All 32 teams have announced their Week 1 starter at quarterback. With a tumultuous off-season, many teams hinge their playoff hopes on their quarterback. With 32 starting quarterbacks, it is only natural to make a quarterback power rankings to track players throughout the season. Some will rise. Some will fall. Who will be this year’s Lamar Jackson? Who will disappoint?
Here is the first edition of the quarterback power rankings.
Not Included: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
It would be unfair to compare Burrow to 31 players that have taken NFL snaps. Burrow’s first NFL snap will be in a regular-season game rather than the usual set of preseason games. Burrow is at a disadvantage compared to decades of past rookie quarterbacks, but he should jump into the top 20 by the end of the season.
No. 31: Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
Had Nick Foles been named the starter, the Bears likely would have escaped the bottom spot. Trubisky has his moments of being decent, but he has one of the lowest floors of any quarterback in the NFL. He actively makes the Bears a worse football team.
No. 30: Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers
2015 Taylor was a good quarterback, and if 2020 Taylor can resemble 2015 Taylor, the Chargers will be good. However, the last starting role that Taylor had went poorly, averaging 5.0 yards per attempt while completing only 49 percent of his throws. Taylor will not lose games for the Chargers, but he limits their upside.
No. 29: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
On any given week, Fitzpatrick could be the worst quarterback in the NFL or a top-10 option. Heading into 2020, Fitzpatrick will likely be more conservative than he has been in the past. If he can match his 2019 touchdown and interception rates, Miami should be competitive most weeks.
No. 28: Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team
The raw numbers (1:1 touchdowns-to-interceptions, 76.1 passer rating) look bad for Haskins, but he took massive strides when he became the starter. In his starts, Haskins had a passer rating of 85.5, nothing special, but it put him in “starting quarterback” range. Haskins should improve this season.
No. 27: Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts
Rivers made the Chargers worse in some weeks, tossing interception after interception. His 88.5 passer rating was not atrocious, but his 3.4 interception rate was. His rate stats across the board were often close to the worst of his career. He can move up, but he will start low.
No. 26: Daniel Jones, New York Giants
The touchdown-to-interception ratio was not awful for Jones, but he managed to fumble 18 times in 13 games. Fumbles can be resolved (Lamar Jackson trimmed his down from nearly two per game to one every other game), but it has yet to be seen for Jones. Jones has plenty of room to grow as a pressure sensor.
No. 25: Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
Denver has loaded up on weapons for Lock. Will he capitalize? In theory, Lock could skyrocket if he has a rapport with the likes of Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, and Jerry Jeudy, but Lock will have a lot of pressure resting on his shoulders as the Broncos look to get back to the playoffs.
No. 24: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Mayfield was a serious let-down in 2019. His rate stats plummeted. He will have the benefit of talented offensive players around him, but Mayfield must produce in 2020. He could end up as a top 10 quarterback in 2020, or he could get benched for Case Keenum.
No. 23: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Allen improved in every rate metric, squeezing out a 17.4-point improvement in passer rating. He is still a below-average quarterback, but his ceiling is limitless, and his rushing provides a baseline production. Allen will have his bright spots in 2020, and he should be a steady riser.
No. 22: Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Minshew was the best rookie quarterback as a pure passer in 2019. He had a passer rating over 91, and he had a strong ratio of 3.5 touchdowns per interception. He has a higher floor than the rest of the 2019 draft class, but the best version of Minshew pales in comparison to his contemporaries.
No. 21: Sam Darnold, New York Jets
Darnold was moderately better in 2020. He increased his touchdown rate, lowered his interception rate, and made some excellent throws. Down the stretch in 2018 and 2019, Darnold looked much better than he did earlier in either season. The Jets are slowly improving the offense around Darnold, but he is the engine of the unit.
No. 20: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger was flat out abysmal in 2019. However, he only played in two games, both against future playoff teams. The real Roethlisberger is likely somewhere in between his 2018 and 2019 performances, but he is coming off of a major shoulder injury. Roethlisberger is an improvement over the Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges experiment of 2019.
No. 19: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo has the benefit of playing with the NFL’s best tight end. He also has the benefit of Kyle Shanahan calling the plays in San Francisco. Garoppolo has a lower ceiling than the other quarterbacks around him, but he has a track record of winning games. However, if he had made one more accurate throw in the Super Bowl, he is likely much higher.
No. 18: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
The media overrated Murray’s rookie season in terms of production, but Murray has undeniable talent. He has the highest potential of any player outside the top 10 to become elite in these quarterback power rankings. Murray has the arm talent and pure athleticism to eventually be great, but he is not there quite yet.
No. 17: Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers
Bridgewater had a three-game stretch that he was a terrific quarterback in 2019. From Week 4 to Week 6, Bridgewater was operating at a high level both statistically and visually. In his first three weeks, the stats looked good, but the eye test screamed game manager. Carolina hopes the Week 4 through Week 6 of 2019 version of Bridgewater shows up this season.
No. 16: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Goff had stellar seasons in 2017 and 2018, but he came back to earth in 2019. The offensive line fell apart, but Goff was simply not as successful even when kept clean. With an average offensive line, Goff will approach the top 10 quarterbacks, but he likely is not talented enough to get into the top 10 on his merits.
No. 15: Cam Newton, New England Patriots
Newton is an enticing option for the Patriots this season. He has shown he can be successful in a similar offense (starting 6-2 in 2018), but the Patriots are not getting MVP Newton from 2015. Newton will likely do just enough to keep the Patriots in playoff contention.
No. 14: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Carr had a career-high 100.8 passer rating in 2019, but his season goes under the radar. He completed 70 percent of his throws, and he had solid touchdown, interception, and yards per attempt rates. With Henry Ruggs in town, Carr needs to shed the “Checkdown Charlie” label and let it rip.
No. 13: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brady had his lowest passer rating since 2013 last season, the lowest touchdown rate of his career, and lowest yards per attempt since 2002. Part of the dropoff stems from a subpar supporting cast in New England, but Brady is clearly not as good as he once was. He will have some great weeks with the Buccaneers, but the ceiling is not what it was even in 2017.
No. 12: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Tannehill was so good in 2019 that the season is likely an anomaly. His 117.5 passer rating was the fourth-best among qualifying starters. There will be some regression in 2020, but he should still be a good quarterback. The gap between his Miami and Tennessee passer ratings is 30 points. Even if he splits the difference in 2020, Tennessee should make the playoffs.
No. 11: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan is riding a terrific stretch of even-year successes followed by odd-year duds. 2020 Ryan should be closer to 2016 or 2018 Ryan, and he has the supporting cast to be a Pro Bowl-level quarterback this season. He could flirt with 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.
No. 10: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Had Stafford played a full season in 2019, his numbers would have been eye-popping. He matched his lowest interception rate (with at least 100 attempts) with a career-high in touchdown rate. His passer rating of 106.0 is a top-40 season of all-time. Stafford was fantastic in a limited sample size.
No. 9: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Cousins made his second Pro Bowl, posting a 107.4 passer rating (the 33rd-best ever). He had a career-high in touchdown rate, yards per attempt, and passer rating (over a full season), while only throwing six picks. He even won a playoff game. Cousins seemed to have turned a corner in 2019.
No. 8: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
He was not quite as special as he was as a rookie, but Prescott posted excellent raw numbers. His 4,902 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns were second and fourth respectively. Prescott receives too much hate because he is the quarterback of “America’s Team,” but he is a legitimate star at quarterback.
No. 7: Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Wentz took a step back from strong 2017 and 2018 seasons, but he had comically inept receivers for most of the season. With an average set of pass-catchers around him, Wentz likely would have had 30 touchdowns and a passer rating closer to 100 than 90. With Philadelphia loading up on speed in the draft, Wentz could have an MVP-caliber season again.
No. 6: Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
After a passer rating of 103 in 2017 and 2018, Watson scaled back slightly as he threw more picks and incompletions while gaining fewer yards per pass. He adds steady rushing value, keeping him among the top six, but he should be even better in 2020. While losing DeAndre Hopkins will hurt, Watson has a much deeper set of wide receivers in 2020.
No. 5: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers is good enough at quarterbacking that his version of a down year was still worthy of a Pro Bowl nod and a top-five placement in the quarterback power rankings. His days of 7.0 touchdown rates are likely gone, but he will be making impactful throws weekly for a strong Packers team.
No. 4: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Brees had his fifth-straight season with at least a 101 passer rating (his ninth in total). He eroded down the stretch, struggling in the playoffs, but Brees was elite for most of the season. His 7.1 touchdown rate was the highest of his career, and he has just nine interceptions in his last 26 starts.
No. 3: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Jackson had one of the most impressive leaps from his rookie to sophomore seasons in NFL history. He captured the MVP, led the NFL in passing touchdowns, and posted 1,200 rushing yards. He is not refined as a passer yet, but his efficiency when running the football matches most quarterbacks when they throw.
No. 2: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson had his fifth season with a passer rating above 100. He posted a career-low interception rate while finding the end zone on 6.0 percent of attempts. He adds some value as a scrambler, but his true skill is being as elite as he is without the benefit of even a good offensive line.
No. 1: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
After 50 touchdowns and 5,097 yards in 2018, Mahomes came back down to earth by winning the Super Bowl off the heels of a legendary playoff run. Mahomes has a career 6.9 percent touchdown rate, and his interception rate falls every week. He is on a path to become the greatest player in NFL history.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition of the quarterback power rankings.
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