No position in football is more revered than the quarterback. Signal callers get all of the glory and much of the criticism despite taking part in the ultimate team game. So, who is deserving of heralded praise? And which passers are given far too much credit? I aim to answer both questions by ranking my top 25 NFL quarterbacks heading into 2020.
There are five key areas I like to focus on when examining quarterback analytics and film. First is accuracy, second is arm talent, third is consistency/availability, then poise/escapability, and lastly, clutch factor.
Of course, not all quarterbacks will qualify. The NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league. With that said, I will only go as far back as 2015 with my evaluations. Some passers progressed, and others regressed. And while I’m taking a five-season approach, the previous two or three years will be considerably more critical in determining a player’s rank. After all, this is about the top NFL quarterbacks of 2020.
Also, I believe some relatively young prospects are deserving of making the cut. Therefore, the class of 2018 will be recognized. However, for the quarterbacks with just one year of experience, I will compare them to each other at the end of my list.
If you’re a Chicago Bears fan, now’s the time to look away. Both Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky did not make my list. Other notable names to miss the cut are free agent, Joe Flacco, Cleveland Browns’ third-year passer, Baker Mayfield, Dallas Cowboys’ recent signee, Andy Dalton, and Miami Dolphins’ fan favorite, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Also, I know I’ll be criticized for excluding Cam Newton and Jameis Winston. That’s just how the chips fell. But that’s enough about the passers that graded lower than two dozen other guys. Without further ado, my top 25 NFL quarterbacks in 2020.
Top 25 NFL quarterbacks in the NFL
25. Marcus Mariota, Las Vegas Raiders
Hey, I never said I was ranking the 32 starters across the league. Even though Mariota is assumed to backup the incumbent QB1 in Vegas, that doesn’t mean he falls off the cliff of relevance. When healthy, he’s shown solid ability in leading an offense devoid of talent to the postseason in 2017. Carr’s seat could get warm this fall.
24. Sam Darnold, New York Jets
A former third overall pick that possesses all the tools to be 2018’s best-drafted quarterback has certainly underwhelmed to this point. Between minor injuries and illness, Darnold has been unable to string together a full 16-game schedule in two seasons, which doesn’t help matters. However, he improved in just about every statistical category from 2018-2019.
23. Case Keenum, Cleveland Browns
That’s right, Keenum gives the Browns the best chance to win right now, but it’s unlikely he’ll be named the starter in 2020. The Browns will be his fourth franchise in four seasons, which makes it extremely difficult for any quarterback to thrive. Despite an ever-changing environment, he’s garnered an 18-20 record as a starter dating back to 2017. During that time, he’s completed 65% of his passes for more than 9,000 yards and 51 touchdowns.
Case Keenum needs to be the #Browns quarterback until Mayfield takes it away. CLE's offensive talent has the ability to produce and Keenum could assist in that similar to Minnesota in '17. #DawgPound #NFLtopQBs pic.twitter.com/ECLdIQlqJc
— Shane G. Tyler (@SugaShane15) May 9, 2020
22. Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers
As one of the more stringent evaluations, Bridgewater has only started in 22 contests dating back to 2015. Due to a significant injury in 2016, I’m unable to use his ’15 tape for anything more than a fun reminiscence.
But here’s the key: Bridgewater has improved physically, emotionally, and mentally each season since 2017, and threw just 90 passes fewer than Ryan Tannehill (league leader in QB rating) last year. He took advantage of his limited snaps and was not signed to the Panthers by mistake.
21. Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts
Brissett enjoyed his best season as an NFL quarterback in 2019. However, with Philip Rivers in the building, he’s guaranteed to return to his QB2 duties. Regardless, Brissett’s film isn’t as bad as some other guys on this list, and if it wasn’t for his issues in clutch moments, I’d had him a couple of spots higher.
20. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
No quarterback between 20-25 has the highest chance of jumping up this list as Bills third-year quarterback Josh Allen. He’s still quite raw but has already made fantastic strides from year one to year two. In 2019, Allen doubled his scoring tosses while throwing 25% fewer interceptions and adds an element of escapability and deceptive speed that coaches love from the position these days.
We all know about the arm strength, but #Bills QB, Josh Allen's poise/escapability is on another level. He's made solid progress from year 1-2 w/continuing to look downfield versus tucking it away so soon. #BillsMafia #NFLtopQBs pic.twitter.com/bwnTcQx1mH
— Shane G. Tyler (@SugaShane15) May 7, 2020
19. Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers
The last time Taylor played, it was not pretty. The last time Taylor played for head coach Anthony Lynn, it went very well. From 2015-2016, Taylor threw for 6,058 yards, 37 scores, and just 12 interceptions with Lynn as his assistant coach. I don’t think he’s vintage ‘Bills good’ anymore, but he’ll be more than serviceable for 3/4 of the season before Herbert gets his shot.
HC Lynn is very familiar with Tyrod Taylor and knows what worked in Buffalo. I firmly believe Taylor can hold down the #Chargers offense, giving Herbert the time he needs. Can he return to '16 form? Or will he resemble the Cleveland #Browns' Tyrod in '18? #NFLtopQBs pic.twitter.com/xFs0lKvyQC
— Shane G. Tyler (@SugaShane15) May 10, 2020
18. Philip Rivers – Indianapolis Colts
2019 was not the first time Rivers threw 20 or more interceptions, so that’s not my top concern for the 38-year-old quarterback. What’s made Rivers slide so far down this list is a noticeable decline in pocket poise, arm talent, and patience. Still, I expect him to have a more efficient year in Indy.
17. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill finally got the boot from South Florida after a seven-season waiting game. Ironically, the breakout campaign Miami waited for didn’t occur until he left. Tannehill does well not to lose games, and his team saw significant success in 2019 with him under center. Unfortunately, his play in the most critical of moments was pedestrian. I’m curious to see him play 16 games in 2020.
16. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy G was fifth in on-target percentage for 2019. In what turned out to be the first time in his career, Garoppolo started all 16 games throwing nearly 4,000 yards and 27 scores. His 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio isn’t incredible, but he was highly efficient in Kyle Shanahan‘s offense. Garoppolo deserves to be top 15 on sheer proficiency, but he’s had availability issues and is nothing more than a game manager with upside right now.
Before I get to Melvin’s film.. check out this dude Jimmy Garoppolo lol.. pic.twitter.com/JS1r2yaL5H
— CrockTIME (@eric_crocker) February 28, 2018