’ll be interesting to see what the change of scenery does for Matt Ryan. He’s been a very, very good quarterback in the National Football League for a very long time. A staple of consistency and a victim of one of the worst-managed teams in the NFL. With Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman, Ryan has the tools to reinvent himself in Lucas Oil Stadium. Whether he does or not will surely determine how Indianapolis’ season goes.
13. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
They’re gonna kill me for this one. They’re gonna absolutely murder me for this one. Dak Prescott just posted career highs in completion percentage and passing touchdowns, after all. But… the Cowboys looked pretty out of place in the playoffs, didn’t they? And Dak’s numbers were fine, but he also threw it nearly 40 times a game and it’s not like there was a shortage of talent on that Cowboys offense. Dak feels more like he’s part of the show than the ringmaster at this point in his career, and if he wants to prove he’s better than the Kirk Cousins/Derek Carr “yeah but” crowd, he’s gonna have to do more than sweep the worst division in the NFL.
12. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
At some point, Lamar Jackson has to prove me wrong. I know how electric he is, we’ve all seen just how dynamic of a playmaker he can be. As far as run-first quarterbacks are concerned, Jackson’s ability with the ball in his hand in the open field is unmatched. But when is he going to prove he’s capable of developing as a passer?
After a 2019 season where he could not be stopped, he has not taken that next step as a quarterback. His completion percentage has plateaued, his yards per attempt remains mediocre, and both his QB and passer rating get worse annually. His touchdown totals decrease as his turnovers increase, and with the end of his contract in sight, the Ravens are in trouble.
A big part of of the blame belongs to John Harbaugh, who has never been able to get the best out of his quarterbacks, and as dynamic as Baltimore’s rushing attack is, Greg Roman should also be held responsible for stunting Lamar’s growth as a passer.
But at the end of the day, with the playoffs on the line, the Baltimore Ravens chose Tyler Huntley, an undrafted second-year quarterback, over a limited Lamar.
11. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Oh Derek Carr, the most divisive quarterback in professional football. K-Mart Kirk Cousins to one person, a darkhorse MVP candidate to the next. Like Metallica and the Star Wars sequels, Derek Carr is nowhere near as good or as bad as people will have you think. On paper, everything you could ever want in a quarterback. He has a high football IQ that makes him a second coach on the field, he’s athletic enough to scramble and extend plays with his legs, and has the arm talent and accuracy to “make all the throws” each Sunday. With Davante Adams joining Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, Carr is primed for a career year.
But he’s not perfect. He can be rattled, he will give up on plays, and he’s been known to stare down one receiver based on a pre-snap read. Every season, there’s a chorus of “no excuses for Carr this year,” but the pure unbridled chaos that is Mark Davis’ Las Vegas Raiders will expectorate some kind of catastrophe before the new year, and we’ll be singing again in August.
As a starting quarterback, Derek Carr is the NFL’s Mario Mendoza. If you’re worse than Derek Carr, you’re replaceable, but if you’re better than he is, you’re probably a MVP-type elite level quarterback.
10. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson is a curious one. This time last year? He’s probably five or six spots higher. Injuries, plus a collapsed Seattle dynasty in decline, saw Mr. Unlimited have the worst year of his career. When healthy, there’s no debate, he’s one of the league’s best. A probable Hall of Famer and part-time magician, you cannot tell the history of the NFL without Russell Wilson. But coming off a bd year, in a new offense, with fewer dynamic weapons, in the league’s best division? Can Wilson return to his “Let Russ Cook” form or will he shrivel up in his own legacy?
9. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray is really, really good. He put up decent passing numbers and then added a chunk on the ground. He’s one of the most dynamic weapons in the National Football League, and it just feels like one of these days, he’s going to catch fire and make a real run at an All-Pro. In the meantime, he seems to disappear in the big games, his future with the Cardinals is murky, and you can only blame Kliff Kingsbury for so much.
8. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow just feels like the heir apparent, doesn’t he? The guy plays with such a cool confidence that you never quite feel like they’re out of games. He’s athletic enough, his arm is good enough, and he can break down a defense seemingly instantly. But… there are some weird skeletons with the young gun. Firstly, he’s already 25 years old. He’s older than Lamar Jackson, and it’s not like he had a horrible supporting cast on offense, miserable pass protection aside. I wish I could point to his post-season success as a win for him, but if you really look closer, he wasn’t asked to do a whole lot during their run. I don’t know, I’m hoping with a fixed offensive line, Burrow jumps up a few spots next year.
7. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Go ahead, get mad at me. I stick to my guns about this guy. Matthew Stafford knows the game, has a killer instinct, and a great arm. In my honest opinion, he is a very good quarterback who ended up in the perfect situation. Even if the offense wasn’t absolutely loaded, Sean McVay made Jared Goff look respectable. In my eyes, Matt Stafford will always just be lucky Derek Carr.
6. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert is the MVP… of the off-season. The same quarterback begging for a tie is now everyone’s favorite to shred the NFL this year, and unfortunately, it’s hard to argue. Another year of development for the best quarterback in Los Angeles should only make he and the Chargers better. This is the year that will establish whether he’s an elite guy or just another franchise quarterback that can’t quite get over the hump. Hey, the Chargers have never had one of those before? Right?
Hiya Phil and Dan, how’s retirement?
5. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
This really is a curious one, isn’t it? The last time we saw Deshaun Watson, he was absolutely stunning. He put up incredible numbers on a team without a head coach or notable weapons to speak of. He really nearly threw for 5,000 yards with 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, rushing for an additional 400 yards and four touchdowns on a team without any effort in the front office.
Buuuuut A. He hasn’t played in over a year, B. He’s on a brand new team, and C. He could be suspended at any moment. Is he gonna play? Is he still the same quarterback? Only one way to find out.
4. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Go ahead, throw me through a table, drag me in the comments, I didn’t make Josh Allen the best quarterback in the NFL. He’s a monster, he has unprecedented size and athleticism for the position, possibly the best arm in football, and the Bills are favorites to make some noise this season. My big issue with Allen is that I remember his pre-Daboll film. I remember him lofting it deep… to a fullback… in triple coverage. His talent is undeniable, and the last two years have been phenomenal. But I struggle to put him ahead of the reigning MVP, the greatest of all time, and some dude that puts ketchup on steak… for now.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
The last time someone other than Aaron Rodgers took home the NFL’s league MVP award, Corona was a cheap beer you used to spice up a margarita. Over the last four seasons, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 136 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions. Josh Allen, the player immediately behind Rodgers, threw that many interceptions this year alone. 24 different quarterbacks had double digit picks in 2021, and Toe Montana barely has that many in the new decade.
He would probably be number two on this list if he
wasn’t such a tremendous douche could beat the San Francisco 49ers or win a game that matters.
2. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I know that I’m supposed to put Josh Allen up here like everyone else, but until the wheels fall off the Tom Brady train, I will be the conductor. Brady is older than a handful of head coaches in the NFL and that didn’t stop him from leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns in 2021. After a failed coup with Sean Payton in Miami, The Tompa Bray Bucs are back in 2022, eager to chase after the Rams in the hunt for NFC Supremacy.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
As a starting quarterback in the NFL, Patrick Mahomes averages over 4,600 yards and 37 touchdowns a season. His worst year, 2019, saw him throw for 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only five interceptions in 14 starts, which is comparable to Peyton Manning’s 2008 League MVP season. As the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, he has never finished worse than overtime in the AFC Championship game.
Why people rush to supplant him with the flavor of the month quarterback every season, I’ll never understand. Sure, he lost Tyreek Hill. But it’s not like he’s been terrible when the Chiefs didn’t have their burner on the field, his numbers have actually been pretty solid. Until someone else can come in and do the things that Patrick Mahomes does, he’s got a stranglehold on the number one spot.