Welcome back to another year of the NFL Position Ranking Roulette! In each edition of this blog series, I will be ranking the top 12 players for this past season at each position, determined by in depth film analysis, opponent strength/weakness, overall performance, and how much they made an impact on their team. I will be using a mix of my own opinion, PFF grades, Pro Football Reference basic and advanced metrics, and the eye test from film. You'll notice there are some big names who will slide down lists, and other somewhat unknown names who rise up near the top. I will say it again, this is my own opinion; if you don't agree with what I have to say about a certain player, I am always open to chatting about the greatest sport in the world and its players. Let's jump into the top 12 QBs of the 2021 season!
Photo: USA TODAY Sports/Bill Streicher
12. Jalen Hurts (Last Season: Unranked)
Before you click away, hear me out. Jalen had to deal with a lot of challenges as a starting QB this season. He was learning under a brand new head coach, had one of the thinnest receiving rooms in the league, even with the addition of 1st rounder DeVonta Smith, they traded away their franchise tight end in Zach Ertz, 15 different offensive linemen lined up to protect Hurts, and he was the only virtual rushing attack the Eagles had. Despite this, he went on to put up 3,144 passing yards and 16 TDs, while rushing for 784 yards and 10 TDs, totaling nearly 4,000 yards and over 25 TDs in 15 games, with only 11 turnovers - 9 picks and 2 fumbles lost. Although these numbers don't jump off a stat sheet, I think it's fair to put him at 12 considering the lackluster QB play outside of the top 12 guys.
11. Derek Carr (Last Season: #11)
What looked to be an MVP caliber season early on was swindled away later in the season, due to factors outside of Carr's control. He lost his head coach and #1 receiver before the midway point of the season, and had a bottom 5 offensive line this season. Through the first nine games of the season, Carr totaled 2,826 yards and 15 TDs to 8 INTs. Through the last eight games, he totaled 1,978 yards and only 8 TDs to 6 INTs; however, his completion percentage actually jumped from 67.7% to 69.2%. Despite the late season slowdown, he finished with 4,804 passing yards and 23 TDs, and he was able to propel the Raiders to the playoffs for the first time since he broke his leg. He made a strong case to be the Raiders QB for the immediate future.
10. Kyler Murray (Last Season: #10)
Another player who looked like a strong MVP candidate out the gate found himself limping to the finish line this season. Murray had a frustrating season, after amassing 2,276 passing yards and 17 TDs, along with 147 rushing yards and 3 TDs through the first 8 games before his ankle injury, Kyler posted 1,511 passing yards and just 7 TDs, along with 276 rushing yards and 2 TDs through the last 6 games. Through 14 games, he totaled 3,787 passing yards and 24 TDs to 10 INTs, while adding 423 rushing yards and 5 TDs, for a total of 4,210 yards and 29 TDs. After losing D-Hop and experiencing another second half season collapse by Kliff, Kyler didn't look the same, but was still able to put up solid season long numbers.
9. Dak Prescott (Last Season: Unranked)
After an abrupt end to a solid 2020 campaign, Dak came back stronger than ever and put up career numbers. In 16 games, he posted his highest completion percentage at 68.8%, the second most yards of his career with 4,449, and the most passing TDs with 37. Even with Zeke having a lackluster season, Dak put the team on his back and brought them back to the playoffs. It's also worth noting that Dak had 8 games with 3+ passing TDs and 7 games with 275+ passing yards, to go along with 10 games with a 100+ passer rating. Dak had a great season coming back from injury, and looks to build on that for 2022 and make a solid playoff push.
Photo: The Dallas Morning News/Tom Fox
8. Matt Stafford (Last Season: Unranked)
The Super Bowl winning QB had a very strong season metric-wise, putting up 4,886 yards and 41 TDs, while posting a 67.2% completion rate and a 102.9 passer rating. These numbers look great on paper, until you realize he tied for the most INTs in the league with 17. All but 2 of those interceptions were QB errors, where he overthrew on underthrew a receiver, which led the NFL in QB forced interceptions with 15. Regardless, he was able to utilize Cooper Kupp and feed him the ball on any given down, while also finding Odell Beckham Jr on big plays late in the season. The go big or go home mentality of the Rams this season paid off, and Matt Stafford is the pinnacle piece of that thought process.
7. Kirk Cousins (Last Season: Unranked)
Yes, I have Kirk above Stafford, but for good reasons. I personally think Kirk is the most underrated and overhated QB in the NFL, and it makes no sense when his stats back up his play. In 16 games, Kirk threw for 4,221 yards and 33 TDs, yes both are less than Stafford's numbers, but he threw only 7 INTs on the season. In addition, he only had 4 games below a 90 passer rating, and 9 games above a 100 passer rating. He also never had a game without a passing TD, while lighting up good pass defenses like the Panthers, Chargers, Bears, and Packers. In my mind, I can't trade off 600 additional passing yards and 8 TDs for 10 INTs, give me the more efficient QB who played behind a bottom 10 offensive line and was supported by third worst defense in the league.
6. Josh Allen (Last Season: #4)
Josh had a weird season. He put up awesome overall numbers with 4,407 passing yards and 36 TDs, while adding 763 rushing yards and 6 TDs, for a total of 5,170 yards and 42 TDs. On the flipside, however, he threw 15 INTs and lost 3 fumbles, while throwing for a lower completion rate than 60% against the Jets and Chiefs, and also not throwing a single TD against the Falcons and Jaguars. Regardless of stats, he looked great on tape this season, as he hit big time passes in tight windows, while also running through and hurdling defenders. The offense ran through him, and it showed during his electric playoff run.
Photo: AP Photo/Adrian Kraus
5. Patrick Mahomes (Last Season: #3)
Mahomes gets the nod above Allen this year, as he threw for 4,839 yards and 37 TDs, while adding 381 rushing yards and 2 TDs. He did throw 13 INTS, however, 8 of them were unfaulted, as they were either dropped and went into the defenders hands, or he was hit as he was releasing the ball. Obviously this wasn't Mahomes's best season, but when the mistakes were cut out later in the season, he came alive. In his last five games, he threw for 1,455 yards and 12 TDs, while only turning the ball over once. He quieted the doubters who thought the Chiefs dynasty was over, and showed the world that the Chiefs are here to stay for years to come.
4. Justin Herbert (Last Season: #8)
My dark horse MVP candidate for this season didn't receive any votes, but put up on hell of a year. Herbert ranked second in passing yards with 5,014 and ranked third in TDs with 38. He also tallied 302 yards on the ground and 3 TDs, putting him over 5,300 yards and right at 41 TDs on the year. He did throw 15 INTs, which does bump him down the list slightly. He also posted the 4th highest overall grade for QBs with an elite 90.1 score. Between his arm strength and athleticism, Herbert is gonna cook defenses for the next decade.
3. Joe Burrow (Last Season: Unranked)
Coming in at #3 is the highest graded QB per PFF with a 91.8 overall grade, Joe Shiesty. After coming off a gruesome knee injury last season, Burrow didn't miss a beat, even while playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league and getting sacked more than any other QB in the NFL. Burrow posted an impressive 70.4% completion rate, while chucking the ball for 4,611 yards and 34 TDs. He added 14 INTs as well, but a little over half were truly his fault. He had a great supporting cast to work with in Joe Mixon, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and CJ Uzomah, but three of those five guys have never had career years like they did this season; one of those is Tyler Boyd and the other was a rookie. He also brought the Bengals to the Super Bowl after a 2 win season two years prior and took down the Chiefs not once, but twice, en route to a near Super Bowl win. If the Bengals can beef up their offensive line, Burrow can easily be the best QB in the league.
Photo: Ryan Meyer/Cincinnati Bengals
2. Aaron Rodgers (Last Season: #2)
Rodgers lands at the 2 spot for a second straight season. He is an uber-talented quarterback who can make plays at any given moment. I personally think he has had the easiest path to MVP the past two seasons than the other candidates in Derrick Henry and Tom Brady, but that doesn't diminish the incredible play he brings to the table. After a horrible Week 1 debut, Rodgers fired back and compiled 3,982 yards and 37 TDs, all while only throwing 2 INTs across 15 games. This pace is super impressive, especially considering his offensive line wasn't fully healthy for most of the season. In light of that, the offensive line still played well and Rodgers is supported by the best receiver in the league. Combine that with an easy pass defense schedule, and it's clear to see why he was able to dominate the way he did. I still think another QB played better than him this season, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that Rodgers still killed it this year.
1. Tom Brady (Last Season: #6)
In his "final" season, Brady took the league by storm once again. He led the league in passing yards and TDs, with 5,316 and 43 respectively. He also added two rushing TDs, giving him 45 total on the season. I made my case for why Brady should have won MVP in my Regular Season Awards Blog, but to sum it up here, he didn't have Gronk for a good chunk of the season and was missing AB for most of the season, two of his top targets when they shared the field together. Godwin went down late, and there was reportedly some tension between Brady and Arians, ultimately leading to his retirement. Brady also had 6 games where he threw for 4+ passing TDs, and 10 games with a 102+ passer rating. Combine that with 11 games over 275 yards passing, its clear that Brady was the reason the Bucs have been successful the past two seasons, and that Brady was the best QB in 2021.
You might be wondering how I put Jalen Hurts over Russell Wilson or Mac Jones. I believe Hurts did more for the Eagles team with less around him than what Russ and Mac did, and Hurts played more consistently. Russ did have a finger injury, I'll give him that, but even when he was healthy he wasn't playing up to his normal standard. Mac started off hot, but tailed off towards the end of the season.
Some other QBs who were close, but couldn't make the cut were Ryan Tannehill and Carson Wentz, yes Wentz, even with how *seemingly* below average he performed. Next on the PRR list are the top edge rushers of this past season, and boy were there some good ones. Make sure to check it out and follow along the rest of the offseason as I rank the best players at every position!