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2020 Starting NFL Quarterbacks Ranked From First to Worst

With the 2021 NFL year about to begin soon, it’s time to look back and evaluate last season for every player. Arguably, the most important position on the gridiron is the quarterback position.

Based on the outcome of this past season, who is going to be shopping for a quarterback and who can rest easy knowing they’re covered for next year? Here are the final rankings of all starting quarterbacks from the 2020 NFL season.

For the purposes of the rankings, we will consider the quarterback that started the most games for his respective team.

nfl quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers Patrick Mahomes
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Ranking the 2020 NFL Quarterbacks

Elite NFL Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Who else was going to be number one? The 2021 NFL MVP was the first QB in NFL history to have over 45 TDs and five or fewer interceptions. He had a completion percentage of nearly 71 percent and led the Packers to the best record in the NFC.

2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

The entire season was between Patrick Mahomes and Rodgers for best player in the league. While Mahomes may have lost that battle, he still had over 4,700 passing yards, only six interceptions. He also led the Chiefs to another Super Bowl appearance.

3. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen made a late surge in the 2020 MVP race, but he couldn’t quite do enough to be a serious contender. Either way, Allen had an incredible 2020 season, with over 4,500 yards in the air, 37 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. More importantly, he finally got the Buffalo Bills back to the AFC Championship game.

4. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

If only Deshaun Watson didn’t have to play in the dumpster fire that is Houston. A statline of 4,800 yards with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions is extremely impressive when you consider he’s surrounded by nothing but underperformance and incompetence. Still, it wasn’t enough, as the Houston Texans could only win four games. For his sake, hopefully we see a Deshaun Watson trade soon.

5. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady might have the most offensive weapons in the entire league. That doesn’t make his 40-touchdown, 12-interception season any less impressive anymore. He does have a lot of talent surrounding him, but give the man props. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and the only question that remains is if he’ll ever slow up.

Good NFL Quarterbacks

Seahawks' Russell Wilson bounces back, continues record pace: 'Russ for MVP  train is back on the track' | The Seattle Times

6. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

“Let Russ cook!” they yelled…until defenses finally started to keep him in the pocket, and he wasn’t nearly as effective late in the season. He still put up a great statline of 40 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Russell Wilson is a great quarterback, but once again, he was just too spotty down the stretch to be dubbed “elite,” even if he thinks he is.

7. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray looked pretty good, with 26 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. He didn’t quite surpass 4,000 air yards, but that’s to be expected from a quarterback as mobile as himself. Murray has some insane big play potential, but his late season injury showed just how much he relies on his legs.

8. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Yes, Lamar Jackson is one of the most dynamic playmakers in sports. And yes, he did run for over 1,000 yards again. Jackson is a great playmaker, but when it comes to actually doing quarterback things, such as throwing consistently, he’s not quite at the level that makes him “elite.” He’s still a hell of a quarterback, but can he get it done in the playoffs consistently?

9. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are Ryan Tannehill is up here. He deserves it, though. Tannehill threw for 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. No, he doesn’t have to throw the ball very often, but when he does, he is extremely effective. Eat your heart out, Miami.

10. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

I did not expect anywhere near this performance from rookie Justin Herbert this year. Thrown into a new offense with a garbage coach, Herbert balled out, throwing for over 4,300 yards, 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Just imagine what he can do next year if his coach can be competent.

11. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

This is a 2020-specific list, so let’s get that out of the way. Matthew Stafford didn’t have much help, but to be top-10, you have to do better than just 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Without receiver Kenny Golladay pretty much all season however, this is still nothing to hang your head about. It’s especially impressive when Matt Patricia is your coach for any amount of time. We’ll see what Stafford can do on the Rams this season.

12. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Did anyone actually think Joe Burrow would be able to make it through the season with that garbage they call an offensive line? We didn’t get to see much of Burrow, but when we did, he was good, especially considering what little he had. His 13 touchdowns to only five interceptions is a great start, but will he be able to bounce back from a serious knee injury?

13. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Let Baker Mayfield play with swagger, and great things happen. He didn’t post anything crazy, but over 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns with just eight interceptions is not bad at all. Considering this is still the Cleveland Browns and he didn’t have top receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for most of the season, it’s a nice change of pace for Browns fans. Will he be able to build on late season momentum in 2021?

Drew Brees
Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Average NFL Quarterbacks

14. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Sorry, but this isn’t 2011 anymore. Drew Brees either can’t, or is unwilling to throw the deep ball. Without that, you can’t be anything above average. With under 3,000 passing yards and only 24 touchdowns, it seems like Michael “Slant Boy” Thomas was maybe even more important than we thought. Brees’ ability to not turn the ball over (outside of the NFC divisional round) keeps him at the top of the “average” category.

15. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Derek Carr flew a little under the radar this year with over 4,100 passing yards and nine interceptions. The problem? He also only threw 27 touchdowns. Add in that the Raiders could only go 8-8 in one of the weakest divisions in football outside of Kansas City, and you rank only average. He’ll have some great games, but he is the definition of middle of the pack.

16. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Hell of a game manager. Not much more. The problems in Minnesota were much more than just Kirk, but that doesn’t make him devoid of blame. Box score-wise he looked above average, with over 4,200 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. The problem is his inconsistency and his inability to ever lead a team to victory. The talent around him has helped him out plenty too.

17. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger just isn’t even above average anymore (see Drew Brees for why). He did have over 3,800 yards and 33 touchdowns, but he was also surrounded by weapons. Big Ben resorted to throwing check-downs and straight up refused to throw the ball deep. Someone needs to remind him that’s not how you win games. If he continues to play this way, I don’t know why you even come back. The Steelers won’t win anything outside of the division anyways.

18. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Throwing for over 4,500 yards is impressive. Throwing for only 26 touchdowns in the process is not. Sure, Matt Ryan was missing star receiver Julio Jones for a couple of games, but when you still have receiver Calvin Ridley, there is no excuse. Ryan just isn’t what he was and poor Atlanta will have to pay him a boatload of money to just try to stay relevant. The jury is still out on if he can even do that anymore.

19. Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

I hope for a long and happy retirement for Philip Rivers. It was his time to go, though. He only threw for 24 touchdowns and, while he was good for stretches in games, he’s no longer much of a threat. Any agility from the past is gone, and he resorted to throwing a high deep ball into coverage even more this year than he did in the past. He helped the Colts win 11 games, but couldn’t do much more.

20. Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars

I truly have no idea whatsoever what to think of Gardner Minshew. On the one hand, he threw 16 touchdowns with just five interceptions in six starts. On the other hand, he had way too many prolonged periods of time where he was just there. Sure, Jacksonville isn’t the most talented team, but you would’ve thought he could’ve at least held onto his job with D.J. Chark as his number one receiver.

21. Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears

How do you lose your starting quarterback job to the non-Super Bowl version of Nick Foles? While he did get the job back due more towards Foles’ inability to do anything more than his success, it doesn’t mean much. Sure, Mitchell Trubisky threw for 16 touchdowns to eight interceptions, but he was much more often the reason the Bears lose than the reason they were even in games, much less winning.

22. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa was thrown into the NFL way too early. Especially when legendary backup Ryan Fitzpatrick was still rolling. This offseason will be important for Tua, as this brief rookie season showed us more of Mitch Trubisky than a franchise quarterback.

23. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Jared Goff had weapons in receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp and some decent tight ends in Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. So, why is he nothing more than an average, game-managing quarterback? He couldn’t surpass 4,000 yards, he only threw 20 touchdowns and he had 13 interceptions as well. It’s a shame, the Rams defense deserved better, and now they have it.

24. Andy Dalton. Dallas Cowboys

Andy Dalton is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. As a starter, however, he’s dang average. In nine games, with weapons such as receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb, he was still only able to throw for 14 touchdowns in nine starts. Dalton isn’t what he used to be with the Bengals, but teams could certainly do worse.

Teddy Bridgewater Carolina Panthers nfl quarterbacks
Credit: Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

Bad NFL Quarterbacks

25. Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers

Remember when this was supposed to be Carolina’s quarterback of the future? Sure, he’s in a tough division in the NFC South, but really? Just over 3,700 yards with only 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions? Half of the league hit that touchdown total in just about 6-8 weeks. We knew Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t the best deep ball thrower, but we didn’t think it would be this tough for him.

26. Daniel Jones, New York Giants

Yeah, the Bears passing on Mahomes, Watson and more for Trubisky was pretty bad. It takes a special kind of screw up to even compare to that. Unfortunately for the Giants, that’s what they have with their wonderkid “Danny Dimes.” Can someone tell him the most effective way to move the chains is not in fact to fumble and hope your team recovers? Daniel Jones has 11 touchdown passes, 11 fumbles and 10 interceptions. Yikes.

27. Nick Mullens, San Francisco 49ers

In eight starts, Nick Mullens threw for just over 2,400 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Sure, many of his weapons on offense were hurt, but he seemed to be able to do nothing more than tread water. At times, even that seemed like a struggle for him. It’s a far fall from grace for a guy who looked like he could be a heck of a steal just two years ago.

28. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia didn’t have an offensive line or good offensive scheme. Carson Wentz sucked and looked like an absolute shell of himself. Both these things can be true. Sure, injuries ran amok again for the Eagles, but when you can only muster 16 touchdown passes in 12 starts, you aren’t clear of any blame. You’ve reached a low point as a quarterback when both games against the New York Giants and Daniel Jones are a struggle.

29. Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

Drew Lock looks lost way too often for a quarterback. Sure, he’s still young and his head coach is defensive-minded, but there is little to no improvement being seen since last season. Yes, he had a great comeback against the Chargers, but that had more to do with the Chargers’ continued incompetence than anything else. With four out of his 13 starts seeing him unable to even throw one touchdown pass, to say his time is starting to run out is an understatement.

30. Alex Smith, Washington Football Team

Every single NFL fan was rooting for Alex Smith. For him to be able to play, let alone run, after what happened to him is incredible. A man who nearly died shouldn’t ever be able to make an NFL comeback, but here he is. I still need to call it as I see it, though. Smith needs to retire. He can move even less than before, he’s 36 already, and although Washington was 5-1 in his six starts, he could only muster up six touchdown passes.

31. Cam Newton, New England Patriots

Bill Belichick has been a part of some incredible feats. We found out this year there’s a limit to how much he can do. There might not be a man on the planet who can fix Cam Newton’s mechanics and overall quarterbacking abilities. With only eight passing touchdowns through 15 starts, Cam has never, and likely will never be anywhere near the same as he was before his serious car crash back in Carolina. It’s sad to see his career take a nosedive this fast. Especially for a guy that’s still only 31 years old.

32. Sam Darnold, New York Jets

The most apt description to Sam Darnold’s career stat sheet with the Jets is “burn it with fire.” Darnold was 2-10 while barely eclipsing over 2,000 passing yards. He could only add nine touchdown passes while throwing 11 interceptions. The problem for the Jets runs much, much deeper than just him, but it’s still unacceptable (stares intensely at Adam Gase). If Darnold wants any chance outside of a fringe backup in the NFL, he needs to right the ship now before he turns into the second coming of Blake Bortles, minus the playoff success.

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