Ranking Every NFL Starting Quarterback Entering 2022 Season

Ian Wharton@@NFLFilmStudyFeatured Columnist IVAugust 23, 2022

Ranking Every NFL Starting Quarterback Entering 2022 Season

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    The final week of the 2022 NFL preseason is here, and the excitement around the regular season is building. We're down to 16 days until the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams kick off the season opener on Thursday Night Football.

    One of the biggest debates all season will be about the best quarterback. Several young gunslingers have emerged in recent years, and most top signal-callers are dual threats.

    But there are elite veterans mixed in. Who would have thought five years ago that the 45-year-old Tom Brady and 38-year-old Aaron Rodgers would still be winning passing crowns and MVP awards?

    We ranked every starting quarterback. This list is only for this year. Each player's results last year and their team fit this season weighed heavily in our rankings.

    From No. 32 to No. 1, let's dive in to a list surely everyone will agree with.

32. Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons

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    Marcus Mariota was snatched up as a free agent by the Atlanta Falcons after the franchise traded Matt Ryan when it failed to land Deshaun Watson. Mariota and Falcons head coach Arthur Smith worked together when Smith was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans in 2019.

    Mariota hasn't played meaningful football since that season, when he started six of the seven games he played. During that stretch, he threw seven touchdown passes against only two interceptions, but he also was sacked 25 times and completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He was benched for Ryan Tannehill, and the team never looked back.

    Mariota has never reached the heights he did in 2016 and has gotten worse each year since. His athleticism may help behind a disastrous offensive line, but there's not much reason for optimism.

    The league's standards have changed since Mariota was drafted No. 2 in 2015, and he's in a situation wherein he needs to produce a career-best season to avoid being benched for rookie Desmond Ridder.

31. Zach Wilson, New York Jets

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    Zach Wilson completed 55.6 percent of his passes and threw nine touchdown passes against 11 interceptions as a rookie. While it's understandable to struggle on a young, bad team, Wilson looked out of his depth in the easiest time to be efficiently productive in the history of quarterbacking.

    The advanced stats are worse. Wilson had the worst quarterback rating, ranked 31st in yards per attempt and recorded the second-lowest QBR.

    Even the final seven-week stretch in which he threw only two interceptions falls apart on closer inspection. He completed 54.0 percent of his passes, got sacked 25 times, fumbled three times and notched 5.8 yards per attempt.

    There simply weren’t many redeeming qualities. The New York Jets must hope that Wilson and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will grow considerably after an offseason together. Their unit is stocked with dangerous playmakers, and that should get Wilson closer to an average level of play.

30. Daniel Jones, New York Giants

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    Daniel Jones' best asset is his legs. You would think with a creative play-caller such as new head coach Brian Daboll, the New York Giants could run an offense similar to those of the Philadelphia Eagles with Jalen Hurts or Buffalo Bills with Josh Allen.

    But Jones' worst trait is that he can't hang on to the ball. He leads the league in fumbles with 36 since 2019. Combine his 20 lost fumbles with 29 interceptions and injury issues, and you get 49 turnovers in 38 games. No wonder the Giants didn't pick up his fifth-year option.

    Unlike other quarterbacks who are turnover-prone, Jones also suffers from being risk-averse. His yards per attempt (6.7) ranked just 26th last year.

    That boils down to a lack of big plays and the giveaways. Even if he's been at a disadvantage because of an abnormally high injury rate among his playmakers, Jones has not made progress as a creator within the offense—a major concern for his ability to grow.

29. Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

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    After the Seattle Seahawks acquired Drew Lock in their deal with the Denver Broncos for Russell Wilson, most assumed Lock would have the opportunity to prove himself. Instead, he hasn't been able to cement himself as the starter. He sat out Week 2 of the preseason after testing positive for COVID-19, and Geno Smith may have locked up the job.

    Smith has long been little more than a solid backup. His first two seasons exposed his issues with accuracy and decision-making. His career 58.8 percent completion rate, 34 touchdowns and 37 interceptions have limited his opportunities to even compete for a starting role. But he's played only 15 games since starting 29 in 2013-14.

    Smith has shown more playmaking in the preseason. He's completed 20 of his 33 attempts for 213 yards even though his star receivers have barely played. Had DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett been on the field, the offense likely wouldn't have struggled so much.

    Still, Smith is a limited passer because of his lack of accuracy. This will be a tough season for Seattle as it looks forward to 2023.

28. Mitch Trubisky, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Could Mitch Trubisky be one of the best quarterbacks in 2022?

    No, probably not.

    But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see him away from Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a model organization, and Mike Tomlin gets the best out of his players.

    Trubisky wasn't bad at all in 2018. He had the third-best QBR, ranked in the top 10 in expected points added and finished fifth in rushing yards by a quarterback.

    After that, the Bears ran him less and less every season. Maybe instead of going away from his strengths, the Steelers will lean in to them. If they do, Trubisky could jump up a couple of spots. Or the Bears were right, and we will see Kenny Pickett sooner rather than later.

    Either way, Trubisky will get the best shot of his career to produce. He has an excellent supporting cast, including phenomenal running back Najee Harris, and the receiving corps of George Pickens, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool is bursting with athleticism.

27. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

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    There's no question Trey Lance is the most difficult starting quarterback to rank. His erratic accuracy in three games with more than one attempt was clear, but his ability to create big plays helped offset those issues. Lance's immense rushing upside also provides reason for optimism he'll become an asset for the San Francisco 49ers.

    The offense will look different with Lance in for Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance is a powerful downfield thrower with little experience, whereas Garoppolo was more precise and played within the scheme. The team is trading consistent mediocrity for potential greatness.

    It's hard to imagine Lance will be bad considering Kyle Shanahan is an elite coach and the 22-year-old has Deebo Samuel and George Kittle. Lance won't fail, but it's also hard to rank him higher considering what we know today.

26. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

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    The Detroit Lions were 0-8 last year after a 44-6 whomping by the Philadelphia Eagles.

    After that, head coach Dan Campbell took over play-calling duties, and the team completely changed, going 3-5-1. Jared Goff was 3-2-1 in that stretch and completed 67.7 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns, just two interceptions and 6.7 yards per attempt. He wasn't explosive, but he took care of the ball and managed an offense with little receiving talent.

    The unit looks more ferocious this season. With arguably the best line in the NFL healthy, the addition of DJ Chark and the eventual return of first-round receiver Jameson Williams, Goff now has quite the collection of playmakers.

    As he showed with the Los Angeles Rams, he is capable of playing to the level of his teammates. With Detroit rising, expect Goff to look closer to average than bad.

25. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

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    Justin Fields was neck and neck with Zach Wilson when it came to inefficiency last year. He was the only player with a QBR worse than Wilson's and was sacked 36 times over 12 games.

    His tendency to hold the ball too long was on display behind a porous offensive line. The separating factor is that Fields made big-time throws. When he had time to look downfield, he proved his arm was as good as anyone's.

    Against all odds, I think the Chicago Bears had a worse offense and coaching staff than the New York Jets, so Fields got the nod.

    This preseason, new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has favored more rollouts and quick throws, which should bring out a better version of Fields even if his supporting cast is limited. The only receiver who is a definite long-term asset is Darnell Mooney.

24. Davis Mills, Houston Texans

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    One of the stranger prospects to judge in recent years was Davis Mills. After playing only 14 games at Stanford, he entered the draft with just 438 attempts on his resume. He had the physical tools evaluators love but not the experience.

    Mills walked into one of the worst situations in the league as an unheralded third-rounder and proved to be starter material by season's end. Over his last five games, Mills completed 68.4 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns, two interceptions, 7.4 yards per attempt and a 102.4 rating.

    Those numbers aren't eye-popping until you remember he played for the talent-deprived Houston Texans.

    Mills did all that behind a below-average line and with only one above-average receiver. Year 2 will be critical. Everyone is about to find out whether Mills has enough talent to convince the franchise to overlook a tantalizing set of prospects in the 2023 class.

23. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

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    Ryan Tannehill has been a good quarterback through the majority of his career, and sometimes he's appeared great. But that's only happened when Derrick Henry was there to take the heat off.

    Without King Henry, Tannehill's ceiling and floor are unclear. For example, if you remove a fluky Week 18 game against the Houston Texans in which Tannehill threw four touchdown passes and zero interceptions, his stats while Henry was injured included seven touchdowns, seven interceptions, an 82.0 rating and 6.1 yards per attempt.

    Before Henry was injured, his stats featured 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions, a 90.2 rating and 7.6 yards per attempt. The Tennessee Titans offense relies more on its star running back's health than most people realize.

    Because of his slip from 2020 to 2021, Tannehill looks like he's at the end of his career as a starter.

22. Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders

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    Unlike the other players in this lower tier, Carson Wentz has flashed as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. If you pull up his stats, you could trick yourself into thinking he's outstanding.

    His 62.4 percent completion rate, 27-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 6.9 yards per attempt in 2021 were perfectly fine for the Indianapolis Colts.

    Wentz's negatives, however, go far beyond his numbers. He looks fine, but the minute he feels like he needs to make something happen, he becomes prone to boneheaded decisions.

    Beyond that, you get the feeling teammates dislike playing with him and coaches dislike working with him. That's not a winning combination and made it difficult to move him further up this list despite his improved efficiency last year.

21. Baker Mayfield, Carolina Panthers

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    The only more unpredictable quarterback in the league than Baker Mayfield is Carson Wentz. No. 1 in the NFL in interceptions since being drafted, Mayfield has enjoyed two good seasons but put together two poor ones.

    Even if his 2021 campaign tanked because of a torn labrum, the Cleveland Browns were unwilling to extend his contract after a career year in 2020—a telling statement that they still hadn't seen what they needed out of him.

    Now with the Carolina Panthers, Mayfield has the opportunity to show he can be better than average. His accuracy has waned, and his decision-making must improve. But he can create enough plays within a decent system to keep an offense playing well and a team competing for the playoffs.

    Carolina is hoping Mayfield will build off a 2020 season in which his air yards per completion rose from 6.3 to 7.2 and the offense was less reliant on yards after the catch. His accuracy improved as his on-target percentage rose 4.2 percentage points, and he had 12 fewer batted balls. He simply was helping the offense more by executing compared to his 2019 campaign.

    Things changed in 2021, but his shoulder injury was certainly part of that equation.

    If he raises his floor to what he showed in 2020 with a run-heavy offense, Mayfield will emerge as a fine starter.

20. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Is it possible to redo a rookie season? The Jacksonville Jaguars' 2021 went as poorly as it could've under Urban Meyer. The dysfunction surely affected No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence.

    Lawrence's best quality was his pocket presence; he did an excellent job of sensing and evading pressure. Everything else was a disaster. He tallied 17 interceptions and only 12 touchdown passes. He wasn't pushing the ball downfield despite dominating at Clemson on intermediate passes, as he had the lowest yards per attempt (6.0) of any quarterback who started more than five games.

    The Jags have upgraded weapons and a new coaching staff, so I expect everything that happens after the ball leaves Lawrence's hand to improve.

    Doug Pederson has already shown his ability to create unique passing concepts in the preseason. That includes maximizing athletes—such as Travis Etienne Jr., Evan Engram and Christian Kirk—who can fill roles or win in single coverage.

19. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

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    Was it Lasik surgery or Sean Payton that caused Jameis Winston to be the best version of himself we've seen?

    Even under a great coach in Bruce Arians with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Winston was still too wild and needed to be reined in. However, with the New Orleans Saints, he seemed poised to fulfill the potential we saw when he was drafted No. 1 in 2015. His 2019 season with 30 interceptions looked far in the rearview compared to 2021.

    Winston completed only 59.0 percent of his passes, but he was a big-play machine. Despite throwing to a group of unknown receivers, he averaged 7.3 yards per attempt with 14 touchdowns in seven games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

    Expect his efficiency to explode with Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave headlining a much-improved group of pass-catchers. If Winston can harness the best of his abilities and limit turnovers, he could be a top-10 quarterback.

18. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

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    The most polarizing quarterback in the NFL is Tua Tagovailoa. Some of the concern has little to do with Tagovailoa; it's not his fault Brian Flores never fielded a good line or scheme. However, it's also impossible to deny his lack of arm strength.

    We're about to learn a lot more about Tagovailoa. The Miami Dolphins massively upgraded their offense with Mike McDaniel designing a quarterback-friendly scheme around him and the additions of left tackle Terron Armstead and receivers Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson Jr.

    Gone are the days of the run-pass option offense that mitigated a horrendous offensive line. McDaniel will implement a full-fledged passing game that can maximize the strengths of the entire unit. Tagovailoa will need to show growth as a playmaker and pocket passer.

    There's no question he's accurate and has a fast release, but he needs to be more than a game manager for Miami to become a playoff contender.

17. Mac Jones, New England Patriots

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    When almost every other rookie quarterback disappointed, Mac Jones remained steady for the New England Patriots. He completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 22 touchdowns with 13 interceptions, 7.3 yards per attempt and a 92.5 quarterback rating.

    The rookie got the ball out in time and looked every bit the part of a mid-level quarterback. And that's why I don't have him higher.

    Jones walked into the best job in the league but didn't have any "wow" moments. He might show steady improvement, but there's no reason to bank on a spectacular second season. This is especially the case after the Patriots lost Josh McDaniels and replaced the offensive coordinator with Matt Patricia.

    Does Jones have another level of play in him, or is what we saw his ceiling?

16. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Philadelphia Eagles are all in on Jalen Hurts. Hurts gets unfairly pigeonholed as a check-down quarterback because he doesn't have the strongest arm, but he had the fourth-highest average depth of target of any passer who started at least seven games. Hurts still completed 61.3 percent of his passes.

    The real threat came from his ability to challenge defenses on the ground with the Eagles' incredible read-option game. With the addition of A.J. Brown, Philadelphia is betting Hurts improves enough as a passer in Year 3 for it to have a well-rounded offense.

    Considering Hurts has improved every year since his freshman season with Alabama, he is on track for another bump.

    If Hurts can firmly establish himself as a franchise player, the Eagles will have Super Bowl potential.

15. Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts

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    It's strange to see Matt Ryan in white and blue. One of the most established passers to be moved in the quarterback frenzy that engulfed the league this offseason, he is on the tail end of his career and has become a statue in the pocket.

    Ryan, however, won't look as old with the Indianapolis Colts as he did with the Atlanta Falcons because of the Colts' superior offensive line.

    Expect this to be a renaissance year for Ryan and for him to vault the Colts into contender status now that they don't have to coddle Carson Wentz. Indianapolis also has flourishing playmakers in Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. to boost the offense.

    Matty Ice still completed 67.0 percent of his passes behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and his 20 touchdowns tied his lowest total since his rookie season. He could be nearing the end of the line, but bank on 2021 as having been a speed bump for the 37-year-old.

14. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

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    Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is simultaneously the most overrated and underrated quarterback in the NFL. What does that mean? He's appropriately rated as long as you don't think too hard.

    Cousins is top-10 in most counting and efficiency stats and does an excellent job taking advantage of the weapons given to him. However, he has a tendency to wilt under pressure, and his mobility leaves a lot to be desired.

    He won't elevate a terrible roster, but he'll take advantage of a good one. That's what a team should want from a quarterback, at the very least. If the Minnesota Vikings put a good enough roster around Cousins, he could win a Super Bowl, but he isn't going to drag them there himself.

    How he reacts to a new head coach and offensive scheme under Kevin O'Connell will be fascinating, considering the impressive efficiency Cousins achieved in recent seasons.

13. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

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    Freshly off signing his $230.5 million extension, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray should be primed to produce his best season yet.

    An explosive dual-threat talent, Murray's breakout 2021 season was derailed midway through the year by an ankle injury. He was on pace to be an MVP-finalist last year.

    Averaging 270.5 yards per game through the air and another 30.2 yards on the ground, Murray terrorized defenses with his strong arm and unusual quickness in the pocket.

    He'll have to overcome losing DeAndre Hopkins for the first six weeks of the season due to suspension, but the Cardinals traded for Marquise Brown to help add speed to the unit.

    Murray will also benefit from a full season of Zach Ertz after he re-signed this past offseason. The Cardinals will again possess a dangerous offense that revolves around Murray.

12. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

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    One of only three starting NFL quarterbacks taken on Day 3 of the NFL draft, Dak Prescott has more than proven himself as an above-average player entering 2022. He led the top-scoring offense in football last season.

    Can he keep it going with fewer weapons and prove he belongs among the top-eight quarterbacks in 2022? Prescott has always had a solid receiving corps and an above-average offensive line around him. It'll be interesting to see what kind of player we get as a decent chunk of the roster turns over.

    Expect Prescott to see a boost this season after Michael Gallup and James Washington return from injuries. He'll have to make do with rookie Jalen Tolbert and a cast of unheralded receivers across from CeeDee Lamb. This should again be a premier offense once healthy.

11. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

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    Not only was Derek Carr one of the best quarterbacks of 2021, but he's been one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL for a few seasons. Unfortunately for him, he's been stuck on middling to bad Las Vegas Raiders teams and unable to show off his peak potential.

    That will change in the upcoming season as Josh McDaniels takes over the offense that added Davante Adams. McDaniels has been one of the premier play-callers in the NFL for years and should modernize this offense.

    Since 2019, Carr has thrown 71 touchdowns and 31 interceptions while completing 68.7 percent of his passes. He's produced a quarterback rating of 98.4 and did it while throwing for 7.8 yards per attempt.

    He's not the check-down machine he became for a couple of seasons post-injury. Surrounded by Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller, don't be surprised if Carr becomes an MVP candidate, even in a deep AFC West.

10. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

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    The country cried for the Seattle Seahawks to let Russell Wilson cook for years. They finally did in 2020, and he responded with a high level of play that wasn't quite at an MVP mark. It didn't help he suffered a finger injury in Week 5 last year that threw off the trajectory of his season.

    That doesn't mean he's not one of the top current quarterbacks in the NFL, just that there is a ceiling.

    Wilson has one of the prettiest deep balls in the league and isn't afraid to take chances. He is prone to avoiding what's given to him by defenses, and sometimes, the best play is the boring one. That results in him coming in slightly lower than some might expect when ranking NFL quarterbacks.

    The 33-year-old should nonetheless thrive now that he has a bevy of young playmakers around him. Running back Javonte Williams and receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy highlight a tremendous group of athletes who can win one-on-one matchups.

9. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

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    Having been suspended for the first 11 games of the season for sexual misconduct, Deshaun Watson's productivity after missing a total of 28 games is a bit of an unknown. He hasn't played in the regular season since January 3, 2021. But he was a top-five quarterback when he last played.

    An explosive downfield passer tied for the second-best passer rating of all time, Watson has the blend of accuracy and out-of-pocket playmaking that few have ever shown in the NFL.

    The Cleveland Browns are banking on that level of on-field impact to take the franchise to the next level.

    He'll return with only six games left in the season and could be quite rusty. The Browns will either be in the thick of the playoff race or completely out, depending on how Jacoby Brissett performs in Watson's absence.

8. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

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    The most gifted running quarterback in NFL history, Baltimore Ravens playmaker Lamar Jackson has the highest ceiling of anyone in the NFL. When everything rolls in the right direction for Jackson, his talent overtakes games and demoralizes foes. He is the best show on earth, hands down.

    The flip side is he seems to have lower lows than most other players camping out in the elite territory. His ceiling is NFL MVP, which he already won. Jackson's floor was getting outplayed by his backup Tyler Huntley after getting dinged up last season.

    The Ravens appear to be healthier heading into this season, which should help Jackson make his case for one of the best quarterbacks in 2022. However, he'll have to do it with the least proven receiving room in the NFL.

7. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

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    After 12 seasons toiling in Detroit in which they never won a playoff game, Matthew Stafford teamed up with Sean McVay in Los Angeles and immediately won a Super Bowl. Stafford completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns with a ridiculous 8.1 yards per attempt.

    There's no reason to believe the Rams can't run it back, thanks to the excellent all-around potency of Cooper Kupp and the addition of Allen Robinson II. Running back Cam Akers is also a full offseason removed from his torn Achilles.

    Another year in the system could help Stafford reduce his league-leading interception number from a year ago, but he'll always be a gunslinger who takes chances. Besides, it's hard to argue with the brand new shiny ring on his finger.

    As long as his elbow is healthy, Stafford will again be a must-see playmaker each week this season.

6. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

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    When the ball leaves Justin Herbert's hand, it's on a frozen rope. It's one of the most beautiful passes since Brett Favre.

    Herbert plays much more reigned in than Favre, though, almost to a fault. Despite possessing one of the best cannons in the NFL, the Los Angeles Chargers often forego the big play to dink and dunk down the field. The third-year passer tied for 18th in intended air yards last year and finished third in yards after the catch.

    The Chargers have a loaded offense with Herbert at the helm and Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams supporting him. Their defense should be drastically improved, too, after adding J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack.

    Now we just have to see Herbert reach the postseason and continue his growth into one of the NFL's finest.

5. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Despite leading the NFL in sacks taken in 2021, Joe Burrow just kept getting better as the season progressed. Burrow finished first in the league in completion rate (70.4 percent) and yards per attempt (8.9), sixth in yards (4,611) and third in touchdown rate (6.5 percent).

    It's fair to say he benefitted from the best receiving corps in the NFL, but he also made the most out of a horrible offensive line.

    Burrow wins through intelligence, anticipation and elite accuracy. He doesn't have the premier arm strength or mobility of some of his peers, but Burrow compensates as well as any pocket-passer in the league. His endless swagger is justified.

    The sky is the limit for Burrow in 2022 now that he has a dramatically-improved set of blockers in front of him. It's scary to think Burrow could improve this season, but he had a six-week stretch with only six touchdowns before breaking out before the playoffs.

    It's hard to imagine another cold spell like that repeating itself with so much talent on the unit.

4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    Coming off back-to-back MVPs and the most efficient season in the league by most metrics, there was no way Aaron Rodgers wouldn't be near the top of best quarterbacks in 2022.

    The Green Bay Packers have become surgical during the regular season with Rodgers and Matt LaFleur working together. The duo seems to be in simpatico when running the offense, producing the perfect blend of an effective run game and a highly efficient but devastating passing attack. It would be boring to watch if the throws that Rodgers makes weren't consistently jaw-dropping.

    Nobody in the NFL makes an impossible throw look routine the way Rodgers does. He looks bored while throwing the football through impossibly tight windows like it's just another day in the office for one of, if not, the most talented quarterbacks to ever play the game.

    Losing Davante Adams will hurt the Packers' offensive upside but doesn't change Rodgers' talent level. He'll maximize the group he has available and still be among the premier passers in NFL history at 38 years old.

3. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

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    Even though Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs, Allen's two-game playoff run was one of the best in NFL history. He showed his immense talent as a passer and capabilities of carrying the offense as the focal point of the Bills' run game.

    The scary thing is he has room to improve.

    For as well as Allen has played over the last two seasons, he hasn't combined his best levels of play into one year. His 2020 season featured his best completion rate (69.2 percent), yards per attempt (7.9), touchdown rate (6.5 percent) and interception rate (1.7 percent).

    Those numbers dipped considerably in 2021, but Allen produced 16 more first downs on the ground, took fewer sacks per pass attempt and ran for 342 more yards. Could he possibly find balance in his efficiency and consistently reach the form he showed in the playoffs?

2. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Despite being 44 years old, Tom Brady set a career high in completions, passing attempts and passing yards in 2021. He led the NFL in each category, all of which were by a wide margin. Brady also led the league in passing touchdowns.

    Truly an ageless wonder who stands firmly on his own as the greatest quarterback of all time, Brady is set to dominate again at 45 in 2022.

    A slight decrease in volume would make sense this season.

    The Buccaneers are replacing guards Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa, and they have to overcome injuries to Ryan Jensen, Tristan Wirfs and Aaron Stinnie.

    The retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski removes a key playmaker from the unit. Meanwhile, star receiver Chris Godwin is returning from a torn ACL.

    They're still loaded with Mike Evans, Russell Gage and Julio Jones headlining the receiver corps, but offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich should lean on the ground game to keep Brady upright all season long.

    Never the most physically gifted, Brady dominates with his precision and mental edge. This might be his final NFL season, so we'll have to enjoy him while we still can.

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Watching Patrick Mahomes play is a truly exciting experience. He may never reach the accomplishments Brady has, but Mahomes is arguably the most gifted natural passer in league history alongside Rodgers. His ability to hit impossibly tight passing windows from any arm angle or while on the move is already legendary.

    Turning 27 this September, Mahomes already has a Super Bowl ring, a Super Bowl MVP, NFL MVP Award, an All-Pro nod and four Pro Bowls to his name. He'll embark on his toughest journey yet in 2022 without All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill by his side but make no mistake: Mahomes will be just fine, even if some of the explosive plays are replaced by longer drives.

    Like the other all-time greats, Mahomes combines immense explosiveness with efficiency. He's completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 151 career touchdowns at a 6.4 percent rate but has thrown only 37 interceptions at a 1.6 percent rate.

    The only reason Mahomes isn't far and away the best quarterback in the league is that we're in an all-time era for the position.


    All stats are from pro-football-reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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