An Underage Sports Journal For Students of the Game

Jason Canlas

Jason Canlas

2021 NFL Top 10 Preseason Rankings: Quarterbacks

The NFL is always something to look forward to every year. With almost five weeks left until the 2021-22 NFL season kicks off, analyzing the best players in the game by position will help determine not only the draft picks of your fantasy football team, but the skill level and performances of these players heading into the upcoming season. I will analyze each position and narrow it down from good to elite. For now, we will dive deeper into the QB position, arguably the most important position in the sport. Here are my top ten quarterback rankings for the 2021-22 season.


#10: Ryan Tannehill, Titans

You could make an argument that Rams QB Matthew Stafford or Falcons QB Matt Ryan should be at this spot, but I’m riding with Tannehill. The former Dolphin joined the Titans in March 2019 and immediately turned the offense around. 2020 was easily the best season of Tannehill’s 6-year career. He finished with 33 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions (both 7th in NFL). Tannehill rarely turns the ball over and he had the least turnovers out of any quarterback (8). He also led the NFL with 6 game-winning drives, showing that he can deliver in the biggest moments. Tannehill may be the best play-action passer right now. In 2020, he recorded 1,541 passing yards on play-action plays (most in NFL). Tannehill could be looking at an even better season ahead with All-Pro wideout Julio Jones and former Ram wideout Josh Reynolds added to his arsenal. With Derrick Henry dominating the running game and the offensive line improving its pass blocking this offseason, he should be in line for another underrated star-studded campaign.

#9: Justin Herbert, Chargers

The Chargers might’ve just found their franchise quarterback. Herbert, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, ultimately proved he was the best quarterback in the 2020 rookie class with an unforgettable season. He threw for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns along with a 69.5 QBR that ranked best among all rookies. His touchdowns and passing yards were not only in the top 10 in both categories among all active quarterbacks, but they were also new rookie records. Herbert has excellent athleticism for his big size and his arm strength is beyond greatness. He has poise, determination, and a smart football IQ. Herbert’s also a clutch QB. In 2020, he led the Chargers to three straight 4th quarter/overtime game-winning drives toward the end of the regular season. Now Herbert has a new head coach in former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley and an improved offensive line with the additions of first-round tackle Rashawn Slater and All-Pro center Corey Linsley. He’s poised for a huge leap in Year 2, making the Chargers a legitimate contender to challenge the Chiefs for the AFC West division.

#8: Kyler Murray, Cardinals

Murray is currently the shortest active quarterback in the NFL at 5’10”, but his size is not stopping him. The former #1 overall pick is turning into one of the league’s best dual-threat QBs. In 2020, he finished with 3,971 passing yards and had the second-most rushing yards by any QB (819). Murray has a rare talent of slicing through defenses with his legs and elusiveness while also being able to throw on the run. Thanks to his baseball background, he can throw at weird angles and unload the deep ball (Hail Murray flashbacks). His numbers shot up last season when the Cardinals traded for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has proved to be an elite pass-catcher and Murray’s number-one option. Murray has continued to get better throughout the first two years of his NFL career and with the roster improving in Arizona, he is due for a breakout 2021 season.

#7: Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Arguably one of the best rushing quarterbacks of all time, Jackson has brought a whole new level to the game of football. He had a monster year in his first full season with the Ravens, setting major records and leading Baltimore to a franchise-best 14-2 regular-season record. He stepped back a bit in 2020 but he continues to be a dangerous all-around player. Jackson rushed for 1,206 yards in 2019 and 1,005 yards in 2020, making him the first quarterback ever with back-to-back 1,000 rushing yard seasons. His 1,206 rushing yards in 2019 set a new QB record for most rushing yards in a single season. Jackson is lethal outside the pocket and doesn’t hesitate to take off when he sees an opening. He’s fast and elusive in the open field. He can be over-aggressive at times, which causes him to turn the ball over a lot. Nonetheless, Jackson makes up for it with his all-around talent. He’s passionate about bringing a Super Bowl home to Baltimore, but he needs to improve his passing game (Ravens ranked dead last in the league in passing yards). Thankfully, upgrades have been made to the Ravens receiving core and offensive line in order to build the offense around Jackson. He has gotten so much hate for being a “running back”, but he can easily shut down his critics with another successful season and maybe, win a Super Bowl.

#6: Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Jackson may be the better all-around player, but Dak is the superior QB. Dak is back. The Cowboys fanbase has a lot to be excited about with the return of their star quarterback. Prescott was forced to miss the majority of 2020 after suffering a horrific ankle injury early in the season. Now he’s back and making good progress on his health again. Prescott was putting up MVP-type numbers before his injury. Through the first five weeks of 2020, he led all quarterbacks with 1,856 passing yards and his 9 touchdowns were 3rd-most in the league at the time. Now the Cowboys are fully committed to him after signing him to a 4-year, $160 million contract extension last March. Prescott is physical, tough, and an accurate QB, which are pretty much the required traits of reaching elite status. He can also run the ball pretty well, thanks in large part to playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Prescott has a talented receiver core in 4-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper, explosive playmaker Michael Gallup, and promising young star CeeDee Lamb. If Dallas can fix the defense, they are easily Super Bowl contenders. Prescott’s return to the field makes him the top candidate for Comeback Player of the Year and could even sneak his way back into the MVP conversation. He’s only 27 years old and he’s ready to make his mark as a top QB once again.

#5: Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Seattle’s longtime QB is here to stay despite off-season rumors about him leaving the Seahawks. Wilson’s career is often overlooked by some people. He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler with two NFC Championships and one Super Bowl ring. He’s also one of four quarterbacks in NFL history with a career passer rating above 100. Wilson threw for 4,212 yards and 40 touchdowns (2nd in NFL) along with a 105.1 passer rating last season. At 32 years old, he excels in deep-ball accuracy and mobility. He had the 4th-most rushing yards at the position last season (513). Wilson is also throwing to one of the most dynamic receiver duos in the league in D.K Metcalf and Tyler Lockett along with the additions of versatile rookie wideout D’Wayne Eskridge and tight end Gerald Everett. He’s showing no signs of slowing down and he’s primed for another productive year.

#4: Tom Brady, Buccaneers

All Brady did last season to prove he’s the GOAT was leave the Patriots to join an average Bucs team and win them a Super Bowl. The 7-time Super Bowl champion is ready for his second stint in Tampa after a successful first year with the team. Other than his 7 Super Bowl rings, Brady is a 3-time MVP and has made 14 Pro Bowls, the most in NFL history. He also has the most touchdown passes in NFL history with 581. Enough said about his never-ending records, Brady had himself a solid 2020 season. He was in the top-5 in touchdown passes (40), passes completed (401), and passing yards (4,633). He’s calm in the pocket and is very knowledgeable

of the game. While his speed and mobility are his weaknesses, he is playing behind an elite offensive line known for its pass protection. The Bucs have decided to run it back by bringing back all 22 starters from last year’s Super Bowl roster. That means Brady’s pass-catchers are back too: red-zone machine Mike Evans, good-hands receiver Chris Godwin, and experienced veterans in Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski. Brady is 45 and he doesn’t look like he wants to retire anytime soon. He’s already the GOAT, but like everyone else in the NFL, he wants ANOTHER ring.

#3: Josh Allen, Bills

The most improved player of 2020, Allen took a massive leap in his third season. Here are his stats from 2019: 3,089 passing yards, 20 touchdown passes, and a 58.8 completion percentage. In 2020, he improved dramatically with 4,544 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, and a 69.2 completion percentage. If Mahomes and Rodgers didn’t have better seasons, he would have won MVP. Allen (6’5, 237 lbs) is a big quarterback with brilliant arm strength, mobility, and good athleticism. He has improved his accuracy after completing just over 50% of his passes in his first two seasons. He also has great usage of his legs, giving him the ability to maximize his field vision and gain yards in the open field. In his first two seasons, Allen had 17 rushing touchdowns, the second-most ever by a quarterback in his first two seasons (only Cam Newton had more). Allen’s development has been a success thanks to his supporting cast. HC Sean McDermott and OC Brian Daboll have figured out a way to build the offense around Allen by committing to a pass-heavy scheme. His receiver group is among the best in the NFL: Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs, an elite slot receiver in Cole Beasley, experienced veteran Emmanuel Sanders, and explosive catcher Gabriel Davis. The team has given Allen everything he needed to turn this franchise around and it’s been working so far. He’s the second-best quarterback in the AFC behind Mahomes and a legitimate MVP candidate for 2021.

#2: Aaron Rodgers, Packers

The 2021 offseason was filled with drama, and no storyline was more dramatic than Rodgers’ feud with the Green Bay Packers. After months and months of drama surrounding the 2020 MVP despite his frustrations and trade request from the team, he finally agreed to a reworked contract with the Packers that keeps him in Green Bay until 2022. Had Rodgers not suited up, he might’ve been lower on this list. The legendary quarterback had an incredible season after throwing a career-high 48 touchdowns, a 70.7% completion percentage, a 121.5 passer rating, and only 5 interceptions (all led NFL). What makes Rodgers so great is simply his elite accuracy and the ability to throw under pressure while reading the defense. He’s smart and he understands the game of football way better than anyone else. Part of Rodgers’ 2020 success

was the performance of All-Pro wideout Davante Adams, his number-one target. Rodgers has thrown 58 touchdown passes to Adams in his career (18 of them were in 2020-21). It will be challenging for Rodgers to replicate his MVP performance due to the losses of third-down receiving back Jamaal Williams and All-Pro center Corey Linsley, but now that the probability of 2021 being his “last dance” in Green Bay is rising, he’ll be more poised and ready than ever before.

#1: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Who would have ever thought that the 10th overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft would end up being the greatest quarterback in football right now? Not me. Mahomes is entering his 5th NFL season and he has already accomplished what most quarterbacks couldn’t even do in an entire career. He owns a Super Bowl ring, a league MVP, three AFC championship appearances, and a Super Bowl MVP. He also owns an overall record of 44-9, the highest ever in a quarterback’s first four seasons. On the field, Mahomes does everything well. He can launch it downfield, use his legs, react quickly, and throw it accurately. In 2020, he was top-5 in every major passing category with 4,740 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and an 82.9 QBR. That season, he became the fastest quarterback in NFL history to throw 90 touchdowns (37 games). It’s not just the physical traits of Mahomes himself that make him a prophet, but the supporting cast around him helps him a lot. He’s playing with the NFL’s best pass-catching duo, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, along with one of the best head coaches in NFL history, Andy Reid. Patrick Mahomes went from being Alex Smith’s predecessor to rising as the NFL’s best QB. After signing a record 10-year, $450 million contract a year ago, he has proved to be the most talented and accomplished quarterback of the new era.