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Ranking the NFL's 32 starting QBs

Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports

theScore's quarterback rankings are compiled by NFL editors Justin Boone, Jack Browne, Mitch Sanderson, and Dan Wilkins. Ignoring accomplishments, team situation, and the value of youth, the exercise aims to slot the league's starting signal-callers only looking ahead to the 2017 season. Who's the best right now?

32. Josh McCown

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
31 31 32 31

At 37 years old, McCown's first year with the Jets will likely be his last as a starter in the NFL. The veteran is lauded for his leadership skills, but at this stage of his career, he brings no above-average traits - highlighted by his 72.3 passer rating with the Browns last season. If McCown keeps Christian Hackenberg on the bench throughout the 2017 season, the Jets would be wise to move on from the 2016 second-rounder. - Browne

31. Jared Goff

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
30 32 31 32

Few quarterbacks have looked as unprepared as Goff did during an embarrassingly bad rookie campaign in 2016. Hopefully a new head coach and a few upgrades on offense should help the former No. 1 overall pick improve as a sophomore. - Boone

30. Mike Glennon

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
32 30 27 30

Glennon may be deserving of a low spot on this list, but the mystery of the unknown has kept him from the last spot. With a poor set of weapons, a rookie putting the pressure on, and no starts in two years, the hope that Glennon has learned from his previous experience - as well as being motivated by the lack of respect he's been shown - is what gives him value, maybe. - Sanderson

29. Cody Kessler

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
28 26 30 27

Kessler isn't a spectacular starting option by any stretch, and he may never be. He exceeded any and all expectations during his eight starts as a third-round rookie, though, and there are certainly some tools to work with. He'll have an edge over incoming first-year quarterback DeShone Kizer. - Wilkins

28. Deshaun Watson

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
27 28 29 26

If the Texans have any plans on making a playoff run this year, they'll at least give Watson a chance under center. It's pretty safe to assume this club isn't going anywhere with Tom Savage. The most and perhaps only pro-ready quarterback in this rookie class, Watson's poise and playmaking ability give him the edge over several veterans. And he'll have a chance to jump up these rankings in a hurry. - Wilkins

27. Trevor Siemian

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
29 25 26 29

Paxton Lynch is undoubtedly more physically talented than Siemian, but it appears he isn't far enough along to take the starting job this year. While Siemian's struggles throwing deep limits the Broncos' offense, he's still growing at 25 years old. Though, he may be best suited as a top-tier backup. Lynch's time will come, but Siemian shouldn't have any trouble finding work. - Browne

26. Brian Hoyer

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
26 29 25 28

He won't make any magic happen, but Hoyer may be the ideal candidate to help the 49ers grind through their first season of the Lynch-Shanahan era. The veteran journeyman has enough knowledge of his new system as well as the hard work and determination necessary to gut out a few wins, though his talent is mediocre at best. - Sanderson

25. Blake Bortles

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
25 27 28 25

Bortles' time as a starting quarterback may already be coming to an end. After showing some promise in his second season, throwing 35 touchdowns, nearly everything about the former first-rounder's game went in the gutter in 2016. It'll take a miracle turn around with his mechanics to get things headed back in the right direction. Even then, the Jaguars should already have their eyes on next year's quarterback class. - Wilkins

24. Carson Wentz

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
23 24 21 24

The young Eagle couldn't keep up the pace he started in his rookie season, but he certainly looked like a potential franchise cornerstone. With several new toys to play with and another year of experience as a pro, Wentz has a bright future, though he is still young and raw. - Sanderson

23. Andy Dalton

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
21 23 23 22

Dalton is a steady quarterback, capable of steering an offense along and leading a team to the playoffs. Unfortunately, that's the ceiling for the Bengals' signal-caller. Dalton would be lost without the strong supporting cast in Cincinnati. - Boone

22. Ryan Tannehill

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
24 18 22 20

Tannehill might never excel throwing the ball 40 times a game like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, but he put together a career year in 2016 before it was cut short by injury. Head coach Adam Gase molded the Dolphins into a run-first offense, allowing Tannehill to get the ball out quickly and use his athleticism to extend plays and throw on the run - his best skill. The 28-year-old needs a talented team around him to succeed, but that can be said of every starting QB outside of a few elite guys. - Browne

21. Joe Flacco

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
19 22 20 21

A lack of weapons hasn't helped his cause, but we can safely say that Flacco isn't an "elite" quarterback. Even Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti stated that the team needs more from Flacco following a disappointing 2016 season. - Boone

20. Alex Smith

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
22 21 16 23

While Smith lacks the ideal arm strength teams look for in a franchise passer, he's got all the other tools needed and has shown an ability to lead his team to steady win streaks. Smith won't put up big numbers, but his fit in the Chiefs' offense can keep the team at a playoff level. - Sanderson

19. Sam Bradford

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
20 20 24 15

Bradford doesn't get enough credit for what he did during his first year in Minnesota. Despite not being traded to the Vikings until the end of the preseason, he managed to work himself into the starting lineup by Week 2 and went on to put together the best season of his career. His completion percentage of 71.6, most notably, was good for an all-time single-season record. Bradford should be even better after finally getting a full offseason in the same system. - Wilkins

18. Kirk Cousins

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
16 19 19 18

Despite posting solid numbers the last two seasons, the Redskins continue to show a reluctance toward signing Cousins long term. The quarterback is executing head coach Jay Gruden's offense at a high level, but lacks the elite skills to be a top-tier passer in the NFL. - Boone

17. Carson Palmer

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
18 16 17 17

Palmer took a massive step in the wrong direction last season. He'll have every opportunity to bounce back this year, and perhaps he's well-positioned to do so as part of a talented Cardinals offense. But his play falling off a cliff the year he turned 37 is likely no coincidence. Arizona's chances of making a playoff run will depend on the overall supporting cast, as it's unrealistic to expect Palmer to put the team on his back at this stage. - Wilkins

16. Eli Manning

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
17 17 15 19

Manning's skills are clearly in decline as his fellow 2004 draft picks have stayed near the tops of their games, but the two-time Super Bowl champ still has his championship pedigree as well as a full set of receiving targets to work with. At 36, if Manning can't put up 4,400 yards and 30 touchdowns, it may be time to move on for the Giants. - Sanderson

15. Tyrod Taylor

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
15 15 18 16

The Bills' lack of belief in Taylor has led to some inexplicable decisions on their part, almost ending with him being cut this offseason. If Buffalo had parted ways with Taylor, however, a host of teams would've jumped at the chance to add the dynamic pivot. Taylor's accuracy and consistency are still lacking, but the poor receiving talent and the franchise's dysfunction has held him back from truly hitting his ceiling. - Browne

14. Dak Prescott

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
14 14 14 14

Prescott exceeded every possible expectation during his storybook debut season, en route to edging out teammate Ezekiel Elliott for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. With the Tony Romo drama behind him, Prescott is the unquestioned starter in Dallas, but will need to prove he's more than just a one-year wonder before he moves any higher on this list. - Boone

13. Jameis Winston

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
11 13 13 13

Winston is the only quarterback in history with a pair of 4,000-yard seasons on his resume before the age of 23. With several upgrades to the Buccaneers' offense this offseason, Winston could be on the verge of joining the game's elite. - Boone

12. Marcus Mariota

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
13 12 12 12

Mariota taking a major step forward during his sophomore season has left little doubt regarding his status among the NFL's best young quarterbacks. The former first-rounder has always had the ability to beat defenses with his legs, and he'll still use that on occasion, but he's now quickly becoming a top-flight passer. Tennessee could soon be a perennial playoff team because of Mariota's presence under center. - Wilkins

11. Matthew Stafford

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
12 10 10 11

It sounds illogical, but Stafford looks like a man reborn without Megatron. In Jim Bob Cooter's offense, which promotes efficiency and spreading the ball around, Stafford has transformed from a gunslinger into a point guard. The wow throws are still there, but Stafford is smarter with them now. Even with a 41-touchdown campaign in 2011 on his resume, Stafford has actually never played better than right now. - Browne

10. Derek Carr

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
10 11 9 10

He already had a 30-touchdown season under his belt, but Carr proved in 2016 that he is the true leader and franchise quarterback of the Raiders. He's just outside of the league's elite, but he'll be expected to continue his progression as his weapons get stronger and his bank account fills up. - Sanderson

9. Philip Rivers

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
9 9 6 8

As the Chargers franchise quarterback's production didn't take much of a dip despite the overload of injuries in 2016, the six-time Pro Bowler should look good as new this season with a revamped offensive line, a healthy set of weapons, and a new city to entertain. - Sanderson

8. Ben Roethlisberger

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
7 6 11 7

Big Ben didn't look like himself in 2016. The veteran QB, who may have never been 100 percent healthy, struggled more with his accuracy and saw his YPA drop and his turnovers jump up. However, there are still only a handful of QBs more dangerous than Big Ben in rhythm. Armed with arguably the best weapons and O-line combo in the league, Roethlisberger has at least one more elite year left in his battered body. - Browne

7. Russell Wilson

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
5 8 7 9

Even in a down year where he played through injuries, Wilson still managed to increase his passing yardage total for the fifth straight season. The Seahawks continue to depend on Wilson’s arm more and more and he's rewarded them with a playoff appearance every year he's been in the league. - Boone

6. Matt Ryan

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
8 5 8 6

The first MVP award of his career isn't enough to convince us that Ryan is a top five QB. Ryan's strong supporting cast, including recently-departed OC Kyle Shanahan, means he doesn't quite get the credit he deserves. However, the Falcons' QB was behind only Tom Brady in passer rating against the blitz, according to PFF, and he destroyed defenses with the deep ball. Ryan may have somewhat limited physical skills, but his football IQ is off the charts. - Browne

5. Cam Newton

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
6 7 5 5

Newton rounding out the top five may come as somewhat of a surprise given his frustrating 2016 season. But if you need a reminder of everything the league's most physically gifted quarterback can do on the field, have a look back at what he did the season prior. Newton was a landslide winner for MVP honors, leaving Tom Brady and Carson Palmer with just one vote apiece. Don't be surprised if he recaptures that level of play in short order. There's just too much talent to bet against it. - Wilkins

4. Andrew Luck

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
4 4 4 4

If Luck's injury-ravaged 2015 season had created any doubts about his status as a top-tier quarterback, he erased them with an outstanding 2016 campaign. Despite maybe the worst roster of his career, Luck looked more poised and accurate than ever before and improved in his most criticized area: turnovers. If new GM Chris Ballard can continue to surround the former No. 1 overall pick with better talent, he could be pushing for the top spot this time next year. - Browne

3. Drew Brees

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
3 3 3 3

While there was a consensus agreement that Brees is third on our list, the seven-time NFL passing yards leader still seems underrated. Currently on a historical pace, he will likely lead the league in passing for a fourth straight season in the Saints' pass-happy system. - Sanderson

2. Tom Brady

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
2 2 2 2

Brady just won't slow down. As the rest of the NFL world awaits his eventual late-career decline, the Patriots' star quarterback is continuing to pick apart defenses and add to his trophy collection. The consistency he's maintained approaching 40 years old, combined with the way he's taken care of his body, gives us every reason to believe Brady will be every bit as good in 2017. - Wilkins

1. Aaron Rodgers

Boone Browne Sanderson Wilkins
1 1 1 1

After a delayed start to his career, Rodgers has risen to the top of the quarterback hierarchy. Whether it's miracle last-second touchdowns or crossbody, off-balance throws, Rodgers can simply do things no other passer in the league is capable of. - Boone

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