2021 NFL Quarterback Rankings | Who Are The Best NFL QBs This Season

Last Updated: Nov 9, 2021

The NFL is better and deeper at quarterback than ever before. There are at least a dozen clear-cut, franchise quarterbacks in the NFL, and most teams are at least competent at the most important position in sports.

But who is the best quarterback in the NFL right now? Here is our list of the top 40 quarterbacks currently in the NFL.

Note: The 32 starting quarterbacks in the league are ranked first, followed by the eight best backup quarterbacks.

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2021 NFL Quarterback Rankings

40. Jacoby Brissett, Miami Dolphins

Brissett saw some action for Miami this season and kept them competitive. He is no longer a guy that should be considered a long-term starter, but he does perform well in spot duty.

39. Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

Smith has started the last three games for the Seahawks with Russell Wilson out and has been up and down. While he is no longer a viable starting quarterback, he is one of the better backups in the NFL.

38. Gardner Minshew, Philadelphia Eagles

Minshew was traded to the Eagles before the start of the season but only played during Philly’s 44-6 rout of the Detroit Lions during Week 8. However, his time is likely coming if Jalen Hurts is unable to improve as a passer.

37. Marcus Mariota, Las Vegas Raiders

Mariota returned from the injured reserve list a few weeks ago and resumed his role as the Raiders’ wildcat quarterback. He is in the final year of his deal with Las Vegas and figures to get another chance at a starting job in 2022.

36. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington Football Team

Fitzpatrick was injured in the first game of the season for Washington and has not returned to the field. It doesn’t seem like he will get his job back in Washington with Taylor Heinicke playing decently well, but the veteran gunslinger has shown enough as a high-end backup to be mentioned on this list.

35. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Lance has only seen limited snaps for the 49ers this season and was not all that impressive. His athleticism allows him to make plays, but he is still a few years away from being an impact player in the NFL.

34. Andy Dalton, Chicago Bears

Dalton started the season under center for the Bears, but he was injured early on and lost his job to Justin Fields. At this stage of his career, he shouldn’t be viewed as a long-term starter.

That said, he is still one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL right now, as he proved last year with the Dallas Cowboys while filling in for Dak Prescott.

33. Tyrod Taylor, Houston Texans

Make no mistake about it, Taylor is a better quarterback than Davis Mills, but a hamstring injury has prevented him from playing enough to qualify as a “starter" for the 2021 season.

Taylor should return from the IR soon, however, which will give a big boost to the Texans’ offense.

32. Davis Mills, Houston Texans

Admittedly, there are quarterbacks on other teams that are better than Mills, but he is our lowest-ranked starter. Taylor should get his starting job back as soon as he returns from the IR, but it’s been Mills holding down the fort for much of the season.

31. Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Wilson’s rookie season has been a disappointment thus far. He’s turned the ball over far too frequently and needs to be more consistent taking underneath throws instead of playing “hero" ball.

The Jets are still a long way away from being a contender in the AFC, but they desperately need Wilson to make some improvements whenever he returns to the field from his knee injury.

30. Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team

Heinicke has looked good at times for Washington, but those spurts haven’t been long enough. He is far too reckless with the ball and the offense has struggled to find consistency as a result.

29. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

It’s hard to imagine Goff being in a worse situation. His offensive line is falling apart around him and he doesn’t have a single receiver he can trust.

Is he elevating the offense around him? No. But there isn’t a lot of help around him, either. Still, it’s tough to rank him anywhere higher than No. 29.

28. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

If you were to just look at the stats, Lawrence has been a major disappointment. However, he’s been far better than the numbers suggest. His receivers haven’t helped, dropping multiple passes that would have gone for big gains over the last month.

Lawrence comes in at No. 28 on our list for now, but there is no reason to panic about his future as a franchise quarterback.

Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB

Former No. 1 NFL Draft pick Trevor Lawrence has had his share of ups and downs as a rookie QB for the Jacksonville Jaguars this year. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

27. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Matt Nagy has really let Fields down so far this season. He hasn’t adjusted the offense to Fields at all and Chicago’s offensive line is among the worst in the NFL. Still, Fields is making enough plays with both his arm and legs to be optimistic about his future.

26. Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers

After a hot start to the season, Darnold and the Panthers have both regressed. He does not look comfortable in the pocket and is starting to get careless with the football, as he was with the Jets.

After giving up a second-round pick and change for the former No. 3 overall pick, Carolina has to be concerned that they will be back in the quarterback market again next year.

25. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

It’s tough to truly rank Tagovailoa because of his circumstances this season. He’s been dealing with multiple injuries as well as trade rumors that the Dolphins are interested in acquiring Deshaun Watson.

Tagovailoa has only started 14 games in the NFL and his career 86.7 passer rating is subpar. He might need a change of scenery before his career can truly take off.

24. Daniel Jones, New York Giants

Despite numerous injuries to New York’s offensive line and wide receivers, Jones has still improved in Year 3, specifically in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and fewer sacks.

Still, it’s fair to wonder if he will ever be “good enough" for the Giants to get back to contention in the NFC. Despite the improvements, he is still a below-average quarterback on a bad team right now.

23. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Hurts is incredibly dynamic as a runner, but his accuracy just hasn’t improved enough since last season. The 23-year-old is completing 61.3 percent of his passes, but is only averaging 7.1 yards per attempt. He’s just not consistent throwing the ball down the field, which often causes Philadelphia’s offense to stall early in games.

The Eagles shouldn’t give up on Hurts just yet, but it’s fair to wonder whether he will ever be anything more than just an average starter.

22. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

We are getting close to the end of the Roethlisberger era in Pittsburgh. His mobility is gone and he doesn’t have the arm talent that he did earlier in his career. He’s averaging just 6.6 yards per attempt this season, which ranks 26th among qualifying passers.

While his physical skills have diminished, Roethlisberger is still smart enough to make the right reads and line calls, which gives the Steelers a chance on offense. His days of being a top-15 quarterback in the NFL are long gone, however.

21. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Garoppolo has posted a passer rating above 100 three times this season, and the 49ers have won all three contests. In his other three games, however, his passer rating was below 88 and San Francisco lost each time.

He can be a good quarterback at times, but it’s just a matter of time before Lance supplants him as the starter.

20. Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos

Bridgewater has been solid for the Broncos this year despite dealing with some nagging injuries, leading them to a respectable 4-4 record. He’s a fine starter, but someone the Broncos will need to eventually upgrade from if they want to actually contend in the AFC.

19. Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Of all the rookie quarterbacks, Jones has had the most success this season. While his numbers haven’t been fantastic, he’s made enough big plays to keep the Patriots competitive in nearly every game this season. Jones is playing with confidence and that’s enough for him to crack the top 20 of our list.

18. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan has had stretches where he’s looked really good this season. From Weeks 3-5, he averaged a passer rating of 110.8 and threw eight touchdowns with no interceptions. But there are too many games where he doesn’t do enough to keep Atlanta competitive, and things are only going to get harder for him without Calvin Ridley.

17. Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts

Depending on when you watch Wentz, you can see two totally different quarterbacks. Wentz has played pretty well for the most part, but he’s also made some crippling mistakes that have cost the Colts several wins.

Wentz is getting closer to being the MVP-level quarterback that he was in 2017, but he has to play smarter towards the end of games.

16. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

Winston was enjoying a nice comeback season with the Saints before tearing his ACL in Week 8. Drew Brees‘ replacement was averaging over 7.3 yards per attempt and had thrown 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He was finally being careful with the football but was hurt on an illegal tackle.

Hopefully, Winston can heal up and get another crack at the starting gig in New Orleans next season.

15. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

It’s tough to blame too much of Cleveland’s disappointing season on Mayfield, who is dealing with two significant shoulder injuries that are clearly affecting his play. A healthy Mayfield is still a good quarterback, but not an elite one. And therein lies the problem for the Browns and his future.

Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns QB

Injuries have prevented Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns from playing up to their full potential this season. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

14. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Once again, Cousins is having a strong statistical season in Minnesota. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions while completing 69 percent of his passes.

Unfortunately, the Vikings’ offense just isn’t working and Cousins isn’t being aggressive enough throwing the ball down the field. Cousins is a fine quarterback, but it appears we are heading towards a crossroad with him and Minnesota.

13. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Now is the real test for Tannehill, who will be charged with leading the Titans and finding ways to win games without Derrick Henry. Tannehill has been a bit too reckless with the ball this year (seven interceptions) and his yards per attempt are down for the third straight season, but we’re about to learn a lot about him in the next few months.

12. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

No quarterback in the NFL started out hotter this season than Herbert. In the first five games of the season, he was on fire and the Chargers were rolling. But over LA’s last two games, he and his teammates have struggled as the protection has broken down around him.

Herbert is still one of the most talented passers in the NFL, but he needs to become more consistent on a week-to-week basis.

11. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Allen hasn’t been quite as good this season as he was last year, as his yards per attempt have dropped from 7.9 to 7.3. Buffalo’s offense is still one of the best in football, however, so there isn’t any reason to panic.

10. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson has missed the last three games for the Seahawks, but he was a monster when he played earlier this season. He led the NFL in passer rating and was averaging an incredible 9.6 yards per attempt. Once he returns to the field, Seattle will be contenders again in the NFC.

9. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

This has easily been the best season of Derek Carr’s career, as he’s been more aggressive than ever and is throwing the ball down the field at a much higher rate. He has the Raiders playing really well and atop the AFC West despite the off-field controversy surrounding the team this season.

8. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

If you were just to look at the stats and the record for the Chiefs, you can make a case that Mahomes should be lower on this list. However, Mahomes is arguably the most talented quarterback in the NFL and deserves a spot inside the top 10 based on his MVP potential alone.

7. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

After a devastating knee injury in 2020, Burrow has bounced back in a big way for the Bengals. He’s completing nearly 68 percent of his passes and has already thrown 20 touchdowns, thanks in part to his terrific chemistry with Ja’Marr Chase.

He has complete control of the offense and is the biggest reason why Cincinnati is a real contender in the AFC.

6. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Jackson was the NFL MVP in 2019 and somehow, his stats are even better this season. He’s become a lethal passer and the Ravens continue to put more on his plate. With three running backs and multiple offensive linemen lost for the season, Jackson has kept the Ravens afloat in the AFC North.

Jackson is on pace for over 4,700 passing yards and 1,100 rushing yards this year. No quarterback in NFL history has ever eclipsed 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season, which means he’ll have a strong MVP case again this season, especially if Baltimore wins the AFC.

5. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Prescott is laying the best football of his career and his Cowboys are 6-1 this season. He has the third-best passer rating in the NFL and has complete command of the offense in Dallas.

In his last three seasons with the Cowboys, Prescott is averaging an absurd 8.3 yards per attempt. No quarterback in the NFL is doing a better job pre-snap than Prescott and he is the biggest reason why Dallas is averaging over 32 points per game this season.

4. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

In his third year in the NFL, Murray has been lights-out for Arizona. He has the fourth-best passer rating in the NFL (110.4) and is averaging 8.9 yards per attempt.

He’s also one of the most dangerous runners in the open field and is finally hitting his stride with the Cardinals. It feels like a crime to put him at No. 4 on this list considering how well he has played.

3. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

You can make a strong case that Stafford has been the MVP of the league so far. He has transformed the Rams’ offense and is putting up stellar stats. Los Angeles has the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL and Stafford has the second-best passer rating behind only Wilson.

Stafford and the Rams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers is putting together another outstanding season as the Packers sit at 7-1 and atop the NFC. The reigning MVP beat the previously undefeated Cardinals last week without his top three receivers. Thanks to Rodgers, Green Bay appears poised to make another trip deep into the NFC playoffs.

1. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

No quarterback has more passing yards than Brady. No quarterback has more passing touchdowns than Brady. And more importantly, no quarterback is playing better than Brady. If he keeps it up, there’s a good chance he’ll end up with his fourth career MVP award.

He’s been the league’s best quarterback this year is unquestionably the greatest quarterback of all time. Did you really expect someone else to be here at No. 1?

Thanks for reading our 2021 NFL Quarterback Rankings! For more of our NFL rankings, check out our NFL Week 9 Power Rankings.


Marcus Mosher

Marcus Mosher is an NFL analyst at The Game Day, residing in Erie, PA. He covers the NFL from a betting and fantasy perspective, producing written and video content. Marcus currently hosts multiple football-related podcasts and is a managing editor at USA Today’s Sports Media Group covering the Las Vegas Raiders. He has previously worked at The Athletic and Bleacher Report.

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