(*Note: The statistics in this article are current as of Nov. 12)
Now nine weeks into the 2016 NFL season, we have seen a lot of superb play from a myriad of quarterbacks across the league. Seasoned veterans like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford have either lived up to or exceeded expectations, while young guns like Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota have burst onto the scene.
With so many great quarterbacks in the league, it is tough to narrow it down to a top five list. But, I’m going to do it anyway.
It is important to note that this list is not solely based on this year. It is based more on recent history rather than just an eight or nine game sample size. With that being said, these are the best five quarterbacks in the NFL:
5) Cam Newton
Cam Newton checks in at number five for a couple of reasons. Yes, he’s struggled thus far this year with injuries and his play, but he just put together one of the strongest MVP seasons in recent memory. In addition to his strong MVP season, Newton is one of the best playmakers in the league. He can beat you with his arm or his legs. He’s a physical specimen and is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. If you force him to sit in the pocket, he’ll pick apart your secondary. If you make him get out and move, he’ll blow by your fastest linebacker. Perhaps the only thing that is stopping Cam from reaching his full potential is his mental makeup. He should probably stop complaining so much about getting hit. It’s football after all. Current struggles and complaints aside, Cam remains in the class of elite quarterbacks.
4) Russell Wilson
“It’s payback, Russell Wilson falling way back in the draft. Turn nothing into something.” – Eminem
Way back he fell and payback it is. Payback on the rest of the NFL that failed to see what Russell Wilson would become. In the 96-year history of the NFL, perhaps no one has had a better five-year stretch to begin their career than Russell Wilson. Wilson has posted a 95 passer rating or higher in every year of his career, including three years over 100. Another amazing Russell Wilson fact is this: As his responsibilities have grown, so have his numbers. Last year, Wilson threw the most pass attempts of his career. Coincidentally, he also had the most touchdowns of his career (34), most passing yards (4,024), highest completion percentage (68.1), and his highest passer rating (110.1). How amazing is it that? An alleged “game manager” had his role increase and he got better. Kind of backwards don’t you think? Lest we forget that Wilson had a seven-game stretch to end the season last year in which he threw 24 touchdowns and just one interception. It was one of the best stretches of all time. Yes, Wilson is having a rather modest year thus far this season, but when has anyone known the Seahawks or Wilson to start hot? Look for Wilson to pick up his play as the season progresses and prove his top five stature is legitimate.
3) Drew Brees
Ho-Hum. Another year, another dominant season by Drew Brees. Last year Brees threw for 32 touchdowns, just 11 interceptions, and posted a 101.0 passer rating. This year Brees has 21 touchdowns, only five interceptions, and a 106.6 rating. At 37-years-old Brees continues to defy all odds. He was dominating eight years ago and he still is now. He cracks my top five with relative ease.
2) Tom Brady
It sure is good to be Tom Brady these days (and every day for the past 16 years). Last year, Brady obliterated basically every opposing defense in his path. This year he’s upped the ante. At 39-years-old, Brady is debatably playing the best football of his career. He currently has 12 touchdowns, not a single interception, and a whopping 133.9-passer rating. The Patriots’ system and Brady couldn’t be a better fit. As he’s aged, Brady has lost some of his arm strength. This is only natural and usually causes a decline in quarterbacks. Lucky for him, the Patriots adjusted their system to cater to his needs. The Patriots run a dink and dunk passing offense in conjunction with a power running game. The dink and dunk nature of their passing game allows Brady to hit his receivers within seconds of the snap. He is rarely forced to throw the ball deep and instead just picks the defense apart 12 yards at a time. Brady and the Patriots offense seem near impossible to stop. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Brady is in my top two, considering most people probably have him first.
1) Aaron Rodgers
Here he is. I don’t think it’s really possible for me to gush about Rodgers anymore than I already have. To put it simply, Rodgers is not only the best current quarterback playing, but in terms of talent/ability he’s the best to ever play. But that’s a different argument for a different day. Right now Rodgers currently has 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions on the season. He also has a 96.6 passer rating. This is considered a down year for Rodgers. What does it say about Rodgers that in a down year he’s on pace to throw 40 touchdowns with a 4:1 TD to INT ratio? I’ll tell you what it says: He’s the best in the league.