The year 2020 was crazy and as we sum up this fall’s football season, people all over our country are compiling lists and evaluating performances. I thought I’d join in to give my opinion on a topic that seems to polarize in quite a few NFL cities. Do we have a quarterback good enough to lead us to a championship during the coming five-year window? To do that, let’s throw out all the QB’s over the age of 33. Players like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers are not eligible under my criteria. I think my list should actually be put in a bottle and buried in the back yard with the label “TO BE OPENED, JAN 1, 2026”. With this parameter set, here are my top-10 quarterbacks, in order.
Patrick Mahomes – At $44 million a year and $220 million total, his contract was the news of the last off-season. Mahomes is the best player in the league and would be the first choice of every general manager if they all lined up tomorrow for a veteran allocation draft. End of story.
Josh Allen- Not only would Allen win an award for the most improved player in 2020, if there was such an honor, but he would also be Mahomes’ main competition I think for the NFL’s MVP award over the next few years. Allen’s rise to prominence this year will probably net his offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, a head coaching job in the league at season’s end. I’ve found a stat that sets Allen apart for other quarterbacks in the NFL. He has 25 rushing TD’s over a three-year period! The Bills all-time great RB, Thurman Tomas, never had more than 27 in his best three-year period.
Justin Herbert- Whether the Chargers saw what others didn’t (he was the third QB drafted in the 2020 class) or he just fell into their laps in Round 1, really doesn’t matter. He is the pro-type size, arm, athlete, that sets the bar for “how you draw them up”. Herbert’s accuracy, his ability to process, and the trajectory of his throws, are all qualities of a seasoned veteran. Since his escape from the Oregon Ducks spread offense, Herbert’s improvement has been unprecedented. He’s a no-brainer for offensive rookie of the year honors in 2020 and he puts the Chargers on a positive path for the future. If they can surround him with some other good players, I think he can lead them to a Super Bowl someday.
Russell Wilson (age 32)- The Seahawks’ gunslinger has been off his game for some of this year, but has still flashed enough “crazy good” to show he can carry a franchise on his shoulders for the next five years if necessary. Wilson could benefit from a few more weapons on offense (they lack a front line TE and a slot WR), but his leadership and intangibles matter. He makes my list and get his high ranking by being the best QB in the NFC.
Deshawn Watson- Watson is a gifted passer who is also blessed with uncanny escape-ability from the pocket. He is a winner both on and off the field and a great competitor who can make all the throws. If he ever gets some help and can stay healthy (I worry about his size/frame), he will be an MVP candidate. There are no limits to Watson’s potential or his skill set.
Trevor Lawrence- I know… he doesn’t have a team yet and hasn’t played a down. However, Lawrence possesses a skill set similar to Justin Herbert, only more athletic, and that puts him in this discussion. For this exercise, I’d love to sit around the campfire with my buddies in the league and talk about how high he should be ranked on my list. I think if he was in last year’s draft, he’d have been the first pick over Joe Burrow and Herbert. He checks all the boxes for the mold of a franchise QB and should be able to learn the pro game quickly, just like Allen and Herbert.
Dak Prescott- Prescott has improved every year he has been in the league and is now at the point where, in my opinion, he’s a tier 1 QB. His arm strength is good enough and he is accurate and can process coverage as good as anyone in the league. Also, Prescott has great leadership qualities and his intangibles are off the chart. I also really like his athleticism and penchant for shining under the immense pressure of the STAR. All of these positive things make him a no-brainer for my list and yes, his health should be just fine by next season.
Joe Burrow- From the first game of the year, Burrow showed that he belongs in this league. He’s tough, he’s very smart, and he just gives you the feeling that he will make the right plays consistently. It’s not often a rookie comes out of the box like Burrow did, knowing where to go with the ball on a consistent basis, even when dealing with shaky protection. If somehow the Bengals can actually surround him with talent (and that is a big if), Burrow is good enough to lead them to the promise land.
Matt Stafford (age 32)- I think that Stafford still has it. He can make all the throws, is tough, and he is a very good leader who shows patience and humility (very important for a QB). Stafford consistently plays at a playoff level, even though the rest of the organization is far from it. Since being taken with the number 1 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Lions have failed Stafford. He has had virtually no running game to support him his entire career. I think many teams would love to have him on their roster over the next five years.
Ryan Tannehill (age 32)- I’m sure Dolphins fans will cringe when they see his name on this list, but I’m speaking for the league in a way. He has been a different person since arriving in Nashville last year. The Titans’ scheme and the coaching has helped raise his game to warrant him being in my top 10, under 33, status. Tannehill has shown he has a good arm, good feet, really good accuracy, and the consistency that held him back in Miami. I believe he still has five productive years left in him. With a run game like Tennessee has displayed, he is a perfect fit for what they want to do.
Obviously, this is only one person’s opinion and there are others who just might lead their teams to a Super Bowl someday. I found the exercise to be fun and although we are splitting hairs in a lot of way, a discussion of such only makes us all more informed. I encourage you all to do this and come up with your own list. Set criteria to narrow the pool and try to do it from an independent perspective and not a fan. I have no horse in the race here. I’m rolling it up and tucking it away and I can’t wait to open the bottle in five years.