(Image Credit: Mike De Sisti/ USA TODAY NETWORK)
Written By: Adam Slivon
To say there is a new wave of Quarterbacks taking over the NFL is an understatement. The league is currently filled with numerous stars with plenty of football ahead of them. In fact, of the 32 ranked QBs below, only four of the top 10 are over 30 years old and just 9 of the 37 listed hit that mark. The young wave is led by the Mahomes’, Burrow’s, and Allen’s, all of whom will rank high amongst their peers for the rest of the decade. In the present; however, the old guard still reigns strong.
At the top, Tom Brady is still firing “cannons” to his receivers in one Bay, while Aaron Rodgers has claimed MVP hardware in consecutive seasons and owns an NFL team in the other.
Below, I rank the best quarterbacks entering the 2022 NFL Season 1-32 with 5 varying wildcards that may emerge in the rankings throughout the season.
(Age in parentheses is based on age at the start of the 2022 NFL Season on September 8th, 2022)
1. Tom Brady, TB (45)
2021 Stats: 5,316 Passing Yards, 43 Touchdowns/6 Interceptions, 102.1 QB Rating, 68.1 QBR
Breakdown: GOAT. Ageless wonder. Sports Icon. There are many things to call Tom Brady, but as he approaches closer to 50 than 40 at the start of the 2022 Season, one thing he cannot be called is washed up. Brady is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in Passing Yards and Touchdowns and had a great case to win his fourth MVP award. There has been no evidence of a decline, and while he has begun to line up his career after football in the release of his BRADY clothing brand and recent record FOX deal, his play on the field remains unbeaten. Just the fact he remains elite at an age most of his peers are in the broadcast booth, commercials, or icing their bodies after years on the gridiron is a story in itself. After changing course over the offseason after his brief retirement, all NFL fans are privileged to see Brady back on the field for what is sure to be another record-setting season.
2. Aaron Rodgers, GB (38)
2021 Stats: 4,115 Passing Yards, 37 Touchdowns/4 Interceptions, 111.9 QB Rating, 69.1 QBR
Breakdown: As I alluded to briefly in the introduction, Mr. Rodgers not only owns an NBA and NFL Franchise, but the “neighborhood” of the NFC North remains his until he retires or moves to “Jeopardy.” Rodgers is still at the peak of his game and arguably is the most efficient Quarterback in league history. There are numerous metrics to back this claim, but perhaps the most telling is that in 14 seasons starting for the Packers, he has yet to surpass 100 interceptions! He has averaged, in that span, 32 TDs to 6.57 INT’s/season. Besides historic efficiency, his uncanny arm talent and improvising remain one-of-a-kind. Although the loss of Davante Adams may hurt slightly, he has a new weapon to mold in Rookie Christian Watson. Rodgers has demonstrated throughout his career he can maintain his elite production with numerous weapons in the passing game and he has aged like a fine wine. In the past two seasons alone, he has thrown 85 touchdowns. Brady and Rodgers are more like a 1A and 1B in terms of ranking. If we were basing this off of the best bookclub; however, Rodgers would rank first by a landslide.
3. Patrick Mahomes, KC (26)
2021 Stats: 4,839 Passing Yards, 37 Touchdowns/13 Interceptions, 98.5 QB Rating, 62.2 QBR
Breakdown: Critics have panned the play of Patrick Mahomes during the 2021 season. Now, if the season he had is considered a “disappointment”, it is only due to the fact he has built such a high standard for his play early in his career. Fact is, Mahomes is the prototypical arm scouts and executives dream about throughout the draft process every year. Mahomes, in just four years as a starter, already has 50 wins and a Superbowl on his resume. On his current trajectory, he would challenge Brady as the greatest of all time. But all of this is beside the point. Why is he ranked third among QBs this upcoming year? Well, the only quarterbacks above him are the GOAT and his MVP contemporary. Mahomes may very well meet one of them next February in Glendale, Arizona. He does face some challenges this upcoming season. Similar to A-Rod, he lost his best target in Tyreek Hill. But this will not deter him from making the game-altering throws and being the “Grim-Reaper” when the time calls for it. It is a scary thought Mahomes will likely get better with age as Brady and Rodgers have, and the fact remains that based on arm talent he is the best of the best. It is easy to argue that within the first few weeks of the season he may reclaim his status as the best player in the NFL.
4. Josh Allen, BUF (26)
2021 Stats: 4,407 Passing Yards, 36 Touchdowns/15 Interceptions, 92.2 QB Rating, 60.7 QBR
Breakdown: Allen ranks last among the quarterbacks that played in the recent TNT spectacle “The Match”, but even being mentioned in the elite company of the previous three illustrates just how far Allen has risen in a couple of years. If you would have said after his rookie season, one in which he threw 10 Touchdowns to 12 Interceptions with a 52.8% Completion Percentage, that he would have grown to become an MVP stat-sheet stuffer, many would have laughed. Drafted out of Wyoming with accuracy concerns, Allen has put them to rest. Allen has established himself near the top of the QB hierarchy not only with his arm but with surprising mobility for someone his size. Pairing his skill set with a strong supporting cast featuring Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, and Dawson Knox along with new weapons such as O.J. Howard, Jamison Crowder, and Khalil Shakir, Allen is primed for another big season in Buffalo.
5. Joe Burrow, CIN (25)
2021 Stats: 4,611 Passing Yards, 34 Touchdowns/14 Interceptions, 108.3 QB Rating, 54.3 QBR
Breakdown: Burrow is a man of many new nicknames. Whether it’s Joe Brr, Joe Shiesty, or Joey Franchise, all of these names encapsulate the hype and popularity Joe Burrow gained throughout last season as the Bengals marched to an improbable Super Bowl run. This run seemed years away after just a 4-11-1 record the year prior. But adding the variable of Burrow back to a Bengals team that added former LSU teammate Ja’marr Chase made for an unstoppable duo. Although it was more than just the Burrow-Chase connection that led them to the Super Bowl, such as Joe Mixon’s 1,200+ yards and Trey Hendrickson’s 14 sacks, it is easy to see that Burrow had the biggest effect on the Bengals between seasons. It is yet to be seen whether it is a one-year mirage as they head into next season with MUCH higher expectations, but Burrow stayed “Joe Cool” throughout the 2021 playoffs. And the Bengals also placed offseason emphasis on keeping him upright. After being sacked the most in the league last season, Cincinnati invested large capital in retooling their offensive line, adding Center Ted Karras, Guard Alex Cappas, and Tackle La’el Collins. It is reasonable to expect Burrow’s efficiency to improve with more time in the pocket and another offseason with his weapons. He arguably has the best trio of wideouts to throw to in Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, and all signs point to Burrow’s stock continuing to rise as one of the best signal-callers in the league.
6. Justin Herbert, LAC (24)
2021 Stats: 5,014 Passing Yards, 38 Touchdowns/15 Interceptions, 97.7 QB Rating, 65.6 QBR
Breakdown: The youngest QB in my top 10 heading into next season, Herbert is continuing to improve over this off-season, adding 9 pounds of muscle and he now weighs 245 pounds! Opposing defensive linemen are going to have even more of a challenge containing him. Containment is all you can hope to do against Herbert, who possesses a cannon of an arm and makes every throw look effortless. 2022 looks to be the transformative year for both Herbert and the retooled Chargers team, as they have beefed up the defensive side of the ball with the additions of Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson. Herbert already has the perfect back in Austin Ekeler, who is a perfect complement in the passing game. Ekeler, along with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, makes for a high-functioning trio that will open up many games for the Chargers. Year three for Herbert looks to be another year of highlight plays and establishing himself in the best division in football would do well for his status among the best.
7. Matthew Stafford, LAR (34)
2021 Stats: 4,886 Passing Yards, 41 Touchdowns/17 Interceptions, 102.9 QB Rating, 63.8 QBR
Breakdown: What a year can do for perception and status. The perfect embodiment of this sentiment is the play of Matthew Stafford leading the Rams to a Super Bowl title. In doing this, Stafford went from a very good QB and “bright spot” on bad Detroit Lions teams to potentially securing his Hall of Fame case. Stafford has always been a criminally underrated QB, as he toiled away in Detroit on teams which he was expected to shoulder nearly all the offensive load with no consistent running back to hand the ball off to. That all changed over the last offseason as he was traded to the LA Rams and was seen as their missing link to winning the Lombardi trophy. Stafford not only achieved this but made it look as if he still has quite a few quality years of play left. Pairing with Cooper Kupp, who amassed nearly 2,000 yards receiving, it looks as if Stafford found a “Megatron” replacement. Along with that, Stafford has two quality backs in the backfield in Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson as well as the addition of new receiver Allen Robinson who is looking to bounce back to Pro Bowl status. Things are trending upward for Stafford as he is finally getting the respect he deserves after humbly serving a dozen years at Ford Field. The 2021 version of Stafford looked rejuvenated, having arguably the best year of his career. With a lot of the pressure and workload of carrying a team off his shoulders, Stafford should provide an entertaining encore this upcoming season.
8. Dak Prescott, DAL (29)
2021 Stats: 4,449 Passing Yards, 37 Touchdowns/10 Interceptions, 104.2 QB Rating, 54.6 QBR
Breakdown: Looking over Prescott’s work in his career thus far, it is hard to believe he is heading into his seventh year under center for the Cowboys. In a lot of ways, Prescott has proven to be a successful heir to Tony Romo. In other ways, he is similar to his predecessor to a fault, having proved unable to advance in the playoffs much to Cowboy fans chagrin. He is just 1-3 in playoff games despite having a solid team built around him. Since his rookie season, arguably his best season in his career by efficiency and team record, he has had an above-average to top-tier offensive line with more than enough talent to get over the hump. To be remembered more than just a guy who puts up stats but little else, Prescott enters 2022 with a lot to prove. Don’t get me wrong, he possesses a lot of talent and has a worthy status as a Top 10 QB. Compared to his peers, he is consistent and does not make many bad decisions. He has never thrown more than 13 interceptions in a season and has a 53-32 career record, but in some ways, you almost expect more from the guy leading one of the sport’s landmark franchises. Perhaps it is unfair to place so much onto Prescott, but sooner or later he has to prove that he is more than a regular-season performer, much like the Cowboys have been since their mid-1990s pinnacle.
9. Deshaun Watson, CLE (26)
2020 Stats: 4,823 Passing Yards, 33 Touchdowns/7 Interceptions, 112.4 QB Rating, 63.7 QBR
Breakdown: Looking at the play of Watson, it was not that long ago that he was seen as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. If/when he suits up for the Browns this season, it is likely that he would pick up where he left off on a team with more talent than he ever had in Houston. Watson is a tough guy to cover right now, with his off-field controversies generating much more discussion than his play on it. It is easy to forget in 2020 he led the league with 4,823 passing yards while throwing 33 Touchdowns to 7 Interceptions. When all of his lawsuits are resolved, Watson will look to turn the page with the best running back duo in the league, a new star receiver in Amari Cooper, and a newly extended David Njoku. Whenever that happens, Watson is sure to resume a once-promising career. There is a reason Cleveland gave up so much draft capital and offered him a fully guaranteed contract. It is not often a transcendent signal-caller is available to be acquired. While a suspension and fanbase division are imminent in the short-term, at some point Watson will attempt to put this behind him and re-establish himself as a top-tier QB.
10. Russell Wilson, DEN (33)
2021 Stats: 3,113 Passing Yards, 25 Touchdowns/6 Interceptions, 103.1 QB Rating, 54.7 QBR
Breakdown: Will Wilson be able to emulate what Stafford accomplished last season and guide his new team to a Super Bowl? Playing in the AFC West may prove extremely difficult. It is a division boasting the likes of Wilson, Mahomes, Herbert, and Derek Carr, all extremely productive quarterbacks. The Cheifs remain a threat with Mahomes, the Chargers improved immensely, and the Raiders added Carr’s college buddy in Davante Adams.
So where does this leave Wilson? Well, things look brighter for him in Denver than in Seattle. It can be argued he may have spent a season too long there, as it was evident they did not possess the talent on either side of the ball that they did when they had the “Legion of Boom” as the perfect complement to Wilson’s production. Even as Wilson enters his mid-30s, he remains a threat in the pocket. Although he posted a career-low in rushing yards, he still is a threat for the occasional scramble. He may not need to as much anyway as the Broncos have two quality backs in Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. Besides solid backfield partners, Wilson will also have a quality array of weapons to spread the ball to. While Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, and Albert Okwuegbunam do not have the same name recognition as D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, they are sure to look better with Wilson than with Teddy Bridgewater slinging the ball to them. Wilson’s debut in Denver is sure to be an interesting storyline to follow in the NFL as the Broncos have had a revolving door at QB since Peyton Manning retired. With Wilson, not only have they acquired a still-elite quarterback but one of the best leaders in the sport that is sure to keep them in the race for the AFC West crown.
11. Lamar Jackson, BAL (25)
2021 Stats: 2,882 Passing Yards, 16 Touchdowns/13 Interceptions, 87.0 QB Rating, 50.7 QBR
12. Kyler Murray, ARI (25)
2021 Stats: 3,787 Passing Yards, 24 Touchdowns/10 Interceptions, 100.6 QB Rating, 57.3 QBR
13. Derek Carr, LV (31)
2021 Stats: 4,804 Passing Yards, 23 Touchdowns/14 Interceptions, 94.0 QB Rating, 52.4 QBR
14. Kirk Cousins, MIN (34)
2021 Stats: 4,221 Passing Yards, 33 Touchdowns/7 Interceptions, 103.1 QB Rating, 52.3 QBR
15. Matt Ryan, IND (37)
2021 Stats: 3,968 Passing Yards, 20 Touchdowns/12 Interceptions, 90.4 QB Rating, 46.1 QBR
16. Carson Wentz, WSH (29)
2021 Stats: 3,563 Passing Yards, 27 Touchdowns/7 Interceptions, 94.6 QB Rating, 54.7 QBR
11-16 Breakdown: The tier beyond the Top Ten quarterbacks offers guys at various points in their careers. For Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson, they are both players of the same archetype looking for massive contracts based on their play in the first few seasons of their careers. Another parallel between the two is that their top receiver changed the hand he will be catching passes from as Marquise Brown was traded from Baltimore to Arizona over the off-season. While this leaves Jackson with only two main options in Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews, Kyler Murray will be looking to rekindle the college connection he had with Brown.
Speaking of college connections, there is something brewing in Las Vegas. While ranked last among AFC West peers, Derek Carr is no slouch at the position. He may now finally get the recognition his play has deserved after the Raiders acquired arguably the best receiver in the game in Davante Adams. Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow offer another elite trio of weapons out west for Carr to build upon a solid 2021 campaign that featured him nearly reaching the 5,000-yard plateau. If he can get there with anyone, it will be with Adams, his Fresno State alum.
Beyond the guys mentioned, there are familiar names with not-so-familiar backdrops. While Cousins remains in Minnesota, he will have a new Head Coach for the first time since becoming a Viking in Kevin O’Connell. A former QB himself, O’Connell will be tasked with getting even more from Cousins after a campaign that saw the team finish 8-8. Cousins will have to prove he is more than just numbers this season if the Vikings hope to have any shot in the NFC North and playoff picture.
For Ryan and Wentz, they are entering new situations entirely. In Ryan’s case, he has an opportunity to surround himself with a better supporting cast than he had over the last few years in Atlanta. While his numbers may suggest a decline, besides Kyle Pitts there were no true threats in the Falcon’s offense. This changes in Indianapolis as he will pair with Jonathan Taylor in the backfield as well as Michael Pittman Jr. leading the aerial attack. This is not to mention an offensive line led by future Hall of Famer Quenton Nelson. Things look promising for Ryan, and if the Colts can get anything resembling a Philip Rivers cameo in 2020 that led to 11 wins and a playoff appearance, I am sure they will take it.
Ryan replaces Wentz on the Colts as he was packaged in a deal to Washington. In the Nation's Capital, he hopes to establish a new identity with a team that itself went through a rebrand this off-season. Wentz has taken criticism for not being the needed leader at his previous stops and failing to lead the aforementioned Colts team to the playoffs this past year. All Wentz needs to do this year is attempt to reach the play that made him an MVP candidate in 2017, a year that has now made two teams make significant investments in him hoping he rediscovers that level. Even if he does not, maintaining his solid 2021 ratios (27 TDs to 7 INTs) is still an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke.
17. Jameis Winston, NO (28)
2021 Stats: 1,170 Passing Yards, 14 Touchdowns/3 Interceptions, 102.8 QB Rating, 64.4 QBR
18. Jalen Hurts, PHI (24)
2021 Stats: 3,144 Passing Yards, 16 Touchdowns/9 Interceptions, 87.2 QB Rating, 48.5 QBR
19. Ryan Tannehill, TEN (34)
2021 Stats: 3,734 Passing Yards, 21 Touchdowns/14 Interceptions, 89.6 QB Rating, 55.9 QBR
20. Mac Jones, NE (24)
2021 Stats: 3,801 Passing Yards, 22 Touchdowns/13 Interceptions, 92.5 QB Rating, 50.9 QBR
21. Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (24)
2021 Stats: 2,653 Passing Yards, 16 Touchdowns/10 Interceptions, 90.1 QB Rating, 49.7 QBR
22. Trevor Lawrence, JAX (22)
2021 Stats: 3,641 Passing Yards, 12 Touchdowns/17 Interceptions, 71.9 QB Rating, 33.5 QBR
17-22 Breakdown: For a guy who made the 30-30 club in the NFL a thing, Winston was surprisingly efficient when he was on the field for the Saints last season, only throwing 3 interceptions while leading the Saints to a 5-2 record. Coming back to a team with a healthy Michael Thomas and adding first-round draft choice Chis Olave will only benefit Winston in this critical year to define his career as a starting quarterback.
For Jalen Hurts, 2022 is also a crucial year to display being as much of a threat with his arm as his legs. If reports out of Philadelphia are to be believed, such as looking more jacked than ever, perhaps this is the year he breaks out as an elite quarterback in the league. The dual-threat talent is there, as he ran for 10 touchdowns last season. But adding A.J. Brown in the offseason to pair with Devonta Smith should allow Hurts to open up through the air and stake his claim as the second-best quarterback in the division behind an improved Eagles roster.
The team subtracting A.J. Brown is the one Ryan Tannehill is at the helm of. Coming off a down year based on his Titans tenure, Tannehill will be entering this season looking to bounce back. It will be harder for him to put up numbers without Brown, but having Henry back to balance the attack should help. Tannehill is not flashy, but he can win games with a solid roster around him, which is still the case in Tennessee.
Elsewhere, the last three quarterbacks in this tier are all below age 25 in Jones, Tagovailoa, and Lawrence. All three have shown promise in their still-young careers. Jones looked like the best quarterback in last year’s class despite being the 5th one taken, but Lawrence surpasses him in natural talent and it is fair to say this will be his rookie year after the Urban Meyer mess. While who is calling plays for the Patriots is still up in the air, the Jaguars will bring in much-needed reinforcements throughout the organization. Besides number one pick Travon Walker on defense, Lawrence will be joined by Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, and Brandon Scherff on offense along with college teammate Travis Etienne making his debut. This is not to mention the positive effect Doug Pederson is bound to have on him as a mentor. While these names do not scream stars or high-end talent, it offers competence across the field, something the team has sorely lacked.
Lastly, Tagovailoa enters next season with the highest expectations of nearly everyone on this list. Talk about adding weapons. Terron Armstead. Tyreek Hill. Sony Michel, Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Cedrick Wilson. Not to mention Mike Gesicki and rookie sensation Jaylen Waddle. That is a complete overhaul of talent and no excuses for Tua remain. It is all up to him to lead their team based on arm talent, which many critics have doubted, especially the long ball. If Mr. Cheetah is to be believed, perhaps he is the missing piece to unlocking Tagovailoa’s next level.
23. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (30)
2021 Stats: 3,810 Passing Yards, 20 Touchdowns/12 Interceptions, 98.7 QB Rating, 53.3 QBR
24. Davis Mills, HOU (23)
2021 Stats: 2,664 Passing Yards, 16 Touchdowns/10 Interceptions, 88.8 QB Rating, 35.5 QBR
25. Zach Wilson, NYJ (23)
2021 Stats: 2,334 Passing Yards, 9 Touchdowns/11 Interceptions, 69.7 QB Rating, 28.2 QBR
26. Justin Fields, CHI (23)
2021 Stats: 1,870 Passing Yards, 7 Touchdowns/10 Interceptions, 73.2 QB Rating, 26.4 QBR
27. Daniel Jones, NYG (25)
2021 Stats: 2,428 Passing Yards, 10 Touchdowns/7 Interceptions, 84.8 QB Rating, 41.5 QBR
23-27 Breakdown: Question marks for the longevity of these quarterbacks abound. Are they long-term answers for their organizations? Will they reach the next level of their development? 2022 will provide more definitive answers. While Jimmy G remains in the Bay, it may not be long before he is unseated by Trey Lance. Garoppolo offers experience and a solid winning background, but he is not the variable that wins games. For where San Francisco is in their timeline and given the capital they put towards drafting Lance, it is unlikely he finishes the season as the starter for them.
Otherwise, the others in this range have no competition for the position now but are competing to be seen as long-term options. Mills was surprisingly efficient and a bright spot for the Texans last season. Although not surrounded by much, he looks to be a draft-day steal. Wilson struggled heavily last season with the Jets, but which quarterback hasn’t? The Jets brought in the other half of the Wilson-Wilson connection in Garrett Wilson, who looks to be the star receiver they have been lacking for a long time. Beyond just that, Wilson improved down the stretch of last season and has a more rigid hierarchy of coaches providing him feedback.
The hopes for Wilson extend to Fields, although there is less in the cupboard for him to cook with, so to speak. Coming out of the draft, I thought Fields was electric and besides Lawrence showcased the rawest talent in terms of arm strength and mobility. It will take a lot for him to progress in year two on a non-competitive team, but perhaps he showcases his talent in longer spurts. Daniel Jones is the last of the young guys, but his leash is getting shorter. If Jones does not show himself worthy of being a starter, the Giants will likely draft or acquire a successor in a quarterback-rich class. Coming out of Duke, Jones has not been bad, and I would not even say “bust” is a worthy label, but he screams average. A new Coach and GM are far from attached to him, but maybe, just maybe, they can squeeze better play out of him and make him a viable option in the Big Apple.
28. Jared Goff, DET (27)
2021 Stats: 3,245 Passing Yards, 19 Touchdowns/8 Interceptions, 91.5 QB Rating, 39.5 QBR
29. Mitchell Trubisky, PIT (28)
2020 Stats: 2,055 Passing Yards, 16 Touchdowns/8 Interceptions, 93.5 QB Rating, 53.8 QBR
30. Marcus Mariota, ATL (28)
2019 Stats: 1,203 Passing Yards, 7 Touchdowns/2 Interceptions, 92.3 QB Rating, 35.5 QBR
31. Drew Lock, SEA (25)
2021 Stats: 787 Passing Yards, 2 Touchdowns/2 Interceptions, 80.4 QB Rating, 23.4 QBR
32. Sam Darnold, CAR (25)
2021 Stats: 2,527 Passing Yards, 9 Touchdowns/13 Interceptions, 71.9 QB Rating, 33.2 QBR
28-32 Breakdown: Placeholders anyone? The remaining five projected starters for Week One do not excite the fanbases they play for. But since they are the signal-callers, what do they offer? Goff is a serviceable bridge for the Lions offense, and given the circumstances, he did not play badly last year with a 2 to 1 TD-INT ratio. The Lions have improved over the past couple of months adding D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams to pair with Amon-Ra St. Brown and T.J. Hockenson. If you want a deeper dive into Goff and the Lions, I went over the team in extensive detail in January. To put it simply, until the Lions are ready to contend, Goff is a serviceable guy.
In the “Steel City”, Trubisky will compete with Rookie Kenny Pickett for a starting gig. After holding a clipboard in Buffalo, it is possible he implements new elements in his game. In Chicago, he was not given the best chance to succeed after his Pro Bowl season and if ranked based on that play he could move up a tier. Like the others in this group, there is bound to be a chip on his shoulder to live up to his draft status. Right behind him slots Mariota, and circumstances for him are the same as he competes with Desmond Ridder. The only difference is he comes from sitting for two years on the bench and has less of a talent base around him than Trubisky. For Lock, it looks as if Seattle might believe in him. Or, more likely, they felt there was not an answer in April’s draft. This is his final audition to last in the league. Ironically, the title of “last in the league” has a worthy crown in Sam Darnold. Darnold does not inspire anyone with his play and four years in, talent evaluators know who he is. He produces turnovers with great proficiency while not putting points on the board. It will be a long season for Carolina…
Names to Watch:
1. Trey Lance, SF (22)
2021 Stats: 603 Passing Yards, 5 Touchdowns/2 Interceptions, 97.3 QB Rating, 33.4 QBR
2. Baker Mayfield, CLE for now (27):
2021 Stats: 3,010 Passing Yards, 17 Touchdowns/13 Interceptions, 83.1 QB Rating, 35.1 QBR
Breakdown: Two guys, if starters, definitely slot in the Top 25. Lance is still raw but in glimpses was exciting and adds another dynamic for a Kyle Shanahan-led offense. Still only 22 when the season starts, the sky's the limit for him and I am beyond excited to see him get better throughout the fall.
I admit I have always been a Mayfield admirer for breaking the curse of Brown’s busts at the position. Hey, he even led them to the playoffs! He has gotten an unfair amount of blame and his name has been brought through the mud even though he played through injury last season. He still offers promise and it was not long ago many analysts spoke highly of him. In research, I really like this video detailing his highs and lows. The talent is there and will hopefully re-emerge. It won’t happen in Cleveland, but for a team like Seattle or Carolina, a scenery change will surely lead to more success.
1. Kenny Pickett, PIT (24)
2021 Stats (Pittsburgh): 4,319 Passing Yards, 42 Touchdowns/7 Interceptions, 165.3 QB Rating
2. Malik Willis, TEN (23)
2021 Stats (Liberty): 2,857 Passing Yards, 27 Touchdowns/12 Interceptions, 151.1 QB Rating
3. Desmond Ridder, ATL (23)
2021 Stats (Cincinnati): 3,334 Passing Yards, 30 Touchdowns/8 Interceptions, 158.7 QB Rating
Breakdown: Each of the “New Guns” will hope to claim a starting role after solid collegiate careers. Although not heralded highly, each of these guys can easily become starters. Pickett highly impressed scouts last season at Pittsburgh, coming from under the radar to be drafted in the first round. He remains in Pittsburgh, a desirable outcome for him. He is in a good situation and will not be rushed into action, although he will be 24 as the season kicks off. Malik Willis had a lot of pre-draft hype of being a first-rounder, even selected higher than Pickett. Instead, he fell to the third round. He looks and plays like a mini Cam Newton, as he is stocky and added 13 touchdowns on the ground last season at Liberty. Developed right, there is no doubt he can resemble Newton’s peak. He will have at least a season to mature and learn from Tannehill, and being drafted to a playoff team is a desirable scenario. To mention one final Rookie, I really like Ridder’s game. I have heard nothing but good things come from those who have hung around him, from Robert Griffin III, Jordan Palmer, and his Coach Arthur Smith. He has a high IQ and will definitely get a shot with the Falcons unlikely to contend. Ridder displayed he knows how to win and plays smart. If he claims the starting gig, he could even make a run for Offensive Rookie of the Year.