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July 24, 2023

Ranking the NFL's starting quarterbacks, and a look around at where others rank Jalen Hurts

Ranking all 32 NFL starting quarterbacks. Where will Jalen Hurts fall?

Eagles NFL
060123EaglesJalen-Hurts-4 Colleen Claggett/for PhillyVoice

Jalen Hurts was the MVP runner-up in 2022, but most seem unconvinced that he is a top five player at his position.

People like getting mad at quarterback rankings, and yet, we all read them anyway. The following is a roundup of where some national folks have Jalen Hurts rated headed in 2023 training camp. Also, what the hell, I'll rank the NFL's starting quarterbacks, too. Let's do that first.

1) Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: Duh.

2) Joe Burrow, Bengals: Burrow is an unflappable killer with outstanding accuracy. He has also had early success in the playoffs, and is a good bet to win a Super Bowl at some point, and maybe more than one.

3) Josh Allen, Bills: Allen is the most physically impressive quarterback in the NFL who has played big in big games (but just had his defense let him down). He does need to tone down the gunslinger approach a shade, as he has 29 INTs the last two years.

4) Jalen Hurts, Eagles: He was already an elite running quarterback, and ruh roh, now he can read defenses and throw with some accuracy. Hurts plays in a loaded offense which no doubt helps, but ultimately he is the biggest reason that the Eagles can win offensively in so many different ways. Bonus points for his extreme will to be great.

5) Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars: After a wasted rookie season under a dipsh*t head coach, Lawrence was disappointing. In the first half of Year 2, he was just OK. In the second half of Year 2 (games 9 through 17), Lawrence looked like a legitimate star quarterback, connecting on 69.7 percent of his passes, and throwing for 15 TDs vs. 2 INTs. In the playoffs against the Chargers, he was intercepted three times in the first quarter, and then again in the second quarter. I thought he showed something when he kept letting it rip in that game and came back from a 27-0 deficit to win.

6) Justin Herbert, Chargers: Like Allen, Herbert is physically impressive with a big arm, but he is less of a threat to make plays with his legs. My biggest concern with Herbert is his paltry 6.8 yards per pass attempt in 2022. Maybe that's partly on the Chargers' offensive staff for wasting Herbert's howitzer arm on dinks and dunks. The other obvious concern is that he has only been to the playoffs once so far in his career, and he was one-and-done. Results matter, and it's not as if he has some crap team around him.

7) Aaron Rodgers, Jets: Rodgers played through injuries last season, so there's a decent enough chance that he'll have a comeback season and play like an elite quarterback once again. But there was also some evidence last season that his decline is underway and could accelerate in 2023.

8) Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Jackson is a former MVP and he's still only 26. While he has improved as a passer, he is still probably not where the Ravens want him to be. Meanwhile, he is not the running threat that he was in his first season as a starter in Baltimore, when he racked up over 1200 rushing yards. Those days are probably over, as Jackson has to be mindful of self-preservation. He is 1-3 in playoff games, with a 55.9% completion percentage and 3 TDs vs. 5 INTs.

9) Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins: Tagovailoa had the advantage of throwing to the fastest wide receiver corps in the league, and he made good use of them, leading the NFL with 8.9 yards per pass attempt. I might even have him higher on the list if not for his concerning durability.

10) Matthew Stafford, Rams: 2022 was a wasted season, as Stafford was very clearly affected by injuries from the jump, while also playing in an injury-wrecked offense, both along the line and at the skill positions. Still, he remains a tough player with an elite arm who, like Rodgers above, has a chance for a comeback season.

11) Dak Prescott, Cowboys: For almost the entirety of his six-year career heading into 2022, Prescott always had stacked offenses, with one of the best offensive lines in the league, great receivers, and up until a few years ago a great running back. In 2022, his offensive line and his receivers weren't as good, and the Cowboys' success (or lack thereof) on offense was more on Prescott's shoulders than ever before. He faltered, leading the league with 15 INTs despite missing five games. He is also no longer a threat as a runner. Prescott feels like a quarterback good enough to win "with" but not "because of," and at the age of 30 is there really any untapped ceiling here?

12) Deshaun Watson, Browns: Watson stunk last season in limited action, but it's hard to ignore that he was a star player before he was revealed to be a sleazeball, and an unremorseful one at that. With a more normal offseason in 2023, I expect him to be much better.

13) Kirk Cousins, Vikings: Cousins stans hang their hat on his stats, which look fine and good on paper, but he's not a threat to create plays off-schedule and he consistently falters in high-profile games. Dude was drafted in 2012 and he has one career playoff win.

14) Derek Carr, Saints: Carr had a brutal 2022 season. His 60.8 percent completion percentage was the second-worst of his career, and his 28 INTs the last two seasons is just too many for a quarterback who doesn't create, like, say, Josh Allen does. He does seem to be respected and well-liked by teammates.

15) Jared Goff, Lions: After a 3-10-1 season in Detroit in 2021, Goff was greatly improved in 2022, throwing 29 TDs vs. 7 INTs, nearly leading the Lions to the playoffs. He has had impressive seasons in the past, but has been unable to sustain consistency from year-to-year. If he can string together consecutive good seasons, he'll be moving up, but I don't trust him yet.

16) Justin Fields, Bears: Fields is a polarizing player. His elite running talent is obvious, and he made significant strides as a passer from Year 1 to Year 2, though he still has a long way to go. He has a 5-20 record his first two seasons, but he was also playing behind an abysmal line with arguably the worst skill position players in the league. He'll have more help in 2023. I probably have him higher than most, and maybe I'm biased because I guess I just have an appreciation for players who can do things that no other player at his position can do. And Fields is certainly that as a runner.

17) Russell Wilson, Broncos: After watching all of Wilson's games in 2021, I was pretty convinced by what I saw that he was far from "cooked." I'm still in disbelief at how badly his first season in Denver went in 2022. That said, it will be interesting to see how he responds to an awful year with Sean Payton as his new head coach, and with a set of decent, underrated receivers. 

18) Bryce Young, Panthers: Young doesn't have much help around him, which isn't ideal for a rookie (#analysis), but he's smart, accurate, and he can make off-schedule plays, so I think he has a chance to show that he's a good quarterback immediately.

19) Geno Smith, Seahawks: There's no denying that Smith had an excellent statistical season in 2022, leading the NFL with a 69.8 percent completion percentage, while throwing for 30 TDs vs. 11 INTs and rushing for 366 yards. Maybe he's this generation's "super late bloomer" Rich Gannon? My concern would be that he faded a bit down the stretch, so I'd like to see him string together a couple a pair of good seasons before I buy in. He certainly has the weapons at wide receiver.

20) Ryan Tannehill, Titans: The Titans drafted Malik Willis in 2022 and Will Levis in 2023, so Tannehill is on borrowed time as the quarterback in Tennessee. He's a competent passer and can still make some plays with his legs, but he turns 35 in a few days and he had a couple of mediocre years after impressive seasons in 2019 and 2020.

21) Jimmy Garoppolo, Raiders: The 49ers had to drag Jimmy G to the Super Bowl, and even then he let them down when a pass here or a pass there might have been the difference. 

22) Daniel Jones, Giants: Jones, a dink and dunk artist in his first season under Brian Daboll, will be asked to push the ball down the field more often in 2023. An uptick in turnovers is inevitable with a more aggressive approach, but can he make enough plays to offset them? My guess: Probably not.

23) Brock Purdy, 49ers: Before suffering a UCL injury in the NFCCG, Purdy went 6-0 (if you count the game he inherited a deficit, but won) in the regular season, and 2-0 in the playoffs. During that run, he threw 16 TDs vs 3 INTs, with a quarterback rating of 111.4. He was everything the 49ers could have reasonably hoped for, and more. That said, he was also very fortunate that a whole bunch of off-target passes that he threw found their way to the ground instead of into the arms of opposing defenders. Beyond the lucky dropped INTs, Purdy just doesn't look very impressive. He's small (6'0 5/8" with 29" arms and 9 1/4" hands), and he has some bad habits, like literally running backwards when pressured. He also doesn't have a plus arm, which might be further compromised if the Niners rush him back onto the field too early.

24) Jordan Love, Packers: We don't have much of a sample size on Love, but I was impressed by his play in Philly Week 12 after Rodgers exited early. This offseason, the Packers were facing a decision on whether or not to exercise Love's fifth-year option (for next season), which would have cost a little over $20 million (fully guaranteed) in 2024. That felt like a no-brainer, given that they have been grooming Love the last three years under Rodgers, who, you know, they traded to the Jets. Instead, they got Love to agree to take just $13.5 million in guaranteed money for a one-year extension to essentially replace the fifth-year option. That tells me that the Packers did not think Love was worth the fifth-year option, and more alarmingly, neither did Love.

25) Kenny Pickett, Steelers: Pickett had 2 TDs vs. 8 INTs in his first five games, 5 TDs vs. 1 INT in his last eight games. He can run a little bit, but he doesn't possess super intriguing physical traits.

26) C.J. Stroud, Texans: Stroud was an accurate pocket passer on a loaded OSU offense. He threw for 85 TDs vs. 12 INTs in two seasons as their starting quarterback. He'll be a rookie who will likely start Week 1 on a bad team. There will be growing pains.

27) Mac Jones, Patriots: I don't know if Mac Jones is truly bad or not yet, given that his offensive coordinator last season was Matt Patricia, but I sure as hell know that he's boring.

28) Anthony Richardson, Colts: Richardson has all the physical tools of the modern NFL quarterback (size, arm, mobility), but it might take some time for him to maximize his extremely intriguing traits. If he doesn't begin the season as a starter, it'll be Gardner Minshew. 

29) Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers: It's gotta be hard to get excited for a football season when you go from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield. I guess there's a chance Kyle Trask could win a quarterback competition in camp, but we still wouldn't move the Bucs' QB up this list if so.

30) Desmond Ridder, Falcons: I cut up all of Olamide Zaccheaus' targets last season, and was surprised by how turned off I was by Ridder's game while watching him during that exercise. Marcus Mariota was the better Atlanta quarterback in 2022, which is saying something.

31) Sam Howell, Commanders: There's a lot of optimism stemming from Howell's Week 18 performance against the Cowboys last season. I watched it, and... meh. I think folks are making something out of very little there. Honestly, Jacoby Brissett gives the Commanders the best chance of winning games in 2023, though I think it's right to play Howell to (a) see what they have in him, and (b) just let the season go in the tank if he stinks.

32) Colt McCoy, Cardinals: Kyler Murray won't be ready for the start of the 2023 season, and if the Cardinals' season immediately goes in the toilet, he might not play at all. If they land the No. 1 overall pick (and thus likely USC's Caleb Williams), Murray might never play for the Cardinals again. If we included Murray here, I'd have him 20th, for the record. Anyway, McCoy is an average backup who will start and lose a lot of games on an awful team for a fraud head coach.

Aaaaand let's take a peek around at where some of the other folks around the league have Hurts ranked.

6th (Jeremy Fowler, ESPN)

Fowler polled NFL folks. The methodology: 

Voters give us their best 10 players at a position, then we compile the results and rank candidates based on the number of top-10 votes, composite average, along with dozens of interviews, research and film-study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen. In total, more than 80 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. We had several ties, so we broke them with the help of additional voting and follow-up calls with those surveyed.

And the Hurts writeup: 

Hurts' total package elevated him to top-six status. He's known as a tireless worker and strong leader. He has grown as a passer every year: After posting a 33.8 QBR as a rookie in 2020, he had 54.6 and 66.4 ratings over the following two years.

And his savvy as a runner helps him break off timely rushes based on his reads of the defense. His 18 rushing touchdowns represent the most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history.

"He's one of those guys who has progressively added to his game," an NFL personnel director said. "Not really flappable, similar to Burrow in that sense. He remains calm. He can do all the things you need to from the pocket. I don't see why he can't be [a] precision passer. Look at all the games where he's had to dial it up from the pocket. He has that in his game."

To understand Hurts' growth as a thrower, look no further than the end of games. His fourth-quarter QBR of 84.3 ranked first in the league by a wide margin (Jared Goff was No. 2 at 76.1). His 73.0 adjusted completion percentage (weighted by air yards, no throwaways/drops) ranked second.

Hurts also led the NFL in completion percentage from inside the pocket (72.0) and threw for 10 touchdowns on passes of 25 yards or more.

To be sure, he has a ton of help. Philly's offense is loaded. But that doesn't discount his impressive progress on the way to a Super Bowl berth.

"What I like about him is he knows he's got great receivers, so when he has a one-on-one, he throws it and doesn't hesitate," a veteran NFL offensive coach said. "He might never be the kind of pinpoint accurate passer that Aaron Rodgers or Kirk Cousins is, but he's improving in that area. And he's made of all the right stuff. He's everything you want from a quarterback as far as how he carries himself."

#JimmySays: The stat where Hurts led the league in completion percentage from inside the pocket is eye-opening. I hadn't seen that previously. It goes to show how far along he has come as a passer in such a short amount of time.

7th (Chris Simms, PFT)

Simms spoke for about 14 minutes about Hurts, beginning below at around the 25-minute mark.

#JimmySays: I didn't listen to any of that. Simms infamously did not include Hurts in his top 40 quarterbacks before the 2021 season, while guys like Case Keenum, Kellen Mond, Drew Lock, Taysom Hill, and Sam Darnold made his list. Last year Simms had Hurts 25th. Even before Hurts corrected many of his faults, that was still laughably low. So, I don't know... I guess I just don't care what Simms has to say about Jalen Hurts, but, you know, 7th this year, if you do.

7th (Sam Monson, PFF)

Hurts was phenomenal in 2022, but the hardest part of that kind of play in the NFL is sustaining it. Lamar Jackson one spot above him is a great example of that. Hurts has taken big steps forward every season of his career, and if he has another one in the tank, then he is ranked too low at No. 7. Hurts averaged 8.0 yards per attempt last season and added almost 800 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

#JimmySays: Here are Hurts' and Jackson's passing numbers the last two seasons (one year pre-breakout, and one year post-breakout for Hurts): 

QB Comp-Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT Rating 
Jalen Hurts (22-8) 571-892 (64.0%) 6845 (7.7) 38-15 94.6 
Lamar Jackson (15-9) 449-708 (63.4%) 5124 (7.2) 33-20 88.9 

Aaaaand as a runner:

QB Rush Yards 1st downs YPC TD 
Jalen Hurts 304 1544 123 5.1 23 
Lamar Jackson 245 1531 95 6.2 

How exactly is Lamar Jackson a better overall quarterback than Jalen Hurts?

9th (Steven Ruiz, The Ringer)

No quarterback has improved at a steadier rate over the past five years than Hurts. And in 2022, it appears he has completed his transformation from a non-prospect at Alabama to an established NFL starter.

Mobility remains Hurts’s best asset, but that could soon change as he takes yet another step forward as a passer. The urge to get outside of the pocket isn’t as noticeable this year, and Hurts is actually trying to make throws over the middle after ignoring that area during his first two NFL seasons. Hurts could be more accurate, but it’s hardly a problem: He generally gives his talented receiving corps a chance to make plays. And while I don’t know if his arm is special enough for him to establish himself as a top-10 quarterback, it’s unwise to put a ceiling on what he can eventually become. After all, he’s spent the last half-decade dunking on those who have.

#JimmySays: Dak Prescott is 6th in these rankings, lol.

2nd and 4th (Marc Sessler, 2nd, Gregg Rosenthal, 4th, Around the NFL Podcast)

You can listen to that here.

5th (Madden ratings)

There's no analysis given here, but here are the rankings:

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