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Best to Worst: 2020 NFL Quarterback Rankings

As the league continues to evolve, passing offenses are becoming more and more efficient. And believe it or not, we are witnessing a great era for the toughest job in sports: NFL Quarterback. Headed into the 2020 NFL season, every team has either a project or a decent starter at the position.

Quarterback rankings are controversial because after all, quarterback evaluation is difficult. Since I know it’s impossible to put up a ranking everyone will agree with, here are a few initial notes to let you know what my process was when stacking the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

  • Analytics metrics like EPA, DVOA, CPOE, among others played a huge factor in putting this together. CPOE was retrieved from Next Gen Stats, DVOA from Football Outsiders, and EPA/play from Ben Baldwin.
  • Rookie quarterbacks are always promising, but you’ll find they didn’t rank high in this article. That’s because overall, rookies are more unpredictable than veteran quarterbacks.
  • Some teams will deal with a quarterback controversy. For the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots, I used the betting favorites to start at QB on week 1: Nick Foles and Cam Newton. On the other hand, for the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers, I used their first-round picks: Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert.
  • The rankings are for the 2020 season. I made a conscious effort to avoid any biases to big-name quarterbacks. For example, even though I believe Tom Brady is the greatest of all time, you won’t see him ranked in the Top 10 because that’s not where he’s at in 2020.

Last but not least, an important note about the tiers:

Throughout the rankings, you’ll find I used seven tiers. This was obviously meant to divide the quarterbacks into groups of similar quality, and I should note that within each tier, I believe you could switch the rankings up and it’d be fair. The league is so stacked at quarterback, that I don’t believe there’s a lot of difference between the 7th best quarterback and the 12th best. That’s why I added tiers.

So, sit back and enjoy as we rank the quarterbacks of the NFL from #1 to #32. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football.

Tier 1

1. Patrick Mahomes, KC Chiefs

Mahomes became the highest-paid athlete in sports history for good reason. Not only is he the proud owner of a 50-touchdown season, an MVP award, a Super Bowl ring, and Super Bowl MVP award, but the stats back it up. He’s a beast throwing the ball down the field, he can extend plays to make some jaw-dropping throws, and he can do just about anything else.

While many thought he “slowed down” in 2019, he really didn’t. Sure, he missed a couple of games injured, but he remained the NFL’s top quarterback as he led his team to come back from 10+ points deficits in the postseason, including an unbelievable fourth quarter in the Super Bowl.

2. Russell Wilson, SEA Seahawks

Despite Pete Carroll refusing to put his offense in the hands of his quarterback and instead choosing to be a run-first team, Russell Wilson’s talent leaves him as one of the few elite quarterbacks in the league.

Wilson was PFF’s highest-graded quarterback in 2019 as he ranked 4th in Next Gen Stats’ CPOE (Completion percentage over expectations). Wilson has shined despite a lack of talent around him, but most importantly, despite bad play-calling.

3. Drew Brees, NO Saints

Brees is already 41-years-old, which has earned him plenty of detractors before the 2020 season. However, in 2019, he continued playing elite football. He ranked 1st in Football Outsiders’ DVOA (which measures efficiency compared to a league-average), 3rd in QBR and PFF grade, and 2nd in CPOE.

Brees is still outperforming almost every quarterback in the NFL and did so in 2019 despite a thumb injury that caused him to miss five games. I understand the fans’ questions about his age, but so far, his play doesn’t back up the detractors’ arguments.

Tier 2

4. Dak Prescott, DAL Cowboys

Prescott’s first year without Scott Linehan as his offensive coordinator came with a lot of improvement. Dak broke out as one of the most efficient downfield passers in the league as he ranked sixth in CPOE and led the league in 40+ yard pass completions with 16 and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. Prescott can do damage under pressure and has shown strong leadership as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback since taking over as a rookie in 2016.

Over his first three years in the league, one of Prescott’s biggest weaknesses was his sack rate. That drastically improved with Kellen Moore as his offensive coordinator and the heavier use of play-action. His sack rates in each year were in chronological order: 5.2%, 6.1%, 9.6% before dropping to 3.7% in 2019.

5. Lamar Jackson, BAL Ravens

Jackson is arguably the most entertaining player to watch in the NFL. His ability to run the ball successfully at this level is special, rushing for 1,206 yards by averaging 6.9 yards per attempt. His speed and elusiveness are truly remarkable.

There’s one caveat to his running game, though: it leads to fans underrating his passing skills. In 2019, Lamar averaged 7.8 yards per attempt up from 7.1 in 2018. Jackson can do what no other quarterback is able to in the NFL and his uniqueness makes him a top 5 QB in the league.

6. Deshaun Watson, HOU Texans

After three seasons, Watson has been sacked in 9.4% of his dropbacks. Although many have pinned a poor offensive line as the reason, he’s part of the problem as well. Per ESPN’s pass block win rate, the Texans OL was a top 10 unit last season. By now, you’ve probably heard or read about QBs being the main responsible players for sacks allowed, and the Texans QB is no exception.

But that’s for good reason, Watson is a great quarterback when he gets the chance to extend the play. His arm is special and his playmaking skills make him one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He can hurt you with his arm and with his legs, and he’s a natural leader.

Tier 3

7. Kirk Cousins, MIN Vikings

Not a popular choice, but Cousins has been one of the best passers in the NFL for a while now. He ranked 3rd in CPOE and is consistently in advanced metrics’ top 10s. The Vikings need to throw the ball more after being the 31st team in pass attempts last season.

8. Matthew Stafford, DET Lions

Stafford was killing it last season before suffering a back injury in week 9. He was becoming one of the best in the league under a new offensive coordinator, ranking as the 4th best QB in DVOA. Per Sharp Football Analysis, he passed for an 8.3 average completed air yards (1st) while the league average was at 5.9.

9. Aaron Rodgers, GB Packers

Rodgers might not be elite anymore (he hasn’t ranked top 10 in EPA/play since 2015) but he’s still a top 10 QB for me. Rodgers had a few bad games last season, but his talent is still on display every week with eye-catching plays and big throws in big games.

No Title

Most big-time throws 20+ yards downfield last season:1. Russell Wilson – 402. Deshaun Watson – 333. Aaron Rodgers – 314. Patrick Mahomes – 28 pic.twitter.com/aqpboNunYN

10. Matt Ryan, ATL Falcons

Ryan is a tough quarterback to rank. He’s regressed over the last few seasons, but he’s still a Top 10 QB in the NFL, especially when throwing from a clean pocket.

11. Carson Wentz, PHI Eagles

Wentz’s situation hasn’t been favorable. Before, it was his injuries, but in 2019 it was his receivers. The stats don’t tell the whole truth for a passer who’s been forced to have two tight ends and a running back as his top receiving weapons.

12. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF 49ers

It’s time to bury the Super Bowl narrative. Garoppolo can throw the ball (and he can do it downfield, too). It’s funny how we forget how dominant he was on the first three-quarters of the Super Bowl, but recency bias is a real thing.

13. Tom Brady, TB Buccaneers

Brady might not be a downfield passer anymore, but he thrives in short passes and smart decisions. 2020 is interesting not only because he’s on a different team, but because he hadn’t played like he did last season in a while. Can he bounce back from injury? How much can he do with one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL?

Tier 4

14. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT Steelers

Perhaps the biggest question mark of the season. Does Big Ben still have it? 2018 was a huge year for Ben as he led the league in pass attempts, passing yards, and first downs.

15. Cam Newton, NE Patriots

We haven’t seen him in a while, but Newton will still force defenses to account for his running game. Prior to injury in 2018, Newton was having his best year since his 2015 MVP season.

16. Jared Goff, L.A. Rams

How much is Goff, how much is Sean McVay? That seems to be the question after witnessing two completely different versions of Jared Goff in the last couple of years. Goff had a negative CPOE of -3.6%. Immediately trailing him were Josh Allen, Jacoby Brissett, and Dwayne Haskins, to give you an idea.

17. Ryan Tannehill, TEN Titans

The king of efficiency, Tannehill led the league in CPOE while also being one of the leaders in EPA/play. It might’ve been an outlier season, but he deserves credit for having a pretty good year.

18. Phillip Rivers, IND Colts

Rivers might not be the same as before, but he can still be efficient in the NFL. His receivers will not be better in Indianapolis, but his OL will.

Tier 5

19. Baker Mayfield, CLE Browns

How much was Mayfield affected by a terrible OL and a terrible head coach and how much can he bounce back?

20. Derek Carr, LV Raiders

Carr’s days in Las Vegas seem to be numbered. In 2019, he ranked #30 in average depth of target, per Sharp Football Analysis.

21. Kyler Murray, ARI Cardinals

Murray was flashy as a rookie, but it’s still too early to know how good he really is. His stats don’t back up his performance as much as the tape does.

22. Joe Burrow, CIN Bengals

Most promising rookie in a while, the Bengals sure got an accurate passer.

23. Drew Lock, DEN Broncos

Lock didn’t play as much, but he showed promising signs for Broncos fans.

Tier 6

24. Nick Foles, CHI Bears

Foles is not the QB you remember from Super Bowl LII, but he’s likely to beat out Trubisky thanks to experience.

25. Sam Darnold, NY Jets

Darnold can pull off a few flashy plays here and there, but he hasn’t been consistent at all.

26. Josh Allen, BUF Bills

Although the Bills played in the playoffs, Allen hasn’t been an accurate passer. While he’s got the arm strength, he doesn’t have the accuracy.

27. Tua Tagovailoa, MIA Dolphins

If he’s healthy, Tagovailoa should earn the starting gig pretty quickly.

28. Teddy Bridgewater, CAR Panthers

Bridgewater did a decent job in Brees’ absence last season and he finally gets a chance to have his own team.

Tier 7

29. Daniel Jones, NY Giants

Jones got off to a hot start, but his turnovers are concerning.

30. Gardner Minshew, JAX Jaguars

Minshew Mania was fun, but the real Gardner Minshew stood up as he became the second-worst QB listed in Next Gen Stats’ CPOE rankings.

31. Dwayne Haskins, WAS Football Team

Will Haskins bounce back from a terrible situation? There seems to be hope, as he improved after a Week 10 bye.

32. Justin Herbert, L.A. Chargers

Herbert’s intangibles were a legitimate concern for many in the NFL Draft process. But he’s got the size to thrive in the league.

Tell me what you think about “Best to Worst: 2020 NFL Quarterback Rankings” in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

What do you think?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Written by Mauricio Rodriguez

I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @MauNFL.

Comments

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  1. Dak is just the opposite of Kyler Murray – “ His stats don’t back up his performance as much as the tape does.”. Dak bloated his numbers with three cream puff wins to start the season and had the 15th best numbers over his last 13 games, none of which included wins over the teams they really needed to beat-Saints, Pats, Bears, Eagles to make the playoffs- or games they never should have lost-Jets, Bills, that Washington football team…

    • I believe the tape does back up Dak’s performance too, though. Wins are a QB stat and there are many arguments that prove that but perhaps none is better than Dak’s own W-L record in 2016. He is way better now than he was as a rookie yet he won fewer games. I think with a better coaching staff, the Cowboys walk away with more wins in 2019. Thanks for reading, Grant!

  2. Ironic how all the various experts and the bloggers who do these articles hold Dak in high regard but the haters think he is trash. Wonder which is more credible? Cowboys lost 6 games last yr by 7 points or less, including to the Eagles who won their division, the Saints who won the conference championship and the Patriots who won the super bowl. He was injured against Eagles, Patriots game was in atrocious weather and the GOAT Brady had an even worse game then Dak (look it up). Had the cowboys won one more game their in playoffs. Many factors influence wins/losses. A key play made or a great game by (someone other than Dak) competent coaching. So none of the other 52 players on the roster are accountable for any of those losses? Just Dak right. Well that’s what haters do they hate right? Never anything positive definition of a troll.

  3. Appreciate the work u obviously put into this article Mauricio. Whether or not some disagree with ur ratings. Anyway it would be boring if everyone agreed wouldn’t it.

  4. Gary b, again with the EXCUSES! “ONE MORE GAME”, “INJURED”, “ATROCIOUS WEATHER, ETC. And who are these so called “EXPERTS” and “BLOGGERS”. Do they know more than anyone else. Yes, they have this platform, but they are NOT the be all and end all.

    Back to the article. Got to love all these “analytics” EPA, DVOA, CPOE, and ABC, XYZ. One can analyze up the wazoo. It’s getting stupid.

    My “analytics” are based more on WINS AND LOSES. In particular POST SEASON WINS. The truly GREAT QBs do NOT necessarily have the best STATS. Brady, Montana, Staubach, Elway, Bradshaw, ETC.

    Brady, Number 13? Josh Allen, 26? No way, no how.

    • I understand if you value quarterbacks based on wins and losses, even if I don’t agree with it being a correct method for QB evaluation, but yeah, those “analytics” you mention… I don’t really know how you discredit those. At least not after reading what they mean and how they’re calculated. Thanks for reading!

  5. Nope not excuses just factors. Not sure why you can’t grasp (like most reasonable people would) that there are a million factors that determine win/losses for any team. Are there not ANY players (besides Dak) that bear ANY responsibility for ANY of the cowboys losses? (I’m sure you’ll ignore that question). Little unfair to compare Dak to four of the all time greats. Nobody ever said Dak was in their class. I have another question you’ll conveniently ignore. If not Dak who do u propose should be our QB moving forward? (This should be good). Lastly these experts (who u claim don’t know anymore then we do) are from Sports illustrated/ Fox sports/ Yahoo sports/Bleacher report ( I couid go on) and yes they are experts who are absolutely much more knowledgeable then u and me. Plus I have respect for the expertise of the bloggers that provide these articles for us. No disrespect but SOME of the readers who post in here are ill informed and not very knowledgeable and beyond “Dak sucks” posts don’t have much more to offer. I’ll wait for answers to the questions I’m sure you’ll ignore.

    • Gary, I am tough on Prescott because I DO NOT BELIEVE his PERFORMANCE on the field is commensurate with his lofty salary demands, and hence he is HURTING THE TEAM. REAL SIMPLE. BUT, in this particular post, Prescott was NOT even the main focus.

      What you call factors I call excuses, as MOST people would, especially under your context. Even in post game pressers, almost all losing QBs will NOT GIVE EXCUSES.

      If there were really a “million factors” as you state, there would be NO ACCOUNTABLITY whatsoever, which is kind of silly. NO player would get cut, no coach would get fired. BUT everyone knows the QB gets most of the credit for wins, so hence they should take most of the blame for losses. First “question” answered.

      I brought up the great QBs to make a point about stats and/or ANAL-YTICS NOT being the answer to success, as these greats most of the time DID NOT ALWAYS HAVE THE BEST “ANAL-YTICS” BUT WERE WINNERS. BTW, I did not compare Prescott to them, you brought that up.

      Second question is just to easy. Andy Dalton. I do not think there is a big drop off. Especially when you consider the fire power on this offense.

  6. I almost did not read this “yet another QB ranking”. However, this is the most objective attempt so far. Well done. I like the 7 tiers concept and acknowledged parity within the tiers. Focused on recent stats but have some respect to past performance in mid tiers.

  7. And we haven’t even touched on how poor coaching affects wins/losses. Garrett had to be good for a few losses himself.

    • You have to ignore some of these people, Apparently they think the QB goes out on the field and takes on a whole team by themselves!! Even though they know there are 53 players on each team, they still wanna put all the blame on the QB (specifically Dak) for their win/loss record!! That’s just ignorant, and that alone should be enough to ignore these ignorant people!! Those of us that do realize that this is a team sport know that the QB is not the only reason behind the win/loss record…. We realize that there is a defense and a special teams and there are coaches that have a lot to do with a TEAM’S win/loss record…. Not just a QB!! You can’t let these ignorant people get under your skin with their ignorant comments, it’s really okay to ignore them

  8. I try to ignore them I really do. Not even expecting
    (or wanting) everyone to agree with me, but at least do ur homework and have some knowledge based arguments. Don’t just hate for the sake of hating or stubbornly hold onto a position without acknowledging the validity of the other side at all. In the sports world there is no black or white just opinions. (Where are u Bill? )

  9. Vam the contract is a separate issue and I’ll admit my argument is based on the criteria of what a reasonable deal would have looked like, which makes all this a moot point I guess. But just for fun I’ll proceed. I’m on record Dak isn’t worth what he is demanding, but he is worth what they could’ve signed him for. I’m dumbfounded by ur response to “million reasons ” Look at all the bad teams and bet u couid come up with nearly a million reasons why they are bad. (U think it’s only because they have a bad QB?) Since a football team does consists of eleven moving parts dependent on all of them doing their job, how can the QB be the only one accountable? Makes no sense! And that doesn’t even take into account the role coaching plays into it. NFL history is littered with gifted QBs that never won simply cuz their team wasn’t good enuf. Ur right QBs get too much credit for both wins and losses, doesn’t make it right. U made my point for me QBs can have avg stats and win but can also have great stats and lose. What does that tell u? It tells you wins/losses often times go beyond the QB. And ur really gonna roll with Dalton is as good as Dak? I think we both know that’s laughable. Poll all the GMs/Coaches in the league on that one see how ridiculous that is. People in the know are aware Dak is light yrs ahead of Dalton. Don’t delude our fans with that fantasy. First off Dalton is past his prime and next yr he will be another yr past his prime (while Dak is entering his prime) People make it sound so easy we have all these weapons Joe Blow could be our QB. If we lose Dak after this yr get ready we’ll see how all ur theories hold up. Anyway always enjoy sparring with someone who SOMETIMES knows what their talking about.

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