The NFL starting quarterback landscape has never been better going into the 2023 season. That also means when ranking the league’s QBs, the battle for each spot in the hierarchy has become more competitive.
With Tom Brady retiring for real, there’s only one active QB who can boast leading his team to multiple Super Bowl victories. Patrick Mahomes, fresh off winning his second regular-season MVP, has once again separated from the field as the NFL’s best.
After the Chiefs’ now all-time great, there is plenty in flux with more young guns taking the league by storm with their arm, athleticism, accuracy and other talents. Looking forward and projecting how all the QBs will perform overall in 2023, here are Sporting News’ rankings from best (No.1) to worst (No. 32) at the NFL’s most important position:
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NFL quarterback rankings 2023
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Mahomes evolved from this first MVP season in 2018 to his second last season. He still puts up the prolific numbers with his big arm, but he’s more calculated in his approach as opponents have tried to limited the deep-ball damage minus Tyreek Hill. He remains hyper efficient, but he has become even more creative and improvisational with unparalleled confidence in his immense skill set. Now the question is how much closer Mahomes can get to Brady in the GOAT conversation.
2022 stats: 5,250 passing yards, 41 passing TDs, 12 INTs, 8.1 yards per attempt, 105.2 passer rating, 358 rushing yards, 4 srushing TDs
2. Joe Burrow, Bengals
Burrow was sharp again in his one season removed from displacing Mahomes as the AFC champion QB. He is in complete command with his accuracy and efficiency. Like Mahomes, he has the fearless passing gene. The key for him is staying healthy and the Bengals were fortunate his training camp injury was only a calf sprain. He can be even more dangerous downfield with his sacks cut down.
2022 stats: 4,475 passing yards, 35 passing TDs, 12 INTs, 7.4 yards per attempt, 100.8 passer rating, 257 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs
3. Jalen Hurts, Eagles
Hurts arrived as the NFL’s premier dual threat QB last season in challenging Mahomes for MVP and pushing him into an epic Super Bowl duel. His leadership and work ethic are strong to support his reliable running and deep passing. Hurts can now be considered the NFC’s elite standard.
2022 stats: 3,701 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 8.0 yards per attempt, 101.5 passer rating, 760 rushing yards, 13 rushing TDs
4. Josh Allen, Bills
Allen had lofty expectations to surpass Mahomes but the 2022 season didn’t play out as well for him as he surely fell behind Burrow in the AFC pecking order. The continued high turnovers and limited yards per attempt were enough to drop Allen to this still-elite status. His running boosted him big-time again, but if that’s scaled back he must be more proficient and efficient passing to move back up.
2022 stats: 4,283 passing yards, 35 passing TDs, 14 INTs, 7.6 yards per attempt, 96.6 passer rating, 762 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs
5. Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Jackson was relegated to 12 games again because of more injury issues in 2022 and also was in a lame-duck offensive scheme with Greg Roman. He played better than the numbers indicated beyond his still dynamic and elusive running. He should be revved up better as a passer under Todd Monken.
2022 stats: 2,242 passing yards, 17 passing TDs, 7 INTs, 6.9 yards per attempt, 91.1 passer rating, 764 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs
6. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
Lawrence’s second year was more like his rookie season with Doug Pederson and Press Taylor helping him live up to his can’t-miss arm and athletic profile. He got better as the season progressed and got on the board with his first playoff victory in epic comeback fashion. He is a sneaky MVP challenger to Mahomes, now armed with Calvin Ridley in a diverse, dangerous passing game.
2022 stats: 4,113 passing yards, 25 passing TDs, 8 INTs, 7.0 yards per attempt, 95.2 passer rating, 291 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs
7. Justin Herbert, Chargers
Herbert took some lumps in 2022 with considerable injuries around him to the offensive line and key receivers. An uninspired attack promoted a coordinator change from Joe Lombardi to Kellen Moore. None of that stopped Herbert from landing his lucrative long-term deal. Look for him to go back being sharper as a downfield passer, matching more prolific totals with greater efficiency overall.
2022 stats: 4,739 passing yards, 25 passing TDs, 10 INTs, 6.8 yards per attempt, 93.2 passer rating, 147 rushing yards
8. Aaron Rodgers, Jets
There’s a bit of an emeritus status at work here with the four-time MVP and surefire Hall of Famer. Based on his atypical shaky play in his final season in Green Bay, the 39-year-old shouldn’t be higher than the rising under-30 crowd above, but Rodgers’ career accomplishments keep him from falling any lower. Rodgers once again has a chip on his shoulder to prove he’s not close to done, much like when Brady transitioned from the Patriots to Buccaneers.
2022 stats (with Packers): 3,695 passing yards, 26 passing TDs, 12 INTs, 6.8 yards per attempt, 91.1 passer rating, 94 rushing yards, rushing TD
9. Kirk Cousins, Vikings
His inclusion in Netflix’s “Quarterback” documentary series as a sidebar to Mahomes got him a little more respect for being a top-flight big-armed passer on top of the league-leading eight game-winning comebacks he led last season. Cousins has been steady (and sometimes spectacular) in Minnesota and will iron out some bumps in Year 2 under Kevin O’Connell.
2022 stats: 4,547 passing yards, 25 TDs, 14 INTs, 7.1 yards per attempt, 92.5 passer rating, 97 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs
10. Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Prescott missed five more games in 2023 and seemed to hit a wall in Moore’s offense as the Cowboys went back to a run-heavy approach in which he played a smaller part. The efficiency also went down hard with the volume as he led the league in interceptions thrown. Prescott is a strong rebound candidate with now Mike McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer scheming to get him back into quicker rhythmic passing.
2022 stats: 2,860 passing yards, 23 TDs, 15 INTs, 7.3 yards per attempt, 91.1 passer rating, 182 rushing yards, rushing TD
11. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
Tagovailoa turned out to be a great facilitator in Mike McDaniel’s offense, with the speed and quickness of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle flying around all over the field. The result was a league-best yards per attempt with a ton of big plays. Tagovailoa delivered a high floor hinting at a top-six ceiling; he just needs to shake past durability issues going back to Alabama.
2022 stats: 3,548 passing yards, 25 TDs, 8 INTs, 8.9 yards per attempt, 105.5 passer rating, 70 rushing yards
12. Geno Smith, Seahawks
Smith’s incredible delayed comeback story was good enough to land him in the top dozen. The Shane Waldron offense is not only intact but upgrading into more dynamic 11 personnel pop with rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba joining DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett at wideout. Smith also used his mobility well at times in a system tailored to his strengths.
2022 stats: 4,282 passing yards, 30 TDs, 11 INTs, 7.5 yards per attempt, 100.9 passer rating, 366 rushing yards, rushing TD
13. Justin Fields, Bears
Fields was let loose as a runner in his first full season starting and the results were outstanding with his combination of size and speed. The Bears played to his natural strengths while working to develop him as a passer. He’s bound to take a big leap in that capacity with another year in the offense, now armed with a clear go-to wide receiver, D.J. Moore.
2022 stats: 2,242 passing yards, 17 TDs, 11 INTs, 7.1 yards per attempt, 85.2 passer rating, 1,143 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs
14. Jordan Love, Packers
Can Love follow Rodgers with great play in the way Rodgers followed Brett Favre? Green Bay fans are hoping history will repeat itself. The Packers got Love under Matt LaFleur knowing he could be a promising downfield passer with the right dash of running. The skilled young weapons and still rather reliable line are boosts, as well as a deep traditional rushing attack. No one should be surprised if Love makes a quick splash into the NFC QB scene.
15. Russell Wilson, Broncos
Wilson ended up in an offensive nightmare after being just a little restless in Seattle. Denver made the necessary quick change to get the most out of him at 34 with Sean Payton and Lombardi. There is real hope he won’t be a Broncos bust after his strong finish to last season. He should get better blocking, rushing and receiving support to build on that in a new system.
2022 stats: 3,524 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, 11 INTs, 7.3 yards per attempt, 84.4. passer rating, 277 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs
16. Daniel Jones, Giants
Jones adapted to yet another new offense under Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka last season, which combined aspects of the Bills and Chiefs systems. He was treated as a youngster given his indoctrination and limited receiving corps. He was reined in clean up his passing while he showed impactful his running could be for a playoff-caliber team. That’s a fine jumping-off point for this season.
2022 stats: 3,205 passing yards, 15 passing TDs, 5 INTs, 6.8 yards per attempt, 92.5 passer rating, 708 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs
17. Jared Goff, Lions
As one of the league’s classic highly dependent passers, Goff delivers when everything is set up well around him. The Lions’ offensive line is top-notch and the running game got an upgrade with versatile rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. Amon-Ra St. Brown has plenty of more receiving support, too. Goff’s solid status in his rebound from the Rams’ end put him smack dab in the middle of the pack.
2022 stats: 4,438 passing yards, 29 passing TDs, 7 INTs, 7.6 yards per attempt, 99.3 passer rating, 73 rushing yards
18. Deshaun Watson, Browns
Watson didn’t look good after returning from his 11 game suspension after he got immersed in Kevin Stefanski offense while managing his first year in Cleveland and first real action since 2020 in Houston. He has to shake off rust and be more determined as he was as a consistent all-around star in Houston. This is a critical year at 27 for Watson to prove he can put it all together again as as an elite deep passer and runner.
2022 stats: 1,102 passing yards, 7 passing TDs, 5 INTs, 6.5 yards per attempt, 79.1 passer rating, 175 rushing yards, rushing TD
19. Matthew Stafford, Rams
Stafford went from tying for the league lead in interceptions while making a few clutch passes to get his first Super Bowl ring to hurting that momentum with poor, inefficient play while being limited by wear and a brutal elbow injury. He’s coming back for another shot, but more tough results might make decide his Age-35 season will be his last in the NFL.
2022 stats: 2,087 passing yards, 10 passing TDs, 8 INTs, 6.9 yards per attempt, 87.4 passer rating, 9 rushing yards, rushing TD
20. Brock Purdy, 49ers
Purdy was difficult to rank among the veterans and youngsters because he played more with the floor of the former group and may not have the ceiling of the higher-pedigreed latter. But he is the ideal passing fit for Kyle Shanahan’s run-superior and after-catch system. That’s why he held off Trey Lance for the starting job and forced the trade to Dallas.
2022 stats: 1,374 passing yards, 13 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 8.1 yards per attempt, 107.3 passer rating, 13 rushing yards, TD
21. Jimmy Garoppolo, Raiders
It makes sense to put Garoppolo right after his injury-based replacement in San Francisco from last season. Garoppolo goes from years with Shanahan to a reunion with former Patriots’ coordinator Josh McDaniels. He should be an above-average bridge QB at a reasonable price, taking advantage of some good weapons, but durability puts that at risk as he turns 32 in November.
2022 stats (with 49ers): 2,437 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 7.9 yards per attempt, 103.0 passer rating, 33 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs
22. Ryan Tannehill, Titans
Tannehill has enjoyed his career-best all-around play while in Tennessee but there’s a good sense of a fade at 35, which prompted the team to use a high second-round pick on Will Levis. Tannehill has done what was needed to win in a run-heavy offense, but his physical limitations are coming more into play.
2022 stats: 2,536 passing yards, 13 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 7.8 yards per attempt, 94.6 passer rating, 98 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs
23. Kyler Murray, Cardinals
Murray has yet to provide return on the Cardinals’ reinvestment. Coming off a major knee injury, he will need to try to do it without Kliff Kingsbury, the offensive-minded coaching hire made tied to his drafting first overall in 2019. Murray has been focusing on running less and getting it done more as a passer, taking away one of his biggest assets. Once he’s back to full healthy speed, there’s some sudden make-or-break feeling about this situation.
2022 stats: 2,368 passing yards, 14 passing TDs, 7 INTs, 6.1 yards per attempt, 87.2 passer rating, 418 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs
24. Derek Carr, Saints
Carr was disappointing under McDaniels, especially after being reunited with dominant former college go-to guy Davante Adams. He was inefficient with his downfield work being curbed and also was tentative about a lot of passes. Carr trades in the uncertainty for another new scheme while playing for his one-time Raiders coach, Dennis Allen. Carr needs to prove to be somewhat of an upgrade of their QB mess from last season or New Orleans will go forward with drafting a true franchise passer to replace Drew Brees.
2022 stats: 3,522 passing yards, 24 passing TDs, 14 INTs, 7.0 yards per attempt, 86.3 passer rating
25. Bryce Young, Panthers
Young didn’t need to wait long to be the immediate rookie starter as the No. 1 overall pick, much like fellow Heisman winner Cam Newton 12 years ago. His leadership and intangibles are beyond his 22 years and the eye-popping numbers from Alabama mirror his skill set at 5-10, 204 pounds. He has the potential to give Carolina the advantage in a weak NFC South under Frank Reich, especially at QB.
2022 stats (with Alabama): 3,328 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, 5 iNTs, 8.8 yards per attempt, 114.9 passer rating (NFL-wise), 185 rushing yards, 4 TDs
26. Mac Jones, Patriots
The 2019 draft class has had mixed results with Lawrence and Fields ascending while Zach Wilson is done and Lance is in limbo. Jones is some kind of purgatory in the middle with nothing special standing out coming off a sophomore slump. He needs to show something positive like that, stat, with Allen, Rodgers and Tagovailoa leading the other teams in the division.
2022 stats: 2,997 passing yards, 14 TDs, 11 INTs, 6.8 yards per attempt, 84.8 passer rating, 102 rushing yards, rushing TD
27. Kenny Pickett, Steelers
Pickett had a rough go after the Steelers didn’t commit to him right away as a rookie and had to transition after a short Mitchell Trubisky bridge stint. They limited him by taking a defensive-minded run-focused approach. With an improved line and dynamic weapons led by Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, Matt Canada and his staff need to go full charge into Pickett’s arm and athleticism to see if they truly have their next long-term leader with moxie.
2022 stats: 2,404 passing yards, 7 passing TDs, 9 INTs, 6.2 yards per attempt, 76.7 passer rating, 237 rushing yards, 3 rushing yards
28. Sam Howell, Commanders
Howell was kept under wraps behind Taylor Heinicke for most of his rookie season but flashed with some big throws downfield in limited late work. Starting with wide receivers Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, he has considerable weapons in former Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s system.
29. Anthony Richardson, Colts
Richardson made a strong case to start right away for Shane Steichen, who did wonders with Jalen Hurts as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. Expect a similar trajectory, with Richardson’s running being first deployed as a major asset while he develops his raw big-armed passing.
2022 stats (at Florida): 2,549 passing yards, 17 passing TDs, 9 INTs, 7.8 yards per attempt, 82.3 passer rating (NFL-wise), 654 rushing yards, 9 rushing TDs
30. C.J. Stroud, Texans
Stroud will try to benefit from a Shanahan-like system under Bobby Slowik and DeMeco Ryans. He can execute well in spreading the ball quickly out of the pocket to rebooted diverse weapons, but there will be pro polish issues early.
2022 stats (at Ohio State): 3,688 passing yards, 41 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 9.5 yards per attempt, 125.6 passer rating (NFL-wise), 108 rushing yards
31. Desmond Ridder, Falcons
Ridder gets a shot similar to Howell with Heinicke now behind him. Ridder will lean heavily on a run-first and run-second offense now powered by rookie first-rounder Bijan Robinson and a fine line. He can have a Jones-like rushing-fueled ’22, only with better primary weapons in Kyle Pitts and Drake London. Ridder’s experience and young leadership give him a shot at helping the Falcons win the division.
32. Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers
Mayfield gets another post-Browns starting opportunity in the NFC South, hoping to channel some of his short Rams spike vs. his Panthers flameout. With Kyle Trask and John Wolford as the other options, Mayfield has a chance to have a Smith-like renaissance. There’s just not much recent physical play evidence to support that hypothesis.
2022 stats (with Panthers and Rams): 2,163 passing yards, 10 passing TDs, 8 INTs, 6.5 yards per attempt, 79.0 passer rating, 89 rushing yards, rushing TD