30 Greatest NFL Quarterbacks of All Time: How Does Aaron Rodgers Compare?

Patrick MangumContributor IFebruary 16, 2011

30 Greatest NFL Quarterbacks of All Time: How Does Aaron Rodgers Compare?

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    Super Bowl Champion Aaron Rodgers and the Green Baby PackersRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    This ranking of the greatest American pro quarterbacks of all-time is based on accomplishments.

    I graded each quarterback’s accomplishments according to the following scale:

    50%  – Championships. How many times did he win a league championship? I included only championships from leagues that eventually merged into the NFL (NFL, AFL, AAFC)

    20%  – Winning % as starter. Including playoffs.

    15%  – All-Star seasons in his league.

    15%  – QB rating (regular season)

    (Perfect QB grade of 100 = 8 championships, 90% winning pct., 12 time All-Star, and a 100 QB rating)

Dan Marino Tier (30-18)

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    Dan Marino of the Miami DolphinsJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    These 12 quarterbacks graded out in the 40s on my scale.

    These QBs are characterized by a relatively limited greatness.

    Of course we’re splitting atoms here, we’re talking about the 30 greatest snap-takers of all-time.

    Although they all share greatness, they also share at least one area where their resume doesn’t stack up to the greatest of the great.

30. Joe Namath – 40.688

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    Broadway Joe Namath of the New York Jets

    1 champ

    50% win

    5x all-star

    65.5 QB rtg

    We all know about the Super Bowl ring he guaranteed he would win with the New York Jets.

    Ultimately though, his legend is much more than his accomplishments.

    Broadway Joe was style over substance but his substance was enough to put him among the best.

29. Daryle Lamonica – 42.327

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    Daryle Lamonica and his legendary coach John Madden

    0 champ

    78% win

    5x all-star

    73 QB rtg

    Only our number 1 ranked QB won a higher percentage of games than Daryle Lamonica.

28. YA Tittle – 42.383

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    YA Tittle

    0 champ

    58% win

    7x all-star

    74.3 QB rtg

    This could just as easily been called the YA Tittle tier.

    He lost the NFL title game each year from 1961-1963.

27. Donovan McNabb – 43.358

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    Donovan McNabb with the Washington RedskinsLarry French/Getty Images

    0 champ

    64% win

    6x all-star

    85.7 QB rtg

    If we gave points for conference championship games, McNabb would be higher on this list. Also, if that were true, Jim Kelly would actually be included in this list.

    I don’t think Donovan will accomplish enough to move up any higher on this list than 25th.

    On the other hand, if he can latch on somewhere (Minnesota) and ride some stacked veteran team (Vikings) to a Super Bowl ring, he would burst into the discussion of the top 20 signal-callers ever.

26. Ken Stabler – 43.719

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    1 champ

    66% win

    4x all-star

    75.3 QB rtg

    Kenny Stabler took over for 29th ranked QB Daryle Lamonica and rode the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl.

    He also put himself among the greats.

25. Kurt Warner – 45.033

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    Kurt WarnerRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    1 champ

    59% win

    4x all-star

    93.7 QB rtg

    People say Kurt Warner played himself into the Hall of Fame during his last run with the Arizona Cardinals.

    I say he was already there after leading “The Greatest Show on Turf” with the St. Louis Rams in the early 2000s.

24. George Blanda 45.367

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    George Blanda

    2 champs

    54% win

    4x all-star

    63.7 QB rtg

    Blanda would be much higher on a list of the greatest football players of all time.

    His longevity is his legacy not his accomplishments.

23. Warren Moon – 45.940

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    Warren MoonTim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    0 champ

    49% win

    9x all-star

    80.9 QB rtg

    Warren Moon was ahead of his time. He was a beautiful quarterback to watch.

    He won 5 Grey Cups in Canada but winning did not translate into the NFL.

    It amazes me he was still able to go to 9 Pro-Bowls after spending the early 80s in the CFL.

22. Drew Brees – 46.413

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    Drew Brees of the New Orleans SaintsOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    1 champ

    56.3% win

    5x all-star

    91.7 QB rtg

    This is what winning a Super Bowl does. It takes a really good quarterback and thrusts him into the light of greatness.

    I predict he finishes his career with a few more Pro-Bowls and ends up around number 17 on this list.

21. Fran Tarkenton – 46.834

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    Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings

    0 champs

    53.3% win

    9x all-star

    80.4 QB rtg

    One of the best scramblers of all-time on those old Minnesota Viking teams with the “Purple People Eater” defense.

20. Ben Roethlisberger – 47.087

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    Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl 45Al Bello/Getty Images

    2 champs

    71% win

    1x all-star

    92.5 QB rtg

    I can see Big Ben leading the Steelers to another title and getting a few Pro-Bowls for himself.

    I can also see neither of those things happening.

    I think Ben ends his career among the greatest of the great but not in the top ten.

19. Dan Marino – 49.488

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    Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins 1988Allen Steele/Getty Images

    0 champs

    60% win

    9x all-star

    86.4 QB rtg

    What more can you say about Dan? He will always be known for his quick-release and his lack of rings.

    Even so, a Super Bowl ring wouldn’t have been enough to put him in the top 15 on this ranking.

18. Bobby Layne – 49.526

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    Bobby Layne, Detroit Lions

    2 champs

    62% win

    5x all-star

    63.4 QB rtg

    Bobby Lane is an example of why it’s hard to compare eras. A QB rating of 63.4 was not that bad in his day.

    The Detroit Lions, of course, have been cursed the 50 years since.

Steve Young Tier (17-13)

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    Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ersOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    These five men scored in the 50s on my grading scale and are all very accomplished.

    Yet their accomplishments are not quite great enough to be considered with the crème de la crème.

17. Steve Young – 54.013

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    Jerry Rice and Steve YoungChris Graythen/Getty Images

    1 champ

    65% win

    7x all-star

    96.8 QB rtg

    Steve Young is the personification of this tier.

    He has a complete resume for sure, but it is not as qualified as the elite of the next level.

    Nevertheless, if we were discussing the most athletic QBs of all-time, Young is top 3.

16. Sammy Baugh – 54.019

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    Slingin' Sammy Baugh

    2 champs

    55% win

    7x all-star

    72.2 QB rtg

    Slingin' Sammy Baugh set the bar as far as passing goes in the 1940s.

    His completion percentage of 70.3 in 1945 remains third all-time in the NFL record books.

15. Len Dawson – 57.491

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    2 champs

    62.3% win

    7x all-star

    82.8 QB rtg

    Len was the best QB in the AFL during the 60s.

    He won an AFL title and was the winner of the final AFL-NFL title game before the merger in 1970.

14. Roger Staubach – 57.930

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    2 champs

    73.3%

    6x all-star

    83.4 QB rtg

    Roger Staubach was an All-American Boy on America’s Team and he was great.

    The only thing keeping him from being in the top ten all-time is a few more Pro-Bowl years.

    He did serve in the Navy before he started his professional career.

13. Bob Griese – 58.742

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    2 champs

    62% win

    8x all-star

    77.1 QB rtg

    Bob Griese place in history is secure as being a part of perfection in 1972.

    His other accomplishments put him right near the very elite of NFL quarterbacking.

Crème de la Crème (12-1)

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    These greats all scored above 60 and their accomplishments put them in a category above the rest of the best.

12. Troy Aikman – 60.367

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    3 champs

    58% win

    6x all-star

    81.6 QB rtg

    Three Super Bowls in four years made Troy Aikman the QB of the 90s.

    His real legacy is in his leadership during those crazy Cowboy years of the early 90s.

    He always remained focused, calm, and collected with all those distractions.

11. Terry Bradshaw – 60.488

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    4 champs

    68% win

    3x all-star

    70.9 QB rtg

    Terry Bradshaw set the standard for Pittsburgh Steeler quarterbacking by accumulating more Super Bowl rings (4) than Pro Bowls (3).

    Big Ben is right on track with two rings and one Pro Bowl.

10. Norm Van Brocklin – 60.950

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    2 champs

    62% win

    9x all-star

    75.1 QB rtg

    In the beginning of his career, Norm Van Brocklin shared quarterback duties with star QB Bob Waterfield.

    They created a tandem that scored 38.8 points a game in 1950 setting an NFL record that still stands.

9. Brett Favre – 61.083

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    1 champ

    63% win

    11x all-star

    86 QB rtg

    Great Stats + lots of Pro Bowls + lots of wins + a Super Bowl = top ten QB all-time.

    I say the last few years helped his legacy rather than hurt it. A few extra Pro Bowls never hurt.

8. John Elway – 62.229

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    2 champ

    65% win

    9x all-star

    79.9 QB rtg

    John Elway planted himself firmly in the top ten all-time with those two title runs to close out his career in the late 90s with the Denver Broncos.

    He would’ve still been top 20 on this list without those rings.

7. Sid Luckman – 62.550

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    4 champs

    55% win

    5x all-star

    85 QB rtg

    Maybe the Bears have finally found Sid Luckman’s replacement in Jay Cutler.

    I’m not even sure if that’s a joke or not.

6. Peyton Manning – 63.383

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    1 champ

    66% win

    11x all-star

    94.9 QB rtg

    Peyton would be number five on this list had he taken down Drew Brees and the Saints in Super Bowl 44.

    I think Peyton is really motivated to win at least one more ring.

    I say he’ll accomplish that and move up to number four on this list before he hangs ‘em up.

5. Tom Brady – 68.850

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    3 champs

    76% win

    6x all-star

    95.2 QB rtg

    What a great time it is in the NFL right now that there two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time battling to see who can finish their career higher on the ladder of the football elite.

    I say Brady holds on to his lead and finishes at number three, ahead of Manning in this ranking.

4. Bart Starr – 69.662

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    5 champs

    64% win

    4x all-star

    80.5 QB rtg

    In my opinion, you can’t go wrong arguing for any of the top four on my list, especially this guy.

    Bart Starr was VInce Lombardi’s QB.

    Along with the next guy on this list, Bart Starr led the NFL into a new era in the late sixties.

3. Johnny Unitas – 70.860

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    3 champs

    65% win

    10x all-star

    78.2 QB rtg

    Unitas was and continues to be a mythical figure to his fan base.

    He won the “Greatest Game Ever Played” and he threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games which remains a record.

    He was very instrumental to the growth of football in America.

2. Joe Montana – 76.236

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    4 champs

    71% win

    8x all-star

    92.3 QB rtg

    He’s the guy that all the current greats idolized while they were sowing their football roots.

    He is the King of Modern NFL Quarterbacking.

    His place in the pantheon of QBs was threatened a few years back when Tom Brady was seemingly steamrolling toward his fourth Super Bowl ring. Thanks to my 48th ranked QB Eli Manning, Joe’s place is safe now.

    Tom and Peyton are the only guys playing today that are close and I don’t see either of them ever usurping Joe Cool.

1. Otto Graham – 94.086

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    7 champs

    79% win

    7x all-star

    86.6 QB rtg

    Flat out; dude was a winner.

    Otto Graham went to play basketball at Northwestern.

    The football coach talked him into joining the squad as a tailback.

    The Browns drafted him and put him at quarterback.

    All he did after that was dominate the AAFC winning the championship all four years of the league’s existence. When the Browns joined the NFL, he took his team to the NFL championship game six years in a row winning it three times. 10 years, 10 championship games, 7 titles…enough said.

    He also won over 80% of his games and was selected as an All-Pro nine times.

    He retired in 1955 with a career QB rating of 86.6 which is off the charts for that era.

The Up and Comers

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    Handout/Getty Images

    Finally, here are five active QBs within reach of being one of the 30 most accomplished QBs of all-time.

    31.       Philip Rivers – 39.342 0 champs, 69% win, 3x all-star, 97.2 QB rtg

    I say Phillip wins a Super Bowl somewhere down the line and moves into top 25 all-time on this list.

    32.       Aaron Rodgers – 39.150 1 champ, 60% win, 1x all-star, 98.4 QB rtg

    I think if we do this ranking again in ten years, we’ll find Aaron Rodgers right up there with his old buddy Brett Favre. He has the most upside in this group and I think he has the character to be top ten all-time.

    41.       Tony Romo – 37.245 0 champ, 62% win, 3x all-star, 95.5 QB rtg

    When Tony Romo first came on, I thought he had a chance to be considered with Brady and Manning. He still does have a chance but it’s just not that good. I say he ends up with a ring and a bunch of Pro Bowls and a top 30 ranking.

    48.       Eli Manning – 35.702 1 champ, 58% win, 1x all-star, 80.2 QB rtg

    I think this might be as good as it gets for Eli. Maybe a few more Pro Bowls.

    49.       Michael Vick – 35.476 0 champ, 55% win, 4x all-star, 80.2 QB rtg

    He’s in that top three group I mentioned with Steve Young as far as athletic ability. I would love to see him win a ring. I don’t know if it’ll happen but he’ll definitely get more Pro Bowls. I don’t think he cracks the top 30 though.