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This is not intended to be a list ranking starting quarterbacks. While who a team’s starting quarterback is has a lot of impact, this list also takes into account injury history, experience of backups, and just the level of depth in each team’s quarterback room. Because of this you may see some rankings you didn’t expect to. Now, let’s get things started with the reigning Super Bowl champions.
This one is pretty obvious. Carson Wentz is an MVP candidate when he’s healthy and when he isn’t, Nick Foles is the league’s best backup and could probably start somewhere else if he wanted too. After all, he completed an improbable playoff run to win the Eagles their first Lombardi. Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan are also on the roster.
Aaron Rodgers is another perennial MVP candidate who’s coming off of injury, but he has DeShone Kizer and Brett Hundley behind him. Save for a good outing against the Steelers, Hundley did poorly last year when Rodgers was injured and Kizer threw more interceptions than touchdowns for the Browns, but Kizer still has a lot of potential. I think these two young guys can still develop and will serve as quality backups in the meantime.
Philip Rivers is a perennial Pro Bowler and a future Hall of Famer. He’s got former Jets starter Geno Smith behind him, along with Cardale Jones, who the Chargers have been bragging about for a while. If not in Jones, then the team at least has a quality, experienced backup in Smith.
If I’m being honest this is mostly because of Tom Brady. Everyone knows what he can do, even as he’s getting older. Brian Hoyer is his primary backup, and he has plenty of experience with the Patriots and their system, not to mention a wealth of playing time he got in his journeys through the league. The team drafted Danny Etling and he serves as their third string quarterback.
By the end of the 2018 season Drew Brees will have thrown for the most passing yards in NFL history. He’s led the league in passing yards seven times and has only missed three starts since the start of the 2004 season. Former Texan, Tom Savage, Taysom Hill, and rookie J.T. Barrett fill out the Saints quarterback room.
Ben Roethlisberger would basically have the same into as Rivers from a few slots ago, so let’s keep moving. His backup is Landry Jones who isn’t great, but he has plenty of experience because Big Ben has missed a bunch of games over the years. Rookie Mason Rudolph and second year pro Joshua Dobbs are long-term projects who could become the future of the franchise.
Matt Ryan was the MVP of the league just a year ago and his backup, Matt Schaub, is a former Pro Bowler with the Texans, although his current abilities are more than a little suspicious. The team has Garrett Grayson and rookie Kurt Benkert as their third and fourth options.
I’m not sure that there’s a quarterback outside of Rodgers who does more for his team than Russell Wilson. Wilson was an MVP candidate for most of 2017 and he led the league in passing touchdowns. In six seasons, he has never missed a start. Good thing too, cause his backups are Austin Davis and Alex McGough.
They recently acquired former Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins, who isn’t as talented as the starters we’ve talked about so far, but his backup is Trevor Siemian. Siemian washed out with the Broncos, but he’s still a young player who now has plenty of experience, good and bad, as a starter. Kyle Sloter and Peter Pujals will probably not see the field in 2018.
Derek Carr seems like the kind of quarterback who will lead a team a decade or more. He’s been to the last three Pro Bowls but is still looking to take the next step in his career. Behind him are a litany of misfit draft picks. Connor Cook and former Bills starter E.J. Manuel are among them. The team also recently parted ways with former Jet, Christian Hackenberg. Manuel or Cook are good for a game or two, maybe.
Jared Goff emerged as a Pro Bowler last season after a horrendous rookie season. It seems like he’ll be leading the team for a long time to come. Sean Mannion is his primary backup. Brandon Allen and undrafted rookie Luis Perez fill out the depth chart.
Don’t blame me for buying into the Deshaun Watson hype. He’s a dynamic player who just knows what to do to put his team in a situation to win. The only reason to be hesitant is because he’s coming off of a torn ACL. His backup is another former Browns starter, there have been a lot of them on this list, Brandon Weeden. Veteran Joe Webb, who has also played as a wide receiver, is on the roster. Finally, Stephen Morris is the last guy on the depth chart.
Matthew Stafford is good at putting up high passing numbers, but he hasn’t been able to get it done in the playoffs yet. Still, he’s an above-average NFL quarterback. His backups are former sixth round pick Jake Rudock and journeyman Matt Cassel. Cassel saw some playing time last year when Marcus Mariota was injured.
Blake Bortles proved last season yet again that he isn’t a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback, but that he’s also just good enough to keep his job. Still, because of the team’s great defense he might be able to win a Super Bowl with them. His backup is Cody Kessler who say some playing time with the Browns. He never won a game he started, but he’s still a talented kid. Rookie Tanner Lee was selected in the sixth round and sits at third on the depth chart.
I believe in Jimmy Garoppolo, I just don’t know if I believe in the team around him yet. He might have a rocky first year as a full-time starter, but he’ll persevere. C.J. Beathard actually played pretty well when he was starting for the 49ers last year. He should become one of the better backups in the league. Nick Mullens and undrafted rookie Jack Heneghan shouldn’t see the field this year.
Dak Prescott had a bit of a sophomore slump, but that isn’t uncommon. The Cowboys are hoping he’ll make a leap in his third season and return to Pro Bowl form. If he gets injured, Cooper Rush is an underrated backup who hasn’t gotten to see the field much during his career so far. He’ll have competition though, mainly from standout college quarterback, Mike White. The team also added undrafted rookie Dalton Sturm to the quarterback room.
It was clear that Eli Manning had a strange season in 2017. Between his head coach’s incompetence and injuries to his receivers, things didn’t go his way. He’ll bounce back in 2018 though, so fans won’t get to see second-year backup Davis Webb or the team’s possible quarterback of the future, rookie Kyle Lauletta. Alex Tanney is the team’s fourth string quarterback.
Cam Newton is struggling. Part of it is his offense is poorly constructed with no premier weapons, but he has to cut down on his interception numbers. Of course, he’s still one of the greatest running quarterbacks of all-time, which means he takes a lot of hits. His backups are Garrett Gilbert, Taylor Heinicke, and undrafted rookie Kyle Allen. Panthers fans don’t want to see any of those guys in 2018.
Their quarterback room could be a mess in 2018. Sam Bradford is slated to start over rookie Josh Rosen but given Bradford’s injury history Rosen might see playing time. At the same point, do the Cardinals want to throw the rookie out on the field so quick? They also have experienced backup, Mike Glennon on the roster if they want to just hold Rosen out for his first year. The team also signed undrafted rookie Chad Kanoff.
Cleary this pick isn’t because of who the starting quarterback is now. Josh McCown is a good bridge quarterback, but not necessarily a guy you want as a long-term starter. The player everyone should be excited about is rookie Sam Darnold, who could win the starting job before the season ends. The Jets also have another promising quarterback on their roster in Teddy Bridgewater, who made the Pro Bowl with the Vikings a few years ago prior to a devastating knee injury.
Jameis Winston is one of the most polarizing quarterbacks I’ve seen in a while. He has the ability to play at a Pro Bowl level, like he did in his rookie season, but just hasn’t been able to deliver on all of his potential. Ryan Fitzpatrick gives the Buccaneers an experienced veteran to backup their struggling prodigy. Former Saint Ryan Griffin and undrafted rookie Austin Allen sit at third and fourth on the depth chart.
The Reskins traded for Alex Smith from the Chiefs this offseason. Smith has made the last two Pro Bowls, despite being labeled a “game manager”. He’s a quality starter, but it’s unlikely he’ll carry your team deep into the playoffs. Colt McCoy, yet another former Browns quarterback, has a good amount of experience, but hasn’t thrown a pass in a game since 2015. Speaking of former Browns, Kevin Hogan is the team’s third stringer.
For the first half of last season Joe Flacco was seemingly MIA, and when he finally started settling into a rhythm at the end of the year it was too late for the team to make the playoffs. With Flacco’s play being inconsistent, the Ravens drafted former Heisman Trophy winner and Louisville quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Jackson is an electric player who is in position to be the next Ravens starting quarterback after Flacco relinquishes the position. Remember Robert Griffin III? He’s also on the roster and gives the team a lot of depth at the quarterback spot, considering they have Jackson and Flacco. Josh Woodrum is last on the depth chart.
Andy Dalton has made the Pro Bowl three times in the past but is generally viewed more as an average quarterback. He has never won a postseason game in his seven-year career and doesn’t seem to possess the traits of a Super Bowl winning quarterback. Matt Barkley, Jeff Driskel, and rookie Logan Woodside make up the underwhelming backup group.
The team’s starter, Marcus Mariota, is coming off of his third and worst season in the NFL. He has to prove he can stay healthy and take the next step to becoming a Pro Bowl quarterback. His primary backup is Blaine Gabbert, a former first round pick turned journeyman quarterback. While no one should have a ton of confidence in him, he’s got experience at least. The Titans surprisingly selected Luke Falk in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft. He’ll spend his rookie season as the team’s third stringer.
The Broncos made landing a quarterback a priority this offseason and signed Case Keenum. Keenum had always been decent, but he exploded with the Vikings last year and showcased true starter abilities. The second-string quarterback looks like it will be Paxton Lynch, who hasn’t come through as a starter in his first couple of seasons. The former first rounder is looking more and more like a bust every day. 2017 seventh round pick, Chad Kelly, is third on the depth chart. Undrafted rookie Nick Stevens is fourth on the team’s depth chart.
I think that Patrick Mahomes will be good, I really do. But he’s only started one game in his short career. When he proves he can play well consistently, his team will make a huge jump up these rankings. The team does have two veteran backups in Chad Henne and Matt McGloin. Neither of those two have any potential as starters at this point in their careers. Undrafted rookie, Chase Litton, is fourth on the depth chart.
I don’t know if any Dolphins fans would’ve ever thought they’d be as happy to have Ryan Tannehill back as they will be in 2018. Last year’s quarterback play was almost insufferable. The team just has to hope that Tannehill stays healthy, because his backups are Brock Osweiler, David Fales, and Bryce Petty. Best of luck Miami.
If Andrew Luck was healthy than the Colts would be in the top three on this list, they might even be number one. But Luck hasn’t played in an NFL game since the 2016 season. Jacoby Brissett, who’s starting in place of Luck while he’s hurt, is arguably the best backup quarterback in the league. Foles is the only one who can challenge him for that spot. Former Miami standout, Brad Kaaya is third on the depth chart. Phillip Walker is the final quarterback on the roster.
Well for now Tyrod Taylor is the starter. He’s a former Pro Bowler but is arguably even more of a game manager than Smith and more mediocre than a number of starters already discussed in this article. Of course all eyes are really on Baker Mayfield, who the Browns took number one overall in the draft. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him before the season is over. Drew Stanton is also on the team’s roster and so is Brogan Roback (I like that name).
I know Mitchell Trubisky was a rookie last year and was thrust into a bad situation on a poor team, but he hasn’t proven anything yet. Just like with Mahomes, I’m not rewarding Trubisky and the Bears until they produce some quality results. For now I can only judge Trubisky off of his disappointing 2017 season. Two former Chiefs, Chase Daniels and Tyler Bray, will serve as the young starter’s backups and mentors in 2018.
Right now, A.J. McCarron is slated to be the Bills starter, but he could easily lose that spot by week one. Rookie Josh Allen and second-year player Nathan Peterman are probably not that far behind McCarron. The Bills are ranked last on this list because of the shear lack of experience their quarterbacks have, among other flaws.
Take all of this win a grain of salt because some of the players mentioned will be traded, cut, or signed to practice squads before the season begins. And freak injuries occur every year, and when one does we’ll get to test the accuracy of this list. I expect quarterbacks on the Chiefs and Bears and maybe even the 49ers to outperform their rankings, they’re just ranked where they are because of a lack of experience. Regardless, 2018 will be an exciting year for veterans looking to bounce back from injuries and off years, and for young players looking to prove they’re worthy of be starters in the NFL.
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