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August 23, 2023

Ranking 2023 NFL backup quarterbacks

Who's the best backup quarterback in the NFL? We rank them all.

No place on the planet cares more about backup quarterbacks than Philadelphia. Given that Jalen Hurts has deservedly locked himself into the "franchise QB" tier, the only quarterback controversy in Philly is about who's Hurts' understudy. Like anyone with even the slightest opinion on sports, I love ranking things. People debate who the top-10 QBs in the NFL are. How about we debate who the best backup QBs are instead?

I used at least one backup QB from every team and used two from three teams: the Eagles, the 49ers and the Titans. All three squads have some intrigue with notable names who may step into the QB2 role, so I'll include them all.

Let's get after it...

 Rank PlayerTeam 
Andy Dalton Panthers 
Jacoby Brissett Commanders 
Sam Darnold 49ers 
Taylor Heinicke Falcons
Teddy Bridgewater  Lions  
Tyrod Taylor
Tyler Huntley Ravens
Mitch Trubisky Steelers
Tanner McKee Eagles  
10 Gardner Minshew Colts  
11 Jameis Winston Saints 
12 Marcus Mariota Eagles
13Sean Clifford Packers 
14 Cooper Rush  Cowboys
15 Bailey Zappe Patriots 
16 Davis MillsTexans 
17  Mike White Dolphins
18 Drew Lock
19 Kyle Allen 
20 Brett Rypien Rams
21Trevor Siemian 
22 Zach Wilson Jets   
23 Colt McCoy
24 P.J. Walker 
25 Nick MullensVikings 
26 Jarrett Stidham Broncos
27 Joshua Dobbs  Browns 
28 C.J. Beathard Jaguars 
29 Blaine Gabbert Chiefs 
30 Brian Hoyer Raiders 
31 Easton Stick Chargers 
32 Kyle Trask Buccaneers 
33 Trey Lance 49ers 
34 Will Levis Titans 
35 Malik Willis Titans 

Some notes on the selections...

Tanner McKee... too much too early? Don't care. He makes NFL throws. I am now in the camp of "the Eagles could go 2-1 if Jalen Hurts missed three games with McKee." I detailed my evolving thoughts on McKee and the Birds after the Ravens preseason game and after the Browns preseason game.

• I've been crushing Marcus Mariota in the preseason, but ultimately I still like a backup QB who has some wheels. Perhaps it's the impression that Michael Vick left on me in Week 1 of the 2010 season, but having a quarterback who can be thrown out there and work some magic without it being scheme dependent works in a mid-game pinch.

• Are we sure Mac Jones is better than Bailey Zappe?

Teddy Bridgewater is lucky I didn't drop him 10 spots on this list simply for wearing No. 50 as a quarterback.

• If the Commanders were focused on winning right now, Jacoby Brissett should be starting. I'd go as far to say that he's the third-best QB in the NFC East overall behind Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott.

• Are we sure Daniel Jones is better than Tyrod Taylor?

Jameis Winston is the most talented player on this list, but his volatility leans too close to the negative range to be comfortable with him as my QB2. 

• Are we sure Desmond Ridder is better than Taylor Heinicke?

• I'm far from a Penn State guy, but I wouldn't be surprised if Sean Clifford had a better NFL career than Jordan Love.

• Kyle Shanahan being a wizard (unless he's playing at Philadelphia in January) mitigates how colossal of a misfire the Trey Lance trade was. 

• It will be hard for Tennessee to completely crater with Mike Vrabel as their head coach, but their future is bleak at QB.

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