With the conclusion of the NFL Draft, fans across the nation are hoping for the best of their quarterback situation, but may be preparing for the worst. The starting quarterback position is the backbone to virtually every franchise, but who ranks where? In this piece, we’ll break down where each quarterback should rank heading into the 2017 season, and what exactly to expect from them.
32. Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams)
After an underwhelming seven starts in his 2016 rookie season, it’s likely that Jared Goff will once again be thrown back into the fire for the Rams. After Case Keenum opted to sign with the Vikings, the Rams will have no choice but to rely on Goff for the upcoming campaign. With a TD: TO ratio of .55:1, Goff will need to learn to dump the ball when need be. On the other hand, this is great news for running back Todd Gurley, who will likely see a lot of carries to relieve pressure off of the 22-year old.
What should we expect from Goff? Well, I wouldn’t say much. Even with the addition of wide receiver Robert Woods and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth during the offseason, the future for the Rams quarterback looks bleak for the time being. In fact, the last time the Rams ended with a record above 8-8 was in 2003, back when Marc Bulger lead the franchise to the divisional round of the postseason.
31. Cody Kessler (Cleveland Browns)
Not much was expected of Kessler when he was drafted in 2016, simply because the franchise had Robert Griffin III as the projected starter. As time went on, and injuries began to loom, Kessler remained healthy enough to start eight games last season, posting 1,380 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.
In a trade involving the Texans, the Browns received Brock Osweiler, who is now expected to also compete for the starting job. I believe Kessler is the favorite as of this moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Osweiler got some playing time as well. After losing Terrelle Pryor Sr. to the Washington Redskins in free agency, my expectations for the Browns remain to be low, at least until they have something to be hopeful for.
30. Mike Glennon (Chicago Bears)
The Bears made a stunning move at the past NFL Draft, as they elected to move up from #3 to #2, and ultimately chose to select Mitch Trubisky. While this move may be leaving most scratching their heads, I think it’s safe to say that the Bears will remain with Glennon as their starter for the upcoming season. The future of the Bears is unclear to say the least, especially considering Glennon only attempted eleven passes through the 2016 season.
Going 10-11 with 75 passing yards and 1 TD in a loss against the Atlanta Falcons, Glennon did provide a glimmer of hope for fans. Signing with Chicago in free agency, I just can’t see him thriving under this particular system. His targets will consist of Eddie Royal and Kevin White, so expect Jordan Howard to be forced to carry the ball over fifteen times a game. The Bears will likely finish near the bottom of the NFL once again, as they will hope to develop Trubisky for the near-future.
29. Brian Hoyer (San Francisco 49ers)
Hoyer did a fantastic job (statistically) filling in for Cutler in 2016, as he threw for 1,445 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with no interceptions during his time as a starter. On the other hand, he lost five out of his six games played, which resulted in the Bears gaining the #3 pick in the draft. Signing a two-year, $12 million deal with the 49ers in free agency, Hoyer will find himself as the projected starter of the franchise.
Signing Pierre Garcon at wide receiver as well was a huge deal, simply because the 49ers don’t have many weapons on the offensive side of the football. Ranking at the bottom of the NFL in passing yards per game last season (181.9), as well as 31st in total yards per game (308.1), I could see the 49ers making slight improvements, but I can’t put Hoyer much higher than #29.28. Josh McCown (New York Jets)
McCown recently signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Jets, which was reportedly $4 million more than what the Dallas Cowboys were offering. The former-Browns QB is now 37-years old, and he’s not getting any more consistent. With a year of throwing for 1,100 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions, it’s safe to say that McCown is not the missing piece that the Jets need in order to thrive.
After electing to not draft a future quarterback through the draft, the Jets are continuing to put off a “rebuild” process, and will once again rely on a veteran to control things from under center. McCown had his best year in 2015, when he threw for 2,109 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. With that, don’t expect for the veteran to be anything special, especially considering the Jets lost Brandon Marshall to the New York Giants via free agency.
27. Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans)
With the #12 overall pick, the Houston Texans selected Clemson QB DeShaun Watson, as they firmly believe that he will be the future of the Texans franchise. After finishing his junior year with 4,593 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions, many believe that Watson is the most “NFL-ready” rookie quarterback. With weapons such as DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller to work with, as well as Lamar Miller in the backfield, Watson is likely the rookie in the best current situation.
Watson may be the most NFL-ready quarterback, but he is also labeled within a weak draft class. I think he has a lot of weapons around him, but it’s doubtful that Watson will amount to much during his rookie campaign. Yes, he’ll be better than a handful of others, but he won’t be more consistent than many of the twenty-six names above him.
26. Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles)
There were a lot of high expectations for Wentz in 2016, and he evidently failed to exceed them. Coming into 2017, hopefully the 24-year old can cut back on his turnover rate, considering he actually allowed at least one interception in six of the final seven games of the regular season. The Eagles will not be favored as much as the Cowboys or Giants to win the NFC East this year, but the franchise is notorious for giving their opponents a hard time on a weekly basis.
The Eagles waited until the fourth round of the draft to select an offensive player, and the ones they selected have seemingly low expectations coming into training camp. The addition of Alshon Jeffery definitely poses for Wentz to have a better year, but I’m cautious about how high the ceiling for the #2 pick of the 2016 draft actually is.
25. Trevor Siemian (Denver Broncos)
The Broncos chose not to sign veteran Tony Romo, and instead, will likely look to Trevor Siemian for week one of the 2017 season. In ten of fourteen games started in 2016, Siemian was able to showcase his arm, passing for 200+ yards on each occasion. While the franchise isn’t seen as a legitimate threat in the AFC, Siemian is someone that is on the rise. If his campaign in 2016 was so impressive, why is he ranked so low for 2017?
When you look behind the numbers, the Broncos are set to have the toughest schedule in 2017, as they are set to go up against five different franchises that made the postseason in 2016. Siemian was impressive in 2016, but this upcoming season will be detrimental to whether Siemian can be considered elite or not.
24. Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins)
Ending 2016 with an untimely injury, Tannehill was actually a great factor in the Dolphins success, as he lead the franchise to an 8-5 starting record. With a six-game winning streak in the mix, many believe the Dolphins are only a few pieces away from making a postseason run. The last time the Dolphins won the AFC East was back in 2008, so something needs to change within the system in order to push the Dolphins back on top of the division.
With the year Jay Ajayi had in 2016, I expect for the Dolphins to force him to run the ball a lot more, leading to less opportunities for Tannehill to throw. On top of that, aside from what the numbers say between DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills last season, the only legitimate receiving threat the Dolphins have heading into 2017 will likely be Jarvis Landry, who is still just a slot man. With very little help surrounding Tannehill, I don’t believe he’ll provide much to the Dolphins this upcoming season.
23. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)
Flacco has gone from a Super Bowl champion quarterback in 2012, to simply someone that will be viewed as mediocre in 2017. His 2016 campaign was nothing special, as he tossed for 4,317 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Along with that, Flacco was sacked on multiple occasions in thirteen of sixteen regular season games.
The Ravens have missed out on the postseason in two straight seasons, and in a competitive AFC North, you can’t expect their chances to rise. Without Steve Smith Sr. to rely on, I don’t believe Flacco has the weapons to be anywhere close to even the top-fifteen.
22. Sam Bradford (Minnesota Vikings)
Somehow and someway, Sam Bradford went from the most injury-prone quarterback in the NFL, to the guy who put up decent numbers for the Vikings in one piece. With Teddy Bridgewater expected to miss all of the upcoming season, the franchise will once again lean on Bradford under center. With a TD to INT ratio of 4:1 in 2016, I don’t think anyone expects for Bradford to repeat what he accomplished last season.
With Latavius Murray and drafted RB Dalvin Cook to rely on in the backfield, Bradford will be viewed as a game manager for the upcoming season. With someone as inconsistent as he is in terms of health and year-to-year statistics, I personally predict for Bradford to decline slightly this season.
21. Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills)
After signing a recent extension with the Buffalo Bills, it was clear to see that the franchise was not interested in bringing in another quarterback through the draft to compete alongside Taylor. With yet another mediocre regular season for the Bills in 2016, the team is looking to Sammy Watkins and newly drafted wide receiver Zay Jones to hold their own in terms of putting up numbers and staying healthy.
Taylor is a fine quarterback, but the Bills won’t have any postseason success with him under center. LeSean McCoy is their greatest weapon, and until their divisional record improves, I can’t give Bills fans any signs of hope for 2017.
20. Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars)
After a breakout campaign in 2015, Bortles and the Jaguars followed up their stellar season with a disappointing 3-13 record in 2016. On top of that, Bortles threw for 12 less touchdowns, as well as roughly 500 less passing yards. After drafting Fournette with the #4 overall pick, I expect for Bortles to have a decreased workload, yet he needs to cut down on his turnover rate.
Since being drafted in 2014, Bortles has thrown a combined 51 interceptions in three seasons of play. In fact, eleven of his sixteen interceptions from the past season came from when the team was trailing. If Bortles is going to improve his play, he needs to learn to rely on the weapons being provided to him through the draft.
19. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)
Andy Dalton is a great individual player, but based on 2016, it’s being proven before our eyes that he may not be as great as he’s being made out to be. His 18 touchdowns last season was enough to rank 22nd among starting quarterbacks, and his 563 passing attempts were more than eleven of the names above him in passing touchdowns.
The Bengals don’t pass the ball enough for Dalton to be considered elite, despite his lack of turnovers. With RB Joe Mixon drafted by the franchise in the second round, it’s evident that there will be no sign of Dalton having an increased amount of attempts in order to be considered a successful quarterback. The Bengals will focus on their time of possession, and it’ll likely occur through the running game.
18. Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)
Alex “The Game Manager” Smith did what he does best for Kansas City in 2016, which was to win games, even when it meant putting up minimal individual stats. With only 3,502 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions, nothing really stands out about Smith. He has weapons such as Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill to lean on, but at the age of 32, the franchise gave in and drafted QB Patrick Mahomes to become the potential heir to Smith.
Smith will obviously be the starter for the Chiefs in 2017, but with his contract set to end in 2019 (with a potential out in 2018), Smith has got to realize that his years are limited as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
17. Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers)
The Chargers may have had very little regular season success in recent years, but Philip Rivers has put up consistent numbers throughout his career. Putting up the fifth-most passing yards (4,386), as well as the fourth-most touchdowns (33), the only thing from stopping the veteran from being ranked higher on this list would happen to be his turnover rate. Tossing 21 interceptions this past season, Rivers threw more interceptions than anyone else in the NFL by three.
If Rivers has any chance of becoming one of the better starters in the NFL, he needs to utilize his weapons more. With a strong running game, as well as Keenan Allen and upcoming rookie WR Mike Williams to support him, there is no excuse to why Rivers shouldn’t be able to do some damage against opposing defenses.
16. Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)
At 37-years old, it’s obvious that the window for Palmer is closing, and closing quickly. The veteran had an underwhelming campaign in 2016, as his 87.2 was the lowest it’s been since the 2013 season. The problem with Palmer, as well as the entire Cardinals roster, is that they couldn’t defeat the better teams in the NFL last season. Their record against teams that made it to the postseason? 1-4-1.
Palmer is obviously regressing, and with Larry Fitzgerald being the only wide receiver with 600+ receiving yards for the Cardinals last season, it’s becoming clear that the offense will turn to running back David Johnson to carry most of the load. I don’t believe we will see the elite 2014 version of Palmer, but instead, I think we will see a lot of carries for Johnson, as it will ensure that Palmer stays healthy for all sixteen regular season games.
15. Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins)
Finishing third in passing yards in 2016, Cousins will once again feel the pressure of playing under the franchise tag for the Redskins. The 28-year old is an interesting case, because no one is certain if Cousins is a franchise quarterback or not. While his stats consistently impress, his overall record does not. With a starting record of 19-21-1, I don’t see the Redskins being within contention of clinching the NFC East title this upcoming season.
After losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon through free agency, Cousins is losing two weapons that provided him with a combined 2,046 receiving yards, as well as 7 touchdowns. With that, it’s doubtful that Cousins will remain to play at the same level. The Redskins will be forced to dump the ball to Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, and newly-acquired free agent receiver Terrelle Pryor. Will this unit be just as effective as 2016? The stats may say one thing, but expect for the record to say another.
14. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
After winning the MVP award in a stellar 2015 season, Newton struggled to lead the Panthers to success this past season, finishing with a regular season record of 6-10. Turning the ball over a combined 16 times in 2016, Newton is perhaps showing himself to be one of the more overrated quarterbacks in the NFL. With reliable weapons such as Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olson, the franchise decided to invest into their running back department, as they selected Christian McCaffrey with the #8 overall pick.
If Newton is once again unsuccessful this upcoming season, it will mark the fourth time in seven years that the franchise has missed the postseason. In a division where teams have been more inconsistent than not, Newton needs to strive to become a better quarterback from the pocket.
13. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Passing for 4,000+ yards and 20+ touchdowns in two consecutive seasons is impressive, especially when it’s your first two seasons in the NFL. With the addition of O.J. Howard, Winston is actually one of my favorite quarterbacks heading into 2017. While he may not be ranked above twelve others, Winston has all the weapons he needs in order to compete for a postseason slot.
Considering the Falcons have one of the hottest offenses in the NFL, and the Panthers defense is still considered elite, it’s going to be tough for the Bucs to compete for the NFC South title in 2017. On the other hand, the NFC wild card race should be wide open this season, and with the way I project for Winston to break out, I expect for the Bucs to find themselves within that race.
12. Matt Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Matt Stafford has been in the league for eight years now, and in the last six, he has tossed for 4,000+ passing yards. While the franchise does still contain Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, the Lions hesitantly allowed for Anquan Boldin to walk, who was responsible for 8/24 receiving touchdowns for the Lions in 2016. Stafford will likely be held responsible for the Lions success once again, considering their defense, as well as their running game, have proven to be underwhelming.
I think Stafford will be on the edge of top-ten quarterbacks for 2017, only because he has been so consistent over the years for Detroit. He has solid receivers, and should ultimately throw for another 4,000+ yards. The Lions won’t make a deep playoff run by any means, but Stafford is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the regular season.
11. Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans)
After an impressive campaign in 2016, Mariota’s season was cut short as he was placed on the injured reserve list by Titans after breaking his right fibula in December of 2016. Before that, the 23-year old was tearing through opponents. In fact, Mariota had six games in which he threw for multiple touchdowns and no interceptions. The only concern with Mariota is how he will be physically, and if the fibula injury from last season will affect him mentally.
The addition of wide receiver Corey Davis in the draft is an enormous boost for Mariota, considering he has had very little offensive weapons to work with since entering the league in 2015. I have Mariota edging out quarterbacks such as Stafford and Winston, simply based on the fact of how efficient he has been since being selected by Tennessee. I have a strong belief that Mariota will not only match his stats from 2016, but he may even improve upon them.
10. Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys)
Prescott was forced to deal with the distractions of Tony Romo, as well as the media in 2016, yet he found himself disproving even the harshest of critics, as Dallas finished with a regular season record of 13-3. While their journey ended against the Green Bay Packers, Prescott still had one of the most dominant rookie quarterback seasons in the history of the NFL.
What is in store for Dallas in 2017? I expect for Prescott to regress slightly, but for him to still finish within the top-ten among QBs. With an offensive line and running game as dominant as Dallas’, it’s somewhat difficult to create excuses to why Prescott shouldn’t be able to thrive throughout the regular season. The race within the NFC East will be as close as always, but Prescott has the chance to be something special.
9. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)
Luck has always been one of the most successful regular season quarterbacks since being drafted in 2012, yet his career starting record of 43-27 does not correlate with how talented the Stanford-alumni really is. Throwing for a TD:INT rate of nearly 2.5:1 in 2016, Luck will more than likely find himself to be a top-ten quarterback once again, but once again the with a mediocre regular season record.
The Colts don’t have many weapons on either side of the ball, yet Luck always manages to keep games interesting. I don’t have the Colts having much team success in 2017, but with a healthy Andrew Luck, it’s hard to place him anywhere outside of the top-ten this year.
8. Eli Manning (New York Giants)
The two-time Super Bowl champion has a lot of offensive firepower to work with in 2017, as the Giants signed ex-Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall to help the franchise out. Manning has always struggled within the regular season through his career, but with a receiving core of Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard, this is a team that on paper, looks awfully dangerous.
The Giants top-three receiver (according to the franchises projected depth chart) combined for 21 touchdowns in 2016, and could very well combine for 25+ in 2017. Manning has a lot of options to work with this season, and the Giants could very well be viewed as the favorites in the NFC East this upcoming season. I wouldn’t bet against Manning this year, because he could very well be on his way to having a career year.
7. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
Wilson’s biggest issue since being drafted has been his lack of offensive line help. Being sacked 41 times in 2016, it ranked the second-most times in the NFL (one behind the league leader, Tyrod Taylor). The only potential starter on the offensive line the franchise selected through the draft this year was C Ethan Pocic, but even that won’t solve their struggle of keeping Wilson safe.
For 2017, I expect for Wilson to have a stronger season, as the franchise is ranked to have the 25th-toughest schedule. With a lack of surrounding offensive weapons, the load will likely rely on Wilson, as well at the Seahawks defense. I believe the #7 spot for Wilson is justified, as he may even have top-five QB potential.
6. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders)
After a broken fibula ended his season in 2016, it’s important to note that Carr was within contention of the MVP race, as his numbers were unlike anything we’ve seen from a Raiders quarterback. Throwing for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions last season, Carr now has the ability to utilize Marshawn Lynch from the backfield. Although Lynch hasn’t played since losing in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots in the 2014-15 season, he will likely still be viewed as one of the top running backs for 2017.
The ability to rely on an elite running back is an enormous advantage, just ask Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, or Matt Ryan. I expect for Carr to be back within the MVP talks, but considering the amount of stiff competition in the NFL right now, it should be a close race.
5. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
It is absolutely no secret that Drew Brees has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks through the last sixteen seasons, and year seventeen should be no different. Throwing for 5,000+ yards for the fifth time in his career in 2016, Brees has been able to elevate his stats with very little weapons around him. His biggest weapon, Brandin Cooks, has moved on to the New England Patriots, which should evidently hurt Brees’ stats slightly, but there should be very little reasoning to why critics should doubt Brees heading into 2017.
The Saints haven’t made the postseason since the 2013 season, and haven’t gone on a Super Bowl run since 2009. If the Saints have any shot at another run, it will be because of an improved defense, not because of Drew Brees.
4. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
What do Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Cam Newton all have in common? All three of these quarterbacks have won the last three MVP awards, yet failed to win themselves a Super Bowl in those years. Ryan had a spectacular season, as he was able to edge out Brady in the MVP race, but not for a Super Bowl ring. In one of the most devastating Super Bowl losses in sports, it’s still important to note that the Falcons had one of the most high-scoring offenses in the history of the league.
Coming into 2017, the Falcons still contain most of their offensive weapons, and there is no sign that they should be on the decline. Although it’s difficult to repeat historic numbers, Matt Ryan is one of the best quarterbacks that the league has to offer.
3. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Big Ben is a proven veteran, and every season, he comes back and proves why he is still among the most elite quarterbacks in the NFL. An interesting stat on Roethlisberger is that he hasn’t had a QBR under a 90.0 since the 2008 season. With Martavis Bryant back in uniform, and with Le’Veon Bell appearing healthy, there is no telling what the Steelers are capable of in 2017.
If Roethlisberger is going to finish as one of the three best quarterbacks in 2017, it will be because his team can stay on the field for a full season. Both Bryant and Bell have suffered substance issues in the past, and their success often correlates to Roethlisbergers. I believe that the Steelers will be one of the only teams to compete with the New England Patriots in the AFC, and it will take a lot of work to keep up with their rivals.
2. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Rodgers may very well be a Hall of Famer someday, and for 2017, he’s coming close to being one of the best quarterbacks that the NFL has to provide. After carrying the Packers to the NFC Championship game last season, Rodgers will once again be called upon to carry the heavy load the franchise has placed on him.
Without Eddie Lacy, I can’t see Ty Montgomery being the answer in the Packers backfield. Rodgers will have a heavy amount of pass attempts this season, and could very well find himself within the MVP conversation for his efforts.
1. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Regardless of his age, Tom Brady should and will be viewed as the best quarterback in the NFL. With the addition of Brandin Cooks, I wouldn’t be shocked if Brady was able to capture another MVP award in 2017. I love the moves the Patriots made during the offseason, and most are considering them a lock for the Super Bowl this year.
If Brady is going to live up to his expectations, it will be because of his head coach, Bill Belichick. The two are one of the most dominant sports duos in the history of the NFL, and I believe Brady has the opportunity to win his sixth ring this year.
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