Jarrod Thurman @JarrodChiefsFCS Chiefs Focus @Chiefsfocus
Now that the first round has passed and free agency has settled down, let’s rank the AFC’s quarterbacks.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Mahomes is one of five active NFL MVPs and one of two with multiple MVPs. He’s also the only starter with 2 rings. Combine that with the multiple records he already owns, I don’t think anymore needs to be said about why he’s number 1.
2. Joe Burrow, Bengals
Burrow is one of five AFC quarterbacks that has played in at least one Super Bowl. He’ll enter the season as a potential league MVP candidate. I’ve got him second because only Patrick Mahomes has more playoff wins since 2020 (Burrow’s rookie season) than Joe Burrow and he is tied with Tom Brady for the 2nd most in that time frame despite not making the playoffs in 2020.
3. Josh Allen, Bills
Allen in 2021 appeared to be ready to take the next step as an NFL quarterback and take his team to the Super Bowl. Since then he has struggled to do that. His yards and touchdowns have gone down each season and his interception percentage has gone up. The Bills’ defense was a big reason they went 13-3 last season. With that being said, he is still a very good quarterback, I just can’t put him above Burrow when I compare their last two seasons.
4. Aaron Rodgers, Jets
The Jets decided to once again trade for a Packers quarterback at the end of his career. There was a noticeable decline in his play last year, however, he also had probably the worst receiver corps he’s had in his career. He goes to a team with the league’s offensive rookie of the year in 2022, he has added Allen Lazard from the Packers and Mecole Hardman from the Chiefs. Add in my fellow Wichita, Kansas native Breece Hall to the backfield and Rodgers has a young team around him to help make him better as his skills begin to throttle down a bit.
5. Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Some people would probably put Jackson above Rodgers, but I just can’t do it. I sometimes feel like I’m the only person that has noticed a decline in Jackson’s play. Teams are starting to figure him out. I’ll make a bold prediction about Jackson’s future in the league: He’s a backup by the middle of 2025, possibly sooner. But this is about now. He’s still a good quarterback, I just think the names above are better. The Odell Beckham signing was the most overhyped transaction for the month of April. An aging receiver coming off a torn ACL and missing an entire season. He’s played one full season in the last 5 seasons and hasn’t recorded 1,000 yards since 2019 and hasn’t scored double-digit touchdowns since 2016.
6. Justin Herbert, Chargers
A lot of people would put Herbert higher, but I think he is a quarterback that puts up better numbers than his talent actually shows. He’s not a terrible quarterback by any means, I just personally don’t think he’s as good as some people think he is. The only reason he owns so many records for a quarterback’s first 2 and 3 seasons is because Patrick Mahomes only played in one game as a rookie. He had his career-worst QB rating and yards per attempt last year, on top of only throwing 25 touchdowns. He is only 1 win over .500 in his career as well.
7. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
This is where it gets a little tricky. Tua is coming off the best season of his career but he had injury issues throughout most of the season. The addition of Tyreek Hill made a massive difference to the Dolphins. I’m not sure this season will be as good as last season for him but he should still have a solid season.
8. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
Lawrence made huge strides last season and led the Jaguars to the playoffs and a division title and helped lead one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history in the playoffs. The Jaguars almost even beat the Chiefs in the divisional round too. Lawrence will be looking to make another big stride. By the end of the 2023 season, we could have Lawrence ranked as high as the top 3 if he lives up to his potential. Doug Pederson has proven to be the best thing for him.
9. Russell Wilson, Broncos
Wilson is one of 3 quarterbacks in the AFC with a ring, but one of 2 that has passed their prime (as much as that statement hurts me since he is only 4 months younger than me). He had what was by a large margin the worst season of his career last year. While his yards per game wasn’t the worst of his career, he did set a career low for touchdowns and wins, he also had the worst QB rating of his career.
10. DeShaun Watson, Browns
Watson didn’t have a very large sample size last season, only playing in 6 games. But those six games were pretty bad. He set career lows in yards per game, QB rating, and touchdowns per game, and he had a career-high for interception percentage. However, he did miss an entire season and has a history of good numbers so he does get a little bit of a pass here.
11. Mac Jones, Patriots
Jones’s rookie season was overhyped. It was not that great of a season statistically. In an era where rookie quarterbacks put up big numbers, his weren’t that great. His 223.6 yards per game (used that to compare to 16-game seasons) as a rookie was worse than Brandon Weeden had with the Browns in 2012. He had an even worse 2nd season. Literally, every stat got worse (even if you look at per game) for him in his 2nd season. I don’t think he’s going to be a long-term solution for the Patriots at quarterback.
12. C.J. Stroud, Texans
We have the first rookie. The Texans have had a solid offseason and C.J. Stroud is a quarterback I think can help them out long term. The Texans drafted Stroud 2nd overall and are set up to start him in week 1. In his last 2 years at Ohio State, he had 85 touchdowns. He is a 2 time Heisman finalist having been a finalist in both years as a starter. The Texans may need a receiver for him to throw to, but that’s likely something we see on day 2 of the draft. If Davis Mills gets the start, I’d have him 16th in the AFC.
13. Jimmy Garoppolo, Raiders
Garoppolo is the utter definition of a game-manager quarterback. He’s not going to make risky throws, but he’s not someone who is always going to give you eye-popping numbers. Sure he’s had some 300+ yard games and some 4 TD games, but honestly, name me a quarterback that has started over 70 games in their career that doesn’t. I don’t think he’s going to make a big difference for the Raiders.
14. Ryan Tannehill, Titans
Tannehill is my lowest-ranked veteran. He had a couple of decent seasons early on in his time with the Titans but overall time there has been pretty unremarkable. This has him on the chopping block with the Titans having second-year quarterback Malik Willis. Willis I think will be the starter by the midway point of the season.
15. Kenny Pickett, Steelers
In his first season in the NFL, Pickett had an awful season. In 13 games he threw 7 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. He had zero multi-touchdown games, six games where he failed to throw a single touchdown, threw over 300 yards once, and had 2 3 interception games. The Steelers’ defense was why they had a winning record last season and a shot at the playoffs. He’s going to be on the bench by the midway point of the 2023 season because I do not see any future for him in the NFL.
16. Anthony Richardson, Colts
Richardson has the highest bust potential of the quarterbacks in the draft this year. I’m totally lost as to why a quarterback that only threw 17 touchdowns in 12 games and had a 53.8 completion percentage was drafted 4th overall. He did have a solid combine but I think the combine is overhyped for its importance. How often do players test off the charts on the combine but don’t do anything in the NFL? Quite frequently. I don’t think he’s going to do much in the NFL. Matt Ryan wouldn’t be much higher if he’s the starter.
These rankings are based on my projected starters for each team following offseason transactions. There might be some changes over the next 4 and a half months.