Ranking the top quarterbacks in NFL history from Tom Brady to Warren Moon

Top quarterbacks in NFL history | 6-10

Which five quarterbacks round out our top 10 quarterbacks in NFL history?

6) Drew Brees

Brees is arguably the most prolific passer of all time. He’s ranked as one of, if not the most accurate signal-callers of all time. The argument between him and Marino for the fifth spot was the most difficult. Brees owns an NFL record five 5,000-yard seasons. There have been 12 such seasons total, and nobody else has more than one.

Furthermore, Brees has the highest completion percentage of all the quarterbacks that met the grading criteria. Additionally, he possesses the highest yards per game of the group. He’s led the league in passing yards seven times, completion percentage six times, and touchdowns four times. The most impressive part of Brees is that he never boasted a considerable arm or athleticism. Oh, and the San Diego Chargers moved on from Brees after he tore his labrum in 2006.

7) Steve Young

Steve Young is one of the top quarterbacks in NFL history for a multitude of reasons. One significant one is that despite retiring well before the modern NFL quarterback, he was in the mold of such an athlete.

Young’s career is interesting because it really didn’t begin until he was 30. His career was relatively short-lived. Still, his production in his eight seasons starting 10 or more games was that of legend.

He led the league in completion percentage, passer rating, and yards per attempt five times each in those eight seasons. He even led in adjusted yards gained per pass attempt six times and in touchdowns four times.

Young won two league MVPs — and don’t forget — was voted a three-time All-Pro. In 1992, he generated the highest touchdown and lowest interception rates in the league. Young’s efficiency is reminiscent of Brees’s a decade-plus later.

8) Roger Staubach

Captain America wasn’t even a discussion for the top quarterback in NFL history. But we weren’t leaving the meeting until Roger Staubach received his due. His career was brief as he served four years in the military after attending the Naval Academy and took a tour in Vietnam. When he returned, he played eight seasons, four Super Bowls, and became the face of the NFL.

Staubach went 85-29 as a starting QB in the NFL. That is second only to the man who ranks first on this list, Tom Brady. Staubach could have a top-five argument if it weren’t for his four years of service (thank you, Mr. Staubach) and concussion issues. He led the league in passer rating and adjusted net yards per pass attempt during his career.

9) Brett Favre

Brett Favre is an absolute legend. The story about not knowing what nickel defensive personnel was is one of the more hilarious anecdotes I’ve seen. The word “gunslinger” was created for Favre. He’s one of the top quarterbacks in NFL history and possibly one of the first true divas at the position. He came out of retirement three separate times in his career.

Nobody has been as “dumb tough” as Favre. He started 297 consecutive regular-season games and 24 playoff outings, making his total number of consecutive starts 321. Will anybody ever break that streak? Furthermore, he’s the only player ever to win three straight MVPs.

10) Warren Moon

Warren Moon never enjoyed the playoff success of the rest of these quarterbacks. Nevertheless, Moon was one of the greatest pure throwers of the football in the history of the National Football League.

He’s also one of the top quarterbacks in NFL history, period.

His career could have been completely different, too. However, those in charge of NFL organizations thought he should play receiver. Good thing that doesn’t happen anymore. Right guys?

It’s impossible not to wonder what could have been if Moon would have received a chance to play in the NFL right away. In 1982, he threw for exactly 5,000 yards, and in 1983, he threw for 5,648 yards. The Edmonton Eskimos won the Grey Cup in five of Moon’s six seasons in the Canadian Football League.

Honorable Mentions

These signal-callers deserve praise for outstanding careers.

Jim Kelly

Kelly’s run with the Buffalo Bills from 1990-1993 was some of the best team football that has ever been played. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to seal the deal with a Super Bowl win, but Kelly played consistently well throughout those years despite throwing passing in the Buffalo winters. Things also could have been different if he hadn’t played his first two seasons in the USFL.

Johnny Unitas

Unitas would be near the top of the list had he played a bigger bulk of his career in the Super Bowl era. Unitas was the first of the modern style of NFL quarterback. He is the reason we have the two-minute drill. His five first-team All-Pro honors also provide clarity on his greatness.

Fran Tarkenton

Tarkenton’s numbers for his generation outshined that of his peers by quite a number. Tarkenton dragged a bad Minnesota Vikings franchise to three separate Super Bowl appearances and set all the passing records for his generation. His play style was wild, as he’d scramble around avoiding sacks and making seemingly impossible escapes and throws. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

John Elway

Elway was widely regarded as one of the most physically talented quarterbacks ever to play the game. However, despite his great physical attributes, it wasn’t until the very end of his career that he won his championships. And those came on the back of Terrell Davis, largely. He had mobility, an impressive arm, and he also led the Broncos to three Super Bowls early in his career.

Kurt Warner

Warner is one of the ultimate underdog stories. When people talk about somebody bagging groceries to becoming an NFL player, that stems from Warner’s story. The crazy stat for Warner is that, despite losing two of the three Super Bowls he appeared in, he threw a touchdown with less than three minutes left in each to either tie the game or give his team the lead.

Ben Roethlisberger

“Big Ben” is a curious case of quarterback play. Early in his career, he was surrounded by an incredibly stout defense and a great rushing attack. He drove the bus to the Steelers’ two Super Bowl victories with him under center. However, his proficiency as a passer and his mere presence in the pocket gives him honorable mention status on this list. He is the best quarterback in Pittsburgh’s history. That is a hill worth dying on.

Otto Graham

Another name that didn’t make the list simply because of when he played the game. He was the most prolific passer of his generation. He also won three NFL championships and was voted a seven-time All-Pro. His 9.0 yards per attempt average for his career would have led the NFL… in 2020! He did that over a 10-year career!


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