Today’s NFL is a quarterback driven league. With the 2016 season in the books, let’s take a look at how the NFL’s signal callers stack up. The criteria used to evaluate their rank has been determined through a combination of yardage gained, touchdown to interception ratio, QBR, and of course a quick breakdown of the eye test. Players will then be placed into one of four categories: The Creme de la Creme, Next Man Up, Game Managers, and The Bottom of the Barrel.
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The creme de la Creme: Enough said
1. Tom Brady: 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns, two interceptions, 112.2 QBR
Brady is the reigning super bowl MVP and currently leads the argument for the greatest player of all-time. He absolutely set the NFL on fire last year after his season began in week five when he came off of suspension for his role in Deflategate. Brady authored the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history and there is little doubt that any other quarterback should occupy the number one spot.
2. Aaron Rodgers: 4,428 yards, 40 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 104.2 QBR
Mr. Rodgers is as cool as the other side of the pillow, whether it’s because he’s a California kid or plays in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, it matters very little. Rodgers is a rare combination of lethal accuracy, mixed with blessed talent and topped off with great fortune.
3. Drew Brees: 5,208 yards, 37 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 101.7 QBR
Brees continues to dominate defenses despite declining arm strength and lack of a true number one receiver. He posted his fourth 5000-yard passing season in the last six years in 2016. Brees can’t win alone as evidenced by the Saints’ losing records in spite of his Hall of Fame-like production.
4. Derek Carr: 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns, six interceptions, 96.7 QBR
The 2016 Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of the year, Carr was sensational and left his mark on the league, putting together an MVP caliber year before a fractured fibula derailed his season in week 16. One of the few players one can say we’re down 10 heading into the fourth and he’s got them right where he wants them.
5. Matt Ryan: 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 117.1 QBR (League-best)
The Offensive Player of the year in 2016 should rank higher than number five; at least one would hope. For all his wonderful accolades and his consistently high statistical measures, there is that choke job in the super bowl though. Nothing Ryan ever does will erase or absolve him of blowing a 25-point lead to lose Super Bowl LI.
6. Dak Prescott: 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, four interceptions 104.9 QBR
Prescott, the 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year may very well be the savior of Dallas Cowboys football. Overshadowed by fellow R.O.Y. nominee Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott stepped to the forefront as both the leader of this team and arguably it’s best player. He may also have spelled the end of Tony Romo in Dallas.
7. Matthew Stafford: 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 93.3 QBR
On December 11, 2016, Stafford broke Peyton Manning’s single season record for comebacks with eight. Without much help around him in Detroit, Stafford continued to get it, done reaching the playoffs for only the second time in his career. Fans continue to sleep on Stafford who has the most passing yards of any quarterback through their first 100 games.
8. Ben Roethlisberger: 3,819 yards, 29 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 94.4 QBR
Posting the third highest passing touchdown total of his career, Big Ben sounded off and rang true as his right arm covered for a missing Le’Veon Bell and guided the Steelers to their sixth division title in 12 years.
Next Man Up: Quarterbacks who are not quite elite but not terrible either
9. Kirk Cousins: 4,917 yards, 25 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 97.2 QBR
Not quite worthy of top billing, Cousins is the beneficiary of time and place. Continuing to put up tweener numbers while teetering on the edge of elite, he is looking at being franchise tagged for the second year in a row. Washington continues to wait and see if Cousins’ quality holds more value than a D.C. promise.
10. Marcus Mariota: 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 95.6 QBR
In a freakish lightning striking twice kind of jump off, Mariota and Carr broke their legs on the exact same Christmas Eve day and represented the last win of their respective seasons. Mariota and the Titans are one explosive wide receiver away from creating something special.
11. Russell Wilson: 4,219 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 92.6 QBR
Wilson played behind arguably the worst offensive line in the league and also M.I.A. was a running game. Playing through pain and injury, he willed the Seahawks to the NFC West crown and defeated Detroit on Wild-Card weekend before succumbing to Atlanta in the next round of the postseason.
12. Andrew Luck: 4,240 yards, 31 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 96.4 QBR
Luck rebounded nicely from a ruptured spleen but the colts were only in contention for all of a fleeting moment. Luck and T.Y. Hilton are the league’s premier deep threat combo but the Colts need an awful lot of help keeping him upright in order for him to be great.
13. Jameis Winston: 4,090 yards, 28 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 86.1 QBR
Famous Jameis had another impressive building year in his second season as the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback. Losing his tight end to off field issues, Winston continued to find Mike Evans and wing the football all over the field. He struggles with accuracy issues rooted in his footwork that is in need of improvement, but Winston is on or ahead of schedule in his development.
14. Andy Dalton: 4,206 yards, 18 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 91.8 QBR
In his first year without Hue Jackson Dalton regressed, in his defense he also lost Mohamed Sanu to free agency and Tyler Eifert to injury early in the season. Dalton had to learn his new receiving corps while continuing to feed A.J. Green before he too became injured. Still a solid season by any means Dalton threw for over 4000 yards, familiarized himself with his new weapons, and moving forward will get a chance to prove his worth now that Jackson and Jay Gruden are gone.
15. Philip Rivers: 4,386 yards, 33 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 87.9 QBR
At first glance it’s easy to say Rivers is slipping as Father Time is catching up. The fact of the matter is, nearly every skill position starter on the Chargers’ offense and defense was injured. Rivers had to take chances and throw to less than optimal receiving options all season long.
16. Carson Wentz: 3782 yards, 16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 79.3 QBR
Wentz came out guns blazing in his rookie campaign, but the league caught up to him and rookie head coach, Doug Pederson’s offense. Wentz showed signs of promise for a rookie and should be destined for great things provided the Eagles can help him out with a running game.
Game Managers: The guys who get it done without blowing the doors off
17. Sam Bradford: 3,877 yards 20 touchdowns, five interceptions, 99.3 QBR
Bradford led the league in completion percentage with 71.6 percent, while posting career bests in nearly every category, with the exception of passing touchdowns. Bradford will always be seen as just average until he can play 16 games and make it to the playoffs.
18. Tyrod Taylor: 3,509 yards, 17 touchdowns, six interceptions, 89.7 QBR
What a difference a year makes in the NFL. Last season Taylor was a Pro Bowler and now this year is already being accused of being washed up with, a salary cap bullseye on his back. Taylor spent most of the year without his top receivers and had to contend with running for his life with half of a quality offensive line.
19. Eli Manning: 4,027 yards, 26 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 86.0 QBR
The Giants were in the midst of a transition as it marked the first season without head coach, Tom Coughlin. Manning too often allowed boneheaded decisions, during critical moments of the game, to influence the outcome. Manning has seen better days and if asked to do much more than manage games he will be met with less and less success.
20. Ryan Tannehill: 2,995 yards, 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 93.5 QBR
Working with head coach and quarterback whisperer, Adam Gase, Tannehill has shown improvement. Injury cut his 2016 season short and could only watch as back up signal caller, Matt Moore, come in and produce. Many are hoping this is the year Tannehill finally breaks out.
21. Colin Kaepernick: 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, four interceptions, 90.7 QBR
Making only 11 starts and after a nasty public battle with management about his contract, as well as personal protests, Kaepernick put together a decent year in Chip Kelly’s offense, despite a cast of practice squad-ish surrounding talent. After a year in the shit show the 49ers have struggled to produce; it’s a testament to Kaepernick’s ability for being able to put something positive on tape.
22. Alex Smith: 3,502 yards, 15 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 91.2 QBR
Smith is the kind of quarterback you love to have as a back up — capable of running the offense, keeping on schedule and relatively risk free. Only problem is Captain Checkdown is becoming the weak link holding back an offense ready to explode. As evidenced in the playoffs, Smith’s inability to look and throw downfield cost the Chiefs a playoff game they could have won.
Bottom of the Barrel: Dedicated to those who stunk up the joint
23. Trevor Siemian: 3,401 yards, (18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 84.6 QBR
Siemian is a young quarterback that has shown he can win close games. He is not in possession of a home run caliber arm, nor does he do anything particularly well. What Siemian is capable of is keeping plays alive with his feet and making the solid short to intermediate reads and throws.
Bottom of the Barrel: Dedicated to quarterbacks who stunk up the joint
24. Carson Palmer: 4,233 yards, 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 87.2 QBR
Stats don’t lie but they can definitely mislead. Palmer was good in some games but a flat out dog in others. He is usually a reliable quarterback but had his ups and downs in 2016. Last year Palmer eclipsed the 300-yard plateau in only six games and three times he failed to produce even 250 yards passing.
25. Joe Flacco: 4,317 yards, 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 83.5 QBR
Another instance of misleading stats. Many of Baltimore’s 2016 games saw the Ravens with the football late driving to score and either put away the game or steal it back. The reoccurring theme here was Joe Flacco flat out could not deliver in clutch time. Arguably having the best deep arm in the game and one of the fastest men on the field, did little in terms of production for the Ravens in 2016.
26. Blake Bortles: 3,905 yards, 23 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 78.8 QBR
It is a mystery as to what happened Bortles in 2016 as many thought he was poised to have a breakout year and become a star. Instead, he would have been better off as a Just for Men spokesman. Nearly all of Bortles stats came in garbage-time and armed with Allen Robinson out wide and a rededication to the run game last year’s season was still a complete faceplant.
27. Cleveland Browns: 3,264 yards, 15 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 77.4 QBR
A revolving door at the most important position in the game is a recipe for disaster and a 1-15 record. The only good thing about the Browns is that when Hue Jackson gets rid of the seven bozos who played quarterback for him, he still has budding superstar wideouts, Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman, as receiving options for Cleveland’s future quarterback.
28. Cam Newton: 3,509 yards, 19 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 75.8 QBR
My name is Cam Newton and you’re probably wondering how I ended up down here in the bottom of the barrel? You’re not alone, as I finished with a completion percentage of just 52.9 percent, nearly 20 percent lower than the league leading Bradford. There clearly was a super bowl runner-up hangover and no matter how crappy 2016 was, Newton will bounce back.
29. Chicago Bears: 3,969 yards, 19 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 81.8 QBR
Chicago was a quarterback wasteland in 2016 as the Bears’ quarterback numbers have been largely inflated by a six week stretch of mediocrity engineered by Brian Hoyer — 1,445 yards, six touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 98.0 QBR. The rest of the quarterbacks on the Bears roster should be let go.
30. Brock Osweiler: 2,957 yards, 15 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 72.2 QBR
It’s really hard to imagine a worse starting quarterback in the NFL than Osweiler as he is pissing a Super Bowl-caliber team away. Wildly inconsistent, he is in possession of the tools to be solid and maybe even good, but until he puts it all together on the field, he will be the reason Houston does not win it all. In his defense, dropped passes are a big reason the Texans lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the Patriots.
31. Ryan Fitzpatrick: 2,710 yards, 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 69.6 QBR
It’s hard to fault a player for being selfish and even harder to fault one for sticking around as long as possible, but the time has come for Fitzpatrick to hang it up. The Harvard grad has carved out quite the living for himself as a mediocre starting-backup quarterback. In true bait and switch-like fashion, Fitzpatrick tantalizes with DirecTv Ryan and what looks to be great play, then when signing the big deal he becomes Cable Ryan.
32. Los Angeles Rams: 3,290, 14 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 70.0 QBR
Case Keenum and Jared Goff were god awful Goff. Neither had flashes, but just a few sparkles. As bad as Keenum was, Goff is so far away from being ready, let alone good.
— Philip Robinson writes for cover32 and covers the NFL and the Oakland Raiders. He can be followed on Twitter @chocP3thunder.