Pre-NFL Draft AFC quarterback rankings by Division

Pre-NFL Draft AFC quarterback rankings by Division

 With the NFL Draft just weeks away, teams are getting set and making their final preparations on their draft board for draft week. While a lot of teams are set or at least appear to be set at the quarterback position, teams in desperate need for a signal caller like the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, and Cincinnati Bengals look to be taking one at the top of the draft. Before the draft, lets look at where the current starting quarterbacks in the league rank in their own division, starting in the AFC.

AFC WEST

  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Derek Carr
  3. Drew Lock
  4. Tyrod Taylor

 The clear best quarterback in this division is Patrick Mahomes, and that looks to be the case for a long time as Mahomes has now won the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP awards in his first two seasons starting for the Kansas City Chiefs. Its after Mahomes where the list gets tricky. The veteran Carr gets the number two spot because of his experience and he did have a solid year in 2019. The problem is his future seems to be murky now in Las Vegas, and the Raiders just had a visit with prospect Justin Herbert. Lock did well for Denver and looks to grow more as the starter going into his sophomore season for his first full year as a starting quarterback. The Chargers also met with Herbert recently, but they will give Taylor a chance to compete and start in 2020. Taylor was up and down in Buffalo and was in Cleveland before heading to Los Angeles. Taylor is a veteran with experience but has never really proven to be a franchise quarterback since leaving the Baltimore Ravens as a backup for four years in 2015.

AFC North

  1. Ben Roethlisberger
  2. Lamar Jackson
  3. Baker Mayfield
  4. Andy Dalton

  As good as Lamar Jackson was in 2019 by winning the MVP award unanimously, it’s hard to go against Ben Roethlisberger for the top spot as far as quarterbacks in this division. Lamar has struggled so far in the playoffs and Ben is one of the best in January and has won two Super Bowls. Jackson vs. Roethlisberger is going to be fun to watch next season as they look to meet for the first time. Coming off a disaster of a season, Baker Mayfield takes third as he now gets his fourth head coach in three years. Andy Dalton looks to be out in Cincinnati with Joe Burrow possibly on his way to the Bengals, but as of now Dalton is still on the Bengals roster, and reportedly the New England Patriots have no interest in Dalton. 

AFC East

  1. Sam Darnold
  2. Josh Allen
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  4. Jarret Stidham

  The Tom Brady era is officially over in the AFC East after twenty years as Brady shocked everybody and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, we get to find out which quarterback will take over as King of the AFC East and right now, I think Sam Darnold is the top quarterback in the division. Darnold’s had his bad moments for sure but considering the talent around him and the mess of an offensive line, Darnold has been good and has worked well with what he’s got. If the Jets have indeed fixed the offensive line, then Darnold will take more steps forward in year three. Allen improved a lot in year two and helped lead the Bills to the playoffs. Allen still struggles with accuracy issues, but Buffalo acquiring Stefon Diggs adds another playmaker for Allen who already has Cole Beasley and John Brown. Fitzpatrick adds veteran experience and played relatively well for Miami last season and will be a good placeholder for whomever the Dolphins select at quarterback come the draft. As for the Patriots, they have veteran options like Dalton, Joe Flacco and Cam Newton if they want to sign one for a season or two, or maybe they make a move in the draft to get their new franchise quarterback, but Bill Belichick looks to be high on the young Jarrett Stidham. Stidham was a fourth round pick out of Auburn and played decently in the 2019 preseason. Stidham, if he is the starter week 1, has a tall task succeeding Brady, especially considering how Brady and the Patriots went their separate ways.

AFC South

  1. Deshaun Watson
  2. Philip Rivers
  3. Ryan Tannehill
  4. Gardner Minshew

In the AFC South, Watson is the quintessential top quarterback in the division and one of the best in the league. However, the Houston Texans and Bill O’Brien did their star quarterback no favors by trading star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson and a second-round pick. Nevertheless, Watson is still one of the best, but losing Hopkins is a big blow. After Watson, it was tough to decide between Rivers and Tannehill. Rivers is starting up fresh in Indianapolis and I think is a future Hall of Famer, but Rivers is coming off the worst season of his career and throwing 20 interceptions, third most in the NFL last season. Tannehill had his moments in Miami but ended up flaming out and had trouble with injuries. He was signed by Tennessee as not only the backup for Marcus Mariota, but as insurance just in case Mariota continued to struggle. Mariota did struggle, and when Tannehill took over, he had a tremendous second half of the season and helped the Titans out to two playoff road upsets over the Patriots and Ravens and a trip to the AFC Championship. Tannehill was given a big contract from the Titans and is now being given a second chance as a potential franchise quarterback. In the end, I gave Rivers the edge because we have to see how Tannehill responds as a full-time starting quarterback again and Rivers will look to bounce back after a rough final year with the Chargers. As for the Jaguars, they’re looking to roll with Minshew for now and it’ll be interesting to see if Jacksonville decides to draft a quarterback. For now, though, Gardner Minshew is the guy going forward for the Jaguars after Nick Foles didn’t work out and they traded him to the Chicago Bears for a fourth-round pick.

Pre-Draft NFC quarterback rankings by Division

Pre-Draft NFC quarterback rankings by Division

After finishing up the AFC, it’s time to take a look at the NFC quarterback rankings by division heading into the NFL Draft in a few weeks. The NFC is loaded with quarterback talent in each division and just added a legendary figure into the conference. So, let’s see every NFC divisional quarterback situation.

NFC East

  1. Carson Wentz
  2. Dak Prescott
  3. Daniel Jones
  4. Dwyane Haskins
The NFC East has a lot of young talent at the position and Carson Wentz takes the top spot, especially after last season. Wentz led the Eagles to the division title with injuries to his playmakers all over the place, which is extremely hard to do. Wentz had a lot to prove to many in 2019, and he answered in a big way down the stretch. Prescott is the most polarizing quarterback not only in this division, but maybe in the entire league. Prescott, for all intents and purposes, had a very good year in 2019, but the Cowboys faded down the stretch and lost the division to the Eagles. Prescott now has a new head coach in Mike McCarthy, a former Super Bowl winner, and Dak is probably going to get a big contract sooner rather than later. The pressure will be all on Dak in 2020. For the rookies, Jones was much more impressive than Haskins and showed a lot of doubters why the Giants picked him in the 2019 draft. While Jones displayed a lot of potential as the heir to Eli Manning, Haskins had a rough go and there are rumors that Haskins might not be the starter with Washington having the number two overall this year. While Jones is set to be the future of his team, the same might not be said for Haskins.

NFC North

  1. Aaron Rodgers
  2. Kirk Cousins
  3. Matthew Stafford
  4. Nick Foles
Rodgers has held the top spot in this division pretty much since he finally succeeded Brett Favre in 2008. Through everything, he continues to produce and be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. The thing for Green Bay, is that Rodgers is getting older, so the clock is ticking for Rodgers to get his second Super Bowl championship and the Packers to possibly look for his successor the same way they did with Favre all the way back in 2005 when they drafted Rodgers. Cousins proved a lot in 2019 and defeated the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees in the Wild-Card round in the Superdome. Cousins was rewarded with a contract extension as he was about to enter his last year of his previous deal and him and the Vikings look to go deeper into the playoffs with Cousins as their guy. After eleven years, Stafford continues to be a staple of consistency in Detroit and he played well in 2019, but he suffered a spine injury which kept him out for eight games. Stafford is still a real solid quarterback, but after eleven years the Lions have yet to win a playoff game with him under center and rumors are the Lions could look at quarterback in the draft. Foles was brought in by Chicago to compete with Mitch Trubisky and chances are he’ll start Week 1 for the Bears. Foles has proven to be a good backup in the NFL, but as a starter, not so much, despite his Super Bowl win and MVP a few years ago.

NFC West

  1. Russell Wilson
  2. Jared Goff
  3. Jimmy Garoppolo
  4. Kyler Murray

 This division is the best all around in terms of the quarterback play and is the toughest division in all of football. No quarterback here is bad and neither team has questions for their future at the position. Russell Wilson might be the best quarterback in all of football and what he has done in Seattle in recent years is nothing short of incredible. Wilson was a serious MVP candidate in 2019 and looks to be in the race for the MVP award again in 2020 as he tries to get his second Super Bowl title with the Seahawks. Goff had a rocky year in 2019, but he was fantastic in 2017 and 2018. It doesn’t help the Rams are tight with their roster and lack draft capital. Todd Gurley was released, Rodger Saffold left in free agency last year, and Brandin Cooks might be dealt soon. While the roster is shifting in Los Angeles, Goff is a constant presence and gives the Rams a chance to win every week. Garoppolo fell out of grace with a lot of people after the 49ers Super Bowl loss, but the fact of the matter is he’s a real solid quarterback and he’s done nothing but win for San Francisco after he was traded to the Bay Area in 2017. He’s their guy for a long time. Murray had a productive rookie year and winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Now, he gets DeAndre Hopkins to add to his display of playmakers as he looks to take the next step in year two with head coach Kliff Kingsbury

NFC South

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Matt Ryan
  4. Teddy Bridgewater

 The NFC South welcomes in Tom Brady to the fold, which is something that nobody thought would ever happen. A division that’s been dominated by the Saints over the last three years, now gets Brady in there who dominated the AFC East for twenty years. It’s tough between Brady and Brees, as great as Brees is, Brady is still Brady and it’s interesting to think that despite the 30 interceptions thrown by Jameis Winston, the Bucs still finished 7-9. Here comes Brady who rarely turns the ball over to go along with his resume and he gets Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and Chris Godwin as options to throw the football to. Brady vs. Brees twice in 2020 is going to be must watch television as Brees is still at the top of his game. The Falcons may have struggled the last two years, but Ryan continues to play well and show he’s a top-10 quarterback in the NFL as he still looks for his first Super Bowl title. Bridgewater gets a second shot as a franchise quarterback in Carolina after he was stellar in New Orleans in relief of Brees when he was out with an injury. Bridgewater joins rookie head coach Matt Rhule and his system for a team that looks to be rebuilding, so Bridgewater has his work cut out for him with the Panthers.

Will losing Robby Anderson hurt Sam Darnold?

Will losing Robby Anderson hurt Sam Darnold?

So far in free agency, the New York Jets and general manager Joe Douglas have set out what they had to do by establishing the offensive line. The team brought back Alex Lewis, and signed Greg Van Roten, George Fant, and Connor McGovern, as their number one priority in the offseason was to protect Sam Darnold for the 2020 season. The Jets 2019 offensive line changed frequently every week, so this was their biggest need. New York also brought back other players such as Brian Poole, and Janoris Jenkins, but one other impact player was still available in wide receiver Robby Anderson.

Anderson’s market was slow, and the longer free agency went, the better chance he had at returning to the Jets. However, Anderson ended up signing a 2-year, $12 million contract with the Carolina Panthers, leaving the Jets even more thin at wide receiver. New York responded by signing receiver Breshad Perriman, who finished 2019 very well over the last five games of the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but has struggled most of his career. With Anderson gone, Darnold has lost his biggest playmaker and a guy with whom he had great chemistry with. 

Over Darnold’s first two seasons in the league, 19.3% of his passes have gone to Anderson, and 11 of Darnold’s 36 career touchdown passes have connected with Anderson, which is more than any other player for Darnold. Not only that, Darnold loses a proven deep threat that can take the top off the defense and create separation for big plays on this offense. An offense that other than Anderson, hasn’t really had many big playmakers on the outside. 

It’s never a good thing to lose a playmaker like Anderson for a quarterback so young in his development, and a guy that your young quarterback trusts a lot. While Perriman finished the season well for Tampa Bay, prior to his strong five-game finish to which he caught 25 receptions for 506 yards and five touchdowns, he had only caught 11 passes in a pass first offense in their first 11 games, and is notorious for drops, especially during his time as a Baltimore Raven. The Jets are banking on Perriman that his finish to 2019 is a sign of things to come, but he’s got a lot to prove.

The Jets have helped Darnold with the offensive line, but now their job is to find him some playmakers. There is still time for Douglas as it’s only March and the draft is right around the corner. Douglas is going to go best player available, but you must figure wide receiver just jumped even higher on their list of needs after Anderson’s departure. At the 11th overall pick, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb could be there for the taking for the Jets. If the Jets want to offset the loss of Anderson, Darnold’s most trusted receiver, Douglas is going to have to work his magic once the draft and the next wave of free agency rolls around in order to keep their quarterback happy.

Joe Douglas’s approach to free agency is all part of the plan

Joe Douglas’s approach to free agency is all part of the plan

When the legal tampering period for NFL free agency started, many expected the New York Jets to be big spenders in free agency with new general manager Joe Douglas in his first free agency period. There was also the factor of Sam Darnold entering year 3 and the fact the team needed to improve the offensive line, the wide receiver core and other positions to compete in 2020. For Douglas, that wasn’t the approach he took.

Jets fans watched as guys like Jack Conklin, Amari Cooper, Kyle Van Noy, and Graham Glasgow, all players the Jets were linked to, go elsewhere. The Buffalo Bills signed Mario Addison and even acquired Minnesota Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, and the Miami Dolphins have been the biggest spenders in the first wave of free agency signing Erik Flowers, Shaq Lawson, Bryon Jones, Jordan Howard, and Emmanuel Ogbah. The New England Patriots lost quarterback Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With that departure, the AFC East is more open than it’s been since 2001, but the signings by the Bills and Dolphins, along with Brady leaving, will never stop Douglas’s philosophy when it comes to free agency because he learned from the best.

In Baltimore, Douglas learned from Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, and Newsome wasn’t the biggest spender in free agency either. Every offseason, Newsome bided his time and wait for the market to come to him. Newsome followed the motto “right player, right price” and he stayed patient throughout the course of free agency. Newsome made his key moves for sure, signing Steve Smith, Vontae Leach, Ricky Williams, Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason, Daryl Smith, Elvis Dumervil, Tony Siragusa, Jacoby Jones, Bryant McKinney, Corey Redding, Sam Adams, trading for Anquan Boldin and more. They were wise, timely moves that helped the Ravens in their success, but not going crazy with big money. Newsome made his name through the draft and Douglas had a hand in drafting some of these players during his time in Baltimore from 2000-2014. Players such as Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jamal Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda, Joe Flacco, Haloti Ngata, Peter Boulware, Chris McCallister, Brandon Williams, C.J. Mosley, Todd Heap, Dennis Pitta, and to the present day with Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown, Ronnie Stanley, and Lamer Jackson.

Douglas knows he’s got to build the Jets roster through the draft, and the team already spent big in free agency last year under former general manager Mike Maccagnan signing Mosley, Le’Veon Bell, and Jamison Crowder. Despite that, Douglas was always going to stay patient and let the market come to him, and so far, he’s done just that. He’s brought back offensive guard Alex Lewis and signed offensive tackle George Fant and center Connor McGovern. Douglas has made it a point many times that the biggest goal this season was to improve the offensive line for quarterback, Sam Darnold. However, he was not going to rush to the table with big money, he was going to spend wisely, because that’s what he was taught.

Everyone knows teams don’t win championships in the offseason, and a lot of times the biggest spenders don’t end up with the best results. The Jets should know from last year after starting 1-7 before finishing 6-2 to go 7-9 after being big spenders. Many Jets fans may not like the approach from Douglas, especially with the AFC East being as wide open as it is with Brady now leaving the Patriots, but this is what Douglas learned for 15 years under Newsome, and he contributed a lot to their success in those 15 years when they won two Super Bowls. Douglas also contributed to the Philadelphia Eagles first Super Bowl in 2017 as vice president of player personnel. The motto for Newsome was “right player, right price”, and if Douglas follows that motto to the letter, the Jets will be a successful organization in the years to come.

Eric DeCosta is mastering the offseason

Eric DeCosta is mastering the offseason

After the 2018 regular season, longtime Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome stepped down from his position after two decades on the job and building two Super Bowl championship teams. Newsome officially handed the general manager job over to Eric DeCosta, who got to Baltimore in 1997 and had been groomed to take over for Newsome when the time came. DeCosta had declined many general manager offers from other NFL teams solely for the chance to become the Ravens general manager.

DeCosta is now on his second offseason, and so far, he has done an outstanding job by taking everything Newsome taught him to the test. Acquired good value with players and getting draft compensation that he has used to acquire good players. DeCosta used the 4th round pick he got for former franchise quarterback Joe Flacco for running back Justice Hill, who will be a big part in the Ravens running game for years to come. On draft day, he traded down with the Philadelphia Eagles to get Oklahoma wide receiver Marquis Brown. Brown showed a lot of potential and talent during his rookie year as he continues to develop with new franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson. He even traded back into the third round to get another weapon for Jackson in Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin. He also signed Mark Ingram and Earl Thomas in free agency, and both contributed to the Ravens 14-2 season. He even stole cornerback Marcus Peters from the Los Angeles Rams for a fifth-round pick midseason, and Peters rewarded his new team right away by getting a pick-six off Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in a win in Seattle in Peters’s very first game.

Last year was impressive for the new general manager, but this offseason might be even more impressive, and the draft is still a month away. DeCosta traded kicker Kaare Vedvik last year for a 5th-round draft pick. He then used that fifth rounder to acquire Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell. Former 2018 first round pick Hayden Hurst was passed in the depth chart by fellow 2018 draftee tight end Mark Andrews over the last two years, with Hurst serving as the second tight end on the depth chart. The Ravens were shopping Hurst around and when the Atlanta Falcons lost starting tight end Austin Hooper to the Cleveland Browns, DeCosta pounced at the chance and traded Hurst to the Falcons for a second-round pick. The fact that DeCosta got a second rounder for a tight end with little over 40 receptions in his first two seasons as a first-round draft pick was remarkable.

DeCosta has since signed Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers to add to a defensive front that on paper looks to be a dominate unit with Brockers, Campbell, and Brandon Williams. In terms of the draft, he now has his first rounder, and two seconds, thirds, and fourths each, respectively. Nine draft picks in total, and having three rounds with multiple picks is big for any team, as it Brings in more leverage to possibly make a move in the draft and bring in more young talent, or use it to acquire another player via trade. It’s not easy to follow a legend like Newsome, but DeCosta is proven up to the task, and is showing the Ravens success is going to continue for a long time with him in charge.