Ranking the NFL's Top 10 Quarterbacks Under 25
The NFL may be losing future Hall of Fame quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger in the next few years, but the league is still in great hands thanks to the next generation of young QBs.
Kansas City Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes is an MVP and Super Bowl champion. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has completely changed the way we look at modern NFL offenses with his ability to use his legs. Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans and Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys are household names as well.
All but one of those quarterbacks is over the age of 25, but there's a promising group of youngsters behind them. Most have yet to play two or three full NFL seasons, but a handful of them are quickly starting to establish themselves as future (or current) superstars.
Here, we've ranked the NFL's top 10 quarterbacks under the age of 25 based on their current play and production, team success and career trajectory.
10. Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team
Second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins is trying to prove that he's the Washington Football Team's long-term answer at the position.
Although Washington took Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick in 2019, he started his rookie season on the bench behind veteran journeyman Case Keenum. After Keenum got off to a 1-6 start, the team had no choice but to elevate Haskins over him.
In the nine games Haskins played as a rookie, he completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,365 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions for a passer rating of only 76.1. The team won only two of his seven starts.
Haskins has looked better in 2020. He has yet to throw an interception in his first two games, and he even led the team to a comeback victory in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He's completing only 56.3 percent of his passes, but he's also dealing with constant pressure, having already being sacked seven times.
It's far too early to write Haskins off. The team has a new head coach in Ron Rivera and some promising young playmakers in wide receiver Terry McLaurin and all-purpose back Antonio Gibson.
However, there are too many other talented young quarterbacks to put Haskins any higher than 10th here.
9. Daniel Jones, New York Giants
The start of the 2020 season hasn't been kind to the New York Giants. Not only have they lost their first two games, but star running back Saquon Barkley is out for the year after tearing his ACL, and starting wide receiver Sterling Shepard is on injured reserve with turf toe.
Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones will to show how he deals with adversity for the rest of the year.
Giants fans didn't greet Jones warmly when the team selected him with the No. 6 overall pick in 2019. However, he showed promise as a rookie despite the team's 3-9 record with him as a starter. He finished the year completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Along with those 12 interceptions, Jones led the NFL last year with 18 fumbles as well. That was tied for fifth in NFL history for fumbles in a season, trailing only Kerry Collins (23), Dante Culpepper (23), Tony Banks (21) and David Carr (21).
Turnovers still appear to be a problem for Jones in 2020. Along with two interceptions in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jones added another interception and lost fumble this past weekend against the Chicago Bears.
It isn't all bad for Jones, however. The second-year quarterback has already made some big plays in his young NFL career, and with the right supporting cast around him, the Giants could return to their winning ways if they can stay healthy in the coming years.
8. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Although he's played only one NFL game so far, what we saw from Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs warrants a top-eight spot here.
The Chargers took Herbert with the No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft, but the initial plan was for the former Oregon Ducks quarterback to sit behind veteran journeyman Tyrod Taylor while he learned his new offense. However, Herbert was thrust into the starting role moments before kickoff Sunday after the team's doctor accidentally punctured Taylor's lung right before the game.
Despite the lack of preparation, Herbert played a great game against the defending Super Bowl champion. He completed 22 of his 33 pass attempts for 311 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and he added another touchdown on the ground. While the Chargers didn't win, Herbert was able to lead his team into overtime, which speaks volumes against a great team like the Chiefs.
Although Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn initially said that Herbert was the team's backup for a reason, the first-round pick is now expected to start once again this weekend against the Carolina Panthers.
Considering Herbert's big 6'6" frame and strong arm, it's easy to see why the Chargers wanted to take him so early in April's draft. He still has to consistently produce on a weekly basis, but his NFL debut suggests he could quickly establish himself as one of the league's best young QBs.
7. Sam Darnold, New York Jets
The New York Jets are a mess right now. Their 0-2 record doesn't do justice to how bad they've looked in their first two games.
However, the brunt of the blame shouldn't fall on quarterback Sam Darnold's shoulders. Despite the rocky start, there's still hope that the 23-year-old can establish himself as a franchise QB.
The Jets took Darnold with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, and he has started 28 games for them since then. Although his first career pass attempt was a pick-six, he has completed 60.1 percent of his pass attempts for 6,283 yards, 38 touchdowns and 29 interceptions across his career to date.
Darnold hasn't had much help from his skill-position corps during his NFL career. The Jets have still yet to find a true No. 1 wide receiver, while the offensive line has been in rebuild mode since he was drafted, which explains why the former USC star has already been sacked 67 times in his young career.
While the Jets are still rebuilding their offense around Darnold, he's shown some impressive flashes at times. During their blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, he evaded pressure to make an amazing throw for a touchdown.
Given the Jets' early struggles this season, Darnold isn't likely to move up this list much in the coming months. But if they add some skill-position weapons and keep improving on the offensive line, Darnold finally may have an opportunity to show off his upside next season.
6. Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock is set to miss "multiple weeks" with a shoulder injury he suffered Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Aric DiLalla of the team website. But from the limited glimpses we've seen of him, the second-year quarterback looks like a future star in the league.
The Broncos traded up to take Lock with the 42nd overall pick in the 2019 draft. A thumb injury delayed his NFL debut until December, but the Broncos went 4-1 in Lock's five starts to end the season while he threw for 1,020 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
After the Broncos added Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler with first- and second-round picks in April's draft, respectively, Lock appeared poised for a breakout season. Unfortunately, his shoulder injury and No. 1 wideout Courtland Sutton's torn ACL will temporarily derail those dreams.
When Lock does return, he will still be in a great situation. Between Jeudy, Hamler and Sutton, the Broncos have all kinds of long-term weapons at wide receiver, and Lock has some of the best arm talent of any quarterback drafted in recent years.
Other young quarterbacks might be able to jump Lock here in the coming weeks, but his talent alone slots him in at No. 6 for now.
5. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
It's difficult to decide where to rank Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow relative to other young signal-callers. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft had a historically impressive final college season with the LSU Tigers, but we've only seen the 23-year-old in two games of NFL action so far.
Burrow was bound to go through growing pains since he's had only a few months to get acclimated to NFL speed, but he's looked solid despite the Bengals' 0-2 record. He's completed 61.9 percent of his pass attempts for 509 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Burrow's only interception came in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1, but he bounced back to lead the Bengals on a long drive facing only a three-point deficit. Kicker Randy Bullock missed the 31-yard game-tying field goal, but it was an impressive display of maturity from the young QB.
Burrow's mental processing is already impressive for someone so young, but he also combines that with natural talent and a good arm. All of those traits helped him break college football's single-season passing record with 60 touchdowns last season.
Cincinnati needs to work on its offensive line going forward, because Burrow has already been sacked six times in two games. But once the Bengals sort out their protection issues, their skill-position corps should help Burrow establish himself as one of the league's best young quarterbacks.
4. Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars
Heading into last season, no one would have expected former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew II to be on this list, let alone in the top five. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback has taken the league by storm, and he doesn't look like he has any plans to slow down.
The Jaguars took Minshew in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL draft, and he was expected to compete for a backup spot behind Nick Foles. The Jaguars had signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million deal to make the former Super Bowl champion their quarterback of the future, but he suffered a broken collarbone in Week 1.
Once Minshew took over, he exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. He completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions for a solid 91.2 passer rating.
That strong play has carried over into this season. His Week 1 performance against the Indianapolis Colts was surgical, as he finished 19-of-20 for 173 yards and three touchdowns in the win. He did throw a pair of picks in the loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, but he finished 30-of-45 for 339 yards and three scores.
Although Minshew doesn't have the strongest arm, his accuracy and touch help him stay consistent. His ability to move around the pocket and make throws from awkward angles allow for some additional creativity, which has led to some big plays.
Minshew could drop down this list once the 2020 season is over, but right now, the Jaguars quarterback hasn't shown anything to suggest that he isn't one of the best young quarterbacks in the league.
3. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Arm strength is always an appealing trait for a quarterback, and anyone who has watched Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen knows he has an absolute cannon for an arm. However, the 24-year-old is showing a lot more than just a strong arm in his third NFL season.
Allen has helped lead the Bills to a 2-0 record by getting off to his best start to a season yet. He has an impressive 122.9 passer rating by completing 70.4 percent of his passes for 727 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Although he showed mobility in his college games at Wyoming, it's been surprising to see Allen have such an impact with his legs at the pro level, which has made him an even more dangerous threat. In 30 career games, Allen has run for 1,217 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
The last piece of the puzzle for Allen looks to be taking better care of the football, particularly with fumbles. He has already fumbled the ball 24 times in his career, including two in 2020.
Once Allen improves his ball security, his efficiency should go through the roof. The Bills added more playmakers to the offense this season by trading for No. 1 wideout Stefon Diggs and drafting running back Zach Moss, so this could be a real breakout year for Allen.
2. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Before leaving college, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had to make the decision between playing baseball or football professionally. Thankfully for NFL fans, he chose football, and it looks like he made the right decision.
After the Oakland Athletics drafted him with the ninth overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft, Murray went on a tear in his final college season at Oklahoma. Winning the Heisman Trophy solidified his status as the top quarterback in the 2019 NFL draft, and the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the No. 1 overall pick.
Murray showed a lot of promise as a rookie, even though the Cardinals went only 5-10-1. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while adding 544 yards and four touchdowns on the ground on his way to the NFL Rookie of the Year award.
The Cardinals acquired four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins via trade this offseason, which has helped Murray become even more dangerous. He's gotten the Cardinals off to a 2-0 start, including a win over the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, by throwing for 516 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 158 yards and three scores on the ground.
Murray is on pace to have a season like last year's MVP, Lamar Jackson. As far as the best quarterback under 25 years old, Jackson is the only other competition the Cardinals quarterback appears to have right now.
1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Heading into the 2018 NFL draft, some analysts and experts questioned whether Lamar Jackson should shift from quarterback to wide receiver. The Baltimore Ravens didn't bite, instead trading up to draft him as Joe Flacco's heir apparent with the No. 32 overall pick.
After taking over for an injured Flacco midway through the 2018 season, Jackson never turned back.
In his first full season as a starter last year, Jackson through for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding another 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Jackson led the league in passing touchdowns and broke the NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season on his way to being named the 2019 Most Valuable Player.
Although the Ravens fell flat in the postseason for the second straight year with Jackson under center, Baltimore's future could not be brighter. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has built an offensive system around Jackson's skill set, allowing him to make plays with both his arm and legs. Meanwhile, general manager Eric DeCosta has brought in playmakers through both the draft and free agency to give Jackson the weapons he needs to succeed.
Jackson is off to another red-hot start this year. The Ravens are 2-0 while Jackson has accounted for 578 total yards of offense to go along with four passing touchdowns. Those aren't the MVP numbers that Jackson had last season, but the Ravens haven't needed their star quarterback to go off to win their first two games.
Even if Jackson doesn't replicate his MVP production this season, his talent as both a passer and runner unquestionably makes him the league's top quarterback under the age of 25.