The 50 Most Overrated QBs in NFL History

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer INovember 22, 2010

The 50 Most Overrated QBs in NFL History

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    The 50 Most Overrated Quarterbacks in NFL History will not go without some controversy, in large part because they are subjective—different people measure a quarterback's ability in different ways.

    Large determinants in my rankings were QB rating, completion percentage and interception percentage, measured by the percentage of passes that were picked off during a quarterback's career.

    Super Bowl winners, for the most part, were ranked better, despite the statistics and circumstances that placed them on this list.

    Quarterbacks who had a high amount of Pro Bowl selections or were inducted into the Hall of Fame were scrutinized more closely, as the overwhelming recognition they garnered demanded overwhelming numbers and performance.

    Some current players weren't ranked very highly because they still have years to make up for their shortcomings, but they were still put on this list because they have not lived up to the hype that has surrounded them.

    So, without further ado, I present to you The 50 Most Overrated Quarterbacks in NFL History.

    Let the debate begin.

50. Eli Manning

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    Eli Manning entered the league as the next big savior for a franchise.

    But his performance has not lived up to this expectation.

    He has completed only 58 percent of his passes in seven years' time, and many would be quick to declare Philip Rivers, the man who took his place in San Diego after the draft via trade, as a better quarterback than he.

    Eli Manning has an 80.2 QB rating for his career, and he has yet to throw single-digit interceptions in his six-and-a-half years starting.

    He was supposed to be the next Peyton Manning, but it has not panned out that way in New York.

49. Chad Pennington

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    Another quarterback who was supposed to be the savior of New York (albeit with the Jets), Chad Pennington never did live up to the hype.

    His arm strength was always questioned, and he never became the elite quarterback many expected.

    His QB rating of 90.1 and completion percentage of 66 percent are solid marks, however, and keep him from being ranked higher.

48. Trent Dilfer

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    It is only because of Trent Dilfer's Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens that he was ever hyped, and his 70.2 QB rating, 55.5 percent completion percentage and ho-hum 58-55 record demonstrate that.

    He was a solid backup, but not a legitimate starter.

47. Jake Plummer

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    Jake Plummer was the face of the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos for years, and you have to wonder why.

    He had a 74.6 QB rating, completed 57 percent of his passes and in his Pro Bowl year, he only threw 18 touchdowns.

46. Jason Campbell

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    It hasn't mattered where Jason Campbell has gone, the performance has never been there. He's one of those quarterbacks who was always expected to break out any season, but it never happened.

    The Redskins felt enough was enough before the 2010 season and turned their attention elsewhere.

    Oakland's resurgence this season hasn't been because of Campbell, it's been in spite of him. He is completing under 55 percent of his passes and has a career-low 75.8 QB rating in eight games.

45. Kordell Stewart

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    The fact that Kordell Stewart was the starting quarterback for the vaunted Pittsburgh organization for five years is shocking.

    He threw 84 interceptions compared to 77 touchdowns and had a 70.7 QB rating.

44. Mark Sanchez

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    Jets QB Mark Sanchez, coming out of USC, has had enough time to prove he's the next big thing.

    Although a serviceable quarterback for a run-heavy and defensive powerhouse in New York, he has certainly not been overly impressive.

    He is completing just 55 percent of his passes this season in what was supposed to be his breakout year.

43. Jay Cutler

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    Jay Cutler was supposed to be the answer for Denver. He was not. In fact, he was an interception machine.

    In his three years with Denver, the Broncos never finished better than 8-8.

    People cried bloody murder when he was traded for Kyle Orton before the 2009 season.

    Kyle Orton has been the better quarterback since the trade.

    Cutler just threw his 10th interception of the 2010 season, meaning he's thrown double-digit interceptions in four straight years.

42. Ron Jaworski

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    The quarterback-turned-commentator was more known for his endearing personality than his actual performance when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles.

    His 72.8 QB rating and 53.1 completion percentage will attest to that.

41. Brian Sipe

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    Brian Sipe was the starting QB for the Cleveland Browns in the '70s and '80s, but he didn't do much to warrant a Pro Bowl selection.

    Sipe threw 149 interceptions in the 125 games he played.

40. Bernie Kosar

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    What made Bernie Kosar so popular during his playing days was really his likable personality.

    He had a pedestrian 81.8 QB rating for his career and went 53-54.

    He was finally benched in 1993 for Vinny Testaverde (more on him later) by a certain Browns coach named Bill Belichick.

39. Jeff Hostetler

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    The longtime starter has been talked about a lot, but with an 80.5 career QB rating and a completion percentage of 58 percent, you wonder why.

38. Jim Everett

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    Jim Everett, who played in the '80s and '90s, had a 64-89 career record and a 78.6 QB rating. His Pro Bowl selection in 1990 was hardly warranted, as he threw for 23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

    Not exactly a barn-burner.

37. Ken O'Brien

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    Ken O'Brien was a longtime starter for the New York Jets.

    It's safe to say his two Pro Bowl selections were highly illogical.

    In 1991, O'Brien was selected to the Pro Bowl after throwing 11 picks compared to 10 touchdowns and "leading" the team to an 8-8 record.

    He had a career 80.4 QB rating, threw 128 interceptions in 129 games, and he had just two seasons of 20-plus touchdowns in seven full seasons.

36. Ken Anderson

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    A starter for Cincinnati from the '70s to the '80s, Ken Anderson had 160 interceptions in 192 games, was 85th in NFL history in interception percentage, and in his 16 seasons, only had two seasons of 20-plus touchdowns.

    He was rewarded by being a Hall of Fame finalist.

35. Dan Pastorini

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    In nine full seasons, Dan Pastorini had a 59.1 QB rating, threw 161 interceptions to 103 touchdowns in 140 games and had an abysmal 50.9 percent completion percentage

    His Pro Bowl selection in 1975 was laughable, as he threw 16 interceptions compared to 14 touchdowns.

34. Daunte Culpepper

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    Daunte Culpepper was a media magnet when he played in the NFL.

    But it wasn't based on his whole career. He had three big seasons that elevated him to a larger-than-life persona.

    But his 41-59 career record demonstrates more accurately what his entire career was like.

33. Jake Delhomme

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    Carolina Panthers fans yell out in horror when they hear this guy's name. He was largely ineffective during his entire tenure with Carolina.

    He completed only 59 percent of his passes, and wide receiver Steve Smith was his only saving grace.

    Somehow, this guy is still in the league.

32. Carson Palmer

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    Carson Palmer, every so often, gets on a hot streak and people start calling him an elite quarterback.

    But then he regresses to playing like he doesn't have a clue what he's doing.

    Palmer has had all the receiving options in the world in his career, but there are still doubts whether he can carry this club.

31. Tony Romo

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    He's been so consistently frustrating for Cowboys fans, because he has the talent to make many things happen on the field.

    But his concentration wanes often, and at inopportune moments.

    Despite a plethora of talent surrounding him, he looks good in fantasy football, but the truth is, he can't lead this team through the playoffs.

    He is a regular-season starting quarterback, but, alas, he constantly cracks under pressure. You don't want him leading your team come playoff time.

30. Phil Simms

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    Phil Simms is regularly recognized as a New York Giants staple during his playing days.

    Why?

    He has a career 78.5 QB rating, completed just over 55 percent of his passes, and his two Pro Bowl selections were a joke.

    In 1985, he had 22 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Pro Bowl-worthy? No.

    In 1993, he had just 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Pro Bowl-worthy? You kidding me?!

29. Kerry Collins

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    Kerry Collins was the fifth pick overall in the 1995 draft and has been a backup-level talent his entire career.

    But somehow, somehow, this guy is still playing after 16 seasons.

    In nine of these seasons, he threw double-digit interceptions. He has a 73.6 QB rating, and when he made the Pro Bowl in 2008, he threw for just 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 16 games.

    Oh yeah, and he averaged 167 yards passing per game.

    In a word, "WHA?!"

28. Jim Kelly

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    What Buffalo Bills fan can forget Jim Kelly?

    In four straight seasons, the Bills were in the Super Bowl. Four straight seasons, they lost it.

    The five-time Pro Bowler had some decent regular-season numbers, but his inability to win a championship in Buffalo will haunt him and Bills fans forever.

    Jim Kelly is now a member of the Hall of Fame.

27. Terry Bradshaw

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    This will likely evoke rage from Pittsburgh Steelers fans, but, let me be clear, I am not saying Terry Bradshaw was a bad quarterback; in fact, he was one of the greats when it came to the postseason. He won four Super Bowl rings and is legendary in Steelers folklore.

    But you look at his collective numbers for his, and they don't scream "one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history."

    He had a 70.9 QB rating, one of the highest interception percentages on this entire list at 5.4 percent (good for 176th all-time) and he passed for 20-plus interceptions five times.

    Looking at his entire career, he is overrated.

26. John Elway

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    It wasn't until his 11th season that John Elway had anything close to a star-worthy season. He had a 79.9 career QB rating.

    Yes, he won two Super Bowls, but he also lost three, don't forget that. And the system he was in could be compared to that of the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers today—a winning formula.

    I still consider him one of the great quarterbacks of all time, but the hype that surrounds him is of legendary proportions, and he simply does not live up to it for me.

25. Troy Aikman

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    Troy Aikman did indeed win three Super Bowls, but he may have had the most talent surrounding him of any quarterback on this list.

    He is a great quarterback, don't get me wrong, but his career numbers (such as his 81.6 QB rating) are very ordinary for being equipped with a Hall of Fame running game, Hall of Fame receiving corps and Hall of Fame offensive line.

    Bradshaw, Elway and Aikman are on this list because they have been thrust into the discussion of the greatest quarterback ever, yet I feel they simply are not.

24. Boomer Esiason

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    Boomer Esiason had a career 81 QB rating, threw 184 interceptions in 187 games, never had fewer than 11 interceptions in a full season, and had a career 80-93 record.

    In his only Super Bowl appearance in 1988, he lost.

    Yet, he is compared to some of the greats. And that is just not accurate.

23. Vinny Testaverde

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    Vinny Testaverde lasted 21 seasons in the NFL. That is more a TESTAment to his toughness and willpower. Not his ability.

    Testaverde had a career 75.0 QB rating and threw 267 interceptions in 233 games. He ranks fourth all-time in interceptions.

22. Doug Flutie

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    Despite being a four-time Pro Bowler, Doug Flutie was highly overrated.

    He had a career 76.3 QB rating and a 54.7 completion percentage.

    He is most known for a few highlights, Flutie Flakes, and of course, that one college play at Boston College.

    He was that little underdog you rooted for, but the hype that surrounded him was unimaginable.

21. Steve McNair

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    For having the nickname "Air McNair," Steve McNair never did throw a lot of touchdowns. The most he ever threw was 24.

    He had an average QB rating of 82.8 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2000 with Tennessee for having 15 touchdowns.

20. Drew Bledsoe

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    Drew Bledsoe was never able to win a Super Bowl with the Patriots despite having a lot of talent, and his 98-95 career record isn't all that impressive.

    He was a four-time Pro Bowler, despite a 77.1 QB rating and a completion percentage of 57.1 percent.

19. Milt Plum

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    Milt Plum was selected for two Pro Bowls in the '50s and '60s, yet his play hardly backs that up.

    It's PLUM crazy, in fact.

    Plum had a QB rating of 72.2, and 127 interceptions in 129 games.

    He threw for more interceptions than touchdowns in five of his 13 years in the league.

    His 5.3 percent interception rate ranks 166th all-time.

18. Archie Manning

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    It's a wonder when people discuss the Manning brothers' talent, they say, "It runs in the family."

    Despite raising two fine quarterbacks, Archie Manning was not a fine quarterback himself. People completely miss that.

    His career record is the worst in NFL history for quarterbacks with at least 100 starts. He went 35-101-3. That's not a misprint.

    He also had a 67.1 QB rating and threw 173 interceptions compared to 125 touchdowns in his career. Ouch.

17. Roman Gabriel

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    Roman Gabriel went to four Pro Bowls despite a 74.3 QB rating.

    He actually was selected for three straight years from 1967 to 1969. His highest completion percentage in these three years? A whopping 54.4 percent.

    Oh, to be a quarterback in the late '60s.

16. George Blanda

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    George Blanda had one of the highest interception percentages in league history at 6.9 percent. He had 277 interceptions compared to 236 touchdowns.

    He led the league in interceptions four times, including 30 picks in 1965 and 42, yes 42, in 1962. He had a QB rating of 60.6.

    George Blanda was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981.

15. Daryle Lamonica

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    With a name like Lamonica, it makes me think "harmonica."

    But Lamonica's game was not music to the ears.

    He had two big seasons with Oakland. The rest was a wash.

    He had a 72.9 QB rating and interception percentage of 5.3 percent, yet Lamonica was selected for five Pro Bowls.

14. John Hadl

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    While with San Diego in the '60s and '70s, John Hadl went to six Pro Bowls.

    He completed just 50.4 percent of his passes, had a QB rating of 67.4 and had one of the highest interception percentages in league history at 5.7 percent.

    Yeah, six Pro Bowls.

13. Norm Snead

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    In 178 games, Norm Snead threw 257 interceptions to just 196 touchdowns. He had a QB rating of 65.5. And he had a interception percentage of 5.9 percent.

    Despite all of this, Snead went to four Pro Bowls. His year in 1963 may be the worst Pro Bowl season of all time—13 touchdowns, 27 interceptions and a 3-11 record.

12. Bob Griese

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    Bob Griese had a career QB rating of 77.1, threw 172 interceptions in 161 games and the most touchdowns he ever threw was 22.

    Bob Griese went to EIGHT Pro Bowls.

11. Brett Favre

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    You've been waiting a long time for this one, haven't you?

    The hype surrounding Brett Favre has been out of this world ever since he stepped onto the football field in 1992 with Green Bay.

    He is the constant subject of rumors, grand exaggerations and, yes, sexy text messaging.

    His 86.1 career QB rating does not live up to any of this. Neither do his 334 interceptions (the most in NFL history).

    Brett Favre, please just leave me alone already.

10. Len Dawson

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    An interception percentage of 4.9 percent certainly doesn't help a team. Neither does a 57 percent completion percentage.

    It certainly doesn't warrant seven Pro Bowl selections and an induction into the Hall of Fame.

9. Johnny Unitas

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    Johnny Unitas is one of the most celebrated football players ever, with a ridiculous 10 Pro Bowl selections and an induction into the Hall of Fame.

    But a 78.2 QB rating certainly doesn't warrant this. Neither does a 4.9 percent interception rate or a completion percentage of 54.6 percent.

    He was great for his time, but is not worth the legendary status many place on him.

8. Fran Tarkenton

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    For being a nine-time Pro Bowler, Fran Tarkenton did not play up to that level, nor the level of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, for that matter.

    He had a mediocre 80.4 QB rating, 57 percent completion rate, and 4.1 interception percentage. His 124-109 career record wasn't grand, either.

7. Bart Starr

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    Despite an 80.5 QB rating, a 57.4 completion percentage, and never throwing more than 16 touchdowns in his entire career, Bart Starr was inducted into the Hall of Fame and is a name that continues to linger on.

    Must be that overrated "toughness" factor.

6. Randall Cunningham

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    Randall Cunningham never won despite all the hoopla surrounding him.

    He also had a QB rating of only 81.5 and was able to make a case for himself based on just two seasons, 1990 and 1998.

    The rest of his career was forgettable.

5. Otto Graham

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    Otto Graham may not be familiar to many of you, having played in the '40s and '50s, but he was certainly given his fair amount of attention when he played for Cleveland.

    Despite a 5.1 percent interception rate and a 55.8 completion percentage, Otto Graham was a five-time Pro Bowler. In 1952, he was selected to the Pro Bowl despite throwing a league-leading 24 picks.

    In 1965, Otto Graham was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

4. Bobby Layne

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    Bobby Layne, of the '50s and '60s, probably got the most hype out of any Detroit Lions quarterback in history.

    Unfortunately, it was unwarranted.

    In his entire 15-year career, Bobby Layne had two seasons of 20-plus touchdowns. He completed 49 percent of his passes.

    His interception percentage was one of the highest in history at 6.6 percent, and his QB rating was 63.4.

    Bobby Layne made six Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967.

3. Dan Fouts

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    Dan Fouts' name is entrenched in San Diego folklore. But his numbers should be left in a trench, never to be seen again.

    His QB rating was 80.2, he completed less than 59 percent of his passes, he only won two more games than he lost and he only threw 12 more touchdowns than interceptions.

    But what's worse is his postseason record.

    Of all the hype that swirled around Fouts, it resulted in just four playoff seasons and three total playoff victories.

    Fouts threw 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his seven postseason games, including two five-interception performances.

    His playoff QB rating was 70.0, a full 10 points below his regular-season mark.

    Fouts went to six Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.

2. Warren Moon

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    Warren Moon passed the ball a lot...I mean, A LOT. So he had gaudy yardage numbers.

    But his 80.9 QB rating, 58.4 completion percentage and the fact that his touchdown numbers only matched his passing attempts a few times in his career, show that Warren Moon was vastly overrated.

    His postseason performances, above all, were atrocious, and he even admitted when getting inducted into the Hall of Fame he wasn't deserving of first-ballot recognition.

    Warren Moon had one more win than loss in his career, and that's not enough for nine Pro Bowls and the Hall of Fame.

1. Joe Namath

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    Joe Namath's big-time personality overshadowed his small-time numbers. It's that simple.

    Everyone knows about his proclamation the Jets would beat the big, bad Colts in Super Bowl III. It's a legendary story.

    But despite predicting the famous 16-7 upset victory, the point is, the score was 16-7.

    In the moment Joe Namath is most known for, it was the New York Jets defense that won the game. Namath threw for 202 yards and had a 83.3 QB rating. That's it. He didn't throw a touchdown.

    But beyond that, a look at his overall numbers dwarf his hype even further.

    Namath completed just 50.1 percent of his passes for his career. He had a 65.5 QB rating. He threw 220 interceptions to his 173 touchdowns. He had a record of 62-63. He led the league in interceptions four times, and touchdowns just once, with 19.

    There is absolutely nothing there that dictates he should have been selected to five Pro Bowls and inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    Broadway Joe's big personality duped us all.