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  • Writer's pictureNick Vetrone

NFC Quarterback Rankings

All 16 projected NFC starting QBs Ranked for the 2023 season.

With Tom Brady retired and Aaron Rodgers in the AFC, the talent pool of QBs in the NFC has shrink moderately. Yet, there are still some elites and borderline elites in the NFC Conference. Here are our QB rankings for the NFC heading into this season.


1. Jalen Hurts (+1100 MVP)

The buzz around Jalen Hurts has happened pretty instantaneously, which is understandable given the third-year quarterback’s insane 2022 breakout season. Last year, Hurts led the Eagles to a 14-1 record while under center, finished as a finalist for MVP, won the NFC East, and won the NFC Conference Championship. He did all this while putting up 35 rushing + passing TDs and a 101.6 RTG. The combination of athleticism, throwing ability, and the superior decision making he flashed last season solidifies Hurts as the NFC’s new #1 QB. If Hurts has a stellar start to this season, his odds at +1100 for MVP might start to shrink quickly.



 

2. Dak Prescott (+2500 MVP)

This is a tough pick at #2. Prescott is coming off his worst season since 2020, when he only played five games. He posted lows in yards, TD to Int ratio, and picks. But the worst for Dak Prescott is skewed given how well he has played in his career. Last season, Prescott posted a 91.1 RTG, the second lowest in his career, only beaten by his 86.6 RTG in his sophomore season. With this said, Prescott was a huge reason why the Cowboys made it to the playoffs and through the Wildcard Round, and also why they got stonewalled in a 12-19 loss to the 49ers.


Going on last season alone, there are QBs that played better than Prescott in the NFC; however, given his body of work, I have to expect Prescott to bounce back in 2023. Dallas will certainly need him to come through if they want to win the East.

 

3. Jared Goff (+4000 MVP)

Goff isn’t a flashy name, but he’s coming off a career year after finding some rhythm in a dangerous Lions’ offense. Truthfully, he’s a huge reason why they were so successful on that side of the ball. His 29/7 TD-Int ratio was a career best, and his 99.4 season RTG was a second to his career best. Goff was dynamite in the last stretch of the season for Detroit last year, but their success collectively waned given a very suspect defense that forced every game to feel like a shootout—one would assume dropping a 45-piece on Geno Smith and Seattle would be enough to win (it wasn’t in week 4).


The lack of success in tough spots kept too much praise from being heaped on Detroit, but the turnaround the Lions experienced in Goff’s second season was astounding, especially given it largely came from his ability to propel the offense. The rhythm he found towards the end of the season, winning 5 out of the last 6, makes Goff one of the NFC’s best QBs entering this year.

 

4. Brock Purdy (+5000 MVP)

Brock Purdy—might be—really, really good and I’m tired of pretending he’s not. Through 6 meaningful games, Purdy totaled 1300 yards on about 70% completion, with 13 TDs and just 3 Ints. Yes, the Niners offense is positively stacked. Yes, it seems anyone not named Trey Lance could take the keys to the O and show signs of success. But Purdy was a 7th round rookie. These were his first reps with that first unit. If nothing else, his game management and composure were off the chart.


People don’t believe in Purdy because the sample size was too small and the 49ers were too good, and a lot of that is fair, but, regardless, Purdy had an uncanny rhythm with that offense and did exactly what was needed and more. In the regular season, he threw for two or more TDs in all of his games since stepping in. He dominated the Seahawks in his first ever playoff game, then played a sound, error-free game in a 19-12 win over the Cowboys to advance to the conference championship game against the Eagles. They lost that game, but Purdy was injured almost immediately. Who knows what that game would have looked like if he didn’t get hurt.



Simply put, Purdy did little wrong in his insane rookie run. Lance and Jimmy G. dropped games to the Bears, Falcons, and a blowout loss to the Chiefs. If this offense ran itself, we wouldn’t have seen such poor performances from those guys. But this is the NFL. It takes a lot to be a good QB. Success is success, no matter how good your team is; there is a reason teams don’t stockpile offensive weapons then sign an XFL QB to run things. Purdy does still have something to prove. So, let’s let him prove it.

 

5. Derek Carr (+5000 Comeback player of the year)

The longtime Raiders QB comes to New Orleans after a tumultuous end to his time in Las Vegas. With the Saints, he is looking to breakout from a complacent, serviceable starter to an elite talent. Now with an exceptional array of weapons, Carr finds himself in a position where his arm strength and grit might ignite a fire for a team that has struggled to find good QB play since Drew Brees retired.


Carr’s numbers weren’t stellar in 2022, totaling 14 picks to go alongside his 24 TDs, but fans have to wonder at what point did he stop trying for a LV team that continued to flounder. If Carr feels reenergized in the Big Easy, he might be on his way to big things. He immediately becomes the best QB in the division—something that was hardly ever the case with the Raiders—and finds himself at (+120) with the Saints to win the South and crack the postseason. Look for Carr to make the leap and be a premier QB in the NFC.

 

6. Kirk Cousins (+5000 MVP)

The consensus on Cousins for a while was that he was a staring caliber QB. He’s the kind of guy that has never been considered elite, but good enough to the point where upgrading really isn’t possible unless you manage to land a top-5 QB. And so, we enter Cousins’s sixth season with the Vikings with the loaming question: can they win with Kirk? Of course, Cousins has had amazing season after amazing season. Last year, the veteran QB put up 4547 pass yards and 29 TDs, which was respectively 4th and 5th most in the game. And yet, the Vikings’ season was demolished in the first round by Daniel Jones and Co. Without any playoff success, Cousins can have his staggering regular season numbers, while still not being the clutch playmaker the Vikings need. With all this said, the team is desperate for postseason success, which may mean Cousin is on the clock to deliver, but as far as a 17-game schedule is concerned, there aren’t many other NFC QBs one could rather have.


 

7. Daniel Jones (+5000 MVP)

Danny Dimes is coming off a career year with the Giants. After being the subject of much ridicule, Jones solidified himself as the NYG’s franchise QB last season with a 92.5 passer rating and a signature playoff win against the Vikings. Jones also proved to be a true dual threat, passing for a career best 3,205 yards and running for another career best 708 yards. The fourth year QB reached these heights while grinding out 22 TDs as both a runner and passer.



Of course, Saquon Barkley is still the engine of the offense and Jones’s QB play didn’t necessarily carry them or win them all their games. But it was good nonetheless, and, unlike in previous years, did not cost them any games. Jones did what was needed of him in Daboll’s system and proved to be a trustworthy game manager. Its hard to argue against success. Now, with more receiving talent injected into the team, and Barkley’s unsure status, this might be a season for Daniel Jones to start taking command.

 

8. Geno Smith (+4000 MVP)

After a pretty horrendous start to his career with the NY Jets, Geno was largely seen as a backup QB just good enough to step in when a starter went down, but not good enough to start anywhere. Pete Carroll changed that narrative in Smith’s third season with the Seahawks. After sitting behind Russel Wilson for a few years, Smith got the chance to step up with the former Seahawks quarterback leaving for Denver. While many fans thought starting Geno was an effective punt on the season, it turned out to be quite the opposite: Wilson floundered with the Broncos and Smith was a Pro Bowler. In 2022, Geno Smith led the Seahawks to a winning record, threw for 4000+ yards and 30 TDs, and brought his team back to the playoffs. Smith may not be the franchise QB for Seattle, given he is entering his 10th season in the league, but there is no reason to expect him to be replaced in the next few years. Last season proved Carroll thinks he can win now with Smith, and he may not be wrong. Look for Geno to put up these kinds of numbers again with a Seahawks team that has only gotten more dangerous.

 

9. Kyler Murray (Comeback player of the year +7500)

The Cardinals’ QB is supremely talented—and very well paid—but is not without his flaws when it comes to competitive football. Through four seasons, Murray has played 57 games, thrown 41 picks, been sacked 131 times, and fumbled 26 times. He takes a lot of sacks and makes some errors, and aside from a red-hot stretch in 2021, hasn’t won a whole lot. For his career Murray has a 25-31 record. Yes, a lot of these Cardinals’ teams have been bad, but QB is the most important position on the field.



You’d like to see Murray’s gaudy stats backed up by some winnings, and, unfortunately, he is likely to miss significant time this year with an injury. His health concerns are a huge factor in his slip in these power rankings. Murray has had six injuries in his four-year career, including multiple thigh/hamstring issues, a grade 2 ankle sprain, a shoulder sprain, a hand injury, and his most recent—and serious—a grade 3 ACL tear. The Draft Sharks Injury Predictor gives Kyler Murray a 61.7% of being injured again at some point in the 2023, which he returns to late, after rehabbing the ACL tear. Murray hasn’t been perfect, but he is talented; however, his mistakes and injury history make it tough to count on him as an elite QB from season to season.

 

10. Matt Stafford (+4000 Comeback player of the year)

Stafford was always a solid QB for the Lions, displaying grit and consistency with a club that never found much success. But, in 2021, his first season with L.A., Matt Stafford connected with a high power offense and exploded expectations on the way to his first Superbowl ring. In his SB year, the veteran threw for almost 5000 yards, tossed 41 TDs, and completed 404 passes with a 102.9 passer rating. His 41-piece tied Kurt Warner for the Rams franchise record, while his yards and comps set records for the team. But the success was short lived, as a miserable Rams team floundered hardcore from the gate in 2022. Immediately a repeat was off the table for L.A. and Stafford struggled to replicate his success through nine games before ultimately getting shut down with an injury. 2023 could be a comeback year for Stafford, who may have only been going half-speed with such a disenchanted team, or the veteran QB’s best football could be behind him. Stafford has played since 2009 and it seems likely age will catch up to him sooner rather than later. But we can’t be too surprised if McVay, Stafford, and Donald return to form and prove 2022 to just have been a hangover year.

 

11. Justin Fields (+2000)

Fields is an incredible runner, who can occasionally make solid throws. But, as far as constructing drives, managing a game, and leading an offense, Fields lacks a lot. It should be noted that the second-year pro did improve his numbers drastically in 2022, going from a 7 TD, 10 Int, 1,870 pass yard performance in 2021, to a 17 TD, 11 INT, and 2,242-yard stat line last season. However, the most impressive number for Fields was his rushing yards, gaining an unthinkable 1,143 yards on the ground, the 7th most by any player in the league. Fields had more yards than many of the best running backs in the game last season, and the second closest QB in the stat column was Lamar Jackson at 764.


While Fields improved as a passer, and became an elite rushing QB, his team’s performance needs to be factored. For one, a lot of these yards came in unwinnable games, as the Bear’s point differential last season was a staggering -137. Only less competitive in this way were the Colts at -138. The only games that Field’s team won were against teams in relatively uncompetitive situations, and even then, Fields performances were not catalysts for victory—see Field’s 0TD / 2 INT / 16.1 QBR / 23-20 win over the Texans. Furthermore, many losses could be pinned on the QB. There was the 12-7 defeat at home against the Commanders, where after using a big run to step up a walk off game winner, Fields managed to go only a single yard forward in four plays after starting from the Washington 5. Or the 27-24 loss to the Falcons, where a Field’s 3rd down pick around his own 30 in the last minutes of the game set Atlanta up for a game winning FG. I have no problem with a running QB, but Fields needs to prove that he can win, or at least stop costing them games, before we consider him in the top 10 in the NFC, let alone above Dak in the MVP race (+2500).

 

12. Bryce Young (OROY +500)

For the Panthers, they were more than happy to move up in the draft and take their franchise QB in Young. They’ve already inked the former Alabama Quarterback to a four-year deal worth almost $40M and he hasn’t

even played a snap. Bryce Young was an incredible talent in CFB and looked generationally good at some points. The Panthers made the right call moving up to take him in hopes of him becoming a franchise quarterback, but what impact will Young have his first year? Some critics think Young is undersized at 5-10, which could certainly be a concern in the NFC South. Furthermore, there is a reason only Tua Tagovailoa represents Alabama QB success in the NFL. How much of Young’s success was due to Nick Saban's Crimson Tide scheme and roster?


I think Young is certainly more Tua than he is Mac Jones, but I suspect it might take a season or two for him to really hit his stride and develop chemistry with the Panthers’ WR room. Yet, at +500—the shortest odds for a QB—Bryce Young could certainly win the OROY and bettors could find value in that future.



 

13. Desmond Ridder (+15,000 MVP)

Ridder is a guy I actually like quite a bit. In 4 games, Ridder went 2-2 with a pretty ugly Falcons team, racking up 708 passing yards with a decent comp percentage. Ridder didn’t throw any picks in his four outings and demonstrated a good bit of accuracy. While not flashy by any means, Ridder isn’t a “bad” quarterback from the looks of it. If he can demonstrate some chemistry with the solid WR group they have in Atlanta, he might still be starting in 2024. He certainly played better than some of his peers like Malik Willis or Skylar Thompson, albeit in limited action.

 

14. Baker Mayfield (+7500 Comeback player of the year)

The former Browns QB enters this season coming off a rollercoaster. After playing starter-level football in Cleveland, he joined the Panthers as the Browns pivoted to Deshaun Watson. In Carolina, Mayfield had a career worst 57.8 comp %, as many picks as TDs, and 74.4 passer rating. It's hard to say Cleveland looked shrewd moving on from him to Watson for a number of reasons, but Baker seemed to prove all the naysayers right in his 1-6 run in Charlotte. It felt like his career might have been effectively over, as the Panthers not only pivoted away from Mayfield, but also waived him. Enter a depleted Rams QB depth chart and a shining TNF debut capped by a game winning drive, and Mayfield is suddenly not done. In five games, Mayfield looked like he still belonged in the league, even claiming he was still a starter. Now on a QB-desperate Bucs team, it looks like the 28-year-old quarterback is going to get another shot in the NFC South. Mayfield isn’t that old for a signal caller, so if he can put it together this year, he might carve out a space in the league close to what he had back in Cleveland. Comeback player of the year might be worth a small look, given his storyline, which often sells these kinds of awards.

 

15. Sam Howell (+10,000 MVP)

Howell was really productive during his three-year career at UNC and ranked 4th in SI’s pre-draft QB rankings. Getting Howell in the 5th round felt like great value for Washington, desperate for a franchise QB. However, they played a strange season, refusing to give Howell a nod until week 18 against a playoff bound Dallas team. Coach Ron Rivera opted to start Carson Wentz—perhaps because of his contract—and focus on pseudo win-now football. When Wentz went down they turned to Taylor Heinicke, a QB that was serviceable for the Commanders, but was clearly expendable for Washington. Heinicke failed to secure the starting role over both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Carson Wentz over the last few years, and indictment of how the front office viewed him. So, while we cannot really assess Howell’s skillset, we can infer that he was potentially too raw as a QB last year to get meaningful minutes—even in a lost season. Was Rivera protecting the young QB’s confidence—and health given their miserable O-line—or was there the feeling that he wasn’t the guy? Either way, the situation feels bugled, as he enters year two an unknown and inexperienced QB.

 

16. Jordan Love (+6000 MVP)


Love hasn’t played a lot of meaningful football in his short career, through limited, limited action it is hard to tell how skilled or unskilled he is. However, what we have seen so far from Love in preseasons and in relief spots looks bad. He doesn’t look like he had the decision making, accuracy, athleticism, etc. to be the heir to Aaron Rodgers. I think Green Bay has known this for a while, but denying the inevitable, balked at building their QB room.

Well, here we are now with a quarterback room of Love, 5th round pick Sean Clifford, 29-year-old Danny Etling, and back-to-back USFL Champ Alex McGough. I liked Clifford at Penn St, and he does have experience as a 5th year senior. McGough was electric in the USFL and looks like he should be in the NFL, even if only as a backup. However, my suspicion is this: one of these two finishes the season for the Packers. I don’t think love has the right-now talent to be the answer for 2023, and his ceiling seems incredibly low. At some point, Green Bay will have to decide they are wasting their time.

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