32. A.J. McCarron – Buffalo Bills
2017 stats: 7-for-14 (50.0%), 66 passing yards, 0 touchdowns
McCarron’s lack of available game film, coupled with his fifth-round pedigree lands him dead last on this list. He certainly possesses some tools that make him an intriguing prospect moving forward, but he’s nothing more than a place holder for Josh Allen (who would also be last on this list if he were the starter). The Bills’ quarterback battle will dominate Buffalo headlines for much of the year, and all the team can hope for is that it gets settled sooner rather than later. McCarron’s the likely winner given his experience, but it remains to be seen how he’ll perform when given the keys to the offense.
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31. Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs
2017 stats: 22-for-35 (62.9%), 284 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception
Apparently, one regular season game was enough for the Chiefs to determine Mahomes was ready to be Kansas City’s starting quarterback. The Chiefs traded away Alex Smith this past offseason, clearing the way for the Texas Tech alum to inject some life in a stagnant Kansas City franchise. A gunslinger in college, Mahomes frequently showed off a ridiculously strong arm and enough mobility to make pass rushers miss. If Mahomes adjusts to the NFL as quickly as Deshaun Watson did, the trade by Kansas City will look brilliant. If he’s turnover-happy and inconsistent as a passer, the seat is going to get awfully hot for Andy Reid.
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30. Mitch Trubisky – Chicago Bears
2017 stats: 196-for-330 (59.4%), 2,193 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 41 carries, 248 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
The Jay Cutler era officially ended in 2016, and the Mike Glennon era didn’t last for much of 2017. Trubisky has fully taken the reins, leading Chicago to a 4-8 record in the 12 games he started in Year 1. Chicago’s ridiculously conservative run-first (and run always) offense has many wondering if Trubisky will ever develop into an above-average passer at the NFL level. It’s still way too early to draw any conclusions, as Bears fans are hoping new head coach Matt Nagy can have a similar effect that Sean McVay had on Jared Goff.
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29. Josh McCown – New York Jets
2017 stats: 267-for-397 (67.3%), 2,926 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
It’s safe to say Josh McCown and the Jets were one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season. Not only did many think the Jets would go 0-16, but McCown was expected to be nothing more than a body to help guide New York to the No. 1 pick in the 2018 Draft. Instead, the 38-year-old completed 67.3 percent of his passes and guided the Jets to a 5-8 record in the games he started. He doesn’t possess elite arm strength or accuracy, and obviously isn’t the longterm solution for New York, but he has proven to be more than capable of putting his team in a position to win. It’s only a matter of time until Sam Darnold takes over this spot, but McCown serves as a respectable place holder and a perfect role model for the young QB from USC.
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28. Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens
2017 stats: 352-for-549 (64.1%), 3,141 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Many might be surprised to see a former Super Bowl Champion rank so poorly on this list, but based on Flacco’s stats since winning Super Bowl XLVII, this ranking might actually be a little generous. Flacco’s arm strength isn’t what it once was, and he has struggled with his accuracy down the field in recent years. While Flacco did manage to play in all 16 games in 2016 and 2017 after having his 2015 season cut short due to a torn ACL and MCL, the man responsible for a $24.75 million cap hit in 2018 is not living up to his hefty contract. To make matters worse, at 33 years old, Flacco isn’t exactly at the age where we expect to see improvement.
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27. Eli Manning – New York Giants
2017 stats: 352-for-571 (61.6%), 3,468 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
2017 was a rough year for Eli and the New York Giants. Expected by many to be the most explosive offense in the league with the wide receiver trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, the first two combined to play a total of nine games. Without playmakers, Manning simply doesn’t have the ability to mask his team’s deficiencies. His questionable decision-making and inability to evade pass rushers leaves him as a below average quarterback in today’s league. The new regime taking over New York has showed its faith in Manning by opting for running back Saquon Barkley at the No. 2 overall spot in last year’s draft instead of a quarterback. It won’t take long for us to find out if that was a mistake.
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26. Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins
2016 stats: 261-for-389 (67.1%), 2,995 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Dolphin fans have to be happy not to see Jay Cutler’s name listed here. A freak knee injury during practice brought Cutler out of retirement to start 14 games for Miami in 2017, but the results weren’t overly exciting. With Tannehill expected to make a full return from his ACL tear, he should be penciled in as Miami’s starter for Week 1. While he’s not the most polished of passers, Tannehill is a solid stand-in under center. Possessing good athleticism for the position, Tannehill can extend plays and does a good job protecting the ball (the same can’t be said of Cutler). He doesn’t have the strongest or most accurate arm, but he is an above-average game manager capable of leading this Dolphins team to the postseason.
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25. Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars
2017 stats: 315-for-523 (60.2%), 3,687 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 57 carries, 322 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
What a year 2018 was for Bortles. After briefly losing the starting gig to Chad Henne earlier in the year, Bortles led his Jacksonville squad all the way to the AFC Championship Game, and within moments of a Super Bowl berth. With four seasons under his belt, we have learned Bortles isn’t going to be the gunslinger who throws 45+ times and leads his team to shootout victories. However, he is more than capable of making defenses pay when they stack the box, or using his underrated mobility to evade the pass rush. Backed by a ferocious defense and a strong rushing attack, Bortles is a serviceable NFL quarterback capable of helping his team win games.
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24. Sam Bradford – Arizona Cardinals
2017 stats: 32-for-43 (74.4%), 382 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
The Arizona Cardinals made their play for the future when they traded up in the 2018 NFL Draft to select UCLA’s Josh Rosen. While Rosen is uniquely equipped to start as a rookie, Cardinals management feels no need to rush his development. Entering next year, Arizona wanted a steady veteran option to command its offense while Rosen becomes accustomed to the NFL. They could have done far worse than Bradford. Although the former No. 1 overall pick can rarely stay healthy, he’s an efficient thrower that can spray the ball to every spot on the field. Having been a top pick as well, Bradford will serve as a great leader for Rosen, while also providing mistake-free football as the team’s starting signal caller.
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23. Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals
2017 stats: 297-for-496 (59.9%), 3,320 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
The jury is still out on where Dalton should be on this list. Even though he has been in the league for seven years, Dalton’s biggest criticism remains his 0-4 postseason record. None of Dalton’s measurables are overly exceptional. He possesses average athleticism, touch, and pocket awareness. Dalton has a tendency to hold the ball too long, and with A.J. Green, John Ross, Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert to throw to, his stats should certainly be more impressive. Plus, the past two seasons have yielded zero postseason appearances, and Dalton needs to be held at least partially responsible.
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22. Case Keenum – Denver Broncos
2017 stats: 325-for-481 (67.6%), 3,547 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
After toiling away with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch under center, Denver general manager John Elway decided it was enough and paid Keenum the big bucks during last year’s free agency period. Coming off an NFC Championship appearance with the Vikings, Keenum is currently enjoying the best sustained run of his career. The diminutive QB proved many detractors wrong after leading the Vikings to an 11-3 record in games that he started last year. He’s gotten better virtually every year of his career, and rarely makes mistakes. The Broncos offense will be far improved with Keenum under center.
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21. Tyrod Taylor – Cleveland Browns
2017 stats: 263-for-420 (62.6%), 2,799 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 84 carries, 427 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns
After surprisingly winning the Bills’ starting job in 2015, Taylor has spent the past three seasons proving he belongs in the NFL. Unable to get Buffalo over the postseason hump to end the franchise’s 17-year playoff drought in his first two seasons, the third time was the charm for Taylor and the Bills. As a dual-threat quarterback who has long been considered more dangerous as a runner than a passer, Taylor continues to prove he can make defenses pay with his arm. This year, he serves as a bit of a placeholder for No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. While Mayfield will eventually win the job, Taylor is the likely Week 1 starter.
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20. Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2017 stats: 282-for-442 (63.8%), 3,504 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 33 carries, 135 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
After a stellar rookie season in which he threw for over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns and a sophomore season with 28 touchdown passes, Winston’s third year was underwhelming. Winston battled through a shoulder injury all season, but only tossed 19 touchdowns in 13 games. He has the physical tools and arm strength to make every play, but his poor decision-making (both on and off the field) often puts his team in precarious situations. At only 24 years of age, Winston has the chance to one day be an elite quarterback in this league, but he’s nowhere near that tier right now.
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19. Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans
2017 stats: 281-for-453 (62.0%), 3,232 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 60 carries, 312 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns
In complete contrast to the aforementioned Winston, Mariota is a passer who prides himself on his ability to protect the football. Following a disappointing rookie season cut short due to an MCL sprain, Mariota made a concerted effort to take fewer hits in 2016. Through the first 15 weeks, the effort produced sensational results, but Mariota suffered an extremely unfortunate fractured right fibula in Week 16 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2017, Mariota was his usual efficient self in a conservative, run-first Titans offense. When Tennessee finally decides to unleash Mariota, he has a chance to be the best dual-threat signal caller in the league.
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18. Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams
2017 stats: 296-for-477 (62.1%), 3,804 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
What a difference a year and a new head coach makes. After a dismal rookie season in which everyone was ready to anoint Goff as the biggest bust since JaMarcus Russell, new head coach Sean McVay revamped the offense and has the Rams’ signal caller looking like an entirely new player. In fact, he looks like the player the Rams were expecting when they took him first overall in the 2016 draft. Goff doesn’t have the strongest arm in the league, but his pinpoint accuracy and underrated mobility offer Rams fans a reason to be optimistic moving forward.
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17. Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans
2017 stats: 126-for-204 (61.8%), 1,699 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 36 carries, 269 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
With Brock Osweiler jettisoned out of Houston and Tom Savage proving himself to be a stop-gap for two full quarters, the Texans are officially Deshaun Watson’s team. Drafted No. 12 overall in the 2017 Draft, there was never a doubt that Houston viewed him as the option of the future – it was just surprising to see Bill O’Brien pull the plug on Savage so soon. Upon taking over, all Watson did was toss 19 touchdowns and run for two more in a total of seven games. An unfortunate ACL injury forced him to miss the rest of the season, but suffice to say that Texans fans are very excited to have him back in 2018.
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16. Alex Smith – Washington Redskins
2017 stats: 341-for-505 (67.5%), 4,042 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 60 carries, 355 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Washington has finally figured out its longterm answer at quarterback, and it’s far from what anyone expected. After franchise tagging Kirk Cousins the past two seasons and looking poised to make him the highest paid quarterback in NFL history, Washington acquired Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs and immediately inked him to a four-year, $94 million deal instead. Smith isn’t the flashiest quarterback by any means, as he is an expert at protecting the ball, and never puts his defense in a difficult position. While he could never get over the hump in Kansas City, Washington is banking on Smith being dynamic enough to have this franchise competing for a Lombardi Trophy.
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15. Jimmy Garoppolo – San Francisco 49ers
2017 stats: 120-for-178 (67.4%), 1,560 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions
Few teams are entering the 2018 season more excited about the team’s future than the San Francisco 49ers. The biggest reason why? Jimmy G. It’s a small sample size, but in five starts with the 49ers, Garoppolo carried a 1-10 team to five straight victories to finish 2017 with a 6-10 record. Showing great poise in the pocket, excellent arm strength, a high football IQ, and the clutch gene teams so desperately covet, Garoppolo looks to be the real deal. However, it remains to be seen how Garoppolo performs in 2018 after defensive coordinators have an entire offseason to game-plan against him. Regardless, for the time being, San Francisco looks to have fleeced New England in only giving up a 2018 second-round pick in this trade.
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14. Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys
2017 stats: 308-for-490 (62.9%), 3,324 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 57 carries, 357 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns
It’s safe to say no one expected Prescott to emerge from the 2016 season as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. But after a ridiculously efficient 23-touchdown, four-interception campaign his rookie year, Prescott came back to earth a bit in his second season. His numbers across the board dropped, and Dallas came up just short of reaching the postseason. He isn’t the most accurate passer, and clearly benefits from playing behind one of the best offensive lines in football. However, his uncanny pocket presence, ability to extend plays with his legs, and strong arm make him an above-average quarterback in this league.
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13. Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings
2017 stats: 347-for-540 (64.3%), 4,093 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 49 carries, 179 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns
The Vikings backed up the Brinks truck for their new quarterback, inking Cousins to a mega three-year, $84 million deal in March of 2018. That price tag makes it clear Minnesota expects Cousins to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He certainly flashed that sort of potential during his tenure in Washington. Cousins is fresh off three consecutive 4,000+ passing yard seasons. Fortunately for the Vikings, the rest of the team is talented enough that they just need Cousins to be serviceable to compete for a Super Bowl this coming season.
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12. Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
2017 stats: 291-for-492 (59.1%), 3,302 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 139 carries, 754 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns
After an incredible 2015 season in which Cam Newton won the MVP award, led Carolina to a 15-1 regular season, and came one victory short of the franchise’s first ever Lombardi Trophy, 2016 was a disaster. For Newton, 2017 was pretty much the average between those two extremes. He helped lead the Panthers to the postseason, but only accounted for 28 touchdowns (he had 45 in his MVP season) and also turned the ball over 19 times. Built like a linebacker, Newton still has the talent to be the best player on the field at any given time. However, he is no longer capable of taking the punishment he absorbed early in his career, meaning he must improve as a passer to remain among the upper-echelon of quarterbacks.
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11. Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders
2017 stats: 323-for-515 (62.7%), 3,496 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
The hype train was in full swing for Carr and the Raiders in 2016. Putting together an MVP-worthy season while helping guide the Raiders to the NFL Playoffs, all momentum was halted when he broke his fibula in Week 16, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. Returning in 2017, Carr struggled to find similar success. A 6-10 season resulted in Jon Gruden taking Jack Del Rio’s place. Expectations will be high for the second-highest paid quarterback in the league, and Gruden is well-known for being extremely hard on signal callers. Carr has the arm and the IQ to thrive, as 2018 will be a huge year for he and the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders.
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10. Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers
2017 stats: 360-for-575 (62.6%), 4,515 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
He may not have the best looking passes, but Rivers continues to get the job done for the Los Angeles Chargers. Always at or near the top of the passing yards list despite throwing to a bunch of receivers who aren’t exactly household names, Rivers has an uncanny ability to make the most out of nothing. Even though he offers zero mobility/athleticism, Rivers remains one of the premier pocket passers in the game.
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9. Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
2017 stats: N/A
After the horrific Scott Tolzien experiment lasted one whole week, the Colts went out and traded for Jacoby Brissett. The stop-gap until Luck’s return wasn’t exactly a franchise savior, but he was a huge improvement over the aforementioned Tolzien. While Brissett ensured himself a roster spot, there’s no doubt this remains Luck’s team. The former No. 1 overall pick’s mysterious shoulder injury is certainly troubling, but this ranking assumes he makes a full recovery. By all accounts, he should be ready for Week 1 of the upcoming season. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds with nimble feet, a strong arm capable of making every throw, and a high football IQ, Luck is one of the very best when on the field.
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8. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
2017 stats: 342-for-529 (64.7%), 4,095 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Ryan always had the talent to be elite, and put it all together in 2016 with his first career MVP award. Leading the extremely dynamic Falcons offense, Ryan posted career highs in yards (4,944), touchdowns (38), completion percentage (69.9) and QBR (83.1), while throwing a career-low seven interceptions. Unfortunately for Falcons fans, Ryan reverted back to his 2008-2015 form in 2017. It may simply take time for Ryan to grow more comfortable in new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s system, as Ryan possesses deceptive athleticism, a quick release, pinpoint accuracy and a stellar deep ball. Entering 2018, Ryan will aim to recapture his 2016 magic.
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7. Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
2017 stats: 371-for-565 (65.7%), 4,446 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
To the surprise of many, Stafford’s 2016 season – his first without future Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson – ended up being his most prolific. Then, after inking a deal in the 2017 offseason to make him the highest paid quarterback in football, he was even better. Posting a career-high 99.3 Passer Rating, Stafford routinely put his team in a position to win. Stafford’s ability to complete short and intermediate throws acts as Detroit’s pseudo-ground game. If the Lions can figure out a way to generate any semblance of a rushing attack to take pressure off Stafford in 2018, they will be a playoff squad.
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6. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
2017 stats: 360-for-561 (64.2%), 4,251 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 14 interceptions
One of four active quarterbacks who is a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ben Roethlisberger continues to perform at a high level. His propensity to hold the ball too long leads to him taking vicious shots, but it is also part of what makes him such a spectacular quarterback. After hinting at retirement before the 2017 season, Roethlisberger started the season slow. However, he rediscovered his groove down the stretch and ended the year as one of the league’s hottest passers. With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown by his side, Roethlisberger has a tremendous opportunity to add a third Super Bowl title to his trophy case.
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5. Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
2017 stats: 339-for-553 (61.3%), 3,983 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 95 carries, 586 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns
The Seattle Seahawks struck gold when they selected Wilson with the 75th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Many pointed to Wilson’s short stature as a potential roadblock to a successful NFL career, but after making the postseason in each of his first five years in the league – including one Lombardi Trophy – it’s fair to say Wilson has gotten the last laugh. His ability to avoid sacks is second to none, and his rocket arm is extremely underrated. In 2017, the lack of a rushing attack placed an insurmountable burden on Wilson, resulting in the Seahawks missing the postseason for the first time in his career. However, as long as Wilson is at the helm, the Seahawks will remain competitive.
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4. Carson Wentz – Philadelphia Eagles
2017 stats: 265-for-440 (60.2%), 3,296 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 64 carries, 299 rushing yards
Despite Nick Foles’ heroics in helping lead the Philadelphia Eagles to the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy, there’s no denying that this remains Wentz’s team. Wentz was the MVP frontrunner before suffering a torn ACL in Week 14, and looks to be the best young quarterback in the league. At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, he combines tremendous escapability with great arm strength and a high football IQ. While he is occasionally susceptible to trying to do too much, assuming he makes a full recovery from his ACL injury, Wentz is a lock to be a top-five QB for the next decade.
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3. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
2017 stats: 386-for-536 (72.0%), 4,334 passing yads, 23 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
Now 39 years old, it doesn’t seem as if there’s anything that can slow Brees down. The Saints quarterback hasn’t missed more than one game in a season since 2003, and has thrown at least 23 touchdown passes every year since then. Much like Philip Rivers, Brees is an expert at making the most of whatever receiving corps he has. In 2017, Brees posted the highest completion percentage (72.0 percent) for a single season in NFL history, and continues to solidify his case for his inevitable spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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2. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
2017 stats: 154-for-238 (64.7%), 1,675 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
The Packers can only go as far as their superstar quarterback can carry them, and in 2017, that wasn’t very far. A broken collarbone forced Rodgers to miss a key chunk of the season, resulting in the Packers missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. When on the field though, there’s no denying Rodgers’ greatness. With tremendous nimbleness in the pocket, incredible arm strength and unmatched accuracy, Rodgers is arguably the most physically gifted quarterback the sport has ever seen. Assuming he can stay on the field, the future Hall of Famer will have his Packers in the thick of the Super Bowl discussion in 2018.
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1. Tom Brady – New England Patriots
2017 stats: 385-for-581 (66.3%), 4,577 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
The comeback Brady orchestrated in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons cemented his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all-time. Sure, he and the Patriots came up short against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, but at 40 years old as the only five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback in NFL history, Brady remains the best among his peers, and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. His quick release, high football IQ, accuracy and unbelievable arm strength have helped build the greatest dynasty football has ever seen. Brady’s dominance keeps the Patriots firmly in the Super Bowl hunt every year, and 2018 will be no different.
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