If you are a football fan (and I assume you are, because you are reading this), then you have been beat over the head with the assertion that the “most important position in sports is the quarterback.” I have written about my stance on that statement previously, but as training camps are upon us, let us rank each quarterback and see which teams have a head start going into the season.
Before we begin let me point out the obvious: this is an opinion-based list. Read it. Enjoy it. Debate it. Leave comments, tweet me (@TheCSBS) and have with it. This is barstool sports banter at its best.
Therefore, lets roll…
1. Tom Brady – New England Patriots
He is a former MVP and four-time Super Bowl winner. With a makeshift offensive line, no running game, and a thin receiving core Brady continues to excel and most importantly win.
2. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
In a year where the Saints were down and Brees’ favorite target had been traded to Seattle he still threw for 4,870 yards, 32 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions. That is 10 consecutive years of passing for 4,300+ yards and eight consecutive years of 30+ touchdowns. That is an unheard of level of consistency at an incredibly high level.
3. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
Two-time Super Bowl winner and one of the toughest quarterbacks to play the position. I have seen Big Ben stiff arm blitzing linebackers and deliver 20+ yard passes with defensive linemen hanging off of his waste. Big time athlete that can do anything on the field.
4. Aaron Rodger – Green Bay Packers
Rodgers may be the best quarterback in the NFL when it comes to accuracy and leadership, but injuries count. If you consistently miss time every season due to injury, then that inherently makes you less valuable. I am a big fan, but Rodgers misses the top spot because of his injury history.
5. Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Last year’s MVP may be the best pure athlete in the NFL. He has really developed his touch and become an amazing duel threat quarterback. Now that Newton has taken that step into the elite, lets see if he can maintain this level of play on a regular basis.
6. Carsen Palmer – Arizona Cardinals
If ever there was a perfect marriage of quarterback and system, then this is it. The innovative offense of Bruce Arians has helped Palmer play at his highest level as a quarterback, even in his professional twilight. After finishing second in the MVP voting and melting down in the NFC Championship game, Palmer will be on the warpath in an effort to obtain that elusive ring.
7. Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
Last year Wilson had an eight game stretch which demonstrated his ability to carry a team. With a mediocre receiving core and a hampered running game, Wilson had the best year of his career statistically.
8. Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
Well he is certainly being paid like the best quarterback in the NFL, with his new extension that earns him $87 million guaranteed. Luck has had a great start to his career, but was severely hampered last year with a variety of injuries. This year it is up to Luck to show that 2015 was an aberration and not a foreshadowing of things to come.
9. Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals
In the playoffs, Dalton has been an unmitigated disaster, but in the regular season he has ben nothing short of the greatest quarterback in Bengals’ history. He has been healthy, productive, consistent, and owns virtually every Bengals’ passing record worth having. Dalton only needs to slay his playoff demons to move up on this list.
10. Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys
I am a big fan of Tony Romo. I think the constant criticisms of him are usually unfair and generally unfounded. Statistically not only is he one of the most effective quarterbacks, but also one of the most clutch. What has set Romo back has been a variety of ill-timed injuries. And all the ability in the world amounts to nothing if you can’t stay on the field.
11. Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens
Flacco is here solely because of his post-season accomplishments. As a regular season quarterback Flacco is average; neither costing his team games, nor elevating the overall level of team play. But in the playoffs, Flacco’s metrics stack up against some of the greats of all time.
12. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
On paper Matt Ryan is the dream quarterback. He is tall, he can throw accurately deep, he is hassle, and he is a natural leader. The problem is that he lacks athleticism. He also has very few receiving options (past Julio Jones of course) and Ryan has failed to show that he can consistently elevate the play of people around him.
13. Eli Manning – New York Giants
Two Super Bowl rings have to count for something. While Eli has been grossly inconsistent, especially during the regular season, there are few other quarterbacks I would want under center when the chips are down.
14. Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders
My brother deserves credit. He flat out stated that Carr would be the best quarterback to come out of the 2014 draft, and thus far he has been correct. Carr can make all the throws and has improved considerably every season. This year many “experts” are picking the Raiders to make the playoffs; and that is mostly due to Carr.
15. Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
It took awhile, but it would seem that the Redskins have found their quarterback of the future. What prevents Cousins from being ranked higher is consistency. He had a great season, but so have a lot of quarterbacks; including his predecessor Robert Griffin III. If Cousins can continue to play the way he did in 2015, then he will rocket up this list.
16. Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs
Smith can’t throw deep. He is smart, accurate, athletic, and with the right team could guide a franchise to the Super Bowl. But if a receiver is 20+ yards deep, then he will never get the ball and that is a liability.
17. Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers
Rivers is a fantasy quarterback. He will get you 4,000 yards and 25-30 touchdowns, but in real life he is a reckless gunslinger that does little to help his team win. Despite his prolific passing, his play does not open running lanes. Also, he tends to be boom or bust, either scoring quickly on big plays or going three-and-out which leaves the defense overtaxed and over-exposed.
18. Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins
Tannehill has every tool a quarterback could want: speed, arm strength, freaky athleticism, and an above-average supporting cast to work with, including a go-to number 1 receiver. But he has still failed to put it all together. This may be his make or break year with the Dolphins.
19. Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars
Bortles is very similar to Tannehill in that he has all the tools without the corresponding success. Although, many project the Jaguars to have a breakout year, Bortles has to show that he can make better decisions and avoid costly turnovers.
20. Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his rookie year Winston showed why he was the first overall pick. He had good statistics, showed poise in big moments, and made a number of big plays that garnered the Bucs a couple of extra victories. He also made his fair share of blunders. His ranking on this list is dependent on his ability to progress.
21. Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans
Like Winston, Mariota was a bright spot on an otherwise bleak team. But Mariota also struggled with injuries which ranks him lower than Winston.
22. Teddy Bridgewater – Minnesota Vikings
Bridgewater is the definition of a game manager. His athleticism is minimal, and his arm strength is below average, but fortunately for him in today’s NFL the most important attribute is minimizing mistakes. Bridgewater is continually getting better at protecting the ball and working efficiently within the team concept.
23. Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
Stafford is a good quarterback playing in the wrong era. At any given point Stafford is capable of making a big play that can change the game. But he has shown great difficulty in leading sustained drives throughout a game.
24. Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears
Cutler is what he is. He has every element needed to be great, but after 11 seasons he still has not been able to put it all together. He is currently in a system that keeps his propensity to screw things up to a minimum, so the Bears will likely just ride out the remainder of his contract.
25. Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams
He is a rookie without a go-to receiving option. There will be struggles, but he has a very high upside.
26. Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills
Taylor has some skills, but he seems to get worn down over the season, plus the defenses around the league appeared to have adapted to his style causing him to struggle as the season wore on. I do no anticipate him having a good year.
27. Brock Osweiler – Houston Texans
I am not a huge fan of Osweiler. He did not adjst well to defenses and often held on to the ball too long. There is a reason the Broncos opted not to resign him and choose to go with Mark Sanchez instead.
28. Colin Kaepernick – San Francisco 49ers
It seems a long time ago that Kaepernick was lighting the league on fire. A combination of lost talent, coaching changes, and injuries have severely limited his effectiveness. The signing of Chip Kelly may be exactly what Kaepernick needs, but he has to beat out Blaine Gabbert first.
29. Sam Bradford – Philadelphia Eagles
Bradford has shown a complete inability to stay healthy and even when he was, he was an average quarterback at best. I was shocked when the Eagles resigned him, especially considering that they drafted Wentz with the second overall pick. Bradford will not end this season as the starting quarterback of the Eagles.
30. Robert Griffin III – Cleveland Browns
This is an experiment by the Browns in an effort to rejuvinate RGIII’s career. I have my doubts about their ability to do so. There may be flashes of brilliance, but overall I think RGIII’s career is over.
31. Mark Sanchez – Denver Broncos
Talent-wise I think Mark Sanchez may be the worst quarterback in the NFL. The only reason he is not last on this list is because he has had a fair amount of success in his career. Sanchez gets a little credit for the length of the career he has had.
32. Geno Smith – New York Jets
Smith should never have been drafted. He is not an NFL caliber quarterback. Unless the Jets cave in at the last minute and sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, then the Jets will struggle to win games all year round.