Tom Brady capturing his fifth Super Bowl title has set off an avalanche of debate around who’s the greatest quarterback of all-time. But what about the quarterbacks in the NFL right now? There’s plenty of elite talent in the league today, and it is worth considering which current signal callers are the most talented and mean the most to their respective teams right now. So we thought we would rank the 10 best quarterbacks in the league today, in the wake of the 2016 season. You can likely guess who our number one pick is. But the other nine choices may surprise you. Check it out.
10. Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders
For the first time in a generation, the Oakland Raiders seem to be settled at the quarterback position. In fact, the team appears to have found a franchise QB in young Derek Carr, who impressed enough in his third season in the league that he was mentioned in MVP talks by analysts and commentators. And why not? Carr led the Raiders to a 12-3 record before suffering a broken fibula in his leg that put him out for the final game of the regular season and the playoffs. Still, Carr’s play at the quarterback position and his leadership lifted Oakland to its first postseason appearance since 2002. Along the way, Carr set a franchise record for passing yards and staged several late game rallies that led the Raiders to victory Oh, and he was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl in 2016 too. If he can stay healthy, there’s no telling where Derek Carr will take Oakland (or Las Vegas) in the future.
9. Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
Many people declared it was the beginning of the end for Detroit Lion’s quarterback Matthew Stafford when his best receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson announced his retirement after the 2015 NFL season. But Stafford responded this past season by having one of his most productive campaigns ever – leading the Lions to a 9-7 record and into the playoffs. And Stafford broke Peyton Manning’s NFL record of most fourth quarter comebacks in a season with eight such wins. Cool under pressure, Stafford managed to get his team into position to win every week during the regular season. And while the Lions came up short several times, it was usually due to the defense rather than the offense. Stafford proved in 2016 that he still has a cannon for an arm and can throw it on a rope when needed. That the Lions found success this past season without Megatron is due largely to Matthew Stafford.
8. Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott makes the list after just his rookie season in the NFL. That the unheralded first year quarterback was able to take over from an injured Tony Romo and keep the starting job in Dallas is a credit to his talent, mental toughness, and coolness under pressure. Of course, the fact that the Cowboys finished their 2016 campaign with a 13-3 record owes a lot to another rookie (running back Ezekiel Elliott) and the fact that Dallas has arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. But still, Prescott earned people’s respect with his play – throwing for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only four interceptions for an impressive quarterback rating of 104.9. The question now is will Dak suffer a sophomore slump in 2017? And will the Cowboys keep Tony Romo as a back-up and/or insurance policy? Time will tell, but in 2016 Dak Prescott had the best rookie season as a quarterback since Andrew Luck.
7. Phillip Rivers – San Diego Chargers
Phillip Rivers is one of those guys who is always a bridesmaid and never a bride. Despite playing at a high level each season, the quarterback never seems to be able to lift the San Diego Chargers into the playoffs. True, the Chargers play in an extremely competitive division against Denver, Oakland, and Kansas City, and the team’s defense is lacking in talent. Still, you’d think the Chargers would get it together at some point. Rivers remains the most talented player in San Diego and it is hard to argue with his 4,386 passing yards and 33 touchdowns this past season. One area where Phillip Rivers could improve is interceptions – having thrown a ghastly 21 in 2016 alone. Many of those INTs came on desperation plays as Rivers tried to fit the ball into a tight window when struggling to bring the Chargers from behind late in games. Playing smarter in 2017 as the Chargers relocate to Los Angeles will be important for the franchise.
6. Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
It wasn’t long ago that Andrew Luck was hailed as the future of the NFL – the next Peyton Manning, whom he actually replaced in Indianapolis. Those high expectations seemed justified, as Luck led his Colts further into the playoffs each of his first three seasons – culminating in a spot in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots in 2015 (the now infamous Deflategate game). And while the sheen on Luck has been dulled a bit after the past two injury plagued, disappointing seasons, the Colts quarterback remains one of the smartest and most talented signal callers in the NFL. Much of the blame for Indy’s woes needs to be heaped on the front office, which has made dreadful draft choices since selecting Luck first overall in the 2012 draft, and for going cheap on an extremely weak offensive line. Yet despite the team’s problems, Luck still threw for more than 4,000 yards and 31 TDs in 2016. Impressive.
5. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
Speaking of talented quarterbacks who are being letdown by their team and owners, how about New Orleans Saints center Drew Brees? At age 38, Brees showed in 2016 that he can still sling the football down field at an age when most players’ bodies begin to breakdown. Brees once again threw for more than 5,000 passing yards and added 37 touchdowns. Clearly, Tom Brady is not the only quarterback in the NFL holding off father time. Yet the Saints continue to suffer from one of the worst defenses in the league. And their division, long one of the weakest in the league, is suddenly competitive with the ascension of the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2016 and the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. Now entering the twilight of his career, Brees needs for his team to step up, and for the front office to surround him with some talent – and fast. New Orleans window for another run at a Super Bowl is closing fast.
4. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger says he is contemplating retirement. At age 34 that seems a bit premature, especially since he just led his Pittsburgh Steelers to the AFC Championship game. And while losing that game to the New England Patriots no doubt stung, it is certainly not grounds to hang up the cleats for good. Especially when the Steelers have so much talent on offense, with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in the fold. Plus, Roethlisberger continues to play at an extremely high level – throwing for nearly 4,000 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. The interceptions were a little high in 2016, at 13 in the regular season and four in the playoffs. But nevertheless, Big Ben still has an arm and also the experience needed to lead his team to success in the NFL. Besides, what would be do in retirement?
3. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Did you expect Matt Ryan to be higher on this list? The reason he’s not is consistency. True, Ryan won the league MVP award in 2016 and brought his Falcons to the Super Bowl. But it was the first and only season in which Ryan could be said to have played great. Eight years in the NFL, and Ryan was always known as a good, but not great, quarterback. A competent QB but certainly not in the elite camp. The 2016 season was by far his best, having thrown for nearly 5,000 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. And while this was good enough for the MVP trophy, it was not good enough to ultimately win a championship. In Super Bowl LI, Tom Brady again showed his consistency and what it means to truly be the Most Valuable Player on a team. And it was a large piece of humble pie for Ryan and the Falcons to eat. Sad but true. Also, much of the early success the Falcons had in this year’s Super Bowl was due to its defense, not the offence. We’ll see if Matty Ice can keep up his level of play in 2017.
2. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
While the Green Bay Packers blew hot and cold in 2016, Aaron Rodgers continued to amaze with incredible plays, unmatched throws, and Hail Mary touchdowns into the end zone that left even the most experienced and jaded NFL fan shaking their heads. And Rodgers was again at his best in the playoffs, remaining calm, cool, and collected while keeping his team in the game and throwing pinpoint accurate passes to his receivers. Aaron Rodgers gets near to the top of the current quarterback heap with consistent play that is nearly unmatched in today’s NFL. Few other quarterbacks can make the passes he does – often while scrambling out of the pocket and improvising after a blown play. He is also adept at making predictions and seeing them through, like when he predicted that the Packers would just run the table in the second half of the 2016 season and finish atop the NFC North. He was right… again.
1. Tom Brady – New England Patriots
No surprise here, and what can we say about No. 12 that has not already been written. It goes without saying that the greatest quarterback of all-time would also be the greatest current quarterback. With five Lombardi Trophies and four Super Bowl MVP titles to his name, not to mention that incredible comeback in Super Bowl LI, there can be no question who is the best quarterback currently in the league. Really, the only question when it comes to Tom Brady is how much longer will he play. Turning 40 in 2017 and with no signs that he’s slowing down, we can only wonder if he’ll keep going until he’s 45 or older. And how many more championships could he win in that time? The only thing for certain is this – nobody will likely ever doubt Tom Brady again, especially in big games. TB12 remains the very best quarterback in the NFL today… or ever for that matter.