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Monday, January 18, 2021

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Starting QB Rankings For The 2020 NFL Season

The new era of QB is amongst us with the older generation of QB’s entering the final stages of their careers. Statues in the pocket are almost extinct with nearly every starting QB offering some kind of mobility. Whether it be extending plays in the pocket, scrambling for yardage once the play breaks down or running the read/option, QB’s are using their legs more in this era. It’s exciting to think about where the position will be in the next 5-10 years.

There’s talented options at QB throughout the league so ranking them is tough. We have the aging vets: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. We have the new crop of star QB’s: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott. And last but not least we have the young QB’s on the rise: Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold and Drew Lock. Where do these players land on my list? Let’s take a look. Here’s my top 25 QB’s for the 2020 season:

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes has dominated NFL defenses since the moment he stepped on the field. We hear people overuse the term “he can make all the throws” but with Mahomes that’s actually the case. We’ve seen the arm talent Mahomes possesses. It’s rare. Take a look at some of his best throws. He leads the NFL in both TD’s on the run (17), and TD passes of 20+ yards (22). Since 2018 he’s thrown a league leading 76 touchdowns to go along with over 9,000 yards. He’s also been spectacular in the post-season. Last season he led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl Trophy since 1969. After winning the NFL MVP award in 2018 and the Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP in 2019, Mahomes is the face of the league.

2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson is the perfect model of consistency. Throwing for 100 TD’s combined in the last three seasons, Wilson has entered the elite category. He’s been carrying the Seahawks for the past three seasons without a lot of help offensively. Mahomes is the better QB but one area where Russ edges Mahomes out for me is the deep ball. He throws the best deep ball in the league. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the touch the on these throws:

Poor pass protection forces Wilson to move around in the pocket and make a lot of unscripted plays. This is where Wilson shines as he’s great at keeping his eyes downfield while scrambling. He consistently makes big time throws on the move. This skill has helped cover up a lot of the holes on the Seattle offense. It’s shocking that he’s never received a vote for the NFL MVP award but look for that to change in 2020.

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers has slipped in a lot of the QB rankings that I’ve looked at and that’s understandable. But for me he’s still a top 3 QB in the NFL. Over the past two seasons Rodgers has 52 passing TD’s, 6 interceptions and nearly 8,500 passing yards. How many QB’s would kill for that stat line? His arm talent may have taken a slight step back but he can still make all the necessary throws. The Packers didn’t add any WR’s this off-season but that won’t hinder Rodgers. He’ll put together a MVP caliber season while leading his team to another division title.

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Entering his 20th season at 41 years old, Brees is still amongst the best QB’s in the league. In only 11 games last season he passed for 27 TD’s and almost 3,000 yards. Brees may have given Lamar Jackson a run for MVP had he not gotten injured. It was a great year for Brees but it once again ended sourly with the Saints losing in the playoffs to the Vikings in OT. New Orleans has run into some bad luck in the post season in each of the last three years. With the upcoming season possibly being Brees last, he’ll want to end it raising the Lombardi. Expect the Saints to once again be Super Bowl contenders in 2020.

5. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

The reigning NFL MVP, Jackson had a phenomenal year in 2019. He led the league in passing touchdowns with 36 and added over 1,200 yards on the ground with 7 rushing TD’s. Jackson also made great improvements as a passer. He led the NFL in TD’s from the pocket (25) and TD’s against the blitz (24). Some may think it’s crazy to have the reigning MVP sitting at #5 on the list but he’s yet to win a playoff game. That’s something I think we’ll see change this season. While he may not have the same statistical output in 2020, I expect him to have an all around better year. He’ll become more of a headache for defenses as he keeps refining his mechanics and improving on his accuracy.

6. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Watson is one of the best improvisers in the NFL. Just turn on a Texans game and you’ll see him willing his team to victory. The best word to describe Watson is “Playmaker” he just finds a way to make plays in the biggest moments. Since 2018 he leads the NFL with 10 game winning drives. Take a look at his fourth quarter comeback against the Bills in the playoffs last season:

Bill O’Brien traded away his favorite target in Deandre Hopkins but I think Watson can carry this offense. Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills and Will Fuller can’t make up for the loss of D-Hop but they’re all quality WR’s. Watson likes to take shots downfield so having three vertical threats in Fuller, Cooks and Stills should be more than enough for him. As long as the Texans have Watson under the season they’ll be competing for a playoff spot.

7. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady has clearly taken a couple steps back as far as arm talent but he’s smarter than ever. He can still manipulate the defense with his mind and his pre-snap reads are second to none. Brady struggled during the second half of 2019 but the Patriots literally had zero threats on offense outside of Julian Edelman. He won’t have that problem in Tampa Bay. Brady is walking into a situation with the league’s best WR tandem in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Then there’s Rob Gronkowski at TE. He took a year off in 2019 but his body needed it. He’ll be big for Tampa down the stretch. I think Brady has a bounce back season and gives Father Time a run for it’s money.

8. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz didn’t put up eye popping numbers in 2019 but I was impressed with how he carried Philadelphia’s offense. Wentz led the Eagles to wins in their last four games to clinch a playoff berth. He did that while playing with a group of WR’s that began the season on the practice squad. Talent wise Wentz is one of the most complete QB’s in the league. He’s one of the best in the league at making throws outside of the pocket. He keeps plays alive, no play is ever truly over with Wentz. Of course health is his biggest concern. He missed Philly’s first two playoff runs with injuries. Then last season he was knocked out of a playoff game with a concussion. It’s important for Wentz to keep a clean bill of health in 2020. If he does that then he could climb even higher on the list.

9. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

One of the biggest stories this off-season was the Dak Prescott contract situation. This could come back to bite Dallas in the long run if Prescott puts together another good season. In 2019 he was second in the NFL in passing yards with 4,902. He passed for the most TD’s of his career too with 30. Prescott has made strides as a passer in every season of his career. With new head coach Mike McCarthy, 2020 could be the year where Prescott puts it all together. The Cowboys drafted WR CeeDee Lamb in the first round so Dak has a number of weapons to distribute the ball to. With the talent the Cowboys have, Prescott will be expected to deliver a division title and contend for a Super Bowl.

10. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions

Stafford was having an amazing year statistically before the injury. Through 8 games he passed for 2,499 yards and 19 TD’s. So he was on pace for about 5,000 yards and 38 TD’s. If we were ranking QB’s based on arm talent then Stafford would be top 5, maybe even top 3. Stafford can throw a 60 yard rope with a flick of the wrist. That kind of arm strength drives defensive coordinators crazy. Stafford would probably get more national praise if he didn’t play for the Lions. You’ll always be overlooked as a QB when your team can’t get to the playoffs. Stafford could lead the Lions to the playoffs in 2020 and change that narrative but it’ll be a tall task.

11. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan’s arm is beginning to decline at age 35 but he was still productive in 2019. He led the league in completions with 408, and threw for over 4,400 yards. Ryan ranked 6th in the NFL with 26 passing TD’s. With Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley at WR along with Hayden Hurst at TE, Ryan will have another productive season. The Falcons want more than just good numbers though. Ryan and Julio are both franchise cornerstones and both are in their 30’s. Atlanta will need him to return to his 2016 MVP form if they want to contend.

12. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Cousins has caught a lot of flack from fans (and me) throughout the course of his career. Mostly for his underwhelming performances in some pivotal games. Outside of that, he’s a pretty good QB. He looked comfortable last season with a strong run game behind him. Cousins has been consistent with 25 or more passing TD’s in every season since 2015. If he can get over that jump in the post season then Cousins could make a case for a spot in the top ten.

13. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Murray put together a good rookie season with 3,744 yards and 20 passing TD’s. He rushed for 544 yards and 4 TD’s. 13th might seem high for a guy with only one season under his belt but Murray is going to be a star. When I watched film on him I was amazed at just how powerful his arm is. He has so much zip on the ball and can fit passes into tight windows. Murray is electric with the ball in his hands, he makes defenders miss with ease and avoids big hits. He’s lethal when scrambling outside of the pocket looking for throws downfield. With the arrival of Deandre Hopkins, Murray should have a big year in 2020.

14. Cam Newton, New England Patriots

Newton hasn’t come close to his MVP form in recent years but he’s still a top 15 QB for me. A foot injury limited him to only two games last season. The Panthers decided to move on from Newton this off-season and now he’s with the Patriots. It was a lengthy wait too as Newton just inked a deal with the Pats a little over a month ago. The Pats don’t have many weapons offensively but Newton will benefit from the structure around him. He seems to be motivated saying that he feels “disrespected” seeing the QB’s that got signed before him. A fully healthy Newton is the best QB in the AFC East and immediately makes the Patriots a contender for the division title. Newton will have a bounce back season in 2020.

15. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Roethlisberger is 38 years old and heading into year 17. He’s coming off an elbow injury so we’ll have to see how his body responds. It was reported that he tore three flexor tendons off the bone in 2019. If the Steelers can get a productive season out of him then they could be a playoff team. Roethlisberger has some talented WR’s with Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and James Washington. Pittsburgh could have one of the league’s best passing attacks if Roethlisberger returns to form.

Here’s a quick rundown of QB’s ranked 16-25:
16. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Goff took a step back in 2019 after two straight Pro Bowl seasons. With Sean McVay at the helm there’s always a chance for a bounce back season. He’ll most likely never be a top ten QB but he can produce like one at times.

17. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Garoppolo benefits from a great scheme but he makes all the necessary throws to execute that scheme. Although 2019 was his 6th season, it was really his first season as a full time starting QB. I expect Garoppolo to take that next step this season.

18. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Tannehill changed the Titans season in 2019. In only 12 games he had 22 passing TD’s and 2,742 yards. Was also one of the best deep ball throws in 2019. I need to see it again in 2020 before I become a full-time believer.

19. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Carr has been a steady presence at QB for Raiders over the past 6 seasons. Last season he was good but not great. The Raiders added Henry Riggs III in the draft for explosive plays. If Carr is ever going to take the next step, the time is now.

20. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Allen made some big plays for the Bills 2019. He had a solid second season but due to his poor accuracy I couldn’t rank him higher. Things could change in his 3rd season, especially with the addition of Stefon Diggs. Allen could make a big jump on this list.

21. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Mayfield had a sophomore slump in 2019 but coaching played a big part in that. Now he has a more offensive-minded head coach in Kevin Stefanski. 2020 should be a productive season for Mayfield with all of the weapons the Browns have.

22. Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

Rivers is still a productive QB but his age is catching up to him. Last season he threw 20 interceptions. The Colts have a great offensive line and a strong run game so Rivers won’t be asked to do as much in 2020.

23. Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Darnold missed 3 games in 2019 due to injury but showed some promise in the games he did play. Going 7-6 in his 13 starts was a good sign for the future. Now Darnold will look to become a more effective downfield passer.

24. Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers

After suffering a gruesome knee injury in 2015, Bridgewater finally looked like his old season in 2019. He performed well for the Saints once Brees went down with an injury. He’ll look to carry that success over to Carolina this season as their new starting QB.

25. Daniel Jones, New York Giants

Jones had some big games as a rookie and ended the season with 24 passing touchdowns. One of the things he needs to work on is ball protection. He had a league leading 18 fumbles in 2019 and lost 11 of those fumbles. If Jones can do that then he’ll move higher up the list by seasons end.

Just Missed The Cut:
  1. Drew Lock, Broncos
  2. Gardner Minshew, Jaguars
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins
  4. Mitch Trubisky/Nick Foles, Bears
  5. Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team


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