Quarterback rankings: Top 32 signal-callers across NFL

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2018 promises to be a year of transition at the quarterback position. The deepest free-agent quarterback crop in ages arrives just before the deepest rookie quarterback class in at least six seasons. Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson and Ryan Tannehill are on the mend after serious injuries, while the muddy middle class of quarterbacking is marked by a talented group of young franchise signal-callers jockeying to elevate their status.

Add it all up and there will be a lot happening to shake up the QB picture throughout the league this year. Before that all goes down, we wanted to take a snapshot of where the position stands right now.

Below is a ranking of the top 32 quarterbacks in the NFL, regardless of team. Players like Blake Bortles, Colin Kaepernick, AJ McCarron and Mitchell Trubisky just missed the cut. Let's go:

1
Tom Brady
QB
Patriots

Only Brady could throw for 505 yards and three touchdowns in the Super Bowl at age 40 and have it feel like a letdown. The bar is set so high that it risks becoming depressing.

2017 stats: 16 games | 66.3 pct | 4,577 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 32 pass TD | 8 INT

2
Aaron Rodgers
QB
Packers

Rodgers' absence made the heart grow fonder during the 2017 season. The NFL just isn't the same without the league's most talented, complicated signal-caller. He should still have great seasons left, but the fact that he turns 35 in the coming campaign is a reminder that he's on the back nine.

2017 stats: 7 games | 64.7 pct | 1,675 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 16 pass TD | 6 INT | 126 rush yds | 0 rush TD

3
Ben Roethlisberger
QB
Steelers

Then again, the old generation of quarterbacks isn't showing many signs of slippage. Big Ben has fended off expectations that he'd age poorly by scrambling less and playing point guard in a shotgun-heavy attack.

2017 stats: 15 games | 64.2 pct | 4,251 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 28 pass TD | 14 INT

4
Drew Brees
QB
Saints

It's a shame that Brees' bravura playoff run in 2017 will largely be forgotten, especially the Saints' 17-point comeback in Minnesota. Brees' ability to anticipate and reset to find his secondary receivers remains second to none.

2017 stats: 16 games | 72.0 pct | 4,334 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 23 pass TD | 8 INT | 2 rush TD

5
Carson Wentz
QB
Eagles

Even on his backside, recovering from ACL surgery, Wentz reminded the world why his prodigious talent still feels untapped. Wentz and coach Doug Pederson have a great chance to be the best at their respective jobs in Eagles history.

2017 stats: 13 games | 60.2 pct | 3,296 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 33 pass TD | 7 INT | 299 rush yds | 0 rush TD

6
Russell Wilson
QB
Seahawks

Wilson escapes pressure like few others in NFL history. He also invites pressure like few others. Harmonizing when to improvise and when to lean on his shot-play wizardry is a difficult balancing act for Wilson that was never quite perfected under former coordinator Darrell Bevell.

2017 stats: 16 games | 61.3 pct | 3,983 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 34 pass TD | 11 INT | 586 rush yds | 3 rush TD

7
Matt Ryan
QB
Falcons

Based only on his play over the last two seasons, Ryan could make the case to be higher on this list. He handled the transition to offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian better than the numbers show and Ryan's week-to-week consistency is rare at such a difficult position.

2017 stats: 16 games | 64.7 pct | 4,095 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 20 pass TD | 12 INT | 143 rush yds | 0 rush TD

8
Cam Newton
QB
Panthers

Newton's inconsistent accuracy has been overstated through the years. While he's always streaky, there are few passers I'd rather have pushing the ball down the field. That makes Newton's new marriage with coordinator Norv Turner a promising one.

2017 stats: 16 games | 59.1 pct | 3,302 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 22 pass TD | 16 INT | 754 rush yds | 6 rush TD

9
Matthew Stafford
QB
Lions

Stafford and Cam are the best examples of the magic of arm strength; it is so common for these two to be half a beat late on throws, but defenders still can't get in position in time because the ball gets there so fast. Stafford is also a great example that it can take six to seven seasons for a quarterback to hit his career peak.

2017 stats: 16 games | 65.7 pct | 4,446 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 29 pass TD | 10 INT

10
Andrew Luck
QB
Colts

It's easy to forget how Luck transformed his game into a more mature, effective style in 2016 while playing through his shoulder injury. That's reason to believe Luck can still shoot to the top of these rankings if he stays healthy moving forward.

2016 stats (missed entire 2017 campaign): 15 games | 63.5 pct | 4,240 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 31 pass TD | 13 INT | 341 rush yds | 2 rush TD

11
Philip Rivers
QB
Chargers

There are few things prettier in football than watching Rivers, in rhythm, carve up a defense. After all these years, he's still one of the best with pressure closing in.

2017 stats: 16 games | 62.6 pct | 4,515 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 28 pass TD | 10 INT

12
Jimmy Garoppolo
QB
49ers

If the 49ers can make him the highest-paid quarterback in football after five starts in San Francisco, I can rank him this high. It's not like coach Kyle Shanahan is going anywhere, and the surrounding talent at Jimmy G's disposal is only going to improve.

2017 stats: 6 games | 67.4 pct | 1,560 pass yds | 8.8 ypa | 7 pass TD | 5 INT | 1 rush TD

13
Kirk Cousins
QB
Pending free agent

He's a "top-10 quarterback" until you make the actual list and realize how deep the position is. A unicorn as a healthy young starting quarterback in free agency, Cousins is about to show how undervalued the position is in this salary-cap world.

2017 stats: 16 games | 64.3 pct | 4,093 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 27 pass TD | 13 INT | 179 rush yds | 4 rush TD

14
Jameis Winston
QB
Buccaneers

Jameis kicks off the most difficult portion of this list to rank by far. Winston and the next five names could be sorted in any order and I'd accept the argument. Winston's hard-to-teach skills (pocket movement, anticipation) make him my personal favorite for now.

2017 stats: 13 games | 63.8 pct | 3,504 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 19 pass TD | 11 INT | 135 rush yds | 1 rush TD

15
Dak Prescott
QB
Cowboys

Defenses began to figure out the Cowboys' offense in 2017 and Prescott didn't have a counter move. He's already shown way too much as a pro to view that second-half slump -- full of cautious dump-off throws -- as anything but a normal part of his development.

2017 stats: 16 games | 62.9 pct | 3,324 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 22 pass TD | 13 INT | 357 rush yds | 6 rush TD

16
Marcus Mariota
QB
Titans

Now fully healthy and liberated from a coaching staff that didn't know what to do with him, Mariota is set up to take a step forward in 2018.

2017 stats: 15 games | 62.0 pct | 3,232 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 13 pass TD | 15 INT | 312 rush yds | 5 rush TD

17
Derek Carr
QB
Raiders

A season where Carr was mentioned for MVP was followed up by one in which he finished No. 25 in Pro Football Focus' QB rankings, No. 20 in ESPN's QBR and No. 21 in my QB Index. Jon Gruden will look to get more big plays out of Carr, whose career-best ranking in yards-per-attempt is 18th (7.0 in 2016).

2017 stats: 15 games | 62.7 pct | 3,496 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 22 pass TD | 13 INT

18
Alex Smith
QB
Redskins

No one appreciates him. Not the 49ers, not the Chiefs, not these rankings. Smith added deep-ball accuracy to his repertoire in 2017, but he'll be forced to start all over again under Jay Gruden in Washington.

2017 stats: 15 games | 67.5 pct | 4,042 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 26 pass TD | 5 INT | 355 rush yds | 1 rush TD

19
Deshaun Watson
QB
Texans

There are few precedents for what Watson accomplished in his six-game starting stint as an NFL's shooting star, from his style of play to his supersized production. Now the Texans just need to find him some pass protection.

2017 stats: 7 games | 61.8 pct | 1,699 pass yds | 8.3 ypa | 19 pass TD | 8 INT | 269 rush yds | 2 rush TD

20
Jared Goff
QB
Rams

Goff flourished in Los Angeles last season partly because of incredible support: Great pass protection, open receivers, yards after the catch and clearly defined reads. His timing and accuracy were on point for a young pro just starting to develop.

2017 stats: 15 games | 62.1 pct | 3,804 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 28 pass TD | 7 INT | 1 rush TD

21
Andy Dalton
QB
Bengals

An influx of young talent at the position and the departure of prized Bengals offensive coordinators have helped to push Dalton down the franchise quarterback list. He might be the best current example of a solid starter whose fortunes rise and fall based on his surroundings.

2017 stats: 16 games | 59.9 pct | 3,320 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 25 pass TD | 12 INT

22
Tyrod Taylor
QB
Browns

There is a defined, attractive skill set here for Browns coach Hue Jackson to work with. Taylor is perhaps the best pure running quarterback in football and throws a beautiful deep ball. Combine those skills with extreme caution when it comes to interceptions -- perhaps too extreme -- and Taylor rarely is the reason his team loses.

2017 stats: 15 games | 62.6 pct | 2,799 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 14 pass TD | 4 INT | 427 rush yds | 4 rush TD

23
Ryan Tannehill
QB
Dolphins

Athleticism is a huge part of Tannehill's game and helps make up for him often holding the ball too long. Suddenly 30 years old in July and coming off ACL surgery, Tannehill has yet to prove he can lift the fortunes of the players around him.

2016 stats (missed entire 2017 campaign): 13 games | 67.1 pct | 2,995 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 19 pass TD | 12 INT | 164 rush yds | 1 rush TD

24
Joe Flacco
QB
Ravens

This ranking might be generous based on Flacco's play over the last two seasons. Now 33 years old and hampered by recurring back issues, Flacco (and the entire Ravens regime under coach John Harbaugh) faces a crossroads year. If the results don't improve, Baltimore will have to consider moving on.

2017 stats: 16 games | 64.1 pct | 3,141 pass yds | 5.7 ypa | 18 pass TD | 13 INT | 1 rush TD

25
Eli Manning
QB
Giants

All of the drama surrounding Eli's brief benching overshadowed a second straight season of noticeable decline from the Giants' warhorse. Still heady as ever, Manning's diminished arm and lessened pocket movement limits New York's offense.

2017 stats: 15 games | 61.6 pct | 3,468 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 19 pass TD | 13 INT | 1 rush TD

26
Patrick Mahomes
QB
Chiefs

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said Mahomes was "one of the best players I've ever seen" based on tools and practice showings. The limited snaps from Mahomes' first preseason and his Week 17 start against Denver offer a clue to what Veach meant.

2017 stats: 1 game | 62.9 pct | 284 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT

27
Sam Bradford
QB
Cardinals

Bradford's Week 1 laser show against New Orleans was one of the best performances by a quarterback all last season. It was also the last start Bradford completed all season because of persistent knee troubles. Coming off a quietly strong 2016, Bradford could still have some late-career Carson Palmer type of seasons in him if he can stay on the field.

2017 stats: 2 games | 74.4 pct | 382 pass yds | 8.9 ypa | 3 pass TD | 0 INT

28
Case Keenum
QB
Broncos

If the Vikings are going to express public skepticism about whether Keenum can repeat his performance from 2017, the rest of the league should exhibit similar caution.

2017 stats: 15 games | 67.6 pct | 3,547 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 22 pass TD | 7 INT | 160 rush yds | 1 rush TD

29
Teddy Bridgewater
QB
Pending free agent

This is a projection. No one knows how Bridgewater will be different after his knee injury, but his first two seasons as a starter compare well with plenty of the young top-20 starters above.

2015 stats (missed entire 2016 campaign and played a handful of snaps in '17): 16 games | 65.3 pct | 3,231 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 14 pass TD | 9 INT | 192 rush yds | 3 rush TD

30
Josh McCown
QB
Jets

McCown turned down the risk-taking with the Jets without eliminating his penchant for virtuosic freeform-jazz quarterbacking. McCown is living proof that Tom Brady and Drew Brees aren't the only quarterbacks playing their best late in a football life.

2017 stats: 13 games | 67.3 pct | 2,926 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 18 pass TD | 9 INT | 124 rush yds | 5 rush TD

31
Jacoby Brissett
QB
Colts

While he faded down the stretch, Brissett's natural feel for the position and accuracy on difficult downfield throws stood out in 15 starts for the Colts. Already blessed with a crafty old man's game, Brissett has the look of a quarterback who could have a McCown-like career lasting well more than a decade.

2017 stats: 16 games | 58.8 pct | 3,098 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 13 pass TD | 7 INT | 260 rush yds | 4 rush TD

32
Nick Foles
QB
Eagles

No, Foles would not have sniffed this list if it'd been constructed after the regular season. But playing two epic, bombs-away performances in a row to win a Super Bowl shows just how dangerous Peak Foles can be.

2017 stats: 7 games | 56.4 pct | 537 pass yds | 5.3 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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