2024 CFL quarterback rankings: Winnipeg and Zach Collaros claim the No. 1 spot

2RD047H OTTAWA, ON - JULY 15: Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros (8) prepares to throw a pass during Canadian Football League action between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Ottawa Redblacks on July 15, 2023, at TD Place at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

• Zach Collaros leads the way for Winnipeg: Collaros, a two-time Most Outstanding Player, finished the 2023 season with the best big-time throw (36) to turnover-worthy play (20) ratio.

• The Lions feature 2023's highest-graded quarterback: Vernon Adams Jr. led the league with 43 big-time throws and also added a very good 86.1 rushing grade last year.

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With the 2024 CFL season just about to get underway, the starters are all but locked in. Let’s take a look at how all nine quarterback rooms rank.

1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Projected Starter: Zach Collaros
Projected Backup: Chris Streveler

Until Zach Collaros shows any signs of slowing down, the Bombers are going to feature at the top of any quarterback rankings. The two-time Most Outstanding Player finished the 2023 season with the best big-time throw (36) to turnover-worthy play (20) ratio and the second-highest passing grade (86.6) in the league.

The Bombers also brought back elite rushing quarterback Chris Streveler. The 2019 Grey Cup parade legend spent the past few seasons as a backup in the NFL, but before that, he rushed for 1,167 yards and 22 touchdowns over two seasons as the Bombers' main rushing signal-caller. Winnipeg running a two-headed attack with Collaros and Streveler should scare the rest of the league.

2. British Columbia Lions

Projected Starter: Vernon Adams Jr.
Projected Backup: Jake Dolegala

The Lions are a close second on this list with one of the best quarterback rooms in the CFL. They are led by starter Vernon Adams Jr., the highest-graded quarterback in the league last year (92.4).

Nobody pushed the ball downfield in 2023 like Adams, with 53.5% of his attempts going past the first-down markers. He led the league with 43 big-time throws and also added a very good 86.1 rushing grade.

The Lions brought in Jake Dolegala to be their backup this season. He struggled down the stretch last season after getting extended starting reps, but that experience should benefit him going into the 2024 campaign. Make no mistake, though, this team will go as far as Adams takes it.

Click below for PFF's CFL recap content from the 2023 season:

All-Star Team | Offensive Line Rankings | Awards

3. Montreal Alouettes

Projected Starter: Cody Fajardo
Projected Backup: Caleb Evans

Starter Cody Fajardo had an up-and-down 2023 season, but he ended the year by leading the Alouettes to a Grey Cup championship. Finishing the year on an eight-game win streak, Fajardo led the league with an 82.6% adjusted completion percentage in that span. He saved the best for last, putting up an 87.2 overall grade in Montreal's Grey Cup win.

Backup Caleb Evans played decently well in place of an injured Fajardo last season, but his real strength is as the team's short-yardage quarterback. Evans has rushed for 94 first downs and 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons, ranking third and first, respectively, among quarterbacks.

4. Edmonton Elks

Projected Starter: McLeod Bethel-Thompson
Projected Backup: Tre Ford

The Elks made a splash this offseason by bringing in two-time Grey Cup champion quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. He spent last season in the USFL, where he led the league in passing yards but earned a fairly average PFF grade. Prior to that, Bethel-Thompson's 76.5 passing grade in 2022 was a top-five mark in the CFL.

Behind Bethel-Thompson on the depth chart is budding superstar Tre Ford, the most electric rushing quarterback in the league last season. He averaged a league-high 7.9 yards per carry thanks to 20 missed tackles forced.

If MBT can return to form in 2024 and the Elks use Ford as a frequent rushing option, the duo could spark the franchise turnaround the Elks have been looking for.

5. Saskatchewan Roughriders

Projected Starter: Trevor Harris
Projected Backup: Shea Patterson

Trevor Harris was off to a great start last season before an injury ended his year. Before the game in which he was injured, he ranked second in both passing grade (77.7) and big-time throws (nine). This was coming off a 2022 season in which he was the third-highest-graded quarterback (86.3). But it is fair to ask to what level the soon-to-be 38-year-old will be able to return to coming off the injury.

Shea Patterson won the backup job after a solid, if unspectacular, preseason, but he has thrown only seven CFL regular-season passes in his career. If Harris can’t return to that elite-level form, then it could be a tough season for Saskatchewan.

6. Ottawa Redblacks

Projected Starter: Dru Brown
Projected Backup: Dustin Crum

There’s some projection here, as Dru Brown has played significant snaps in only five games over the past two seasons. But in those appearances, Brown has a 76.4% adjusted completion rate and an 11-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Brown has shown that he can be a capable starter in the CFL every time he’s been asked to.

The Redblacks also have arguably the most capable backup in the league in Dustin Crum. Crum was the CFL's second-most accurate quarterback in 2023, with a 77.8% adjusted completion rate, and also led all quarterbacks with 724 rushing yards and 37 missed tackles forced. Crum can transition to being Ottawa's short-yardage option while being capable of taking over successfully if Brown doesn’t live up to the hype.

7. Calgary Stampeders

Projected Starter: Jake Maier
Projected Backup: Matthew Shiltz

No quarterback was more up and down last season than Jake Maier. The third-year starter had four games with a grade above 80.0 but also four with a grade below 60.0. He finished the season with a dead-even 30 big-time throws and 30 turnover-worthy plays. The Stampeders signed Matthew Shiltz, one of the top backups in the league (14 big-time throws and five turnover-worthy plays last season) as insurance.

If Maier can’t take that next step, Shiltz should be able to step in for a short time and keep things afloat for the Stampeders' offense.

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Projected Starter: Bo Levi Mitchell
Projected Backup: Taylor Powell

No quarterback had a fall-off harder than Bo Levi Mitchell from 2022 to 2023. The TiCats quarterback finished 2022 with 19 big-time throws, seven turnover-worthy plays and an 83.5 passing grade. Those numbers turned to seven big-time throws, 16 turnover-worthy plays and a 57.0 passing grade in 2023.

If Mitchell can get back to that 2022 level, then the TiCats will be fine. Otherwise, backup Taylor Powell might see extended playing time for a second straight season. Powell struggled last year as a starter, posting a 62.1 passing grade and 17 turnover-worthy plays in eight games.

9. Toronto Argonauts

Projected Starter: Cameron Dukes
Projected Backup: Nick Arbuckle

The Argos are in this bottom spot simply because of the uncertainty surrounding reigning Most Outstanding Player Chad Kelly. He is set to miss at least half the season to suspension, and potentially even more if the league doesn’t clear him to return.

The Argos are likely going with Cameron Dukes, who played significant snaps in five games last season. He earned a 64.1 PFF passing grade and an 82.2 rushing grade in those outings. The Argos also brought in CFL journeyman Nick Arbuckle to back up Dukes. Arbuckle has struggled in his limited opportunities the past two seasons, posting a 65.5 passing grade and 23 turnover-worthy plays to just 12 big-time throws.


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