Ranking 10 best backup QBs in NFL for 2021

Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp
Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp

The NFL preseason is still rolling on and several teams still have heated QB competitions at QB1 and QB2. The starters in these position battles will be predicted based on the current unofficial depth charts and players' performances in camp and the NFL preseason.

There is a saying that your most important player on the roster is your starting QB, and number two is your backup QB. There is truth behind it. When a team's starting QB gets injured, their season can be derailed without a strong backup: Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys in 2020 are two such examples.

With a strong, quality backup QB, teams can help salvage at least a wildcard spot or go all the way to the Super Bowl, as Nick Foles did with the Philadelphia Eagles. On that note, here are the top ten backup QBs in the NFL heading into the 2021 season.


#10 Jordan Love (Green Bay Packers)

Yes, Jordan Love makes the list. The Green Bay Packers drafted him in the first round in 2020, and he is the only QB from the first two rounds to not be a starter this season. He looked good in camp, and was efficient in his first NFL preseason game: 1217 for 122 yards and a TD. He will likely be the QB1 next year when Aaron Rodgers decides to leave, but he still has flaws in his mechanics.


#9 Mitchell Trubiksy (Buffalo Bills)

Formally a first-round pick with the Chicago Bears, Mitchell Trubisky crumbled under the pressure and lacked confidence. He's showing his talent with the Buffalo Bills this year in the NFL preseason, though.

He has got a similar style to Josh Allen, and the offense and scheme won't need to change much if Trubiksy is needed to play. His accuracy, arm strength, vision and decision-making have all looked better this year.


#8 Chad Henne (Kansas City Chiefs)

Chad Henne is the oldest QB on this list, at 36. He has one of the best situations in the NFL as QB2, with the Kansas City Chiefs having QB Patrick Mahomes and HC Andy Reid.

Henne has spent three seasons with both football geniuses and has surely improved in their company. He can get the job done if Mahomes gets injured. The offense around him also helps Henne's stock.


#7 Marcus Mariota (Las Vegas Raiders)

Marcus Mariota has gained some traction with teams inquiring about his talents after he showed his value last season. However, his durability is questionable long-term, and he's better suited as a top backup.

He can make the big plays through the air or on the ground. With Derek Carr, he can be a serviceable player if Carr gets injured or even benched this year. If the Las Vegas Raiders decide to draft a rookie replacement, Mariota could be a great mentor, and play a role similar to Andy Dalton this year.


#6 Gardner Minshew (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Gardner Minshew's poor year in 2020 can be considered an aberration. His 2019 season provides a better perspective of the type of QB he is when healthy.

Trevor Lawrence is a much superior athlete and passer than Minshew, but the latter has shown success with the Jacksonville Jaguars, provides leadership,and can be a field general who moves the chains. The Jaguars would be best suited to not let go of Minshew.


#5 Case Keenum (Cleveland Browns)

Case Keenum has faltered as the main QB in the past, but he's more of an underrated backup in the NFL. He's one of the oldest backups on the list at 32, but also has the most experience. He has been a mentor and coach to Baker Mayfield, and can still be a big-time playmaker when called upon.


#4 Teddy Bridgewater (Denver Broncos)

Teddy Bridgewater is still right in the middle of the QB1 battle with Drew Lock, but Lock has taken a slight lead with his deep ball accuracy and throwing on the run. Teddy has shown he's accurate as well and pretty efficient. He's also one of the best NFL backups to have in a locker room in the NFL. He is the type of player who could salvage a playoff berth as Nick Foles did.


#3 Cam Newton (New England Patriots)

Yes, Mac Jones should win the camp battle even though the two QBs are still in a heated competition after they played well in their recent NFL preseason game. Jones has the edge after Cam Newton's poor outing in 2020, but Newton has played better than expected this offseason. He should be a top backup to Jones this year, and New England should reach the NFL playoffs regardless of which QB plays.


#2 Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers)

As much as we all want Trey Lance to be the Week-1 NFL starter over Jimmy Garoppolo, I don't see it happening. Lance's arm is much better than Garoppolo's, but the San Francisco 49ers have tens of millions invested into Jimmy G. They don't want to rush Lance either. Lance's stats in the NFL preseason are average, but they don't reflect his game at all, with several drops by his targets.


#1 Justin Fields (Chicago Bears)

Andy Dalton is still said to be the Week-1 starter for the Chicago Bears, but Justin Fields has been electric on the field. The fanbase is 110% behind the rookie, who has shown great mobility and accuracy as a passer through two NFL preseason games. When Fields (not if) gets the call-up, he will still have a top-tier backup QB in Andy Dalton, who has played well thus far for the team.

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Edited by Bhargav
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