AFC QB Rankings according to Pitts
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Group chats spark back up. Talk radio becomes insufferable after the millionth time local Larry calls in about his issue with the quarterback situation. Joe Shmo demands to throw the rookie into the thick of it. The analytic nerds advise starting the veteran for the desired season.
It is not just the QB battles occurring in training camp. The media flocks to the stars as well. They turn the heat on, hoping to burn them with a misunderstood quote. For this article, we are taking a different approach.
These rankings are based on three things, current situation, importance to the offense, and most important a realistic ceiling to cap their 2021 potential. There are a lot of quarterbacks to rank, so let’s start with the AFC.
16.) Drew Lock
Drew Lock stunk last season. He seemed rattled in the pocket, forcing him to make bad throws eventually leading to interceptions. He threw a potential game-losing interception to the Patriots but somehow won. There’s a reason he led the league in interceptions (15).
His numbers are cringeworthy. His touchdown and interception percentages are nearly identical. He threw for under 3000 yards. He was sacked a whopping 4% of his offensive possessions. Yikes.
Teddy Bridgewater brings hope for a change, but my gut tells me Drew is a Lock to start Week 1. However, it will be interesting to see if he makes it to Week 4.
15.) Ben Roethlisberger
This is the first shock of the list; I warned y’all about ceilings for the 2021 season.
Big Ben returns for one last ride in 2021. He led the Steelers to the playoffs with his 33 touchdowns and 3800 passing yards. Receivers such as Chase Claypool, Diante Johnson, and JuJu Smith-Schuster make amazing catches because of Roethlisberger’s ball placement. His arm has refused to decline. He still hits receivers in stride nearly every throw.
Hopefully, his golden arm can produce one last time. Roethlisberger ranks as one of the league’s best quarterbacks, but he’ll struggle this season ranking him pretty low on my list.
14.) Derek Carr
Derek Carr defines the phrase, “hot and cold.” He ranks as one of the league’s most inconsistent quarterbacks. Even worse, rumors fly around the news cycle about their rocky relationship. Gruden seems to have more faith in Josh Jacobs leading the troops down rather than Colonial Carr.
Carr threw for over 4000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only 9 interceptions in 2020. He even finished with the highest QBR rating of his career. Pass catchers like Darren Waller and Nelson Agholor significantly assisted in Carr’s solid season stat-line. However, it is unlikely to repeat this season.
John Brown joins the pirate ship, but the signing of Kenyan Drake indicates Gruden wants to take the ball out of Carr’s hands. If Jon Gruden doesn’t trust something, why should I?
13.) Tua Tagovailoa
The man who replaced the undefeated Fitzmagician a year prior, finds himself ranked a slot above him.
Tua enters his second season with a lot to prove. The Dolphins front office and coaching staff deserve a medal for the work surrounding their face of the franchise with the necessary tools to succeed, specifically reconnecting Tua with his college teammate, Jaylen Waddle. The acquiring of running back brings speed to the offense in order for Tua to utilize the run with confidence. Most importantly, the Dolphins’ top-rated defense brings security to Tua in order for him to execute properly while keeping the opposing quarterback off the field.
Tua throwing for over 3700+ yards and around 30 touchdowns feels like a solid baseline for both his ceiling and floor. Devante Parker and Jaylen Waddle may be owing Tua by the season’s end as the league’s best WR duo.
12.) Zach Wilson
Our first rookie makes an appearance on my rankings. It’s a coin flip between Wilson and Trevor Lawrence, but it comes down to Wilson having less to throw to in New York. Although, a pre-season ranking of 21 fits the current state of the Jets.
Wilson entertained the college football world in 2020 with his record-breaking season along with snatching the attention of NFL scouts in the process. The Jets selected Wilson with the second overall pick because they believe he has the “it” factor to bring them back to playoff contenders.
If the Jets start hot, Wilson jumps into the top 15 conversation, but outside the top 20 remains the most likely to occur. I want to see Wilson perform before I can place him in the correct ranking tier.
11.) Trevor Lawrence
Touchdown Jesus looks to bring Super Bowl salvation to a snake-bitten franchise. The Jaguars drafted Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in the draft in hopes of the prophecy coming true.
Lawrence has everything a rebuilding franchise needs in a quarterback. He has an extremely high football IQ. He can air the ball downfield over 30 yards with the snap of his wrist. Most importantly, he rarely makes mistakes. The Jags have a history of quarterbacks with issues calling the right play.
His receiving core fits his playstyle along with playing alongside his college teammate, Travis Etienne. Trevor Lawrence may be able to save the sinking ship sooner than fans predict.
10.) Cam Newton
Cam Newton dealt with a lot in 2020, He’s left floating in the free-agent pool until around six weeks before training camp when he signed with the Patriots. It started great until he got Covid and his shoulder nagged him all season long.
Newton needs to perform almost perfectly during training camp. Mac Jones’ work in minicamp has already stirred the pot surrounding their future position battle. He failed to notch double-digit touchdowns and 3000+ passing yards for the first time in his entire career as a starter.
Mac Jones provides a safety net for Patriots fans, but competition for Newton. It might be exactly what Cam needed to get back to being the same MVP who knows what it’s like to play in the Super Bowl.
9.) Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill ranking in the middle of the pack may cause a few puzzled looks, but hear me out. Ryan Tannehill has the best situation in football. Derrick Henry remains the focal point of the offense, taking a lot of the pressure off Tannehill. Once Henry establishes the run, Tannehill’s toughest decision is which WR to hit downfield, AJ Brown or Julio Jones.
Tannehill threw for over 3800 yards for the first time since 2015 along with tossing a career-high in touchdowns (33). Tannehill seems to have found a home in the music city. He makes good decisions in the pocket and knows his limitations on what he can do on the field. He ranks in the middle of the group because Derrick Henry remains the main focus of the offense, which limits his ceiling even with the addition of Julio Jones.
8.) Joe Burrow
The Bengals drafted Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. In ten starts, he threw for 2688 yards, 13 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. He was on pace for an offensive rookie of the year performance until his season ended with a tragic torn ACL and MCL injury.
The Bengals knew how to help him into the new year. They drafted his former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase along with Jackson Carman from Clemson to protect him in the pocket. Burrow wants vengeance this season; He needs retribution.
7.) Carson Wentz
Who cares that it didn’t work out in Philly? They drafted his replacement instead of giving him the help he needed to succeed. Once Frank Reich left for Indianapolis, nothing was the same.
Wentz steps into a new situation in the midwest playing under the coach who he played under during his MVP caliber season. The injury bug was the only thing that stopped him from winning the award that season.
The Colts surrounded Wentz with a fantastic supporting cast. He has a top three dual-threat backfield in Johnathon Taylor and Marlon Mack. Michael Pittman Jr. displayed signs of being considered a WR1 in an offense while TY Hilton returns for one last ride at the hometown discount.
Wentz plays to Reich’s system. He has great instincts in the pocket along with the ability to fire it downfield if he needs to. I believe Wentz can become an MVP in Indy, but the more realistic prediction puts Wentz just shy of cracking the top ten.
6.) Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield has changed the culture in Cleveland. He has revived them from the NFL graveyard in only three seasons, and he played his best season yet in 2020. He threw 486 passes, for the second time in his career, 3563 yards, and 26 passes. Most importantly, he finished with a TD/INT ratio of 13/4; a huge improvement from a season ago.
He gains Odell Beckham Jr. back from injury, adding to the copious amount of options in the offense. The Browns have made a complete 180 turn from only a few seasons prior.
Mayfield broke the rookie touchdown record in 2018, which leads me to believe he will break a few more records come the regular season. He has one of the best situations in football and a coach who believes in him. The Browns have turned a new chapter in their franchise; Mayfield is the hero they needed.
5.) Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson started the 2020 season facing off against some of the league’s most elite teams and players. Patrick Mahomes embarrassed him in Week 1. Lamar Jackson torched him in the next week. The list goes on.
However, Watson finished the season as the league’s top passer throwing for 4823 yards. He found the endzone 33 times and even led the league in yards/pass attempt (8.9). This season might be a bit different than last.
There are talks about Watson being shipped to the Eagles, which would most likely send Jalen Hurts to the Texans. However, even with this being the case, Watson remains a top QB with another top-five passing yards finish if traded to Philly.
4.) Lamar Jackson
I cannot rank former MVP, Lamar Jackson, inside the top five. I refuse to. This is not because of his elite rushing ability, but because of the Ravens’ lack of star power in his WR corp. Who is the actual WR1 in Baltimore? Sammy Watkins?
However, I believe Jackson is a top talent in the NFL. He triggers fans to reminisce about Mike Vick with every juke, jive, and break-out run he makes. In addition, Jackson can throw the ball, as he threw for over 4000 yards his MVP season.
Until there becomes a clear WR1 in the Ravens organization, Jackson remains to be on the outside looking in as his opponents’ games grow.
3.) Justin Herbert
The offensive rookie of the year showed he had elite potential in the NFL a season ago. But then, he only needed 30 seconds to prepare for a moment he dreamed about since pop warner; he made it count.
He threw for 4336 yards and 31 touchdowns. Herbert put up elite numbers while dealing with an invisible offensive line. The Chargers improved that by signing Cory Linsely to, at the time, the highest contract given to a center and drafting Rashawn Slater.
Herbert is going to repeat his performance at an even higher level this year. The numbers don’t lie.
2.) Josh Allen
Josh Allen sniffed the MVP award last season by throwing 572 passes for 4544 yards and 31 touchdowns. He and Stefon Diggs took the league by storm with their air raid, eventually leading them to their first conference championship game since the mid-’90s.
Josh Allen proved he belongs in the league in 2020. He made every throw look effortless and even put his body on the line to gain a crucial first down. However, he does not belong in the top three.
Josh Allen remains a top-five QB until further notice, but the next three players proved they belong in that elite group.
1.) Patrick Mahomes
The most electrifying man in the entire NFL tops my rankings. I could go into depth about why Mahomes is so dominant, but I’m pretty sure the NFL Network runs reruns of the Super Bowl. The throws he makes throughout the game will justify the placement.
In all seriousness, Patrick Mahomes plays the game of football unlike anyone else. He sees the field utterly different than the rest of the men on the field. His utilization of his athleticism and creativity have given NFL films a plethora of footage to use for years to come.
He still has Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and even Demarcus Robinson to throw to. So Mahomes is glued to the number one spot in 2021.
2021 brings a lot of excitement back into the football world. The offseason storylines kept fans engaged, but training camp will be where they are entertained.