NFL1000: Ranking the Top Quarterbacks from 2017 Season

NFL1000 ScoutsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2018

NFL1000: Ranking the Top Quarterbacks from 2017 Season

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    NFL observers sometimes decry the lack of young, burgeoning talent at the quarterback position. But 2012 was a watershed year for quarterbacks in the draft, with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson among those dubbed the future of the league. 

    Both Luck and Tannehill missed the entire 2017 season due to injury, Griffin's career is over and Wilson is left to carry a dysfunctional offense on his back.

    The question has gone: Where are the great quarterbacks of tomorrow? The top two players in the 2016 draft, Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Eagles QB Carson Wentz, underwent massive improvements in their second seasons. Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has looked better in recent weeks, despite an unfriendly offense, and former Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo spent the last month looking like the best signal-caller in the league.

    With youth and veterans like Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady at the top of the playoff push, it's an exciting time to observe the position.

    NFL1000 quarterbacks scout Mark Schofield has been watching every quarterback through the 2017 season, and he's ready to pass judgment on them all.

    He has rated the quarterbacks with an overall performance score that grades the following traits:

    • Accuracy: Ball placement. How consistently does this quarterback put the ball where the receiver, and not the defender, can catch it? Does he throw with anticipation? In other words, does he throw his receivers open?
    • Arm talent: More than just arm strength, though that's important as well. How well does this quarterback accurately throw to all three levels—short, intermediate and deep? Does he estimate and produce the loft required on deep passes to make things easier for his receivers? Does he have the velocity to make tight-window throws?
    • Under Pressure: The ability to react to pressure both in and out of the pocket. Can this quarterback throw well when pressured off his base? Does he make mechanical adjustments to ensure accuracy on the move? How much are his mechanics affected by defensive pressure?
    • Decision-Making: How well a quarterback adjusts to what he sees. Can he make the pre-snap reads needed to make defenses pay for what they present? How well does he go through his progressions, and can he calmly and accurately make throws throughout his progressions?
    • Position Value: A score that takes into account the importance of the position when comparing scores across other positions. All quarterbacks receive 10/10, running backs receive 6/10, etc. 
    • Overall: The combined total of all of these scores

    Make sure to check out all of the NFL1000 rankings from the 2017 season.



Notable Omissions

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    When ranking quarterbacks, we wanted to have enough snaps to be able to get a truly accurate read of a player's development.

    We set a floor of at least two total starts, which left a few quarterbacks out, including Sam Bradford and his season-opening thrashing of the New Orleans Saints, Teddy Bridgewater as he's still making his comeback from knee surgery, Bills rookie Nathan Peterman and his five-pick disaster against the Chargers, and Andrew Luck, who missed the whole year.

Nos. 47-41

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    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

    47. Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos

    Accuracy: 9/25
    Arm: 
    17/25
    Under Pressure: 
    8/20
    Decision-Making: 
    7/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    51/100

    Denver's first-round pick in 2016, Lynch missed several weeks of the 2017 season with shoulder and ankle injuries. Had he been healthy, he likely would have been given several more opportunities to compete in the Broncos' round-robin of mediocre quarterbacks. When he did hit the field for two starts, Lynch showed mostly what he did at Memphis—that while he has a great arm and decent mobility, there's a lot to be worked out before he can deal with NFL defenses. Lynch is slow-footed in the pocket, has issues adjusting past his first read and processes what he sees with too many delays to match up with what the league has to offer. Two years into his professional career, these are disconcerting issues for any professional quarterback to have.

    46. T.J. Yates, Houston Texans

    Accuracy: 9/25
    Arm: 
    14/25
    Under Pressure: 
    10/20
    Decision-Making: 
    9/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    52/100

    Yates was pressed into action following injuries to both Deshaun Watson and Tom Savage, and he struggled just like any Texans quarterback not named Deshaun. He showed flashes of athleticism in the pocket, whether evading pressure or picking up yardage with his legs, but his decision-making was shaky at best. A prime example of that came on his interception against the Steelers in Week 16 on a 4th-and-goal throw over the middle that was intercepted by Artie Burns, when he never took his eyes off Will Fuller V. That, coupled with spotty accuracy, told the story of his time on the field.

          

    45. Blaine Gabbert, Arizona Cardinals

    Accuracy: 11/25
    Arm:
    15/25
    Under Pressure:
    9/20
    Decision-Making:
    9/20
    Position Value:
    10/10
    Overall Grade:
    54/100

    Blaine Gabbert was pressed into action following injuries to Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, and while he made his share of mistakes, his performance likely moved him into the organization's plans at the quarterback position going forward. Gabbert hit routes along the boundary with timing and anticipation and has good relationships with tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. If he can cut down on mistakes and develop a better feel for pressure, he could become the upper-level backup quarterback that Arizona needs.

          

    44. Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears

    Accuracy: 12/25
    Arm: 
    14/25
    Under Pressure: 
    9/20
    Decision-Making: 
    9/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    54/100

    The Chicago Bears signed Mike Glennon to a somewhat unexpected contract last offseason, and shortly thereafter, they traded up in the first round to draft Mitchell Trubisky. The intent may have been for Glennon to serve as a bridge to the rookie, but turned out to be an ineffective bridge. Glennon's production was poor during his four starts (one win) and he threw four touchdowns and five interceptions as a starter. His slow decision-making and inconsistency from the pocket forced the organizations to turn to Trubisky. 

          

    43. DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns

    Accuracy: 11/25
    Arm: 
    15/25
    Under Pressure: 
    10/20
    Decision-Making: 
    9/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    55/100

    Development may not be linear, but you do want to see some growth from a young quarterback. DeShone Kizer struggled this season, and he was still making the same mistakes late in the season that he made in Week 1. Staring down routes and throwing into coverage are rookie mistakes, but they should decrease over time. If there's cause for hope, it is this: Jared Goff struggled mightily as a rookie and enjoyed an incredible rebirth in his second season. Can Kizer make a similar leap, or will he even have the chance?

          

    42. Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos

    Accuracy: 12/25
    Arm: 
    12/25
    Under Pressure: 
    11/20
    Decision-Making: 
    10/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    55/100

    Trevor Siemian's 2017 season was cut short due to a shoulder injury suffered in Week 15, but it was really a year to forget for the quarterback. After a promising start, Siemian and the Broncos struggled, and when the offense was forced to rely on the passing game, Siemian could not deliver. He was at his best in play-action, but bone-headed interceptions were the norm for him. He had 14 on the year and nearly doubled his interception percentage from 2.1 last year to 4.0 in 2017.

          

    41. Tom Savage, Houston Texans

    Accuracy: 11/25
    Arm: 
    14/25
    Under Pressure: 
    10/20
    Decision-Making: 
    10/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    55/100

    In what foretold a major storyline of the 2017 season, Tom Savage was sacked six times in just one half of football in the season-opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Some of that was due to the athletic defense, but Savage was deliberate on many of those plays, to a fault. He was benched heading into Week 2 for rookie Deshaun Watson, but returned to action following Watson's season-ending ACL tear. However, the flaws remained. If Savage wants to truly develop into a capable backup, or even more, he will need to improve his processing speed in the pocket and make better decisions with the football.

Nos. 40-36

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    40. Kevin Hogan, Cleveland Browns

    Accuracy: 11/25
    Arm: 
    13/25
    Under Pressure: 
    12/20
    Decision-Making: 
    10/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    When DeShone Kizer struggled or was dealing with injuries, Kevin Hogan was the next man up for the Cleveland Browns. He has his limitations as a passer, most notably a lack of upper-level arm strength that, when combined with a somewhat loopy delivery, can cause throws to arrive late and lead to potential pass breakups and interceptions. However, Hogan brought a bit of athleticism, and if the Browns want a backup who can keep the offense on schedule and execute in the zone-read game, Hogan might be their best option.

          

    39. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins

    Accuracy: 11/25
    Arm: 
    13/25
    Under Pressure: 
    11/20
    Decision-Making: 
    11/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Matt Moore seemed to be the guy when Ryan Tannehill suffered his knee injury, but the organization convinced Jay Cutler to stave off retirement for one more season. When Cutler suffered an injury to his ribs, it was Moore's chance again. But during his four games, he was shockingly inconsistent. He threw two touchdowns in a win against the Jets and a touchdown without an interception in a loss to Tampa Bay. But in losses to New England and Baltimore, he threw two interceptions each. On those turnovers, slow reads and failures to manipulate defenders with his eyes were the main culprits.

          

    38. Brett Hundley, Green Bay Packers

    Accuracy: 13/25
    Arm: 
    14/25
    Under Pressure: 
    11/20
    Decision-Making: 
    11/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    59/100

    Hundley was inserted into the starting lineup for the Packers following the collarbone injury to Aaron Rodgers, and showed some of the inconsistencies we often see with younger, inexperienced quarterbacks. He was slow with his reads at times, and that often put him into trouble in the pocket, leading to mistakes. But as his starts added up, Hundley improved, and he turned in solid performances against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. If he can get faster with his reads, he can become an effective quarterback. 

          

    37. Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos

    Accuracy: 13/25
    Arm: 
    14/25
    Under Pressure: 
    12/20
    Decision-Making: 
    11/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    The 2017 calendar year was quite a long, strange trip for Brock Osweiler. He began by winning a playoff game, but then the Texans traded him as part of a salary-cap deal to the Cleveland Browns, who released him when Hue Jackson named DeShone Kizer the starter. So he rejoined the Denver Broncos, the team that originally signed him. When Trevor Siemian was ineffective, Vance Joseph turned to Osweiler in Week 9 as the starter. He was intercepted in each of his four starts, struggled with ball placement and was benched for Paxton Lynch. All of this led to his best performance of the year, and perhaps as a professional, when he came off the bench in Week 15 and threw two touchdown passes in a victory over the Colts. He is at his best when he is moved around the pocket in the boot-action game, but his staying power in the NFL is likely as a backup or spot starter.

          

    36. C.J. Beathard, San Francisco 49ers

    Accuracy: 14/25
    Arm: 
    13/25
    Under Pressure: 
    12/20
    Decision-Making: 
    11/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    Beathard was a surprise third-round draft pick in 2017, and Kyle Shanahan's emphasis on ball placement and decision-making in the pocket was likely a big reason for the selection. Beathard started five games for San Francisco before the organization turned to Jimmy Garoppolo, and during his time under center, he showed toughness in the pocket and a willingness to hang in there until the last moment before making a throw. There were the usual rookie mistakes, such as staring down routes and being too slow at times (which likely contributed to some of that pressure), but Beathard proved that he does belong in this league, perhaps as a solid backup in San Francisco.

Nos. 35-31

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    35. Bryce Petty, New York Jets

    Accuracy: 14/25
    Arm: 
    15/25
    Under Pressure: 
    11/20
    Decision-Making: 
    11/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    61/100

    In college, Bryce Petty ran an offense that featured a number of throws near the line of scrimmage, like hitch or slant routes, and then vertical routes down the field. When Petty was pressed into action this year after starting quarterback Josh McCown broke his hand in Week 14, offensive coordinator John Morton incorporated many designs like those into the Jets' game plan to get Petty comfortable in the pocket. Petty is at his best against off-coverage, whether zone looks or off-man coverage, when he can throw free-access hitch routes or read leverage on designs like slant/flat. If he is in the Jets' plans going forward, areas to improve are his processing speed and decision-making in the pocket.

    34. Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts

    Accuracy: 15/25
    Arm: 
    15/25
    Under Pressure: 
    12/20
    Decision-Making: 
    11/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    The Colts acquired Jacoby Brissett in a trade with the Patriots right before the season started, and Brissett quickly became the team's starter, given Andrew Luck's injury and the ineffectiveness of Scott Tolzien. Despite minimal time to get ready, Brissett played fairly well. He showed some of the flaws you might expect from a young quarterback learning a new system, and he will need to speed up his decision-making going forward. But Brissett has both the arm strength and the play strength that endeared him to the Patriots in the 2016 NFL draft.

    33. Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins

    Accuracy: 12/25
    Arm: 
    19/25
    Under Pressure: 
    11/20
    Decision-Making: 
    11/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Jay Cutler was preparing for life in the broadcast booth, but when Ryan Tannehill suffered a knee injury, he packed his bags for Miami to try and help his former coach Adam Gase. On paper, the marriage made sense, as one of Cutler's better years as a passer came under Gase in Chicago. But often, the sequel is never as good as the original, and that was the case in 2017. Cutler's ANY/A of just 5.0 was among the worst in the league. That might be partly due to Gase's reliance this season on attacking horizontally, instead of vertically, which could suit Cutler more as a QB. He did have some bright moments (three-touchdown performances against the Patriots and Raiders), but those were departures from his 2017 norm.

    32. Brian Hoyer, New England Patriots

    Accuracy: 14/25
    Arm: 
    15/25
    Under Pressure: 
    12/20
    Decision-Making: 
    12/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Hoyer began the year as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, and his time out west was met with mixed results. His best game of the season came in an overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts, where he threw for two touchdown passes and did not throw an interception. But a poor start to his Week 6 outing against Washington saw Kyle Shanahan make the move to rookie C.J. Beathard. Hoyer is at his best working against zone coverage. He does a good job of reading defenses in those situations and making throws with timing and anticipation. When asked to push the ball downfield, challenge tighter windows or make throws under pressure, his production tends to dip. He should be a backup for an offense that relies on West Coast passing concepts. 

    31. Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals

    Accuracy: 14/25
    Arm: 
    18/25
    Under Pressure: 
    11/20
    Decision-Making: 
    10/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Stanton faces an uncertain future. He was forced into action following a season-ending injury to Carson Palmer, and his results were mixed at best. He threw for five touchdowns and four interceptions and posted an ANY/A of just 4.5. At his best, he can deliver accurate throws with good velocity from a clean pocket, but he is average at best when facing pressure, and his decision-making and coverage reads can be spotty. He might remain in the team's future at the quarterback spot if Palmer decides to retire, but if he's going to be more than a backup, he'll need to clean up his thought process.

Nos. 30-26

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    30. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

    Accuracy: 15/25
    Arm:
    16/25
    Under Pressure: 
    12/20
    Decision-Making: 
    12/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Development is not linear, but Chicago Bears fans must be pleased with the growth shown by their rookie quarterback this season. As his starts wore on, Trubisky began anticipating routes more and processing coverages more quickly, a sign that he is settling into the professional game. His athleticism has been evident as well, whether extending plays in the pocket or making things happen in scramble drill situations. Trubisky needs to continue this growth in terms of reading coverage and playing quicker, but Bears fans should be hopeful.

    29. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Accuracy: 14/25
    Arm: 
    14/25
    Under Pressure: 
    13/20
    Decision-Making: 
    14/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    There is a reason Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps getting work in the NFL, and we saw it again in 2017. When Jameis Winston missed time with a shoulder injury Fitzpatrick stepped in and led Tampa Bay to a 2-1 record in three starts. He's thrown seven total touchdowns in six games, and his ANY/A of 6.3 would have placed him right in the middle of the pack among qualified starters this season. His throwing motion is elongated at times, and he lacks the ability to truly push the football downfield or into tight windows, but it is hard to do better if you're looking for a dependable spot starter.

    28. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

    Accuracy: 15/25
    Arm: 
    19/25
    Under Pressure: 
    11/20
    Decision-Making: 
    11/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    66/100

    Carson Palmer began the 2017 season facing questions about whether he would retire or return to the Cardinals for another season. But he was the starter to open the year, and during that time, there were struggles. His decision-making and ball placement seemed to be off, and he threw three interceptions in the season opener. His season ended early with a broken left arm suffered in a 33-0 loss to the Rams, so you can be sure that questions will linger about his 2018 plans. If he returns, he still has the arm to function in Bruce Arians' vertical-based passing game, but he'll need to take better care of the football.

    27. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

    Accuracy: 15/25
    Arm: 
    18/25
    Under Pressure: 
    12/20
    Decision-Making: 
    12/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    67/100

    Joe Flacco's 2017 season was incredible in many ways. Most notably, he was the starting quarterback of a playoff team while posting a very poor statistical season. Flacco's ANY/A of 4.7 was 29th in the league, besting only C.J. Beathard, Tom Savage, Trevor Siemian, Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer among qualified passers. His 5.7 yards per attempt was the lowest of his career. His adjusted yards per attempt of 5.3 was the lowest of his career. His 8.9 yards per completion was the lowest of his career. His QBR of 46.0 was the lowest of his career. And despite all of that, the Ravens were still in contention for a playoff spot right until the end. 

    26. Eli Manning, New York Giants

    Accuracy: 17/25
    Arm: 
    16/25
    Under Pressure: 
    12/20
    Decision-Making: 
    16/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    71/100

    The New York Giants began the 2017 season as a somewhat trendy pick to win the NFC East, but their hopes quickly went south after they lost their first five games. Eli Manning struggled as well, and his ANY/A of 5.1 not only placed him below the league average but was also one of the lowest marks of his career. His touchdown percentage of 3.3 was also among his all-time worst. Sure, the Giants dealt with injuries to their top two receivers, which hurt, and organizational dysfunction did not help, but you have to wonder if we are nearing the end of Manning's time in New York. If there was a bright spot, his interception percentage of 2.3 was the second-best of his career.

Nos. 25-21

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    25. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

    Accuracy: 16/25
    Arm: 
    16/25
    Under Pressure: 
    14/20
    Decision-Making: 
    15/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    71/100

    Following Carson Wentz's injury, Nick Foles stepped in and kept Doug Pederson's aggressive offensive approach on track. While Foles could not duplicate the athleticism and escapability of Wentz, he deftly handled the creative designs implemented by Pederson, starting with a four-touchdown performance against the New York Giants. His ability to make the right reads in the system and place the ball well was a big part of his success filling in this season.

    24. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

    Accuracy: 17/25
    Arm: 
    18/25
    Under Pressure: 
    14/20
    Decision-Making: 
    13/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    72/100

    One of the first coaching casualties of the 2017 season was Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, who was fired after the Bengals lost in uninspiring fashion to Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans in Week 2. Andy Dalton's early play was perhaps a reason why, as he threw four interceptions in the season-opener and failed to throw a single touchdown until new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's debut in Week 3. At his best, Dalton can make a variety of throws with good timing and near-perfect placement. But there were more occasions when he was slow and deliberate with his reads, particularly when blitzed or pressured, leading to trouble.

    23. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

    Accuracy: 16/25
    Arm: 
    17/25
    Under Pressure: 
    15/20
    Decision-Making: 
    14/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    72/100

    Marcus Mariota entered the 2017 season with very high expectations, and I was one of those who firmly believed he would flourish in his third year. But if anything, Mariota regressed in 2017. His red-zone numbers, as well as his ANY/A, took a step back from his 2016 level of production. Some point to the offensive system as a reason for his play this year, but if you look at Mariota in the pocket, it seems like ball placement is off due to problems with his throwing base, whether injury-related or not. Mariota did miss time with a hamstring injury, and while I won't go for the obvious pun here, it does seem like his lower body held him back in 2017.

    22. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

    Accuracy: 16/25
    Arm: 
    17/25
    Under Pressure: 
    15/20
    Decision-Making: 
    15/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    73/100

    Russell Wilson's playing style drew criticism, and the same held true for Buffalo's quarterback to start the season. Tyrod Taylor was often effective at times in new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison's West Coast-based passing scheme, but the team still turned to Nathan Peterman midway through the year even as it was in playoff contention. The rookie struggled, forcing the team to go back to Taylor. Yes, he can be slow at times with his reads and often fails to anticipate routes, but his progression as a quarterback and his continued ability outside of the pocket is dangerous. In the right system, and with an organization that believes in him, Taylor can be a solid starter in this league. Matter of fact, he already is. And with him as the starter, the Bills have their first playoff berth since 1999.

    21. Josh McCown, New York Jets

    Accuracy: 18/25
    Arm: 
    15/25
    Under Pressure: 
    13/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    73/100

    Before his season ended early with an injury to his left hand, Josh McCown was one of the season's biggest overachievers. In a John Morton-led offensive system predicated on West Coast concepts and quick throws with occasional downfield routes, McCown played very well. He was usually quick with his decisions on these plays, and his ball placement was solid throughout the year. McCown might not be the future for the Jets at the quarterback spot, but they would be smart to consider keeping him in town even if they address the position early in the 2017 NFL draft. 

Nos. 20-16

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    20. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

    Accuracy: 16/25
    Arm: 
    18/25
    Under Pressure: 
    14/20
    Decision-Making: 
    15/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    73/100

    Derek Carr entered the 2017 season with high expectations following an MVP-type season in 2016 that was cut short due to injury. Unfortunately for Carr and the Oakland Raiders, he could not replicate that level of success. In the early going, Carr seemed hesitant in the pocket and was perhaps dealing with lingering effects of his injury. Then he suffered a back injury that caused him to miss some action. Under new coordinator Todd Downing, the offense seemed more horizontal than it was in 2016, which led to some statistical regression as well. If the passing game gets more vertical, Carr will have more success going forward. 

          

    19. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

    Accuracy: 17/25
    Arm: 
    17/25
    Under Pressure: 
    15/20
    Decision-Making: 
    15/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    74/100

    Deshaun Watson took over as the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans early in the season. He won his first NFL start mostly by relying on his legs and throwing curl routes to DeAndre Hopkins. From there, Watson played at a high level by running a mix of spread concepts as well as more traditional drop-back designs. There were mistakes, like when he bird-dogged routes or was lazy with his eyes, but even with the ACL injury that stopped his season short, he made it clear that he is the Texans' quarterback of the future. More so than with most young quarterbacks, it will be fascinating to see how defenses adjust to Watson. What we don't yet know, and one reason Watson isn't ranked higher, is how he will adapt to what defenses do to adjust to the offenses he can handle at this point in his career. That's something we'll have to wait and see in 2018, and it's something we don't have to ask of QBs like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady who have seen it all. 

          

    18. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

    Accuracy: 18/25
    Arm: 
    18/25
    Under Pressure: 
    16/20
    Decision-Making: 
    13/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    75/100

    In August, the most popular quarterback in Kansas City was rookie Patrick Mahomes II. That changed once the fall rolled around, as starter Alex Smith got off to perhaps the best start of his career. He was aggressive, challenged throwing windows downfield and made plays in scramble-drill situations, and the Chiefs were the hottest team in football. Then they hit a rough patch, and the Smith of old resurfaced. During the midseason slide, Smith was suddenly more conservative. The Chiefs rebounded when Matt Nagy took over the play-calling, and they made the playoffs. It was still a career year for Smith in many respectssetting career highs in passing yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns and passer rating. But you know that come August, Mahomes will be the popular man once again.

          

    17. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Accuracy: 18/25
    Arm: 
    18/25
    Under Pressure: 
    15/20
    Decision-Making: 
    16/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    77/100

    Head coach Doug Marrone declared early in the year that the Jaguars' focus on offense was going to be the running game. But somewhere along the way, Bortles made a believer out of many with his play. Interceptions were down, his completion percentage was up, and his ANY/A of 6.2 was a career-best by a wide mark. He still made some confusing mistakes, such as a late interception in a loss against Arizona, but his athleticism and the way he finished the season (seven TDs and no INTs from Weeks 13 through 15) helped the Jaguars get back to the playoffs.

          

    16. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Accuracy: 17/25
    Arm: 
    19/25
    Under Pressure: 
    16/20
    Decision-Making: 
    16/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    78/100

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a trendy playoff pick last offseason, given the weapons they added around Jameis Winston. But Tampa Bay never lived up to the hype. Winston actually improved in some statistical areas, including a better ANY/A and interception ratio, but most expected more from him. To make the kind of leap people projected, he needs to refrain from forcing throws into coverage and become more consistent with his ball placement.

Nos. 15-11

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    15. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

    Accuracy: 17/25
    Arm: 
    20/25
    Under Pressure: 
    16/20
    Decision-Making: 
    16/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    79/100

    It would have been ambitious to assume that Dak Prescott could improve from his impressive rookie campaign, but at times this season, it sure looked like he did exactly that. His ability to make throws on the move coupled with his velocity in and out of the pocket made defending him tough. He did struggle when tackle Tyron Smith was out because he was under pressure on many throws, and his ball placement became an issue. But when Smith worked his way back into the lineup, Prescott's play improved, despite a general regression along the offensive line. Losing running back Ezekiel Elliot to a six-game suspension late in the season led to fewer run-heavy coverages as well as a decrease in defenses' proclivity for biting on play-action. Perhaps his 2017 season was not so much a regression as it was a more true representation of what kind of player Prescott is at this point in his career when everything isn't going right. His performance against the New York Giants in Week 14 might have been his best of the season, and he was a huge reason the Cowboys remained in playoff contention.

          

    14. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

    Accuracy: 18/25
    Arm: 
    20/25
    Under Pressure: 
    16/20
    Decision-Making: 
    16/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    80/100

    On the back nine of his career, Philip Rivers posted one of his stronger seasons. He cut down on mistakes, as his 10 interceptions were a big decrease from the career-high 21 he threw in 2016. In addition, his ANY/A of 7.6 was the fifth-best of his career, and the best mark he has posted since 2013. His throwing mechanics remain unconventional, and he did throw three interceptions in a crucial late-season game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but his Pro Bowl selection speaks to his continued solid play.

          

    13. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

    Accuracy: 18/25
    Arm: 
    19/25
    Under Pressure: 
    16/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    80/100

    After a few down seasons, the San Francisco 49ers have hope again, and it arrived in the form of Jimmy Garoppolo. He stepped into the starting lineup and won his first two starts with confidence, poise and toughness in the pocket and an ability to make high-velocity throws under duress. If the Niners can work out an extension with Garoppolo and add a few more offensive pieces, they might be a team to look out for in 2018.

          

    12. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

    Accuracy: 19/25
    Arm: 
    19/25
    Under Pressure: 
    17/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    82/100

    Washington faces a huge decision this offseason regarding Kick Cousins, who has played under the franchise tag the past two years. It would be wise to retain his services. Cousins was effective from the pocket, showed an ability to extend and keep plays alive with his legs and was a big reason why Washington pulled out wins over good teams like the game in Seattle. Were there mistakes and turnovers? Sure, but even some of those are not attributable to him, like the red-zone interception he threw in the direction of Jamison Crowder against Dallas in Week 13. Washington may decide to move on from Cousins, but the quarterback will have many suitors waiting to court him. 

         

    11. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

    Accuracy: 19/25
    Arm: 
    20/25
    Under Pressure: 
    17/20
    Decision-Making: 
    16/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    82/100

    It's difficult to duplicate one of the NFL's best seasons as a passer, and Matt Ryan fell short of matching his eye-popping numbers posted in 2016. Under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the Atlanta Falcons struggled at times to get their offense going. Ryan still showed impressive traits at the position, most notably his anticipation on routes at all levels of the field, and he was adept at avoiding pressure in the pocket and extending plays with his legs. Some multiple-interception games (three against Detroit and two against Buffalo), caused his numbers to drop a bit.

10. Case Keenum, Minnesota Vikings

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 21/25
    Arm: 
    17/25
    Under Pressure: 
    18/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    83/100

    Case Keenum took over as the Minnesota Vikings' starting quarterback following Sam Bradford's injury in Week 1, and he wildly outperformed expectations. He showed an uncanny knack for avoiding pressure in the pocket, keeping plays alive and finding receivers in scramble-drill situations, but he was also able to thrive from the pocket in coordinator Pat Shurmur's offense. Keenum needs to avoid mistakes, such as the two interceptions he threw against Washington in Week 10, if the Vikings are going to realize their Super Bowl dreams.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout Mark Schofield 

                                                            

    A career backup and spot starter before his revelatory 2017 season with the Vikings, Keenum showed he can run an offense at a high level and exploit less savvy defenses with the deep pass. He does have the occasional stretches in which his aspirations outdo his arm talent, but in the Vikings' offensive system, he's aligned well with the receivers and has a comprehensive understanding of what Shurmur wants to accomplish. No matter what happens with Minnesota's quarterback situation in 2018, Keenum has shown that he deserves a starting shot somewhere.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar    

9. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 20/25
    Arm: 
    20/25
    Under Pressure: 
    17/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    84/100

    After being selected with the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Jared Goff seemed like he might be hit with the bust label after seven ineffective starts. Under the tutelage of new head coach Sean McVay, however, Goff flourished in 2017.

    The second-year signal-caller took an impressive leap forward with respect to reading the field and showing anticipation on his throws, and he helped propel the Rams to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Goff also displayed great feel and footwork in the pocket—something that was a point of debate during the predraft process.

    He made mistakes, and at times, he was slow to get the ball out, leading to interceptions or strip-sacks. But the huge developmental leap Goff took from Year 1 to Year 2 cannot be denied.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout Mark Schofield 

                                              

    There is no better example of the value of good coaching through the 2017 season than Goff's transformative year.

    With McVay defining his reads—and making it clear that Goff would benefit from a first-read open receiver on nearly every play—the signal-caller became far more comfortable and productive than he ever could have been in 2016 under then-head coach Jeff Fisher and his offensive coordinator, Rob Boras.

    He'll be a product of McVay's system in the short term; how Goff is able to transcend it over time is what will become really interesting.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar    

8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 18/25
    Arm: 
    23/25
    Under Pressure: 
    18/20
    Decision-Making: 
    16/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    85/100

    Cam Newton remains one of the game's most dangerous offensive weapons. The quarterback has areas he struggles with, such as precision ball placement and quick decision-making in the pocket, but his athleticism as well as his arm strength can mask some of those flaws.

    Similar to Russell Wilson in Seattle, Newton's importance in the offense cannot be overstated and is something that tradition passing metrics may not capture.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout Mark Schofield 

                                                               

    The Panthers have not always met Newton halfway from a coaching and personnel perspective. They tend to waver between imagining him as a pocket passer and understanding that they won't win consistently without Newton's ability to create plays outside of structure.

    Newton doesn't have the targets many other quarterbacks possess, which forces him to extend plays and make things happen after the play breaks down. So his value beyond the stats is clear and real.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar    

7. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 19/25
    Arm: 
    21/25
    Under Pressure: 
    18/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    85/100

    Similar to Goff, Carson Wentz—the No. 2 overall pick in 2016—took a developmental leap forward. Before his season ended early, Wentz was a legitimate MVP candidate. His touchdown pass on 4th-and-goal while standing as best he could with a torn left ACL is perhaps the enduring image of his 2017 campaign.

    Wentz still has areas he needs to improve—most notably his processing speed and his tendency to stare down his primary target—but his athleticism as well as his competitive toughness made him one of the year's best storylines.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout Mark Schofield 

                                   

    In 2016, Wentz threw the second-most passes of any rookie in NFL history (behind only Andrew Luck in 2012), and head coach Doug Pederson later told Comcast SportsNet's John Clark (h/t Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia) that it was a mistake to put too much on Wentz's shoulders so soon.

    What, then, can we make of Wentz's pre-injury development in 2017? More and more as the season went along, he combined his ability to handle the Eagles' passing game with rare physicality and mobility, turning himself into one of the few indispensable quarterbacks in the game today. When he returns healthy in 2018, he'll likely continue to be just that.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar    

6. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 19/25
    Arm: 
    23/25
    Under Pressure: 
    17/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    86/100

    Matthew Stafford's raw arm talent and his ability to make throws with velocity and good ball placement from a variety of throwing platforms represent his strongest trait as a passer. His 2017 tape is replete with examples of this ability. There might be times when he trusts his receivers—and his right arm—too much, and that leads to mistakes. But his prowess as a passer perhaps single-handedly kept the Lions in playoff contention until late in the season.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout Mark Schofield 

    Stafford’s mobility and velocity have never been questioned; the Georgia alum is one of the most freakishly talented quarterbacks we’ve ever seen. The task given to offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter over the last few seasons has been to reduce Stafford’s rogue tendencies and make him better in a ball-control offense with the occasional explosive play. At times, that leads to far too few big plays downfield, and Stafford would benefit copiously from any kind of running game, but there are few quarterbacks more willing and able to put an entire offense on their backs.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar    

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 20/25
    Arm: 
    23/25
    Under Pressure: 
    16/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    86/100

    After a rocky start to his season, including a five-interception game against the stout Jacksonville defense in Week 5, Roethlisberger turned it on coming down the stretch. He threw four touchdown passes in back-to-back games against the Titans and the Packers, and when the Steelers were able to go uptempo, particularly at home, Roethlisberger seemed to thrive. Of course, having Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown helps, but as the season wore on, Roethlisberger's decisions and ball placement improved. The early mistakes, often coming when trying to force the football downfield or toward Brown, happened when the quarterback was trying to be too aggressive.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout Mark Schofield 

    Big Ben’s inconsistencies over the last season-and-a-half have been mostly mechanical in nature; when he gets random with his foot placement and estimated velocity, he can fall apart for great stretches of time. Fortunately for the Steelers, he’s kept everything under control over the second half of the 2017 season, and he’s perfectly aligned with a vertical passing game with a ton of quick receivers who are learning their route placements. This offense as currently designed and executed makes Pittsburgh as tough an out as any you’ll see in the postseason.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar    

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 21/25
    Arm: 
    21/25
    Under Pressure: 
    18/20
    Decision-Making: 
    18/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    88/100

    Drew Brees turned in another strong season for the New Orleans Saints, and with weapons like Michael Thomas and rookie Alvin Kamara, the Saints were able to rebound from three straight losing seasons. While his touchdowns and passing yards took a dip thanks to the suddenly strong running attack that took pressure off his shoulders, Brees posted a career-best completion percentage of 72.0, and his 7.5 net yards per attempt was best in the league. His ability to quickly process, reset and throw, as evidenced by a touchdown pass against the New York Jets to Kamara in Week 15, served him well in the Saints offense in 2017.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout Mark Schofield 

    The word about Brees' physical decline over the last couple of seasons was that he wasn't slamming the deep ball like he once did. And when you watch the tape, you can see a clear decrease in velocity that affects the tail of his deep passes more often than not. However, few passers are more adaptable than Brees, and with a revamped offensive line and the always outstanding route designs of head coach Sean Payton, Brees has retained his status as a pinpoint passer when making short to intermediate throws. And when the deep ball comes, he's able to take advantage of designed openings to get the most out of his physical gifts.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar    

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 21/25
    Arm: 
    22/25
    Under Pressure: 
    18/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    88/100 

    The highly anticipated paradigm shift in offensive football is here, spearheaded by Russell Wilson, who was Seattle's entire offense in 2017. While his style of play might seem unorthodox, there is a method to the madness. Wilson is a magician outside of the pocket, and his ability to make plays in scramble-rules situations is a nightmare for defenses. There are times when Wilson puts himself into dangerous situations, and his style of play tasks him with making perfect throws from difficult positions on the field, but ask yourself this: Where would the Seahawks be without him?

    —NFL1000 QB Scout, Mark Schofield 

    If you're one of the traditionalists who bash Russell Wilson for missing open reads and scrambling out of the pocket before he needs to, consider this: He is asked to create something out of nothing over and over behind one of the worst pass-blocking offensive lines in recent memory, occasionally hand off to a string of non-starter running backs and hope his receivers can beat coverage (Doug Baldwin excepted). Wilson's game looks like no other, precisely because the Seahawks have misdiagnosed the character of their overall offense. They have asked Wilson to pull them out of the fire repeatedly. The extent to which Wilson is able to do this when other quarterbacks could not is his defining characteristic.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar    

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 22/25
    Arm: 
    23/25
    Under Pressure: 
    17/20
    Decision-Making: 
    17/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    89/100

    On raw talent alone, Aaron Rodgers remains at the top of the current crop of NFL quarterbacks. However, 2017 was a down year by his standards. He suffered the collarbone injury in Week 6, and when he returned to action in Week 15, he was clearly rusty, throwing three interceptions in a loss that severely damaged Green Bay's playoff hopes. When he's fully healthy, there is arguably no one better at the position, and he very well could have been the top quarterback in our rankings, as he was last season. Rodgers' combination of arm strength, quick release and ability to throw from any platform make him a joy to watch.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout Mark Schofield 

    When we talk about true greatness, one of the defining characteristics is the ability to do more with less. No quarterback in recent NFL history has done more with less than Rodgers. Whether it's making an injury-plagued and inconsistent receiver corps better than it is, making chicken salad of head coach Mike McCarthy's outdated playbook or creating explosive plays out of necessity to compensate for a defense that has fallen in the tank, Rodgers carries his team by default. When he's healthy, the Packers are a constant threat. When he's not, the Packers don't have a chance. Rodgers is a Most Valuable Player candidate every season with his presence, and his value to the Packers was clear in his absence. This has been the case more and more throughout the decade as Green Bay's defense and running game has regressed; Rodgers is asked to carry still more of the load, and when he's healthy, no other quarterback can do this to his level.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar  

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Accuracy: 23/25
    Arm: 
    21/25
    Under Pressure: 
    19/20
    Decision-Making: 
    18/20
    Position Value: 
    10/10
    Overall Grade: 
    91/100

    As the Patriots moved to incorporate more of a downfield flavor to their passing attack, 40-year-old Tom Brady had another MVP-caliber season. With the acquisition of Brandin Cooks, the Patriots included a vertical stretch to much of their offense, and Brady's ability to deliver on those throws—often a question mark during his career—helped them make another run toward the postseason. Brady's continued mastery of the pocket enabled him to extend plays throughout the season. There were times, such as a Monday night debacle against the Dolphins, when he looked mortal. But those moments were few and far between during another strong season for the veteran QB.

    —NFL1000 QB Scout, Mark Schofield 

    From season to season and system to system, it doesn’t seem to matter: Tom Brady always comes out on top. And he is having a marvelous season at age 40, breaking all kinds of records for aging quarterbacks despite a leaky offensive line and a receiver group that has struggled to stay healthy all season. Losing Julian Edelman before the season even started removed a lot of the option routes from Brady’s playbook, so the team asked Brady to be more of a downfield thrower. He’s nailed it for the most part, though recent regressions against man coverage and pressure in his face make the Patriots a little less than the lead-pipe lock in the playoffs they generally are.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar