Despite all the uncertainty around the resumption of professional sport in the United States, the NFL has remained steadfast in its commitment to getting started on time. That means that, as of today, there are less than 100 days remaining before football is set to return to gridirons around the country.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
2019: 319 of 484 (65.9%) for 4,031 yards (8.3 yards per attempt), 26 TDs & five INTs; 78 QBR; 43 carries for 218 yards & two TDs
While another man may have one last year’s MVP, there’s no doubting who the true king of the castle is when it comes to NFL QBs. Until further notice, Patrick Mahomes can be considered the best player – forget just signal-caller – in the league.
His Chiefs capped a storybook 2019 season by winning Super Bowl LIV, with Mahomes leading the way with yet another virtuoso all-round performance. His 2019 stats look good on paper, but would have been even more spectacular had he not dislocated a kneecap and been sidelined for two games mid-way through the year.
Mahomes’ abilities both in the pocket and when plays break down are otherworldly. There is no quarterback on planet earth more talented than Kansas City’s main man.
2. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
2019: 265 of 401 (66.1%) for 3,127 yards (7.8 yards per attempt), 36 TDs & six INTs; 81.1 QBR; 176 carries for 1,206 yards & seven TDs
Well, there’s one man on the planet who might have an argument with that last statement. Lamar Jackson’s 2019 season was nothing short of astonishing, as the former Louisville Cardinal exploded on to the professional scene, winning his first MVP award and leading the Ravens to a playoff berth.
While their stay in the postseason didn’t last long, Jackson showed enough to suggest that any team with him at the helm would be there or thereabouts for at least a decade to come. Jackson’s abilities as a runner have always been evident, but it was his passing that was most impressive. He led the league in expected points per play and his ability to avoid making mistakes in either the running or passing games makes him incredibly valuable.
Jackson will be at the pointy end of these lists for many years to come.
3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
2019: 341 of 516 (66.1%) for 4,110 yards (8.0 yards per attempt), 31 TDs & five INTs; 69.4 QBR; 75 carries for 342 yards & three TDs
Russell Wilson may not be the flashiest QB in the league, but the level of play required from him to keep a sub-par Seattle team competitive in a stacked NFC West is second-to-none, and he does it year-on-year-on-year.
Wilson was pressured on nearly 40% of dropbacks last season – third highest in the NFL. He still somehow managed to keep his passer rating at an elite level, whilst also leading the most game-winning drives in the league with five.
The Seahawks need to find a way to maximize the team around Wilson while they can, because he is a Super Bowl calibre QB on a team that might just be wasting his prime.
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
2019: 281 of 378 (74.3%) for 2,979 yards (7.9 yards per attempt), 27 TDs & four INTs; 74.2 QBR
Despite battling with a debilitating thumb injury for most of 2019, Drew Brees continued to prove time and again that he belongs in the upper echelon of the NFL’s QBs.
The 40-year-old Saint remains unquestionably the most accurate passer in football. He led the league in adjusted completion percentage comfortably, whilst also putting up incredible stats in stuff like passes under pressure (83.1%), on-target percentage (84.1%) and success rate.
Brees isn’t getting any younger, and his already-below-average movement when the pocket breaks down is only going to get worse, but you’d be a brave pundit to argue that he doesn’t still belong in the league’s top five.
5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2019: 353 of 569 (62%) for 4,002 yards (7.0 yards per attempt), 26 TDs & four INTs; 53.5 QBR; 46 carries for 189 yards & one TD
Rodgers is past his prime, but he’s still one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks when focussed, healthy and connected with his coaching staff.
The 36-year-old’s 53.5 QBR was the lowest of his career, while his 7 yards per attempt was the second-lowest. However, he can still make throws that everyone – maybe except Mahomes – can’t, rarely turns the ball over and remains as clutch as ever (fourth in PFF’s big-time throw metric).
A full year in Matt LaFleur’s new system, as well as some new offensive weapons won’t hurt, and it’s worth noting that the Packers still won 13 games last season despite Rodgers’ struggles.
6. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
2019: 333 of 495 (67.3%) for 3,852 yards (7.8 yards per attempt), 26 TDs & 12 INTs; 69.5 QBR; 82 carries for 413 yards & seven TDs
Had the Texans found a way to obtain a competent offensive line, Watson would potentially be right near the top of this list. Instead, he spent most of 2019 running for his life and STILL comes in as the sixth-best QB in the league.
Watson tied with Wilson for most game-winning drives in the league, and when given time to operate in the pocket has shown the arm-strength to suggest he can be one of the league’s premier passers.
However, that Houston O-line is problematic, with Watson forced to spend a lot of time improvising. Consequently, his ball-security wasn’t great; 12 INTs and 10 fumbles is a worrying single-season stat line. The pressure is on Bill O’Brien to find a way to maximize Watson’s talents expediently.
7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
2019: 408 of 616 (66.2%) for 4,466 yards (7.3 yards per attempt), 26 TDs & 14 INTs; 58.4 QBR
Ryan has been one of the NFL’s most underrated players for quite some time now, and continues to be given short thrift by NFL fans and players alike.
The fact is, 2019 was an incredibly frustrating one for the Falcons, with a 7-9 record well below what they would have hoped for. Ryan, though, continued his high level of production despite a horrendous offensive line, which allowed him to be pressured on an astonishing 269 dropbacks, 26 more than any other QB in the league.
Consistency remains Ryan’s calling card. Since 2010, he’s never posted a passer rating lower than 89.0, with that season also the last time he threw for less than 4,000 yards. We expect him to bounce back in 2020.
8. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
2019: 201 of 286 (70.3%) for 2,742 yards (9.6 yards per attempt), 22 TDs & six INTs; 65.3 QBR; 43 carries for 185 yards & four TDs
There was no more surprising storyline in 2019 than the resurgence of Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. Behind Derrick Henry’s dominance in the run game, Tannehill’s performance as starter after taking over from Marcus Mariota was outstanding, with the 31-year-old veteran finishing top of the NFL in yards per attempt and third in on-target percentage.
Tannehill was also magnificent when pressured, putting up the second-highest passer rating in the league when put under pressure.
Based on pure 2019 statistics, Tannehill should be higher on this list. However, we’re yet to see him prove he can do it for more than 13 games. Until then, he’ll remain on the periphery of the elite.
9. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
2019: 388 of 596 (65.1%) for 4,902 yards (8.2 yards per attempt), 30 TDs & 11 INTs; 71.2 QBR; 52 carries for 277 yards & three TDs
Buoyed by the innovation of Kellen Moore as offensive play-caller, Prescott put up the best season of his young career in 2019.
It was Prescott’s control and aggression with the deep ball that was most impressive, with the out-of-contract star putting up a fantastic 52.6 completion percentage on passes of 20-plus yards. He’s also brilliant on the ground too, finishing third in yards per rush attempt.
Prescott struggled with injury to finish the season, which hampered him, and there are continued rumblings about dissatisfaction with how contract negotiations are playing out in Dallas, but we fully expect him to rocket up this list in years to come.
10. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
2019: 388 of 607 (63.9%) for 4,039 yards (6.7 yards per attempt), 27 TDs & 7 INTs; 62.9 QBR; 62 carries for 243 yards & one TD
This might be a slightly surprising inclusion given the talent left on the bench, but Wentz showed enough in 2019 to suggest he’s shaken off his injury woes and is set to return to the NFL’s elite QB bracket.
The Eagles made the playoffs largely thanks to incompetence in Dallas, but it’s fair to say that appearance in the postseason papered over a lot of cracks. Philly suffered through a host of injuries on offense and really didn’t deserve to progress, but it’s testament to their quarterback that they did.
Wentz’s arm strength remains elite, however his accuracy wasn’t fantastic last season, even when taking in to account a host of dropped balls. It’s worth noting too that he lead the league in passing touchdowns under pressure, with 10.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
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Image by: Jeffrey Beall