Quarterbacks run the NFL, and it’s difficult to find a good team without a good passer leading the way. In that vain, QB power rankings are, in some ways, a ranking of the potential ceiling of each team.
With the end of the regular season in the rearview mirror and the playoffs underway, we can get a final accounting of how quarterbacks played this year and who has improved or declined as the season has progressed.
Our QB power rankings are split into tiers, and we included quarterbacks that have thrown at least 100 passes in 2022 and have a reasonable chance of being part of the quarterback discussion next year.
2022 QB Power Rankings | Tier 1: Elite
1) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
There are few quarterbacks that have Mahomes’ arm strength, accuracy, and escapability, but none have that and his spatial awareness or situational understanding. He finished the season with the passing yardage record, and that’s only a blip on his list of accomplishments.
2) Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
After an elbow injury forced a dip in production near the end of November, Allen has recovered to play some of his best football. While there are questions about red zone production and fit with offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, he’s still one of the best when it counts.
2022 QB Power Rankings | Tier 2: Franchise
3) Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Burrow continues to struggle against repeat opponents but otherwise has been a maven in the passing game that can overcome a variety of looks and pressures. Changes in the Cincinnati offense midway through the season were massive and have given Burrow the opportunity to make every throw. And he’s nailed them.
4) Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
A sore shoulder has limited his performance and availability, but Hurts has still played at a high level. He opens up the passing game with his ability to run the ball, but he’s deadly from the pocket too. His rushing threat adds a unique dimension to the offense that’s made Philly one of the most efficient and productive teams in the NFL.
5) Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Herbert will have to evaluate his own role in the second-half collapse that ended the Chargers’ season, but he’s historically been a clutch, high-leverage quarterback that’s been able to perform in all situations. He has an incredible arm, good accuracy, and a great sense for the field and situation. A new offensive coordinator can hopefully unlock everything he can be.
6) Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
A series of injuries have marred what could have been a historic season for Tagovailoa, but he’s improved on his biggest weaknesses and even turned some into strengths. He still doesn’t have the ball velocity to be consistent against tight windows, but he’s improved his deep ball and is remarkably accurate. Add in slightly better decision-making, and he’ll be a star.
7) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
In the Wild Card round of the playoffs, Prescott had one of the best performances in his career, and that’s a career full of high-level performances. He finished the regular season playing inconsistently, but the offense has been scoring points, and he’s a big part of it. If he can find what’s made him great in the past, he can return to borderline elite status.
8) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
There was an immediate change with a new coaching staff in Lawrence’s production, but this level of play was always there. After a historic comeback, it’s easier to see what film aficionados had said about Lawrence this past offseason — he has an elite understanding of the game, a great arm, good athleticism, and a developing sense for how the play is unfolding. It’s been fun to watch.
9) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
The “Franchise” tier could be completely upended in order, and it would still make sense. Jackson ranking ninth feels incorrect, but it’s hard to separate these quarterbacks. He still has the most efficient season since 2000, and that 2019 version is always alive on the field when Jackson steps out there. His passing and rushing are a deadly combination, and he just needs more consistency to be permanently considered elite.
2022 QB Power Rankings | Tier 3: Above Average
10) Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
After an incredibly hot start to the season, Smith’s limitations have come to the fore. But there hasn’t been a collapse — he’s a good quarterback that has added explosiveness and deep ball playmaking to his game. With some consistency, especially underneath, he could truly revive his career next year.
11) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
The second half of the season for Aaron Rodgers was good — sometimes great — and he might play his way back into elite status. For now, his inconsistent 2022 raises real questions about what’s left in his career and what he needs around him, or even if he stays with the Packers and Matt Lafleur. If he needs this much chemistry to play well with his receivers, it speaks to a particularity that isn’t true for some other greats.
12) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Cousins has had great moments all season and has played against type. But that cuts in both directions, as his historical strengths were absent even as he worked to eliminate his career weaknesses. His efficiency went down, as did the offense’s scoring. But the Vikings performed big in big moments. Until they didn’t.
2022 QB Power Rankings | Tier 4: Useful, But Limited
13) Daniel Jones, New York Giants
The gap between Tier 3 and Tier 4 is large, and it feels weird to rank someone like Jones — who has improved tremendously — right below players like Rodgers and Smith. But he’s played well. The first half of the season was better than the second half, but even then, he ranked tenth in quarterback efficiency, in part because of his running game. He showed plenty of capability in the playoffs to prove he deserves consideration to move up a tier.
14) Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brady has had a disastrous season by his standards but did find a way into the playoffs, even if it came by way of a losing record. He was shown up in the Wild Card round and played about as poorly as he did for most of the season despite having the receiving group he wanted to have. It might be time to hang it up.
15) Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
There are things Garoppolo can’t do. But the things he can do, like getting the ball out quickly, accurately, and to the right target, are very valuable. There’s a reason that San Francisco wanted to move on from him, but there’s just as much of a reason they wouldn’t trade him without a king’s ransom. He’s a good player that needs some help throwing deep and won’t gash in the run game.
16) Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
If Murray had more spatial awareness and the ability to attack every part of the field, he’d be a franchise-quality quarterback. But for now, his limitations make for concerning — if exciting — play. With good arm strength and dynamic athleticism, there’s plenty of potential to unpack.
17) Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
We don’t know if Carr is going to stay in Las Vegas, but we do know there will be a market for him. He’s a good quarterback with a strong arm and a quick processor. He needs more aggressiveness and consistency, but he has the fundamentals. At his best, he’s a Pro Bowl-quality thrower.
18) Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
After a resurgent middle of the season, Fields came back down to Earth in the final games of the year. But the potential he showed is worth investing in, and he can cause some damage. He’ll need to mature his passing game, but with his ability to run, there will always be a floor.
19) Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
It took a while for us to see the Ryan Tannehill that was among the league leaders in quarterback efficiency not too long ago. It’s clear that his dependency on play-action passing has capped his level of play, but he can do good things with his athleticism and accuracy that other league-average starters can’t.
20) Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers
Purdy has had some incredible moments, and his arm looks stronger now than it was in college. But he still has limitations and doesn’t have the deep ball or outside throw capability of Garoppolo. The offense is catered to his strengths, though, and it allows the extraordinary after-catch capability of his receivers to make big plays. And sometimes, Purdy creates his own highlights too.
21) Jacoby Brissett, Cleveland Browns
If this feels high for Brissett, it’s worth comparing the Browns’ level of play with him on the field and him on the sideline. He’s developed into a good player that can win some comeback scenarios and read the field well. He probably won’t have a chance to start full-time, but some teams should consider it.
22) Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Like Purdy and Garoppolo, Goff takes advantage of an excellent supporting cast to help produce on offense. He doesn’t process as quickly as the other two, and his accuracy is not quite up to their standards, but he does have a good arm and an understanding of what he needs to do. If he could create off-book as well as Purdy or some of the other quarterbacks on this list, he’d be ranked much higher.
23) Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
In the second half of the season, Pickett ranked tenth in EPA per play among quarterbacks with 150 plays. Much of that stems from the final games of the season, and it’s hard to tell how much that will translate to next year. But he’s seemingly grown more accurate. If he can get his in-structure play to match his out-of-structure play, he’ll be one to watch for years to come.
24) Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers
It’s tough to tell if the Darnold we saw at the end of this season is the one we’ll get all year next time around, but it’s notable that he — like Pickett — dominated the second-half efficiency rankings.
He ranked seventh overall, and the only reason he doesn’t rank higher on this list is that we have a long history of troubling play that a few games won’t simply erase. But for now, it looks like he’s been able to marry his incredible physical talent with poise and concentration.
25) Mac Jones, New England Patriots
Limited by his offensive coordinating and receiving corps, we’ve begun to see what happens when a quarterback that needs support doesn’t get it. Even so, we’ve seen Jones make quick, correct decisions and spray the football with accuracy to his receivers. He’s not always as aggressive as he needs to be, but he knows generally what works for him. The problem is that the team needs to know that too.
26) Andy Dalton, New Orleans Saints
Dalton has played at a starter level this year, and his experience shines through. He’s a smart quarterback that does a great job of identifying his matchups and doing what needs to be done. But he doesn’t play out of structure all that well, and the rest of his strengths don’t allow him to shine while he only does what the offense is designed to do.
2022 QB Power Rankings | Tier 5: Concerning
27) Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles
It was a concerning season for Stafford, and it looks like his arm strength and accuracy have dipped. His ability to read defenses — one that was always plagued with errors here or there — and creativity are still intact, but he’s attempting to play a style of football that seemingly no longer fits him. But he faced a weird set of circumstances in L.A. in 2022.
28) Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
There are other quarterbacks ranked lower than Wilson that played better than him this year, but in the right circumstances, he might still be able to play well. We saw that to finish out the season under interim coach Jerry Rosburg. If he’s in the right situation, we could see him play at a high level again. Until then, we should be concerned that he can only really shine in one style of offense.
29) Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
It’s difficult to tell how much of Watson’s low level of play this year is just rust or if it’s something that is now a part of who he is as a quarterback. He’s been indecisive, and inaccurate, and his trademark creativity was largely absent. Next year, we might see a different quarterback, but for right now, the Browns have a potential stud on the bench in Jacoby Brissett and a dud starting over him.
2022 QB Power Rankings | Tier 6: Liabilities
30) Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons
Ridder is a whip-smart quarterback that follows his reads and plays a lot like the last franchise quarterback to play in Atlanta, for better or worse. He’s rigid and controlled, but it limits his ability to innovate. And he doesn’t have quite the pre-snap reading talent or accuracy of Matt Ryan. Until he gets there, that style of play won’t win games.
31) Taylor Heinicke, Washington Commanders
One of the most confident and creative quarterbacks in the NFL, Heinicke would be in a drastically different circumstance if he had the physical tools and accuracy to back up his confident style of play. But the mistakes can pile up and hold the offense back.
32) Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons
The offensive production Atlanta was able to eke out early in the year was in spite of Mariota rather than because of him, but he still showed flashes of good play. He needs to develop a quicker trigger and showcase more accuracy to be a consistent starter if he ever gets another shot.
33) Baker Mayfield, Los Angeles Rams
There were some exciting flashes of play in Los Angeles for Mayfield, but ultimately, he may never recapture what made his 2020 season special. He’s not a good fit to play inside structure, and he doesn’t have the tools to make good on his out-of-structure play.
34) Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts
Ryan does an excellent job figuring out what he needs to do with the ball. The problem is that he doesn’t always have the arm strength to get that done. Not only that, but pressure has been getting to him more and more as time goes on.
35) Mike White, New York Jets
White is not without some big mistakes in his play, but he’s a good deal more accurate and consistent than Zach Wilson. That’s a low bar, and those mistakes are costly. His level of play warrants an upgrade.
36) Davis Mills, Houston Texans
The Texans got functional play out of Mills, and he wasn’t the sole reason they have the first pick in the draft. But he is a reason. He’s a good backup, but Houston needed more than that this year.
37) Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders
Wentz has all the tools to be an elite quarterback, but he doesn’t find his reads quickly enough and is prone to making mistakes. He has issues getting on the same page as his receivers and gets fooled by opposing defenses.
38) Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans
Of everybody in the bottom tier of quarterbacks, Willis has the most potential. He has a great arm and is good at finding spaces and creating offense. But he needs to be more consistent in seeing the field in structure, throwing accurate passes, and making good decisions. Those elements of play matter a great deal more than arm strength.
39) Zach Wilson, New York Jets
Wilson is mostly arm talent. He doesn’t combine that with good accuracy, decision-making, creativity, or a quick processor. His penchant for out-of-structure plays is something to work with, but until he sees the field better, there’s not much to gain from it.