If heading into the 2020 NFL season you don't rank Patrick Mahomes as the best quarterback in the NFL, I don't know what to tell you other than “You're doing it wrong.” After only two seasons starting for the Kansas City Chiefs, Mahomes has quite a long list of achievements including a 50-touchdown season, an MVP award, and a Super Bowl win.
As we marvel at the contract extension Mahomes struck with the Chiefs, I sit here and wonder two things. When will the Dallas Cowboys sign Dak Prescott to a long term deal? And how many quarterbacks stand between Prescott and QB1, Mahomes?
Mahomes' 10-year deal is impressive. The fact that he will make more money than any other athlete in sports history speaks for itself. And it's not difficult to imagine it will somehow impact the Cowboys' negotiations with their own signal-caller, who they must extend before the July 15th deadline or else he'll play under the franchise tag.
But if Patrick Mahomes is the clear-cut best quarterback in the league today, where does Dak Prescott rank?
You can look at this question from so many angles. It's funny how it works, isn't it?. If someone asks you who would you rather have for a single drive, your answer will be different than if you were asked who would you rather play in a single game, or a single season, or for an entire career. Today, let's stick with reality and pose the question as follows…
Asides from Patrick Mahomes, who would you rather sign for the next 4-5 years before Dak Prescott?
Recently, a similar question was tweeted by Cowboys Staff Writer David Helman. Only he added an interesting twist to it. He asked what quarterbacks would you sign for 4-5 years “no questions asked” ahead of Dak?
By adding “no questions asked,” I believe you get a pretty short list. Patrick Mahomes is an instant lock, and following it up would be Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson. He's one of the few elite QB talents in the league that's been able to carry a conservative offense and a not-so-talented roster to winning seasons year in and year out.
That's it, that's the “no questions asked” list.
Before you mention how Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T. and has proven he can win a Super Bowl every other year or how Drew Brees is another of the game's greatest ever, remember we're discussing a 4-5 year extension. In other words, let's keep the guys who are close to retirement out of it.
After Mahomes and Wilson, there is a handful of guys you could make an argument for. Two stand out the most.
Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans has solidified himself as one of the NFL's most promising young quarterbacks. Despite having a poor offensive line, Watson has managed to take the Texans to the playoffs in the last two years. Deshaun's play earned him the third-best PFF grade for quarterbacks in the first three years of his career. Don't expect him to disappear just because DeAndre Hopkins was traded.
Lamar Jackson is another player worth mentioning, especially after a unique 2019 season in which he made the Ravens legit contenders in the AFC by throwing and running the football. For many, concerns on whether he can win ballgames by only throwing the football will remain, but he's one of the league's most talented players right now. Also, running the football often doesn't mean he can't throw. There's a reason why he averaged 7.8 yards per attempt. The guy is special, even if you choose to overthink it after his first playoff loss.
There might be other quarterbacks you could get into the conversation, like the Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz, but the truth is he seems to be a step behind the other quarterbacks we've discussed so far. Guys like Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins are not close to the end of their careers, but they're not that young to be included in the conversation. They're basically the same age as Russell Wilson, but Russ is on another level.
Under the terms of the question “Asides from Patrick Mahomes, who would you rather sign for the next 4-5 years before Dak Prescott?”, here's how I'd rank them:
The ranking doesn't change that much for me by adjusting the terms of the question, either. Although I'd understand someone adding Tom Brady's clutch factor into the mix if the “for the next 4-5 years” bit was removed. Even Brees.
However, the numbers prove Dak Prescott is surely a Top 10 QB in the NFL and is in the Top 5 conversation, too. Prescott has shown what he can do and despite Dallas missing the playoffs last season, you can't just ignore the improvements he showed in 2019. He finished as one of the league's best in just about every category. From traditional stats like total yards and yards per attempt to advanced stats like DVOA.
Not to mention he hasn't missed a single game due to injury and has proven that he can be a leader in the locker room. Prescott also has the “it” factor that has been displayed frequently as he improvises big plays. Last season, no QB had more touchdowns in passes longer than 40 yards other than Mahomes and Prescott. Whether you want to judge him by wins (you shouldn't, really) or stats, Dak makes a case.
At the end of the day, though, his exact place in the rankings doesn't matter as much as the Cowboys getting a deal done before July 15th. Hopefully, they work something out and Cowboys Nation can get anything resembling the peace of mind Kansas City fans should be feeling right now.