The 2020 NFL Season is approaching, hopefully. Every year, I do my positional rankings heading into the season. Every year that I write about the QBs, I always think this year is harder than the previous. Once again, I am singing that tune. The last time I did this, Andrew Luck hadn’t yet retired and Philip Rivers had a bit of a resurgence. The race for best QB is now a two horse race. Those two horses are well above the rest.
Every year the list fluctuates with the same guys falling into the same range of two to three spots.
The rankings will be based on several factors including age, body of work, last season, ceiling, floor, injuries, leadership and everything in between. Here are the top 10 for me heading into 2020.
10. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
2019 Stats: 63.9%, 4,039 yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs
2019 Rank: Unranked
Wentz has certainly come into his own as a pro quarterback. However, the one big glaring knock on him is his health. His career blueprint is looking eerily similar to another high end talent (although not as polished as said talent) named Andrew Luck. That really isn’t a slight at Wentz. Luck was just on another level of great. He has played in a similar number of games to Luck in his first four seasons. Even in many of the games he has played, there have been injuries along the way. He has yet to put together a full season since his rookie year. He was on his way to an MVP his second season before sustaining an injury. He missed more games in 2018 and played hurt most of the season. In 2019, he had a solid season and made the playoffs despite a depleted roster offensively. However, he only attempted five passes in his first playoff start. His injuries have been so much of an issue that the Eagles took Jalen Hurts in this year’s draft as a contingency plan, no matter what they say it is or isn’t. His ceiling and the talent is there to be a top QB in the NFL, but his reliability isn’t.
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
2019 Stats: 66.2%, 4,466, 26 TDs, 14 INTs
2019 Rank: 10
If Matt Ryan is anything, it is consistent. Even in a season where his offensive line was once again a weak spot, Ryan was able to keep the status quo for a Matt Ryan season. He never has been and never will be considered a top 3-4 QB, but he will never fall below 10 or 11. One thing is for certain, there aren’t many guys in the league who have been as consistently good over the last decade.
8. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
2019 Stats: 65.1%, 4,902 yards, 30 TDs, 11 INTs
2019 Rank: Unranked
Statistically speaking, Dak took a major step forward in 2019. However, he also finished his first season to date without a winning record. What gives? The lack of success against other playoff teams is a knock considering he threw 8 TDs to 7 INTs across those 7 games. The offense failed to score 20 points in four of them. He only threw 3 INTs in the remaining nine. Perhaps the boom or bust numbers comes from the amount he throws downfield. He ranked 6th on the season in average air yards per attempt at 9.3. He also delivered as one of the best deep ball passers in 2019. There is no doubt the Cowboys have a great QB. The question is, will they pay him what he wants? Ultimately, I believe a deal gets done. If they don’t pay him, someone else will. Heading in to 2020, the Cowboys added CeeDee Lamb in the draft giving him even more weapons to choose from. That offense should be a treat to watch.
7. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2019 Stats: 60.8%, 4,057 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs
2019 Rank: 3
There are some signs of regression for Brady, but I can see him rising on this list by mid-season once again. Brady not in the top 3 just feels weird honestly. I believe his regression is overstated by people. The Patriots did not run the ball well last year. The offensive line was middle of the road before getting healthy again. The Patriots had the 4th most drops in the league. In fact, leading receiver Julian Edelman led the league. His 20.5 QBR in the redzone was the worst of his career by a mile. Can some be attributed to Brady? Probably. Can most of it be the lack of receiving weapons? Yes. The great defense the Patriots had in weeks 1-8 eventually came down to Earth a bit. I believe Brady is walking into a much better situation with the Bucs. Read more of that here (Brady to Bucs, Better Situation).
6. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
2019 Stats: 66.1%, 3,127 yards, 36 TDs, 6 INTs (Broke QB Rush Record)
2019 Rank: Unranked
Lamar Jackson had an unbelievably great 2019 campaign. He was the clear cut MVP and took a massive step forward in terms of his passing. A 6 to 1 TD/INT ratio is nothing to shake a stick at. He also broke the QB rushing record set by Michael Vick. I wasn’t a believer of Lamar Jackson heading into last season. I am now. That being said, one area he needs to improve before I give him a stronger nod to get into the top 5 is the postseason. I want to see him take another leap this year. He was miserable in both playoffs games the last two seasons. I don’t have the call sheets to their loss in 2019 to the Titans. But there was a clear lack of utilization of running backs Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards who combined for 9 carries while Jackson had 20. Whether it is more on him or coaching, I am not sure. One thing I loved after that loss, Jackson took ownership. His teammates defended him. Something I can’t question is his leadership qualities and character. He answered the critics in 2019. I look forward to seeing him take another leap in 2020.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
2019 Stats: 74.3%, 2,979 yards, 27 TDs, 4 INTs
2019 Rank: 8
I ranked him 8th last year for the simple fact he fell off a cliff to some degree toward the back half of the season. He was on his way to being in the discussion with Patrick Mahomes for his first MVP, even against a QB who threw for 5,000/50. That has only happened twice in league history. Last year, he was much better down the stretch. Part of that could be due to the time he missed because of injury. Teddy Bridgewater stepped in and the Saints still kept winning. One thing that can never be taken away from Brees is his efficiency on short passes. Only Bridgewater, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo attempted passes closer to the line of scrimmage last season. None of them as efficient as one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. Although he left much to be desired thanks to unbalanced play-calling in the postseason, there are not many guys you would rather have for the season or in big games.
4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2019 Stats: 62.0%, 4,002 yards, 26 TDs, 4 INTs
2019 Rank: 1
While Rodgers has certainly seen better days, he is still in the upper echelon of the league’s best. He wins games. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He can get you deep into the postseason. He was just one game away from another Super Bowl before hitting the wall that was the San Francisco 49ers. Rodgers is still one of the best at pushing the ball downfield. Let’s not overstate how much he has lost like many are saying heading into 2020.
3. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
2019 Stats: 67.3%, 3,852 yards, 26 TDs, 12 INTs
2019 Rank: 9
For 2010-19, Watson is my pick for the college QB of the decade. Now, he is staking his claim as one of the best QBs in the NFL. It didn’t take long to see that Watson was going to be something special. During his rookie season, the Texans offense averaged 30.7 points per game with him under center. Once he got hurt, they averaged just 13.7 points per game. They only cracked 17 or more just once in the following nine games. Since then, the Texans are 21-10 and he has been a massive part of that. But one of the most impressive parts of Watson, he is ice cold in crunch time with 10 game winning drives to his name over the last two seasons. I am curious to see how he looks in 2020 without his go-to guy Deandre Hopkins. Over the last three years, he certainly has the body of work to deserve the recognition.
2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
2019 Stats: 66.1%, 4,110 yards, 31 TDs, 5 INTs
2019 Rank: 4
Wilson has been one of my favorite QBs in the league since day one of starting. He is one of the smartest decision makers and best situational QBs in the league by far. Unfortunately, he became stuck with the stigma of being a “game-manager” early in his career because of Marshawn Lynch and the Legion of Boom. That stigma was unfair then. I feel it is still carried with him now to a certain degree. Regardless of the supporting casts, Wilson has yet to have a losing record in the NFL since coming into the league in 2012. Much of that comes from the lack of turnovers and his ability to make pick up big yardage downfield by making plays with his feet. If Wilson is your QB, you are certainly in great hands. With the crop of guys like Brees, Brady and even Rodgers aging a bit, it is Wilson’s league now along with the inevitable number one.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
2019 Stats: 65.9%, 4,031 yards, 26 TDs, 5 INTs
2019 Rank: 2
Is this really a question? His first season as a starter, he became the second QB to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 TDs in a season and won the MVP. In year two, he battled a knee injury most of the season and still finished as one of the league’s best passers. Prior to his injury against the Broncos, Mahomes was on pace for 5,610 yards, 37 TDs and 2 INTs. Despite the injury, it didn’t stop him from winning his first Super Bowl in his second year as a starter. In the playoffs, we saw him with his back against the wall not once, not twice, but three times. All three games, the Chiefs played from behind. All three times, Patrick Mahomes found a rhythm and couldn’t be stopped. He is beyond special. Whenever the Chiefs inevitably extend him, the price doesn’t matter. He is worth every penny.