Taking a Look at the Top 10 QBs in the NFL
The NFL is still expecting to get their season started in early September as they plan on playing a full 16-game slate this season. With that thought process in mind, it never hurts to take a look at any kind of information we can get about how teams may fare this season. The sound way to do that is to evaluate some of the talent that teams have around the league and identifying the elite players at each position to see how they stack up. We start with the most important position on the field in the quarterback. Which guys are near the top of the heap when it comes to running the offense in the league?
1) Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Last season: 65.9 percent completion percentage, 4031 passing yards, 26 TD, five INT, 218 rushing yards, two TD
PFF Grade: 84.1
Mahomes had a down year compared to his MVP season of 2018, when he hit 66 percent of his throws for 5,097 yards with 50 touchdowns and 12 picks. He did miss two-plus games with a dislocated knee suffered on a quarterback sneak on Monday Night Football against Denver. In the playoffs, however, Mahomes turned things up again and completed 72 of 112 passes for 901 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 135 yards plus two scores on the ground to lead the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win in half a century. With the Chiefs still loaded at the receiver spots with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and tight end Jason Kelce, you have to give him the edge, especially since he only turns 25 in September.
2) Drew Brees, Saints
Last season: 74.3 percent completion percentage, 2979 passing yards, 27 TD, four INT, -4 rushing yards, TD
PFF Grade: 91.2
Brees may be in the twilight of an illustrious career as he enters the season at 41 but the fact remains that he is as cerebral a quarterback as you’ll find in the league. He’s accurate, having led the league in completion percentage for the third straight season last year. Brees did miss five games last season with a broken thumb sustained in week two against the Rams. However, that marked the first time that he had missed more than one game in a season since the 2003 campaign. With Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara in the mix, along with free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders, gives Brees plenty of options. He’ll have another successful campaign.
3) Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Last season: 66.1 percent completion percentage, 4110 passing yards, 31 TD, five INT, 342 rushing yards, three TD
PFF Grade: 91.2
Wilson continues to make plays despite a lack of a true #1 receiving option and injuries continuing to take a toll on their skill position players. One thing that is a point of concern is the fact that he takes a ton of hits. He was sacked 48 times last season, which led the league, and has been sacked at least 41 times in each of the last seven seasons. Over that span, he’s been taken down 314 times, not to mention hits on other passing plays and when he runs the ball. Seattle needs to do a better job of protecting their star quarterback if they want him to maintain his high level of play.
4) Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Last season: 65.1 percent completion percentage, 4902 passing yards, 30 TD, 11 INT, 277 rushing yards, three TD
PFF Grade: 80.1
Prescott is a solid leader at quarterback and he put up some pretty numbers last season. Having Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup back at the top two receiver spots this season is going to be a nice boost, both from continuity and system, for Prescott. The loss of Travis Frederick on the offensive line is going to be something to watch going forward. Dallas’ other big concern is going to be centered around the contract situation of Prescott. The Cowboys franchise-tagged their star QB but have yet to come to terms on a long-term contract. That’s something that could cause issues as the season draws closers.
5) Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Last season: 66.1 percent completion percentage, 3127 passing yards, 36 TD, six INT, 1206 rushing yards, seven TD
PFF Grade: 91.1
Why is the reigning MVP only #5 in the list do you ask? Well, part of that is based on track record. Last season was Jackson’s first full season as a starter and while he delivered good numbers, including a NFL-record for rushing yards by a quarterback, the fact remains that he has to be able to replicate those numbers. He has already said that he doesn’t plan to run as much as he did last season, which means he has to prove that he can beat teams with his arm. Until we see that on a more consistent basis, you have to be a little apprehensive of putting him among the very top of the charts when it comes to starting QBs.
6) Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Last season: 62 percent completion percentage, 4002 passing yards, 26 TD, four INT, 183 rushing yards, TD
PFF Grade: 81.2
Rodgers is nearing the tail end of his career and one has to wonder how much better the Packers could have been in recent years had the team actually gotten him some playmakers. Last season, the Packers went 13-3 despite Davante Adams missing several games with a toe injury and there being no real proven commodities at the receiver spots after him. Now, with the Packers drafting Jordan Love in the first round as their potential QB of the future, it’s going to be interesting to see if that has any issues with what goes on with Rodgers. Green Bay didn’t make any major moves to make things better for their quarterback.
7) Deshaun Watson, Texans
Last season: 67.3 percent completion percentage, 3852 passing yards, 26 TD, 12 INT, 413 rushing yards, seven TD
PFF Grade: 81
Watson is a lot like Jackson and Wilson in that he is a mobile quarterback that can beat you with his legs. He also needs to avoid taking as many hits as he has in recent years if he hopes to maintain any kind of health. In the last two seasons, Watson was sacked a total of 106 times, which is an unsustainable number if he hopes to have any kind of longevity. The loss of DeAndre Hopkins is going to test Watson. Houston is going to have to hope that Brandin Cooks can fit in and avoid injuries along with concussions. Watson also is going to need David Johnson, acquired in the Hopkins deal, to bounce back.
8) Matt Ryan, Falcons
Last season: 66.2 percent completion percentage, 4466 passing yards, 26 TD, 14 INT, 147 rushing yards, TD
PFF Grade: 75.8
Matty Ice has been consistent in his career but he needs to get better protection this season to help the Falcons have success. He was sacked 48 times last season, which was tied for the most in the league with Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray. On the plus side, Ryan has a pair of terrific receivers in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, along with running back Todd Gurley. Atlanta lost tight end Austin Hooper but brought in another solid pass-catching option at the spot by acquiring Hayden Hurst in a deal with the Ravens. Ryan will sling it and he has guys that will make plays on the other end.
9) Tom Brady, Buccaneers
Last season: 60.8 percent completion percentage, 4057 passing yards, 24 TD, eight INT, 34 rushing yards, three TD
PFF Grade: 80.4
Brady turns 43 in August and is playing for a new team for the first time in his career. He has a great track record of success and he gets a major upgrade in skill position personnel. Having Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, a pair of 1000-yard receivers from a year ago, is a nice start. Throw in (for now) a trio of talented tight ends in Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate along with OJ Howard and the Buccaneers have plenty of options for Brady to target. Tampa Bay bolstered their offensive line in an effort to keep Brady protected. In a Bruce Arians-led team, the potential for big numbers are there if Brady can shake off his putrid stats of a season ago.
10) Matthew Stafford, Lions
Last season: 64.3 percent completion percentage, 2499 passing yards, 19 TD, five INT, 66 rushing yards
PFF Grade: 82.6
Stafford was putting together solid numbers in the first half of the season before suffering fractured bones in his back that ended up costing him the rest of the year. The injury showed how reliant the Lions were on him last season. Detroit was 3-4-1 when Stafford went down but they dropped all eight games in the second half of the season to leave the team 3-12-1. The Lions have some capable options in Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and T.J. Hockenson but they need a more consistent ground game in order to help Stafford out. With him under center, the Lions will be able to hang in games. Without him, well, we saw how bad they were last season.
(Statistics provided by profootballreference.com and PFF.com)