Quarterback is the most important position in football, and it is arguably the most important position in any sport.
Kansas City‘s Patrick Mahomes just won the 2022 NFL MVP Award and took home the Lombardi Trophy. Go back throughout all of NFL history, and it’s almost always won with a consensus top-five QB winning the Super Bowl each year (we’ll just ignore Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson for now).
With the 2022 season finally over, it’s time to look back at some key metrics at the quarterback position, including PFF WAR (wins above replacement), EPA (expected points added) per pass, PFF grades and a consensus ranking from PFF’s lead passing-game analysts.
Note: This is a ranking of the top QBs from the 2022 season (regular and playoffs) only. It’s not a projection moving forward.
|Rank||QB||Weighted Average||PFF Analysts||Pass Grade/ Snap||Overall Grade/ Snap||PFF WAR||PFF WAR/Snap||EPA/Pass|
After winning his second MVP, Lombardi Trophy and Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes comes in at No. 1 on our list and takes the torch from the now-retired Tom Brady. In case there are any doubters (there aren't), the rest of the NFL is looking up at Mahomes, wondering how they can compete with the Kansas City Chiefs‘ passing game.
Joe Burrow comes in at No. 2 after ranking as the top QB in PFF WAR and passing grade for the second consecutive season. Burrow could have supplanted Mahomes in the top spot had he prevailed in the AFC championship game — and presumably the Super Bowl — but he’ll likely need help in the form of a healthy offensive line to climb to the peak.
Boosted by the strength of his rushing ability and strong passing game, Josh Allen earned the highest overall grade of any QB this season, with each PFF analyst ranking him at No. 3. He didn’t put up the superhuman numbers this postseason as he did a year ago, but the Buffalo Bills signal-caller has posted three top-tier seasons in a row, proving that he's reached the elite tier.
The Top Tier
The first question mark of the rankings comes in the form of the Miami Dolphins signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa. PFF analysts pegged him at No. 11, but his strong grades and impressive mark in EPA per play give him a boost. We saw a marked improvement in decision-making and ability to find the open receiver in space, but there are limitations to his game in the form of arm strength and playmaking ability.
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts was voted No. 4 by each PFF analyst, but while his overall grade matches that number, his marks in PFF WAR per snap and EPA per pass bumped him down. Hurts just put on one of the greatest Super Bowl performances of all time in a losing effort and showed on the biggest stage that he belongs in the top tier of QBs moving forward.
Justin Herbert gets a new offensive coordinator after a down season where he battled through injuries to his receivers and himself. The future is bright for the Chargers despite blowing a 27-0 lead in the playoffs.
Kirk Cousins will raise more eyebrows at this spot, but he consistently grades well and ranks highly in PFF WAR but suffers in EPA per pass and PFF analyst ranking. Cousins has his limitations with lack of mobility, and he shied away from targeting star wideout Justin Jefferson in the fourth quarter of the wild-card playoff game against the New York Giants, resulting in a disappointing end to the Minnesota Vikings' season.
Geno Smith got his first real starting action since 2014 and thrived. The 2022 Comeback Player of the Year finished ninth in PFF analyst voting but had the largest discrepancy of any passer in the top 10, with one analyst pegging him at No. 5 and another at No. 13. Smith put up some incredible numbers throughout the season, and though he faltered late, he showed how unwise it is to write off a QB after just two seasons.
Tom Brady definitely didn’t end his career in glory — it was a struggle to connect with oft-injured receivers, and he didn’t have the deep ball accuracy we’re accustomed to — but he still showed good decision-making and once again led a tattered team to the playoffs.
Trevor Lawrence would be higher if you looked only at the last half of the season, but the first half of the year was much like his rookie season. He went on a tear down the stretch, leading the Jaguars to the playoffs and one of the greatest come-from-behind wins in playoff history.
The Mid Tier
Andy Dalton graded well but didn’t convince voters of high-level play, which shows in his ranking in PFF WAR and EPA per pass.
Daniel Jones finished the season strong as the second-highest-graded QB over the final six weeks of the regular season and played well in the wild-card playoff win vs. Minnesota, earning an 80.9 PFF grade in the contest.
Brock Purdy quickly picked up Kyle Shannahan’s offense and led the 49ers passing offense to the top-ranked mark in EPA per pass. He didn't grade below 60.0 in any of his eight starts and led the league in passer rating.
Lamar Jackson missed half the season and struggled in the passing game, which is why the former MVP drops down the tiers. Jackson played just 726 snaps — his fewest since his rookie year — and recorded a career-low 6.9 yards per pass attempt.
Jared Goff led an efficient Detroit Lions offense. While he had his fair share of inconsistent play, he still finished the season on a high note, earning a 79.3 PFF grade in the Week 18 victory against the Green Bay Packers to knock Aaron Rodgers & Co. out of the playoffs.
Ryan Tannehill showed his value to his team when he went down to injury and continues to grade well. He has now recorded four consecutive grades over 70.0.
Aaron Rodgers struggled after back-to-back MVP seasons and losing star wide receiver Davante Adams in the offseason. His 77.5 PFF grade ranked 14th among 41 qualifying signal-callers and was his worst mark since 2015.
Dak Prescott led an efficient Cowboys passing attack, but his grading didn’t match up to the EPA. After earning an 88.6 PFF grade against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card round, he put up a dud 39.9 against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round to end his season.
Jacoby Brissett played much better than expected for the Cleveland Browns in his 11 games in place of the suspended Deshaun Watson, but his inconsistencies in clutch situations and struggles in his latter games knocked him down the ranks a bit.
Rookie Kenny Pickett came on strong toward the end of the season and had the Pittsburgh Steelers on the verge of a playoff berth. From Week 12 on, he trailed only Joe Burrow in PFF passing grade.
Jimmy Garoppolo had quite the season, as we saw him execute the 49ers offense extremely well. Still, he struggled to grade well and was outplayed by the rookie who eventually replaced him. In the end, Purdy out-graded Garoppolo in overall grade (77.7 to 71.4), passing grade (75.1 to 69.5) and rushing grade (69.9 to 67.4).
The Inconsistent Tier
Sam Darnold ran an offense that ranked top-10 in EPA per pass down the stretch, recording a high big-time throw rate (6.0%) while fumbling six times in six games.
Derek Carr struggled to close out games and found himself benched to end the season. He has now been released, so the Raiders aren’t on the hook for his hefty contract.
Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford followed up career years with injury-shortened seasons where they struggled to run an efficient offense.
Mac Jones was the top rookie QB a year ago but failed to maintain high-level play in 2022, with the Patriots running a questionable offense led by a former defensive coordinator.
The Bad Tier
Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos were expected to contend with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he struggled all season, posting the lowest big-time throw rate of his career.
Marcus Mariota’s signing was a head-scratcher, and he struggled to take advantage of two talented receiving options and a strong rushing attack. He recorded almost twice as many turnover-worthy plays (15) as big-time throws (8) over his 13 games as the starter.
Justin Fields showed progress in 2022 as he finally started utilizing his legs. He finished first at the position in total rushing yards (1,143) and rushing yards from scrambles (721), and if he can develop as a passer, the Bears will have hope for the future.
The Davis Mills experiment didn’t pan out in Houston, as he struggled to grade well and run an efficient offense. He finished seven of his 15 games with a PFF grade below 60.0 and graded above 75.0 just once.
The Indianapolis Colts‘ acquisition of Matt Ryan led to a mid-season coaching change as the former MVP looked cooked. He managed just six big-time throws but racked up 23 turnover-worthy plays over 12 games.
Taylor Heinicke had the Washington Commanders in playoff contention but graded poorly as he showed poor accuracy and received a considerable amount of luck. He finished the season with a 49.8 PFF grade, 40th among 41 qualifying quarterbacks.
The Ugly Tier
Deshaun Watson played his first football game in 700 days, and it looked like it. He showed flashes of his former self but put up the least EPA per pass of any QB this year.
Carson Wentz was injured once again and struggled to lead an efficient offense and win games. He finished with 13 big-time throws and 14 turnover-worthy plays.
It might not be fair to Desmond Ridder to be ranked so low — or even be considered on the list, given that he played only four games — but his bottom-five passing offense and his PFF grades are hard to ignore.
Baker Mayfield and Zach Wilson bring up the rear as they put up two of the most inefficient seasons, with Mayfield saving himself by showing slight improvement after being traded to the Los Angeles Rams. The Jets have a great team, but Wilson's play kept them from making the playoffs.