Six weeks into the NFL season, I thought it was time to rank all 32 starting quarterbacks.
For this exercise, I’m trying to evaluate these quarterbacks regardless of the team they are on. While I will bring up the offense they are in and how they function in it, I judge quarterbacks based on talent and their level of play. So I’m not going to hand out extra credit for hitting lay-ups and screens -- and at the same time, quarterbacks will get credit for making things work despite bad O-line play or a lack of dynamic playmakers around them.
To do so, I created separate tiers to tell how I feel about each quarterback, and while I try to always put them into context, I will use stats to back up my case. All of these opinions and numbers are based on what happened through the first six weeks.
Make sure to also check out my in-depth breakdown of every game from the NFL’s Week 7.
NFL Quarterback Rankings: The Elite Three
1. Patrick Mahomes
I get that the next few quarterbacks have been phenomenal so far, and right now I would put the No. 2 guy on this list as my favorite for league MVP. But if you made me choose, Mahomes would still be the pick for one game and one season.
I have said it many times – he can make plays that other quarterbacks wouldn’t even attempt. The amount of uncommon platforms, the arm angles and the releases are so unique. Mahomes has improved so much at recognizing the blitz and finding the right answer at the snap, which was on full display in the Chiefs' big "Monday Night Football" matchup in Baltimore, when he completely took them apart.
The one thing he has struggled with is when people flood different areas of the field with their zone coverages and force him to pull it down, but he has really started to take advantage of the space he is given to pick up yardage with his legs.
When you look at the stats, Mahomes is completing 65.8 percent of his passes for 1,700 yards and 15 TDs with only one pick, getting first downs on 90 of 144 attempts. He is actually is only middle-of-the-pack among quarterbacks in completed air yards and Kansas City leads the league with 876 yards after the catch, making up for more than half his total, but a lot of that has to do with opposing team playing more deep coverage against him and him having to throw it underneath because of it.
At times it feels like it doesn’t matter what the Chiefs do on first and second down, because that guy wearing No. 15 finds some crazy way to convert on the money down, as they are second in the league as a team with a third-down percentage of 53.8.
2. Russell Wilson
When you look at the numbers he has put up and the level he has been asked to play at in order for his team to win, no quarterback has quite achieved what Russell Wilson has done.
The Seahawks had a psychological shift this offseason, following the fans’ outcry to “let Russ cook” and putting the ball in the hands of No. 3 on early downs, as well as letting their quarterback take more shots down the field -- with Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf getting behind the defense of course -- which the latter is starting to become uncoverable in combination with the ball-placement he gets served from his quarterback.
Wilson is completing a career-high 72.8 percent of his passes for just over 300 yards per game and still leads the league with 19 passing touchdowns (in only five games), while being on pace to break the NFL season record for passer rating of 129.8 and blowing away the all-time mark for TD percentage at 11.2.
To go along with that, he is averaging just over 30 rushing yards per game and almost half of the time he takes off, it results in a new first down. As impressive as all those numbers are, Wilson is doing it in service of a 5-0 team, as the Seahawks scored a season-low 27 points versus Minnesota tand Russ led one of his two game-winning drives on the year, going 92 yards in under two minutes.
Nobody has been able to stop this guy, and he is doing it while his defense has allowed the most yards on a weekly basis of any team in the league.
3. Aaron Rodgers
This offseason there was so much talk about how Rodgers has declined these last few years, and with the team trading up in the first round to draft Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, there was a lot of speculation about how long A-Rod will still be the quarterback in Green Bay.
With the level No. 12 is playing at right now, I’m not sure if anybody could move on from him. This last game against the Bucs was by far his worst showing of 2020 and it ruined Rodgers’ stats, as he was completing over 70 percent of his passes for 13 TDs and no picks coming into Sunday. At Tampa, he threw two INTs, including a pick-six, and was sacked four times – more than doubling their season total.
Still, I won’t let that take away from the body of work the future Hall of Fame quarterback has put together already. Rodgers is playing as well as I have seen from him since I thought he was the best quarterback -- best player -- in the league for about a six-year stretch and until facing what I believe is one of the elite defenses in the league this past Sunday, he was on pace to set new personal highs in completion percentage and touchdowns. That is crazy to me, because he didn’t even have by far his best receiver in Davante Adams for half the year and with Allen Lazard out these last couple of weeks as well, he barely has any other dependable receivers.
Rodgers himself looks so much more elusive to extend plays and he is throwing absolute dimes down the field, at times fading away or releasing off the wrong foot. He has been spectacular and don’t worry – he has kept all those receipts from the offseason.