Top NFL backup quarterbacks 2022: Where Colts’ Nick Foles, Commanders’ Taylor Heinicke, and others rank

In the NFL, a starting quarterback is a team’s gatekeeper to success, but having a capable backup QB is essential for a contending squad.

Ranking the NFL’s top backup qbs in 2022

17) Josh Johnson, Denver Broncos

The well-traveled veteran keeps coming back for more deep-depth duty. Johnson is a logical complement to Russell Wilson, given his mobility, intelligence, and arm strength. Johnson can be relied on to win in spot duty if called upon.

18) Chad Henne, Kansas City Chiefs

Henne has carved out a strong backup career following mediocre starting stints in Miami and Jacksonville. Henne is a nice veteran influence behind the scenes, and while Patrick Mahones no longer needs a chaperone backup, Henne has the football IQ and experience to play if needed.

19) Trevor Siemian, Chicago Bears

Siemian has been a fringe starter in the league, but he is better off as a backup. While he’s been able to put up some pretty numbers during his career, he’s never been a guy who has moved the needle in the win department. That said, he is a logical veteran mentor for Justin Fields.

20) Cooper Rush, Dallas Cowboys

Rush has been the Cowboys’ offense for several years, and by all accounts, is a sharp football mind with a “good enough” arm. He has only made one career start, but he shined against the Vikings in Week 8 of last season, throwing for 325 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

21) Brandon Allen, Cincinnati Bengals

Allen has been an important veteran voice for Joe Burrow over the past two years. The Bengals made re-signing Allen a priority this offseason. He has some spot starts under his belt and can lead an offense in a pinch.

22) Kyle Allen, Houston Texans

Allen is similar to Siemian in that he has gotten the opportunity to be a fringe starter, but is clearly better off as a dependable backup. He’s capable of pushing Davis Mills without being an actual threat to his QB1 status. Allen can perform if he’s asked to replace Mills due to injury.

23) C.J. Beathard, Jacksonville Jaguars

Beathard also fits into the Allen-Siemian category of a guy with plenty of “starter” experience but is definitely a better fit as a backup. He isn’t particularly compelling in an aspect of his physical game, but he is the type of smart backup that Doug Pederson prefers. He can win a game or two if pushed into the huddle.

24) Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers

Love is in a weird spot. The former first-round pick was probably over-drafted in 2020, and now he might never see the field again in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers extended. Love has started just one game, and he offered up a mixed bag. He’s essentially still a projection at this point.

25) Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons

Of all the players on this list, Ridder might have the best shot at replacing the guy in front of him ahead of Week 1. Marcus Mariota threw one pass last season, and he is being propped up as the Falcons’ likely starter. Ridder was a program-changer at Cincinnati, and his maturity and football IQ could push him ahead of Mariota in a fair competition. That said, the third-round pick is a projection as well.

26) Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans

Willis is competing with Logan Woodside for the backup gig behind Ryan Tannehill. While Woodside might have the leg up in the competition going into training camp, the Titans would likely turn to Willis if Tannehill was sidelined for an extended period of time. Willis is a project player who has tremendous potential but is also likely to have some major growing pains.

27) Nick Mullens, Las Vegas Raiders

Mullens is an interesting addition behind Derek Carr. Mullens has a solid enough skill set, but his career numbers are more of a mirage than an indication of his talent. He’s very clearly a No. 2 QB in the NFL, and he failed to win the No. 3 gig in Philadelphia last year. If he hadn’t been thrust into an awkward spot start in Cleveland last year, he would probably be coming off a USFL campaign this week.

28) John Wolford, Los Angeles Rams

An AAF success story, the Rams have been able to shield Wolford from playing time as their top backup over the past two years. While he did have a playoff spot start following the 2020 season, he was quickly replaced by an injured Jared Goff. Wolford is fine, but he’s clearly on the downside of NFL No. 2 QBs.

29) P.J. Walker, Carolina Panthers

Would Walker be in the NFL if his former college coach wasn’t his current NFL coach? It’s a fair question considering how his professional career has gone thus far. That said, despite his ugly NFL numbers, he’s 2-0 as a starting QB in the league (take that QB-win truthers!).

30) Tim Boyle, Detroit Lions

Boyle was asked to start three games last season, and the results were rough. While he did show some flashes of competence, the Lions can’t afford to have Jared Goff go down again this year. The previous sentence explains why Boyle is this low.

31) Sean Mannion, Minnesota Vikings

Mannion has been able to stick in the league for quite some time without much to show for his career. The longtime backup didn’t throw a touchdown in a regular-season game until last season, despite being drafted in 2015. At least he does a solid Jim Sorgi impression with the clipboard.

32) Nate Sudfeld, San Francisco 49ers

Sudfeld, a former late-round draft pick, seemed to have a bright future when he backed up Foles during the Eagles’ run to Super Bowl LII. While Sudfeld hasn’t played a lot, his reputation took a massive hit when the Eagles were accused of tanking the 2020 season finale simply because Sudfeld replaced Jalen Hurts in a meaningless game.

Sudfeld didn’t help matters by having an awful performance in the game. He spent most of last season on the 49ers’ practice squad. Despite his recent struggles, his skill set fits into Kyle Shanahan’s offense quite well.

Mike Kaye is the Lead NFL Reporter for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @mike_e_kaye.

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