With two weeks until the NFL draft and the rumor mill churning, it might be a good time for every team to ask itself: Honestly, how are we doing at the quarterback position? This is a draft that should offer some enticing options and not just for teams selecting in the top 10. There is also a robust free agent market still available, with Cam Newton and Jameis Winston up for grabs. So, with that in mind, we’ve decided to rank every team’s quarterback situation from 1-32.
In consideration here? Everything. Your quarterback situation doesn’t just end with the player listed as QB1 on the depth chart. There are backups to take into account as well as cost (and future cost), coaching staff and surrounding talent. With that in mind, here is how we see the field lining up…
Depth chart: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Kyle Shurmur
The best young player in the game, Mahomes is only developing within an offense that is punishingly broad on opponents and can expand further as Mahomes adds more tools. Mahomes will soon be the most expensive quarterback in the NFL, but is worth every penny.
Depth chart: Aaron Rodgers, Tim Boyle, Manny Wilkins
Seeing Rodgers in person last year during the NFC championship game reinforced my belief that there are a very small percentage of players who can improve their team’s respective situations almost entirely alone. Even at 36, Rodgers is still elite and, for the 2020 season, has just the 10th-highest cap hit among active quarterbacks.
Depth chart: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith
Had it not been for Lamar Jackson’s meteoric rise last season, I think we would be talking a little more about Wilson’s incredible season. He has developed into one of the best singular playmakers in the sport, a player who can conjure positive yardage out of complete and total disaster.
Depth chart: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Clayton Thorson
Prescott led the league in defensive adjusted yards above replacement last year. He was incredibly efficient, led the league in passing yards and kept his mistake-prone moments to a minimum. The exciting part about Prescott is that we may just be scratching the surface of what the 26-year-old can accomplish.
Depth chart: Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III, Trace McSorley
Jackson gets an edge here due to his affordability over the coming years (two more seasons on the back end of his rookie deal, which log less than $6 million total against the cap). The 2019 MVP is growing into an elite player before our eyes and has the backing of a brilliant and flexible organization.
Depth chart: Deshaun Watson, AJ McCarron, Alex McGough
Is Watson a more complete player than Jackson right now? Absolutely. Is he about to get paid a significant amount of money by a team that just lost its best wide receiver? Yes. I think that’s the razor-thin margin that separates the Texans and Ravens in my eyes. As a coach, I would probably rather inherit Baltimore’s situation than Houston’s, despite the fact that Watson is a more proven commodity.
Depth chart: Drew Brees, Taysom Hill
While I may take Brees situationally over any of these quarterbacks on the list, the Saints are operating on a year-by-year lease at QB. Brees is talented enough to warrant the strategy. That said, if you are eyeing the long term, eventually the Saints have to draft a replacement or turn the offense over to Taysom Hill, who will be 31 by the start of the 2021 season, having attempted 13 career regular-season passes (at a 46% clip).
Depth chart: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert, Danny Etling
Ryan’s end of 2019 stretch, which helped Dan Quinn and the current Falcons’ power structure remain intact, was solid (107/169, 1,220 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions) and emblematic of how the team might be able to move forward with a more balanced offense. Ryan is entering his age 35 season, which means that the urgency to maximize his remaining window is heightened. Still, for a quarterback who has missed just three regular season starts, there is reason to believe that some good football is left.
Depth chart: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin
For the second straight season, Brady posted a negative +/- in expected completion percentage. One could easily argue that this was due to a decline in his weapon set, but it could also realistically be a blend of the Patriots’ receiving corps and Brady’s age. He comes to a new team at the tender age of 42 (43 by the time the season kicks off). He still merits a high place on this list because two years with the greatest quarterback of all time at an affordable salary is still a good thing to have. He is not as high as he’d once been because there is a significant unknown.
Depth chart: Kyler Murray, Brett Hundley, Drew Anderson, Chris Streveler
I think if I do this list around the same time next year, Murray will be in the top five. His rookie season was far better than the statistics showed. For a player with his receiving corps to outplay some more experienced quarterbacks with better receivers was eye-opening and legitimized the Cardinals’ decision to uproot Josh Rosen (no matter how terribly it was handled).
Depth chart: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Kyle Lauletta
Despite the unfortunate timing of his playoff injury, Wentz managed to have his moment in Philadelphia last year, going for 10 touchdowns and 1 interception over the final five games with a decimated receiving corps to push the Eagles into the playoffs. His history of gutting injuries shouldn’t unfairly skew the fact that, at age 27, he is locked into a manageable long-term deal with a good head coach and a roster that should rebound.
12. Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, DeShone Kizer, Nate Peterman
Carr finished sixth behind Lamar Jackson in Football Outsiders’ Defensive Yards Above Replacement metric last year and eighth in QB-DVOA. While there did seem to be a brief flirtation with Tom Brady on Las Vegas’s part, it seems sanity has prevailed. Had Carr been thrust into the market, he would have been a hot commodity despite the saturated QB market.
Depth chart: Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard
Garoppolo, despite a few unfortunate moments, played like a top 10 quarterback last year (or at least hovered around the No. 10 area for most of the season). Hopefully people will not confuse the entirety of his work with a few throws he should or should not have made in a big spot. The 49ers have one of the best coaching infrastructures in football and a solid room backing Garoppolo, not to mention Garoppolo’s contract looks good about now.
Depth chart: Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Chad Kelly
The Colts started much closer to 20 on this list but kept crawling up every time I stepped back to think about the totality of the situation. Rivers is reuniting with Frank Reich and stepping into a situation of relative familiarity with a good offensive line. In addition, Brissett may qualify as one of the best backups in the league.
15. Los Angeles Rams
Depth chart: Jared Goff, John Wolford
Despite the fact that I’m clearly favoring Wentz here, I don’t think Goff is a lost cause after a pedestrian showing in Super Bowl LIII and a hot-and-cold 2019. The Rams still have one of the best offensive minds in football calling the shots and, in a slightly different world, the Rams could have inched into the playoffs and done some damage this past winter.
Depth chart: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges, Paxton Lynch, J.T. Barrett
This is a tough projection, given how the class of 2004 has fared of late and that Roethlisberger is coming off elbow surgery. That said, Pittsburgh’s roster and coaching staff showed their strength without him last year, nearly reaching the postseason with a combination of Hodges and Rudolph. Should Roethlisberger come back and play to his capabilities, Pittsburgh will be back in the playoff hunt again.
Depth chart: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion, Jake Browning
Cousins, at times, played like a top 10 quarterback last year and delivered a signature playoff win over the Saints. Unfortunately, the Vikings’ 2020 campaign began by losing a valuable target in Stefon Diggs via trade, leaving the Vikings to potentially draft a replacement in two weeks.
18. Detroit Lions
Depth chart: Matthew Stafford, Chase Daniel, David Blough
This was an incredibly difficult spot to put Matt Stafford, who was having a decent 2019 before a spinal fracture ended his season. At 32, there is plenty of good football remaining for the former No. 1 overall pick. His streak of consecutive starts leading up to the 2019 injury—one of the longest for a quarterback in NFL history—proves as much. However, one has to wonder what the Lions’ infrastructure offers him in the near future to help him succeed.
19. Cleveland Browns
Depth chart: Baker Mayfield, Case Keenum, Garrett Gilbert
This isn’t an effort to knock Mayfield for a statistical regression in 2019 despite the high expectations. I think most people could see the offense as irreparable from far away. The placement at 19 reflects more of the general uncertainty around the Browns right now. I was a big proponent of the Kevin Stafanski hire, as well as the team’s aggressiveness in upgrading their offensive line. This ranking is bound to change significantly once everything gets set in motion for 2020.
20. Tennessee Titans
Depth chart: Ryan Tannehill, Logan Woodside
There is always a risk that Tannehill will regress to his statistical norm in his first full year as the Titans starter (and that he will not get a similarly herculean performance from Derrick Henry in 2020), but his incredibly efficient 2019 makes me think he could finally be paired with the right coordinator and system.
21. Chicago Bears
Depth chart: Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, Tyler Bray
I will be accused of putting the Bears unfathomably high on this list, which is fair. I seem to have more faith in Nick Foles coming back to a familiar system (with a great playcaller) than most, especially in a condensed offseason. The roster contains two quarterbacks who, in the right situation, are good enough to pilot this offense to a winning season.
Depth chart: Teddy Bridgewater, Will Grier, Phillip Walker
There isn’t a single playcaller I am more excited about in 2020 than Joe Brady in Carolina. The former LSU assistant’s baseline knowledge of the Saints’ system should help Bridgewater get off the ground running, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Panthers add at the position in two weeks.
23. Buffalo Bills
Depth chart: Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, Davis Webb
Josh Allen grew immensely last year and has the tools to make another leap in Year 3; the question is whether or not it will happen. I think some of the statistics behind Allen’s breakout season are concerning, though an upgraded weapon set and another year of experience for his offensive line may prove me wrong.
24. New York Jets
Depth chart: Sam Darnold, David Fales, Mike White
Darnold is a massive mystery; a quarterback who has been electric in small windows but has been marred by a bad accompanying group of wide receivers, a porous offensive line or...mononucleosis. The advantage he has right now is a relationship with his head coach amid this chaotic and uncertain offseason. General manager Joe Douglas made some upgrades to the offensive line and could easily lean in that direction in the first round of the upcoming draft.
Depth chart: Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick
I like the idea of Taylor finally getting the reins back for at least a few games, though there is little doubt the Chargers are taking his eventual replacement in Round 1. Taylor played well alongside Anthony Lynn in Buffalo and, with the momentum of the entire organization finally behind him (for at least a little while) I think the Chargers are in line to surprise.
26. New York Giants
Depth chart: Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Alex Tanney
This is a tough offseason for the Giants, who have switched to a first-time head coach and hired former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as their offensive coordinator. While Garrett is undoubtedly familiar with Daniel Jones, it’s going to be difficult to install an offense with a new head coach and second-year quarterback on the fly.
27. Cincinnati Bengals
Depth chart: Andy Dalton, Ryan Finley, Jacob Dolegala
The Bengals are in line to take Joe Burrow at the top of the 2020 NFL draft, which will drastically change the outlook of this room. However, it’s surprising that Dalton is still on the roster and that the Bengals have not invested in a veteran backup familiar with Zac Taylor who can mentor Burrow right away.
Depth chart: Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
It was difficult to place the Patriots, given that we don’t know much about Stidham or Bill Belichick’s grand plan to replace Tom Brady. To be clear, I fully expect the Patriots to win the AFC East this year, which would, in time, make this one of the best quarterback situations in the league. Stidham, just 23, has a cap hit of $833,000 this year.
29. Denver Broncos
Depth chart: Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien
Drew Lock is beloved by the Broncos fan base, perhaps with good reason. I think the sample size is still too small and am not a huge fan of the coordinator change. Rich Scangarello, now with the Eagles, works well with young quarterbacks and helped steer the offense down the stretch.
30. Miami Dolphins
Depth chart: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, Jake Rudock
Not ideal at the moment, but the Dolphins will also be upgrading in a matter of weeks. The draft will be fascinating to see which of the two quarterback-needy teams behind the Bengals (Miami, L.A. Chargers) make a power move up the board to ensure they are not left with the less appealing of two options behind Joe Burrow.
Depth chart: Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith
Dwayne Haskins is QB1 on the depth chart, but this ranking also comes with the knowledge that Ron Rivera admitted Kyle Allen might have a leg up in an emergency situation (such as the one we’re living through). With an awkward QB transition possibly on the way, will Washington draft their way out of this situation and deal Haskins for pennies on the dollar, or try and work through the strange?
Depth Chart: Gardner Minshew II, Joshua Dobbs
Minshew played well last year all things considered, but without an upgrade at wide receiver/tight end or a splash free agent signing (Cam Newton, anyone?) this feels like a rebuilding year in Jacksonville.
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