Just like the world we live in, the quarterback position is experiencing a new normal. The traditional pocket passer with the big arm, footwork and mechanics is being phased out for more athletic guys who can make plays with both their arm and legs. This new generation of talented quarterbacks has changed the way scouts, fans, and GM’s evaluate the position. Age also has a lot to do with this, as this renaissance has only happened in recent years with guys of the past like Michael Vick being considered an outlier. As we prepare for the upcoming 2020 season here is how I would rank the 10 best quarterbacks under the age of 30.
1. Patrick Mahomes: Was there any doubt he would be first! In his 2 full seasons as a starter he’s won MVP, the Super Bowl, Super Bowl MVP, made the All Pro team, had one of the greatest quarterback seasons ever in 2018 and is only the second player ever to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season.
Every time he steps on the field we are witnessing greatness. He’s compiled a 24-7 career record (28-8 if you include playoffs), 9,412 passing yards, 76 touchdowns to 18 interceptions, he can make every throw, and he’s mobile enough to have 4 rushing touchdowns. Watching this guy for the next decade will be fun!
2. Deshaun Watson: “They pass on Deshaun Watson, they’re passing on Michael Jordan” – Dabo Swiney
When Dabo said this predraft it seemed like hyperbole but man has Deshaun proved him right. Deshaun has electrified the NFL like no other and has made plays where you go “how the heck did he do that”. Look no further than the playoff game vs the Bills. In overtime, to avoid the sack and make the throw that lead to the game winning field goal was amazing.
In his 2 and a half seasons as a starter he’s made 2 Pro Bowls and produced back to back double digit win seasons for the Texans. Statistically he’s been elite; 24-13 record, 9,716 passing yards, 71 touchdowns to 29 interceptions and as one of the more elusive guys in the league he’s accumulated 14 rushing touchdowns. If he’s healthy he may be the only guy in the AFC who can potentially take down #1 on this list.
3. Carson Wentz: Carson might be the most unfairly scrutinized QB I’ve ever seen. In his 2nd season he was on track to win MVP. If not for all the work he put in, the Eagles may not get to or win that Super Bowl. Look at this past season. In the face of adversity with all his skill players going down every week, he put the team on his back to win the division and who knows what happens in the playoffs if Clowney doesn’t knock him out of the game.
Carson’s last 3 seasons of 33 TD:7 INT, 21 TD:7 INT, 27 TD:7 INT while completing 64% of his passes can’t be ignored. Wentz has all the physical tools you want in a quarterback. Let’s hope the Eagles stay healthy so Carson can show everyone how great he truly is.
4. Dak Prescott: It might be a surprise to see Dak so early and so high on this list but in my opinion it shouldn’t be. Dak gets overly criticized because he has the gift and curse of being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Under Dak’s stewardship team success has alternated from good to average in his 4 years but individually he has shined.
As a Rookie he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year putting together a 23 TD 4 INT 3,667 yard season with a 67% completion rate and went toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs.
In his 2nd season the team had to deal with the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott early on and missed the playoffs. Dak’s numbers regressed from Year 1 to Year 2 and there was also a stretch from Week 8-12 where he had 4 games in 5 weeks with no touchdown passes.
But in Year 3 he returned to his rookie season form numbers wise, made the playoffs, and secured his first playoff win over Russell Wilson. Now, coming off his 4th season and auditioning for a new contract he threw for a career high 4,902 passing yards which was 2nd in the league.
Dak is an underrated scrambler having 21 rushing touchdowns to his credit. This past season was the first he did not attain 6 rushing scores in a season. His first 3 years he had 6 rushing touchdowns each year.
This upcoming season will be huge for Mr. Prescott. Will he receive the big contract he’s hoping for or could he continue to be franchise tagged similar to Kirk Cousins.
5. Lamar Jackson: MVP! MVP! MVP! That was the chant all season long. In only his second season Lamar Jackson has already entered rare air. He led the Ravens to their most regular season wins (14) ever. He’s only the 2nd unanimous MVP ever (Tom Brady 2011 was the first). He set the single season rushing record. And to his credit he improved greatly as a passer throwing 36 touchdowns completing 66% of his passes to only 6 interceptions.
The question now is why would I have the reigning MVP at 5. Let’s discuss. He has performed terribly in his 2 playoff games. Yes, there was a mini comeback vs the Chargers and yes the final stat line looks impressive vs the Titans but you have to watch the game to understand how bad he truly was. Secondly, it appears he can only win 1 way and that is by playing in close games or with the lead. When teams have made him more of a passer and limited his ability to run he hasn’t been as effective.
He’s off to a phenomenal 2-year start. 19-3 career record, 4,328 passing yards, 1,901 rushing yards and 54 total touchdowns. With another leap he can definitely move up on this list, but for right now let’s just make sure this past season wasn’t an outlier.
6. Jared Goff: The Los Angeles Rams entered 2019 with a high octane offense and a perceived great chance to return to the Super Bowl. Instead, the team stumbled to a 9-7 record with an offense that seemingly came undone in some part due to Jared Goff.
Coming off back to back Pro Bowl seasons, Goff’s production declined drastically in 2019. While he finished with 4,638 passing yards, he threw 10 fewer touchdowns and 4 more interceptions on 60 more pass attempts than he had in 2018.
Rookie year aside he’s been lights out under Sean McVay. 33-14 record, 13,130 yards, 82 TD to 35 Int. The record and the counting numbers over this 3-year period are better than Dak who I have at #4. But the difference is Dak provides a little more consistency and his ability to make plays with his legs gives him another dimension to his game Goff doesn’t have. Ultimately I think 2019 was a down year and Goff can bounce back in 2020.
7. Jimmy Garoppolo: In the words of DJ Khaled and T-Pain all this guy does is “win win win no matter what.” Tom Brady starts the season suspended, no problem as Jimmy G gets his team 2 wins. He gets traded to the 49ers and instantly leads them to 5-0. In his first full season as a starter he led the team to a 13-3 record and made plays in some pivotal moments for them.
21-5 as a starter with a 67% completion rate in those 26 starts is not an easy feat.
But there are 3 major questions surrounding Jimmy G – 1) is he simply a game manager, 2) his decision-making has been questioned at times and 3) in this era of more mobile QB’s can the prototypical pocket QB work? Being coached by Kyle Shanahan can alleviate some of that and now with a full year together under their belt let’s see if these gentlemen can take the offense to an even higher level.
8. Kyler Murray: I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glad Kyler decided to bypass baseball and come to the NFL. This 5’10 dynamo was electric in his Rookie season. He improved the Cardinals by 5 wins and his numbers were good. He had more passing yards than the reigning MVP (3,722). He was in the top half of the league completion percentage wise (64%). 20 passing TD and 4 rushing TD is pretty impressive as a rookie. And now he has arguably the best wide receiver in the game in DeAndre Hopkins on the outside. Don’t expect a sophomore slump from this guy!
9. Daniel Jones: It didn’t take long for him to get a nickname. Dubbed Danny Dimes I was impressed by what I saw from the former Blue Devil. 6’5 with a great arm and good mobility. In 12 starts he wasn’t great in them all but in 4 of those games (Lions, Buccaneers, Redskins and Jets) you saw how good he can be. The potential is there, and with the team providing some offensive line help that should help with his pocket awareness and decision-making.
10. Derek Carr: Carr’s name seems to come up every year in trade rumors and this offseason was no different. It would not be surprising if his name continued to be floated around during the season depending upon how the newly named Las Vegas Raiders season starts off. I believe whoever potentially lands Derek Carr will be getting a very good quarterback. Eliminate his rookie season and he’s completing 65% of his passes over the last 5 years. He has 2 4000 yard passing seasons and 2 more seasons where he barely missed it by 13 yards and 63 yards. It’s forgotten that in 2016 when the Raiders went 12-4 Derek Carr was in MVP consideration before getting hurt.
Derek’s QBR hasn’t been great in any season and as a starter he’s below .500 at 39-55. Derek is also not the kind of guy who will elevate the talent around him like a Brady, Rodgers, or Mahomes can but if given the right elements Carr can lead to success.