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For the past six years, with the help of my co-hosts of the West Coast Gamblers podcast, I have ranked every quarterback to start a game that season. It is an arduous task that I thoroughly enjoy — watching the tape, breaking down the stats, and trying my best to not let bias take control.
This ranking is not just a statement of where we are now, but is also a helpful tool when looking at the upcoming free agency and draft period of the NFL offseason. How important is Derek Carr? Is Daniel Jones worth $45 million per year? What should Chicago do with the No. 1 overall pick? This list becomes a guide to judging offseason moves and projecting the future of both player and franchise.
Every quarterback who started a game in the 2022 NFL season is ranked. Regardless if it was one game or seventeen. While predicting what a quarterback's potential could be is a fool's errand, this list does reflect kindly on past performance. Yet what rules all, is the golden rule of the NFL — what have you done for me lately?
In 2022 we had a record-breaking 68 quarterbacks start a game. A ridiculous number. To make the list a touch easier to follow, the players will be split into likeminded clumps.
Without any further adieu, let's rank these crazy kittens.
In order to appease the Participation Ribbon Generation, the lowest quarterback on these rankings will receive a special honor, for he shall be named the annual Nathan Peterman Award winner. Past winners include Jake Fromm ('21), Covid replacement Kendall Hinton ('20), the immortal Luke Falk ('19), the first-ever NPA winner, EJ Manuel ('16) and the only two-time winner, Nathan Peterman ('17, '18).
This year's field had many worthy contenders — even Nathan Peterman himself threw his hat in the ring. This year's winner, however, stood a head above the rest.
A 55.9% completion percentage matched with 4.7 yards per attempt along with 2 interceptions is quite the resume. What sealed the deal was the cap-strapped Rams acquiring known lost cause Baker Mayfield midseason because Sean McVay simply couldn't take it anymore. The Rams weren't in contention, they didn't have their draft picks yet they still made the move to get Baker just so McVay would continue coming to work every morning.
This past weekend, America's favorite weed dealer (kidding) Paxton Lynch was on my television throwing footballs in a real-life football game hosted by The Rock. If that doesn't tell you about the quality of the XFL, nothing will. The following QBs would win the XVP seven years in a row.
Man, I wanted more from Malik Willis but when you get replaced by a guy who just got signed it's not looking good. As for John Wofford, does Sean McVay see himself in Wofford? That's the only reason I have for his continued employment at the Rams' backup position. I don't know about you but I'll always remember this as the year that Sam Ehlinger got not one but two coaches fired.
Apparently, there's another secondary football league coming to us this offseason and it's draped in American flag regalia! The USFL! Brought to you (obviously) by Fox! These quarterbacks are slightly better than their XFL counterparts, but no one is excited when they take the field.
Two former Detroit Lions and a Super Bowl MVP. Remarkable. Mitch Trubisky's 2022 season was the perfect encapsulation of his career, with some flashy "WOW" moments that showed off his superior athletic ability followed up by a head-scratching turnover. How Mike Tomlin went 9-8 is a marvel.
A forgettable bunch.
This ranking is entirely too high for Skylar Thompson, but the Wild Card game left a lasting impression on me. Amongst all of the delay-of-game penalties, missed throws and poor decisions was a dude that wasn't scared of the moment. If Jaylen Waddle didn't drop 13 balls in that game, I'm pretty confident Skylar Thompson leads the Dolphins to a win on Wild Card Weekend.
Let this part of the ranking act as a warning to all GMs salivating at the thought of finding the next Josh Allen come April, for here lies the death of the 2021 NFL QB draft class.
Which 2021 draft pick was worse? The Jets taking Zach Wilson who faced a midseason team mutiny and was outplayed by the morose Joe Flacco? Or the 49ers spending three first round picks to select still-not-ready-for-the-NFL-outplayed-by-Mr-Irrelevant Trey Lance?
Sam Howell showed some flashes in the small sample time and Washington's current QB spot is open for all-comers. Joshua Dobbs played remarkably well for a struggling Titans offense on very short notice.
Also known as the Brian Hoyer division, this is for the boring game manager best served as back-up to mentor a young rising star. These guys won't win you many games but they won't lose you too many either.
Desmond Ridder never jumped off the page playing for a lost Falcons team but he accounted for ZERO interceptions in four starts, mighty impressive for a rookie. While Sam Darnold and Jarrett Stidham surely had moments, the rest of this paragraph will be spent pouring one out for Matt Ryan. A man who has never ranked lower than 16th in the seven-year history of these rankings, looked like a lost child playing for Frank Reich's Colts.
If we never see Ryan play up to his old standards again, he leaves a lasting resume that was arguably a 28-3 lead shy of being Hall of Fame worthy. His MVP season he landed 3rd on this ranking and finished in the top-10 four times total. To have him 43rd is a sad day. Father Time remains undefeated
These next eight just missed the cut of being an NFL starter which is pretty scary for the few that are currently NFL starters. If one of these guys is holding a clipboard for your favorite team then you shouldn't shed too many tears if your play-caller pulls a hammy. If one of these guys is expected to start the full 17-game slate for your favorite team next year, it might be time to take up golf.
Tyler Huntley would have been lower had it not been for the almost playoff victory versus the hated Bengals. Still it is a far fall for a dude I had 29th last year. Bailey Zappe showed off in the short starting stint for New England and could be a diamond in the rough hanging over Mac Jones' shoulder next year.
Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson both had two top-10 finishes on previous rankings and both had disastrous first years with their new team. Only one of them is guaranteed eleventy billion dollars, however.
This is where the ranking gets dangerous. Some of these guys are backups of their teams but I believe have shown us enough to deserve a starting spot in the league. Some are well-known vets who have passed the peak of their ability. And then there's Justin Fields.
I can't believe Jameis Winston couldn't beat out Andy Dalton, but then looking at Dalton's season and he quietly put up some respectable stats for a very bad team. Apparently, Dennis Allen likes a game manager over a gunslinger.
Russell Wilson has never ranked lower than 9th in the previous six years of these rankings but this season he wasn't worth a spot in the top 32. The future in Denver remains murky at best. Taylor Heinicke and Baker Mayfield are just guys at this point, but Baker's midseason mini-resurgence for the Rams cemented him in the top 32.
Gardner Minshew, Mike White and Cooper Rush are good enough to be QB1 and you can't convince me otherwise. In their small sample sizes, and especially in Minshew's two years in Jacksonville, these guys have proven they belong. I'll be interested to see where Rush and White end up in free agency.
Kenny Pickett was thrown into the flames and grew quite a bit from the experience. I was very low on him during the draft process but his decision-making and his ability to take care of the football behind a very porous offensive line with zero help in the running game impressed me to no end.
As for the future of New England, I'm choosing to believe that rookie season Mac Jones is the truth whereas this year under rocket scientist Matt Patricia was some ugly mirage.
Then, there is Justin Fields, who has a highlight package better than any of the players in this section combined. He nearly broke Lamar Jackson's record for rushing yards from the quarterback position and made a terrible Bears team watchable. Yet there is still so much more to want. We broke it down in video form here, but both the tape and the stats show that Fields has yet to show any ability to run a successful pocket-passing offense. Lack of weapons and a bad offensive line doesn't help, but neither does his indecision and inability to read a defense. The potential is there to make Justin Fields explode up these rankings come next year, but right now he has yet to prove he can do so outside of elite scrambling ability.
Now come the players that you can root for. These dudes are good enough to take your favorite team to the playoffs but the biggest question remains. Can these guys win you a Super Bowl? There is a limit to every man's greatness and some of these players have glaring question marks in their games.
But we start off this section with a meteoric rise.
Geno Smith has never been higher than 44th on this list before, the dude was nearly out of the league, yet your 2022 Comeback Player of the Year was electric. His stats from this season bear out a higher spot on this ranking, but 20th is a respectable mark for a player who has had one good season in the league. His marriage with Seattle should continue and 2023 will be a large barometer for what the future of his career could become.
Jimmy G is an interesting proposition as a free agent. He's too good to be signed by a team looking to tank, but he's not necessarily good enough to take a Super Bowl contender over the hump. I think New Orleans is a perfect landing spot for him.
As for Derek Carr's prospects, good luck figuring out what the next stage of his career looks like. For the past six years, he has finished anywhere from 10th to 22nd on this list but the dude is looking for revenge after getting unceremoniously benched in Vegas.
Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott had some rough seasons but a new fresh face calling the plays could be great for both of them. That is — if that new fresh face wasn't Mike McCarthy...
Tua Tagovailoa lit the world on fire when he played and I hope he's healthy enough to continue his career in the fashion he wants to. Throwing to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in Mike Mcdaniels' quick-read offense unlocked Tua's true abilities. I want to see more before I place him any higher because while the stats were great there still is some terrible play when the defense wins the first three seconds of the play call.
Is Brock Purdy too high? Absolutely. He played in the perfect situation for a young quarterback; surrounded by studs, buoyed by a fantastic rushing offense and an offensive line full of maulers. Yet even with the difficulty level turned to rookie mode, he still excelled expectations. He's never lost a game where he played more than five NFL snaps. That's remarkable for a seventh-round pick and the 49ers' starting job is his to lose.
Now the big question — what are the Giants going to do? Daniel Jones bet on himself after having his fifth-year option declined, and then he took the G-men to the divisional round. Having a stellar year throwing to practice squad receivers. Is Brian Daboll the QB whisperer? According to the internet, Jones wants to get PAID. Has he proven, after one year in Daboll's system, to be the future of New York?
The cream of the crop. If you have one of these guys, you are thrust into Super Bowl contention. And no, your eyes don't deceive you, that's Jared Goff's music.
When Packers fans (myself included) are calling for Jordan Love instead of a player who has won two MVPs in the past three years, question marks are raised. Aaron Rodgers has worn out his welcome in Green Bay and should be the belle of the ball when it comes to offseason asset accumulation.
It wasn't long ago when Jared Goff had one of the worst contracts in the NFL. The so-called bridge quarterback has done nothing but impress in his two seasons in Detroit. Now the Lions have something they have not had in a long time, hope. Goff is a big reason why. Still can look funky at times but the dude can sling it and by the end of the season the Lions offense was as potent as any in the entire NFL.
Long live Tom Brady. Who knows if he stays retired but if he does he leaves the NFL as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Even in his advanced age he topped these rankings three of the seven years. The ending was ugly in Tampa but much of that was due to the offensive line injuries and some terrible playcalling. We'll remember him for the good times.
Trevor Lawrence showed such improvement throughout his second year that hopes are high for Shad Khan's Jaguars. They even beat Justin Herbert's Chargers who FINALLY moved on from an offensive coordinator holding back Herbert's growth. Herbert, who has a cannon attached to his right shoulder, was 31st in the NFL in Air Yards Per Attempt. Becoming the first player in NFL history to throw for over 4500 yards whilst averaging less than 6.5 in that category. Imagine if he gets a play caller that lets him sling it to the best of his ability...
Just a caveat — if the Ravens let Lamar Jackson go, they will be haunted by it for the next decade.
As for the top four, Josh Allen is the second-best gunslinger in the league but his myriad of mental mistakes keep him outside of the top three. Jalen Hurts growth as a passer has been astounding, Philly will be a contender as long as he is running the show. Joe Burrow is the best pocket passer in the league today and the AFC having six of the top seven dudes on this list is no joke.
Yet none of them are Patrick Mahomes. Now a four-time winner of this ranking and a future brighter than any. It's a good time to be a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.