Top NFL Quarterbacks Heading into the 2017 Season

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    FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots watches the pregame action before a preseason game with Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on August 10, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

    No one (fans, so called experts, etc.) ever agrees on a ranking, of anything, whether it’s a ranking of players, coaches, songs, or anything else. If 100 fans of a particular band were surveyed and asked to list their top 10 songs of said band, there could easily be 100 different responses. True, bands have songs that are “crowd favorites” at concerts, but it would be almost impossible to get responses that are consistently the same in that scenario.

    But lists/rankings are fun to create and debate so below is a list of the top 12 NFL quarterbacks, in reverse order, going into the 2017-18 season, with only the 2017 season in mind.

    Top NFL Quarterbacks Heading into the 2017 Season

    12. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

    Dak Prescott had a completion percentage of 67.8, threw for 3,667 yards and tossed 23 touchdowns and only four picks in 2017, his rookie campaign. The former Mississippi State signal caller put together a very impressive rookie season. Yes, he had the good fortune of playing behind possibly the best offensive line the NFL, and by having fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot, who, on Friday, was suspended by the NFL for six games, in the backfield. But Prescott’s contributions, poise and talent can’t be discounted.

    However, he can’t be higher on this list because he has only one NFL season under his belt, even if he did help lead the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 record last season. But it is very possible that Prescott moves higher up on this list after the 2017-18 season.

    11. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

    Last season Matthew Stafford completed 65.3 of his passes and threw for 4,327 yards. He also threw 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The former number one overall pick (in 2009 by the Detroit Lions) had his team in first place in the NFC North and was putting together a really impressive season before he tore ligaments and dislocated the joint in the middle finger on his throwing hand.

    Stafford wasn’t the same player and the Lions weren’t the same team after his injury. A lot has been asked of the former UGA Bulldog; there’s a reason he complied 30,000 passing yards faster than any other quarterback in history. He has thrown for at least 4,200 yards in each of the last three seasons.

    However, as talented as Stafford is and how much he has helped carry the Lions, he still hasn’t won a playoff game. Stafford’s postseason record sits at a paltry 0-3. Until he starts to win consistently in the playoffs he can’t be ranked any higher than 11. Stafford is entering the final year of his current contract, and, his lack of postseason success aside, he will probably sign a lucrative extension with Detroit.

    10. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

    In 2017 Marcus Mariota had a completion percentage of 61.2, while throwing for 3,426 yards. He also threw 26 touchdowns and only nine picks and none of those interceptions came in the red zone. The former Oregon Duck is an accurate passer and has shown he has great speed when he has had to use his legs. Mariota played excellent football through the first 15 weeks of the season in 2016, but, in the Tennessee Titans Week 16 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars he fractured his right fibula.

    The only issues with having Mariota in the top ten is that he is recovering from that fractured fibula he sustained last season and he’s only entering his third NFL season. But if he stays healthy and continues to play at the level he did through the first 15 weeks of the 2016 season, he might move up even higher on the list of active NFL quarterbacks.

    9. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

    Philip Rivers had 4,386 passing yards, tossed 33 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and had a completion percentage of 60.4 last season. Last season was his fourth straight with at least 4,000 passing yards, the eighth of his career. Rivers has continued to put up great numbers without the help of a stellar supporting cast on offense. He’s certainly not one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league, but he continues to be one of the best pocket passers.

    But Rivers and the Chargers are only 9-23 over the last two seasons and they last made the playoffs in 2013. Given that he can’t be any higher on this list.

    8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    In 2017 Drew Brees eclipsed 5,000 passing yards by throwing for 5,208 yards. He also threw 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and completed 70.0 percent of his passes. Brees has led the league in passing yards seven times during his career, including the last three seasons.

    Brees is a Super Bowl winner and future Hall of Famer. The New Orleans Saints, with him under center, may have had three straight losing seasons and four such seasons in the last five, but that is largely due to New Orleans being less than stellar on defense.

    7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

    Last season Russell Wilson completed 64.7 percent of his passes, threw for 4,219 yards and tossed 21 touchdowns with 11 picks. Statistically, last season was Wilson’s worst, but he had to deal with knee and ankle issues. But, when healthy, Wilson is one of the best in the league at escaping a pass rush, which allows him to extend plays and he has a better arm than most people give him credit for. But Wilson’s best attribute is his willingness to make the smart play and limit turnovers.

    Yes, the Seattle Seahawks defense has been impressive during Wilson’s time in Seattle, but he’s been a big part of why Pete Carroll‘s team has won 10+ games in five straight seasons and went to back-to-back Super Bowls in 2014 (2013 season) and 2015 (2014 season) and won one Lombardi Trophy.

    6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

    Last season Andrew Luck completed 63.5 of his passes and threw for 4,240 yards. The former Stanford Cardinal also tossed 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Those numbers are even more impressive when considering the lack of help Luck had on offense and that he played with shoulder pain in his throwing shoulder (he missed only the Indianapolis Colts Thanksgiving game (a loss) against the Pittsburgh Steelers).

    Luck is definitely talented, there’s no denying that. But he hasn’t been healthy since 2014. He had the shoulder issue last season which required off-season surgery and in 2014 he missed over half of the Colts games due to injuries, including a lacerated kidney. Luck is one of the most talented and intelligent signal callers in the NFL, but his continual injury concerns and doubt about when he’ll be ready for the 2017 season causes him to drop to number six.

    5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

    Matt Ryan just missed the 5,000 passing yard mark in 2017, throwing for 4,944 yards, while completing 69.9 percent of his passes. He also threw an incredible 38 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. The former Boston College signal caller was named the league’s MVP last season and he now belongs in the top five quarterbacks.

    It will be interesting to see how Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons perform in 2017 after their devastating loss in the Super Bowl in February. Most Super Bowl runner-ups have a “Super Bowl hangover” the following season (i.e. the Carolina Panthers failed even make the playoffs last season after losing to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl).

    But Ryan has the talent and seems to also possess the mental makeup to keep his team from floundering in 2017.

    4. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

    Derek Carr threw for 3,937 yards and had 28 touchdowns with only six picks, while completing 63.8 percent of his passes in 2017. Having Carr ranked at four might seem high to some, especially since Carr is only 22-25 as a starter. But he put up those impressive statistics last season before suffering a broken fibula late in the season last year. If not for him sustaining that injury it’s entirely possible he would have been the MVP of the regular season and the Oakland Raiders would have made a deep run in the playoffs.

    The Raiders might be the second best team in the AFC coming into the 2017 season, largely due to the fact that Carr is their quarterback.

    3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Last season Ben Roethlisberger had a completion percentage of 64.4, threw for 3,819 yards and had 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has two Super Bowl rings and only one losing season as a starter in the NFL. Yes, Roethlisberger may have the luxury of Le’Veon Bell in the backfield and the best receiver in football in Antonio Brown.

    But Big Ben is what makes the Pittsburgh Steelers offense go. He can throw it deep, use his legs, evade a pass rush and he is tough and it is incredibly difficult for opposing defenders to bring him to the ground. If a team needed a big play in crunch time every team would take Big Ben over every other quarterback, except for maybe the next two signal callers on the list.

    2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    Aaron Rodgers had a completion percentage 65.7, threw for 4,428 yards, and had 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season. After the Green Bay Packers started last season 4-6 Rogers helped his team to not lose another game until their NFC Championship game loss to the Atlanta Falcons, where The Pack was simply outmatched. Rodgers is one of the best at the most important position in football.

    Rodgers can throw the ball deep downfield with, seemingly, just a flick of his wrist. There are some really mobile quarterbacks on this list, but none are better at extending the play and finding the open receiver than Rodgers. Rodgers is the reason the Packers continue to win games and without the two-time league MVP under center there is a distinct possibility that Green Bay misses the playoffs last season.

    1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

    Last season Tom Brady had a completion percentage of 67.4, threw for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns with only two picks and he missed the first four games due to suspension. Brady may not have Rodgers’ arm or athleticism, but his arm is still one of the best in the league and his ability to read opposing defenses, step up in the pocket to avoid a pass rush and get the most out of his receivers is the best in the NFL. The former Michigan quarterback simply continues to win, regardless of the receivers he has or the opponents he plays against.

    Love him or loathe him, but Brady has now played a vital part in the New England Patriots five Super Bowls wins, eight straight AFC Championship game appearances and he’s a huge reason they are favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions this season. If they do hoist the Lombardi Trophy again they would be the first repeat winners since the Brady-led Pats won it all in 2004-05 (2003-04 season).

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