NFL quarterback rankings: The best and worst starting QBs for 2020, ranked 1-32
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The quarterback landscape in the NFL has never looked better. That makes ranking all the starting QBs ahead of the 2020 season harder than ever before. When looking at the very best right now from the 32 teams, there is an intriguing intersection of rising young superstars and highly accomplished veterans. That elite group is closely followed by several more efficient passers and high upside performers. A good place to start is with the reigning Super Bowl and regular-season MVPs. Although what a quarterback has done in the recent past gets considerable weight for where he ranks, as usual, this is a forward-thinking list that focuses more on upside for the upcoming season. Here are Sporting News’ newest offseason rankings, from No. 1 to No. 32, based on who would start for each team if the season started now:
NFL quarterback rankings 2020
The quarterback landscape in the NFL has never looked better. That makes ranking all the starting QBs ahead of the 2020 season harder than ever before.
When looking at the very best right now from the 32 teams, there is an intriguing intersection of rising young superstars and highly accomplished veterans. That elite group is closely followed by several more efficient passers and high upside performers.
A good place to start is with the reigning Super Bowl and regular-season MVPs. Although what a quarterback has done in the recent past gets considerable weight for where he ranks, as usual, this is a forward-thinking list that focuses more on upside for the upcoming season.
Here are Sporting News’ newest offseason rankings, from No. 1 to No. 32, based on who would start for each team if the season started now:
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Mahomes went from the league's most dangerous and prolific QB to becoming its most clutch with his incredible closing performance to beat the 49ers in Super Bowl 54. He battled through a knee injury to come back faster than most would to keep up his special all-around play. With one ring on hand and still only 24, Mahomes is the new premier face of the NFL.
2019 stats: 4,031 yards passing, 26 TDs, 5 INTs, 8.3 yards per attempt, 105.3 rating, 218 yards rushing, 2 TDs.
2. Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Jackson passed and ran his way to an unprecedented dual-threat season and at 23, is helping to push the NFL into a razzle dazzle era at the position with Mahomes and others. Jackson fell a little short in the playoffs, but he also lifted a limited receiving corps that should only get better and there's more explosiveness in the backfield to further facilitate his dominant work on the ground.
2019 stats: 3,127 yards passing, 36 TDs, 6 INTs, 7.8 yards per attempt, 113.3 rating, 1,206 yards rushing, 7 TDs
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3. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Wilson made it eight straight seasons of durably starting and never having a losing year in the NFL. He led the Seahawks to an 11-5 record, just falling short of returning to take the NFC West title. He continues to lead and deliver with his big arm. At 31, Wilson has plenty left as the ultimate QB to bridge the old and new schools.
2019 stats: 4,110 yards passing, 31 TDs, 5 INTs, 8.0 yards per attempt, 106.3 rating, 342 yards rushing, 3 TDs
4. Drew Brees, Saints
Brees missed five games with a thumb injury in 2019 or otherwise he would have been a strong MVP candidate based on his projected numbers. After the recent playoff disappointments in different forms, he is bound to pass the Saints back into NFC title contention again with another excellent season at 41, one that very well could be his last.
2019 stats: 2,979 yards passing, 27 TDs, 4 INTs, 7.9 yards per attempt, 116.3 rating
5. Tom Brady, Buccaneers
His GOAT-ness with the Patriots carries some weight, even if his last of 20 seasons with New England was one of his career's worst. His potential to be vintage GOAT in Tampa Bay carries a lot more. There was little real final support from the Patriots, with an inconsistent running game, limited receiving help and an injury-riddled offensive line. The Bucs offer Brady all the tools for a massive rebound, including a QB-friendly system that will set up more big plays while also re-raising him back to expert efficiency.
2019 stats: 4,057 yards passing, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, 6.6 yards per attempt, 88.0 rating
6. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Rodgers saw himself being relieved of the big winning burden in the first year under Matt LaFleur. The running game provided plenty of pop and scoring, and the rebuilt defense came up big often. Rodgers can do more to resemble his past production, despite having some weakened pass protection and not getting needed receiving corps upgrades. Jordan Love's drafting gives A-Rod a sneaky extra chip on the shoulder to prove he can still deliver at a high level with his improv being accepted more in the system.
2019 stats: 4,002 yards passing, 26 TDs, 4 INTs, 7.0 yards per attempt, 95.4 rating, 183 yards rushing, TD
7. Deshaun Watson, Texans
Watson, still only 24, has put it all together well with his ability to make any play whenever necessary with his arm and legs. Credit Bill O'Brien for letting Watson do his off-script things, including his version of a checkdown being either extending a play or taking off running. Watson has proved his smarts in reading defenses to match his athleticism. Now we'll see what happens without his go-to guy DeAndre Hopkins and how he can adjust to a remixed receiving corps.
2019 stats: 3,852 yards passing, 26 TDs, 12 INTs, 7.8 yards per attempt, 98.0 rating, 413 yards rushing, 7 TDs
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8. Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Prescott broke out as a prolific passer and also maintained his efficiency thanks him being allowed to let loose more in Kellen Moore's passing offense. Moore is back with help from new offensive-minded head coach Mike McCarthy. Prescott will get his long-term deal and reward Dallas immediately with another top season. Prescott, who turns 27 in late July right after he's likely to be paid. also knows he'll have Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb around for a while to help him keep getting the ball nicely downfield.
2019 stats: 4,902 yards passing, 30 TDs, 11 INTs, 8.2 yards per attempt, 99.7 rating, 277 yards rushing, 3 TDs
9. Matthew Stafford, Lions
Stafford was headed to a career-best 2019 season in the first half before a back injury derailed it in the second half. He is one of the best transformation stories in the NFL, going from a big-armed gunslinger to a more efficient and better decision-making complete passer. The No. 1 overall pick in 2009 is only 32 and has plenty more fine years left in him, for now meshed with the ideal offensive coordinator in Darrell Bevell.
2019 stats: 2,499 yards passing, 19 TDs, 5 INTs, 8.6 yards per attempt, 106.0 passer rating
10. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Roethlisbeger played in a little more than one game before his right elbow injury ended his season in Week 2. With the QB mess that followed in Pittsburgh which ultimately cost a team with an elite defense the playoffs, there's no doubt Big Ben's big impact was appreciated more in his absence. The future Hall of Famer can't drop past here going into his age 38 season, where mostly missing the physical wear and tear of 2019 can help rejuvenate him. Consider Roethlisberger led the league in passing yardage in 2018.
2019 stats: N/A
11. Carson Wentz, Eagles
Wentz had one very important stat in 2019 — he played all 16 games with Nick Foles no longer in Philly. Wentz's assets of physical toughness and mental grinding were on full display in willing the Eagles to the playoffs, despite their offense being quickly depleted of receiving options. At 27, with reloaded weapons, there's promise Wentz can return to his 2017 MVP candidate form if healthy.
2019: 4,039 yards passing, 27 TDs, 7 INTs, 6.7 yards per attempt, 93.1 rating, 243 yards rushing, TD
12. Kirk Cousins, Vikings
Cousins didn't need to throw as much with Minnesota's highly successful run-heavy offense, and he never threw the ball better. When he needed to bring the big pass plays, he did, showing off his signature zip. Most important, his much-improved high efficiency got the Vikings to the playoffs. Going into his age 32 season, he has the challenge of adjusting to a new offensive coordinator and new, rookie starting wideout in Justin Jefferson.
2019 stats: 3,603 yards passing, 26 TDs, 6 INTs, 8.1 yards per attempt, 107.4 rating
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13. Matt Ryan, Falcons
Ryan had to readjust to the aggressive downfield passing game of Dirk Koetter five years later and there were some lumps with that, as he was sacked 48 times and didn't have much of a running game on which to lean. Ryan still made the most of things with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper, who's now replaced with Hayden Hurst. At 35, there might be some arm decline but he's proved to be sharp in a second year of a system.
2019 stats: 4,466 yards passing, 26 TDs, 14 INTs, 7.3 yards per attempt, 92.1 rating
14. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Those who knocked Jimmy G all the way through Super Bowl 54 in comparison to Mahomes went to extremes. Garoppolo is definitely in a QB-friendly system, one that helped Ryan become NFL MVP four years ago. But Garoppolo executes a vast playbook smartly behind a sturdy line, plays well off a strong running game and can make all the throws necessary to help his receivers make big plays before and after the catch. Garoppolo is not a caretaker by any means and the 49ers should remain confident with him at the helm, still only at 28.
2019 stats: 3,978 yards passing, 27 TDs, 13 INTs, 8.4 yards per attempt, 102.0 rating
15. Ryan Tannehill, Titans
Those numbers below were ridiculous for 12 games, leading to Tannehill's best NFL season at age 31. After not finding the right system as a starter in Miami, go figure he got it as an elevated backup in Nashville. His athleticism was a factor again playing off the dominant power running of Derrick Henry and proved that deep balls continue to be unfair knock on him with his exceptional downfield passing off play-action. There should be some natural regression from his supersub status, but he was too good short-term for the Titans not to keep for the long term.
2019 stats: 2,742 yards passing, 22 TDs, 6 INTs, 9.6 yards per attempt, 117.5 rating, 185 yards rushing, 4 TDs
16. Philip Rivers, Colts
After an efficiency resurgence with Anthony Lynn, there's no doubt Rivers went back into a slump of questionable decisions in 2019, leading to plenty of mistakes, forced or otherwise. making him the Jameis Winston of the AFC. Rivers now gets his first fresh start with a new NFL team at 38. Frank Reich had a great influence on Rivers as a Chargers' assistant, and there's hope he can get him back on track on a team providing much better offensive line support. Rivers doesn't need to gun-sling as much on an effective running team and he also will benefit from the team's key rookie reinforcements, Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr.
2019 stats: 4,615 yards passing, 23 TDs, 20 INTs, 7.8 yards per attempt, 88.5 rating
17. Baker Mayfield, Browns
To say Mayfield had a major sophomore slump is a understatement. The Browns tried to become a forced fancy passing team with Freddie Kitchens and it didn't work, given the strength lied in the running game. Now for starters, both go-to wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will be a lot healthier. New offensive-minded coach Kevin Stefanski will help Mayfield with favorable and more comfortable play-action opportunities, mixing up three-receiver and two-tight end sets with the newly acquired Hooper. The bookend pass protection also will be miles better with Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin. If Mayfield doesn't break out in Year 3, at age 25 with this support, then Cleveland can really start to worry.
2019 stats: 3,837 yards passing, 22 TDs, 21 INTs, 7.2 yards per attempt, 78.8 rating
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18. Josh Allen, Bills
Allen still was very reliant on his running with his big strong frame last season, but with a remade offensive line, two new wide receivers (John Brown, Cole Beasley), tight end help and a dynamic young back (Devin Singletary), he flashed more as a passer and came into his own as an leader with a trip to the playoffs. Now Allen gets Stefon Diggs and Zack Moss to join what's a sudden deep array of weapons, a 180 from his rookie year. As her turns 24 in July, the support and the Mayfield-like expectations are there for Allen to make the complete jump.
2019 stats: 3,089 yards passing, 20 TDs, 9 INTs, 6.7 yards per attempt, 85.3 rating, 510 yards rushing 9 TDs.
19. Kyler Murray, Cardinals
Murray and Kliff Kingsbury proved to be the right philosophical fit as Arizona anticipated. Murray, similar to Allen, relied much on his legs, only with a more limited receiving corps and a running game that hit its stride only late with Kenyan Drake. Murray now gets the edge of Hopkins, with Larry Fitzgerald in a more ideal complementary role and better health for the many young wideouts behind them, led by Christian Kirk. The Cardinals also kept their left