Ranking the NFL’s Quarterbacks from 32 to 17

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is a league, by-and-large, driven by quarterbacks. It is hard to win if a team’s signal caller is not up to par. Franchises that lack consistency under center are similar to trying to eat clam chowder with a fork. It is possible, but not the best way of going about winning or consuming such an exquisite dish.

The NFL has been completely parlayed into a league that values dual-threat passers. No longer, or rather hardly, do you see the “traditional” quarterbacks that move like they are stuck in quick sand when it is time to flee the pocket.

This list is a countdown of the league’s starting quarterbacks. Some teams have yet to sort through the chaos as position battles are set to be decided in training camp. This countdown is based off of last season’s performance, sustained success, talent, and, for some, what direction they might be trending in.

So without further ado, here are the quarterbacks that rank from 32 to 17:

32. AJ McCarron/Josh Allen

Yes, the Buffalo Bills have the lowest ranked quarterbacks on this list as McCarron and Allen lack experience. We could very well see both guys under center for Buffalo as the adjustment period could be steep. However, head coach Sean McDermott knows he has a thoroughbred in LeSean McCoy and an opportunistic defense to support his young signal callers. The Bills defense finished seventh in the league in turnover differential so expect a heavy dosage of ground-and-pound.

31. Josh McCown/Teddy Bridgewater/Sam Darnold

McCown figures to have the advantage with Bridgewater and Darnold only a mistake away from being the 2018 New York Jets starter. The Jets are doing the right thing making Darnold earn the job. The former Trojan fits the mold of the new-age passer that can occasionally display the ability to scramble. It is not a matter of if he can start, but more so when?

30. Tyrod Taylor/Baker Mayfield

The Cleveland Browns are on the brink of relevancy, but the first order of business starts at the most important position. Taylor is the perfect bridge-gap starter as he does not turn it over much (only 18 interceptions thrown). Also, he takes what the defense gives him as he has a career passing percentage of 62.4 percent. Lastly, the former Virginia Tech passer is good for 400+ yards on the ground as he has hovered or surpassed that mark since 2015. Mayfield, despite being the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has his work cut out for the starting gig.

29. Patrick Mahomes II

The keys to the Ferrari were handed to Mahomes as he now assumes control of the Kansas City Chiefs offense following a trade that sent Alex Smith to the nation’s capital. He has to be salivating like he is waiting for cake as he looks at an offense that features three Pro Bowlers in Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. The addition of Sammy Watkins only makes that cake look much sweeter. A 3,500-yard campaign seems to be in line for young Mahomes.

28. Mitchell Trubisky

Trubisky will have a full training camp and preseason in which he will be the Chicago Bears unheralded man under center. He started the final 12 games as a rookie in which he compiled 2,193 passing yards and seven touchdowns in an offense with marginal talent. He will have new weapons in 2018 with the likes of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton coming to town. With more talent, might we see an increase in productivity for the former Tar Heel like we saw in Carson Wentz? Maybe, but he has to reduce his propensity to turn it over as he had 17 total last year.

27. Sam Bradford/Josh Rosen

Health is a major concern for both of these quarterbacks and surveying the field behind an offensive front that gave up 52 sacks a year ago cannot be thrilling. Nevertheless, the Arizona Cardinals have two guys that are extremely smart with the football, will take what is available, and are even-kilt. Bradford is the incumbent, but Rosen has the tools to start too. The good news is one of them will have a chance to throw to the ageless wonder that is Larry Fitzgerald.

26. Jameis Winston

You just never know what you might get with Winston. He is a player that certainly has the skills to be higher on this list. Off the field, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization rave about him being a stand-up guy, but his latest suspension regarding an Uber driver in 2016 says otherwise. On the field, he is a player capable of throwing three touchdowns or three interceptions. Winston was supposed to improve a dismal Bucs squad upon his arrival, but a record of 18-27 is hardly doing that.

25. Blake Bortles

Bortles underwent refurbishing his image last year under head coach Doug Marrone. He went from a boom-or-bust player to someone that understands that taking care of the ball will win him games. It worked too. As a result, he helped guide the Jacksonville Jaguars back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Most wonder if he can get back to his 2015 form when he finished tied for second in the league in touchdowns (35). That year his numbers were inflated because his team was down big in a lot of those games. It is safe to say Bortles would rather win.

24. Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill, from 2013-2015, had quietly gone under-the-radar as a promising young thrower of the pigskin. He was eclipsing 3,900 yards and threw at least 24 touchdowns during that timeline with ease. He was having a fine campaign in 2016 until he got hurt and missed the Miami Dolphins playoff run. In 2017, the former Aggie did not even get to lace his cleats as he needed season-ending surgery to repair his ACL. At age 29, Tannehill needs to produce otherwise he could be at odds with a Dolphins front office that has put the roster through the wringer in the last year or so.

23. Andy Dalton

Much like the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton has been a bit of an enigma. He has an elite receiver in AJ Green, solid tight ends in Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft, and he has versatile backs in Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon. Somehow some way, Dalton and the Bengals cannot put it all together. Dalton has been to the playoffs six times with ZERO wins to show for his efforts. Not to mention, the Bengals have missed the playoffs the last two years.

22. Joe Flacco

Much to the chagrin of many Baltimore Ravens fans, Flacco has struggled to right his wrongs after winning a Super Bowl in 2012. Flacco is just 38-36 since winning it all. The former Super Bowl MVP finished 2017 with 3,141 yards and 18 touchdowns which marked his lowest totals in a full season since his rookie campaign. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the team drafting Lamar Jackson.

21. Eli Manning

Manning went three straight years with at least 4,000 yards and 26 or more touchdowns until last year. That is what people would call the aftermath of an Odell Beckham Jr. injury. Many thought the New York Giants should draft a quarterback in an attempt to push Manning towards an early retirement. The franchise’s brass did not budge as they believe the former Ole Miss standout will be just fine with a returning OBJ and the acquisition of the electric Saquon Barkley.

20. Case Keenum

The journeyman Keenum enjoyed a successful year with the Minnesota Vikings as he orchestrated their run to the NFC Championship. The honeymoon phase did not last long as he was snubbed by his former team as they paid Kirk Cousins. He is everything NFL scouts tend to ignore as he is undersized at 6’1 and not exactly fleet of foot. However, he is a fierce competitor. The Denver Broncos and Keenum are both looking to sucker punch teams this upcoming season.

19. Alex Smith

Smith keeps aging like fine wine as he enjoyed a career-high in passing yards (4,042), passing touchdowns (26), and passer rating (104.7). He was traded from the Chiefs to the Washington Redskins who chose to ignore their former starter in Cousins. The quarterback carousel will make your head spin. Smith is good for taking care of the ball as he has not thrown 10 interceptions since 2010 and he still has the wheels to give defenses the chills.

18. Jimmy Garoppolo

Garoppolo is the only undefeated quarterback on this list as he is 7-0 in starts between the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners made it rain on Jimmy G as they entrusted him with a five-year deal worth 27.5 million annually. He displayed all of the skills of a player that was mentored by Tom Brady except the catch is that he is much more elusive. He built a rapport with Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, and George Kittle in the late stages of the season. With Pierre Garcon returning from injury and the selection of rookie Dante Pettis, Garoppolo could successfully step out of Brady’s shadow. Big things are brewing in the Bay Area to say the least as Garoppolo is the centerpiece.

17. Marcus Mariota

Mariota has the potential to rise up this list, but injuries have derailed him. He was a shell of himself last season as his passing yardage and touchdowns decreased while his interceptions hiked. The former Oregon stud looked tentative and unsure of himself, but it cannot be easy returning from a broken leg injury he suffered in 2016. Nevertheless, Mariota could be due for a stellar season with Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis, Delanie Walker, and the pass-catching back that is Dion Lewis at his disposal. Heck, maybe he will catch a touchdown from himself again.

Shocked? Flabbergasted? Befuddled? Well, that is just the way the cookie crumbled here. Most of the quarterbacks on this list are solid starters. They just simply lack the “it” factor, experience, or the productivity needed to rise up the board.

This is where the list stops as the final 16 quarterbacks’ ranking will be unveiled next week.