NFL Quarterback Council 2022: Ranking the top 10 QBs in arm strength, accuracy, decision-making, ...

ByNFL experts via ESPN logo
Monday, August 22, 2022

The modern NFL quarterback has to be talented in so many different skills, from reading the field to finding open receivers to airing out deep shots to being able to pick up important first downs on the ground when needed. How do the top signal-callers compare in each skill area, though? How do the NFL's best of the best stack up by specific traits and abilities?

For a second straight year, we asked NFL analysts -- Matt Bowen, Tim Hasselbeck, Mina Kimes, Matt Miller, Jordan Reid, Louis Riddick, Mike Tannenbaum, Seth Walder, Field Yates and Football Outsiders' team of Aaron Schatz andDerrik Klassen -- to rank their personal top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering the 2022 season in 12 distinct categories, from arm strength to field vision. We then combined those lists with a point-based system to generate a final ranking in each area, all 12 of which are below.

Our analysts then reacted to each list, explaining why the quarterbacks at or near the top of each group belong there and what surprised them most about the final top-10s. We also broke down tape, gave a big stat to know and spun it forward with a rising QB to watch for each trait. Finally, we pointed out snubs who probably should have cracked each ranking.

Let's start with the best downfield throwers in the NFL, but you also can jump to each category to see how the top quarterbacks align in the other 11 skills. Who has the strongest arm in the NFL this season?

Jump to:Arm strength| Accuracy| TouchMechanics| Field vision| Decision-makingCompete level| Toughness| In the pocketScrambling| Rushing| Second reaction

Arm strength

This category is all about the biggest arms in the NFL. Pass velocity and the amount of zip a QB can put on a pass were factors in the ranking, as was the ability to hit the deep ball. Who are the best quarterbacks throwing the ball vertically and driving it into tight windows with authority?

1. Josh Allen, Bills2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs3. Justin Herbert, Chargers4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers5. Matthew Stafford, Rams6. Russell Wilson, Broncos7. Kyler Murray, Cardinals8. Derek Carr, Raiders9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys10. Deshaun Watson, Browns

Best of the best:Josh Allen's arm strength entered the realm of legendary when he aired it out during his pre-draft pro day back in 2018, and it continues to impress. He has an effortless nature to his throws down the field that is combined with strong accuracy. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, he completed 11.3% more of his passes thrown at least 25 yards downfield than expected last season, the league's sixth-highest rate.-- Yates

Biggest surprise: The surprise for me here is how high some of the "older" quarterbacks are on the board. Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert might be in a class of their own. But for Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson, it is a testament to their talent that they follow right behind; they have all played at least a decade in the NFL and are still considered among the best in terms of arm strength. -- Hasselbeck

What the tape says: Herbert has quickly developed into a refined pocket thrower, with the arm strength to hammer the ball inside the numbers or challenge defenses vertically. He has physical traits that rival Allen's and the ability to create game-changing plays, like we saw last season on a touchdown throw that traveled 63.8 yards in the air, per NFL Next Gen Stats. -- Bowen

Stat to know:In trying to get an apples-to-apples throw comparison, I looked at all quarterbacks' mean air time for out routes thrown 25 to 35 air-distance yards when the quarterback is not on the run. The lowest air time on those passes since 2018, per NFL Next Gen Stats? Herbert at 1.14 seconds. It's not a perfect measure for arm talent because we aren't measuring the height of the pass, but it's pointing us in the right direction. Now-retired Philip Rivers had the longest air time on those throws in that span (1.42 seconds). -- Walder

Riser to watch:There are so many quality candidates here, but I'm actually picking someone who isn't even in the NFL yet. Have you seen what Kentucky'sWill Levisdoes with the deep ball? He is a master at attacking down the field and has that rare "it" factor with his arm that makes every throw a possibility. His quick release and ball velocity allow him to thread passes into tight spaces too. Levis isn't on the Allen or Mahomes level, but he could end up close. -- Miller

Snubbed:For most categories, players need reps and time to prove things. That's not really the case with arm strength; a passer has it or he doesn't.Trey Lanceis unproven as an overall passer, but it's clear he can throw the ball through a cruise liner and over the Golden Gate Bridge. He needs to hone the accuracy, but the raw power is stunning in every way, even on the move and from awkward platforms. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Joe Burrow, Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Zach Wilson, Lamar Jackson, Matt Ryan, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Trevor Lawrence and Baker Mayfield


Arm strength doesn't mean much if you can't perfectly put the ball where it needs to go. Who can hit the tightest windows? Who locates their passes in the perfect spots? And who is never off target with their throws, displaying pinpoint precision?

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers2. Tom Brady, Buccaneers3. Joe Burrow, Bengals4. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs5. Justin Herbert, Chargers6. Matthew Stafford, Rams7. Kyler Murray, Cardinals8. Russell Wilson, Broncos9. Derek Carr, Raiders10. Deshaun Watson, Browns

Best of the best:Aaron Rodgers somehow sees throws others might never discover, but the icing on the cake is he also executes them. Down the field, on the move and when facing pressure, Rodgers excels no matter the circumstances. He has completed 69.8% of his passes over the past two seasons, second best in the NFL.-- Yates

Biggest surprise:Dak Prescottnot being in the top 10 is a glaring omission. His NFL Next Gen Stats completion percentage above expectation and number of big-time throws (as measured by Pro Football Focus) are both in the top 10. The same argument could be made for the Vikings'Kirk Cousinswhen looking at the data. -- Riddick

What the tape says:Joe Burrow can deliver the ball with precise location from inside the pocket or when working the edges on movement passes. And that creates opportunities for his receiving targets to run after the catch on crossers, in-breakers and vertical stretch concepts. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Over the past two seasons, Burrow leads the NFL in completion percentage over expectation (plus-5.0%), a decent proxy for accuracy. -- Walder

Riser to watch:He has four NFL seasons under his belt and is considered one of the best in the game, but Josh Allen is the easy selection here as a riser. Why? He has made exponential growth in his accuracy from the pocket in every season. Expect Allen to take another major leap here in 2022, similar to the one he made during the 2020 season. -- Reid

Snubbed:The perception of Prescott's accuracy suffers greatly from one or two bizarre misses per game. Aside from those small handful of off-target throws, Prescott is largely an accurate quarterback, particularly with regard to placing the ball away from defenders over the middle of the field. He isn't quite in the elite tier of QB accuracy, but he fits somewhere in the back of the top 10. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Josh Allen, Kirk Cousins, Dak PrescottandMac Jones


It's not only about pass velocity or placement. How it gets there is also key. Successful quarterbacks need to master trajectory, whether it's fitting the ball in a tight spot with zip or softly dropping it in over a receiver's shoulder. They also need to throw with anticipation, leading a receiver into the catch and navigating defensive coverages.

T-1. Aaron Rodgers, PackersT-1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs4. Joe Burrow, Bengals5. Russell Wilson, Broncos6. Matthew Stafford, Rams7. Kirk Cousins, Vikings8. Justin Herbert, Chargers9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys10. Kyler Murray, Cardinals

Best of the best:Tom Brady's preparation and ability to diagnose a defense before the snap are second to none, and one of the trickle-down impacts of that is a surreal ability to anticipate pass windows. He can throw the strikes. But what stands out is how well he gets the ball to where it has to be -- on the exact line or with the exact loft needed. -- Yates

Biggest surprise: It's not terribly surprising to seeMatt Ryanmiss the cut considering the Falcons' struggles, but I'd still include him in my personal top 10. He throws a super catchable ball, especially at the intermediate level, which is one reason he finished with the second-lowest off-target percentage in the NFL last season (12.1%). -- Kimes

What the tape says:One of the best in the league at varying ball speeds, Russell Wilson can layer throws to second-level zone windows or drop the ball in the bucket on boundary concepts. And he is still one of the top deep-ball passers in the game, with an ability to throw with touch down the field. That opens up vertical opportunities in any offensive system. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Over the past two seasons,Kirk Cousinsleads active quarterbacks in completion percentage over expectation (plus-18.3%) when targeting corner routes -- which often require touch -- among those with at least 20 such attempts. Josh Allen is second at plus-15.5%.-- Walder

Riser to watch:Trevor Lawrencecould be listed as a riser on every topic here; he's that good. But the best trait that we saw from Lawrence both in college and in his tumultuous rookie season was his ability to drop the ball in the basket of receivers. He leads players to daylight, he throws with great arc and placement, and he knows when to dial up velocity. -- Miller

Snubbed:At this stage in his career, Ryan doesn't have the arm strength he once had. Anticipation, touch and accuracy have been the driving qualities for him continuing to play like a top-15 quarterback, despite how rough last season's statistics look. Ryan's ability to feel out windows over the middle and fire before they actually open only falls short of a few of the elite QBs. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Matt Ryan, Josh Allen, Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, Mac Jones, Ryan TannehillandTua Tagovailoa


In today's NFL, quarterbacks have so many different throwing motions. But mechanics are still a big part of success. That includes a QB's throwing motion, arm slot, release, follow-through and footwork, among other traits. Who are the most technically sound signal-callers in the league?

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers3. Joe Burrow, Bengals4. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs5. Matthew Stafford, Rams6. Justin Herbert, Chargers7. Josh Allen, Bills8. Russell Wilson, Broncos9. Matt Ryan, Colts10. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Best of the best:Who is the best of the best here should not be a mystery, as Tom Brady's dedication to mechanics has become almost a side career. He is not fleet of foot, but no other quarterback stays on balance and is prepared to throw when opportunity knocks better than Brady. -- Yates

Biggest surprise: Russell Wilson has great mechanics and should be top-three in this category. Considering his shorter 5-foot-11 frame, his mechanics have to be flawless -- and they are. But I was also surprised that Derek Carr wasn't in the top 10. His throwing motion and footwork are exceptional, and I'd even have him in the top five. -- Tannenbaum

What the tape says:It's the repetitive, upper-tier mechanics that have always separated Brady from the rest. And we see it on the tape. Whether it is a straight dropback or play-action, Brady displays the same set, footwork, plant, firm base and throwing motion for each drop. He has mastered it. -- Bowen

Riser to watch:With coach Doug Pederson now at the helm for Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence could find his name on this list very quickly. His mechanics are partially responsible for his excellent ball placement, and I think he could be in store for a more consistent season in 2022. -- Reid

Snubbed:The Niners'Jimmy Garoppolo's mechanics and fluidity on the move aren't fantastic. But within structure and the confines of the pocket, Garoppolo has one of the quickest and most consistent releases in the league. That consistency and swiftness play a large part in why Garoppolo is so accurate on those slant and glance routes that he hits over the middle of the field. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson, Kirk Cousins, Kyler Murray, Trevor Lawrence, Daniel Jones, Mac Jones, Jimmy GaroppoloandBaker Mayfield

Field vision

This looks at the ability to read the field. Included in that are awareness and recognition when it comes to seeing defensive schemes or coverages, along with the fast eyes to identify blitzers, breaking defensive backs and open targets. Will a QB audible out when he needs to, diagnosing and understanding different defensive looks? And how quickly can he get through his progressions? Does he get stuck on his first read too often and stare down receivers, making it easy for the defense? Or can he scan the field, make the defense bite with his eyes and then find the open receiver?

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs4. Joe Burrow, Bengals5. Justin Herbert, Chargers6. Josh Allen, Bills7. Matthew Stafford, Rams8. Dak Prescott, Cowboys9. Matt Ryan, Colts10. Deshaun Watson, Browns

Best of the best:Patrick Mahomes is a threat to any defense for many reasons, but one area that is particularly difficult to defend is his ability to read the field both pre- and post-snap. Mahomes shows the instincts to elude pressure and keep his eyes down the field for uncovered wideouts. No play is over for the Kansas City QB until the whistle blows. -- Yates

Biggest surprise: The big surprise here is that Russell Wilson didn't crack the top 10. For a guy who consistently posts better than a 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, I think he probably deserves to crack into the rankings. He clearly sees and processes things well, and his awareness is strong pre-snap, in the pocket post-snap and out of the pocket when forced to escape. -- Hasselbeck

What the tape says:At this stage of his career, Matt Ryan's arm strength and movement skills are diminishing, but his ability to quickly read it out puts him in a position to deliver the ball on time as a rhythm passer. He recognizes late rotation and disguises in the secondary and senses pressure. And he has the ability to find coverage voids and matchups he wants. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Over the past two seasons, Mahomes has thrown the league's lowest percentage of attempts into tight windows, despite a roughly average depth of target. Some of that is surely due to scheme, but some is also a credit to Mahomes, who often finds the open man. -- Walder

Riser to watch:Alabama'sBryce Youngis a true point guard for the Crimson Tide offense, beating defenses with his vision, ability to anticipate what defenses are doing and touch passing. Young doesn't have a great NFL comparison given his size (6 feet, 195 pounds), but the top 2023 draft prospect plays like a football version of Allen Iverson with his ability to see the entire field on the move and distribute the ball under pressure. He could be on this list once he is drafted.-- Miller

Snubbed:Derek Carr doesn't always put his foot on the gas, but he sees the field exceptionally well, particularly in the short-to-intermediate area. He does a great job handling protections before the snap, as well as all of the shifts, motions and formational variety the offense will continue to show with new coach Josh McDaniels. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, Lamar Jackson, Kirk CousinsandRyan Tannehill

Decision-making with the football

This one is pretty straightforward. Avoiding turnovers, protecting the football, not taking unnecessary risks and keeping an offense out of harm's way lead to better efficiency. Forcing a pass into double-coverage or attempting too many low-percentage plays can get you into trouble in a hurry. Strong decision-making means less opportunities for the other team -- and likely more points for yours.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers2. Tom Brady, Buccaneers3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs4. Russell Wilson, BroncosT-5. Dak Prescott, CowboysT-5. Joe Burrow, Bengals7. Justin Herbert, Chargers8. Josh Allen, Bills9. Kirk Cousins, Vikings10. Derek Carr, Raiders

Best of the best:You can see it for yourself when you watch Aaron Rodgers, but we can easily quantify this area, too: His 1.3% career interception rate is the best in NFL history. Rodgers hasn't thrown 10-plus picks in a season since 2010 and has a 136-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the past four seasons. -- Yates

Biggest surprise:Kirk Cousins should at least be above Josh Allen in this category. Love him or hate him, Cousins has done a nice job of taking care of the football and not putting it in harm's way as it relates to throws that could have ended up in turnovers.-- Riddick

What the tape says:The league's best at identifying and throwing the one-on-one balls, Rodgers can be aggressive as a passer while still avoiding turnover situations. It's the combination of Rodgers' elite traits and his ability to throw with efficiency, whether he is working within the structure of coach Matt LaFleur's offense or forced to play off-schedule. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Rodgers led all QBs with the lowest interception rate last season at 0.8%. It was by a healthy margin, too. The next-best QB in terms of interception rate was Cousins at 1.2%. -- Walder

Riser to watch:Justin Herbert had a terrific second season, but he did throw 15 interceptions (tied for third most). Expect him to cut that number down and continue to become a better decision-maker both inside and outside of the pocket. -- Reid

Snubbed:The back half of the 2021 season was a rough one for Lamar Jackson, but that shouldn't erase the previous two and a half seasons of play. When he is rolling, Jackson is an instinctive quick-game processor and has a great feel for what he can and cannot get away with over the middle of the field. Moreover, Jackson has incredible feel for when it's time to give up on a play and leave the pocket while also not doing so too soon. That should qualify as decision-making just the same as anything else. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Mac Jones, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan TannehillandTua Tagovailoa

Compete level

The words that come to mind with this category are competitiveness and leadership. Who has the most desire to win? It also speaks to a quarterback's command of his offense and his ability to deliver in the clutch. You can never count out the players who made this top 10.

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs3. Josh Allen, Bills4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers5. Joe Burrow, Bengals6. Matthew Stafford, Rams7. Lamar Jackson, Ravens8. Russell Wilson, Broncos9. Justin Herbert, Chargers10. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Best of the best:Tom Brady finds himself atop another category, and it should come as no surprise. His longevity -- he'll be the first 45-year-old starting quarterback -- is not the byproduct of luck; it's the reality of an individual who has made nearly every decision in his adult life to positively impact his football playing career. His competitive drive is boundless. -- Yates

Biggest surprise: I might be guilty of recency bias here, but I would consider ranking Joe Burrow in the top three after he willed his team through the playoffs despite getting absolutely obliterated behind the Bengals' lackluster offensive line. He took 51 sacks during the 2021 season and then 19 more in the playoffs. Both numbers led the league.-- Kimes

What the tape says:I'm looking at Josh Allen's tape from the AFC Championship Game last season here. Even in a loss to the Chiefs, it was a defining game for the Bills quarterback. He made plays both as a thrower and a runner that highlighted his physical traits in the game's key moments. -- Bowen

Stat to know:We tend to pay a lot of attention to comebacks and fourth-quarter dramatics. But you know what else shows leadership? Putting a game away before the fourth quarter even begins. Over the past five regular seasons, Brady has 20 wins in which he took an offensive snap with a 99% win probability or better in the third quarter. That's more than any other quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is second with 17, and no one else is over 14. -- Walder

Riser to watch:It might seem like a stretch, but Burrow can keep rising and actually climb all the way to the top of this list. Flashback to his first bowl game against UCF, when he played his best football after an illegal hit to the face mask by a charging Knights defender. Or last season when the Titans sacked him nine times in the playoffs and the Bengals still won. Burrow plays his best after you rough him up, and that competitiveness is contagious. -- Miller

Snubbed:Derek Carr may not be known as one of the great leaders in the modern NFL, but his performance in late-game and close situations speaks for itself. Over the past four seasons, Carr leads all quarterbacks with 17 game-winning drives and ranks third with 11 fourth-quarter comebacks. Since 2018 (including the postseason), the Raiders as a team rank fourth in passing DVOA when the score is within a touchdown in the fourth quarter or overtime, trailing only Kansas City, New England and Houston. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Derek Carr, Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Jameis WinstonandJalen Hurts


Toughness rolls into compete level a bit, but our analysts looked at a quarterback's bounce-back and resilience here, along with how well he can take a hit. Physicality is the big trait in this section.

1. Josh Allen, Bills2. Lamar Jackson, Ravens3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs4. Matthew Stafford, Rams5. Joe Burrow, Bengals6. Russell Wilson, Broncos7. Tom Brady, Buccaneers8. Justin Herbert, Chargers9. Aaron Rodgers, Packers10. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Best of the best:Josh Allen has averaged more than 100 rushing attempts per season through the first four years of his career, and while he has undoubtedly taken some licks, it feels he is more often the one delivering the bigger blow in a collision. At 6-5 and 237 pounds, he looks like an outside linebacker who got lost and wandered into the center of the offensive huddle. -- Yates

Biggest surprise: Tom Brady is only seventh? He's one of the toughest QBs in the NFL. You can't play at his level at 45 years old without being tough. I think Jalen Hurts should also be in the top 10. He's especially dangerous with the ball in his hands and breaks a ton of tackles. -- Tannenbaum

What the tape says:Toughness can be defined in multiple ways. But I see it as the ability to take hits, play hurt and continue to battle when the body isn't right. That's Matthew Stafford. I see it all over his tape. He's a warrior on the football field who continues to make plays in adverse situations. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Baker Mayfield battled through injuries in 2021, including a torn labrum. The result were some pretty ugly numbers and eventually a trade out of Cleveland. Since he was playing hurt in 2021, it's particularly important we don't forget what he did in 2020, when Mayfield posted a 65.5 QBR, 10th-best and just one spot behind Brady. -- Walder

Riser to watch:Justin Fields is a name to watch in this category. Because of the state of the Bears' offensive front, he will be tested week in and week out. In a new scheme and with lackluster personnel around him, his physical and mental toughness might be considered among the best in the league by next season. -- Reid

Snubbed:There may not be a quarterback in the league more willing to stand tall in a muddy pocket and take a shot in order to get the ball out than Ryan Tannehill. He sports a tall, strong frame and is more than willing to make use of it, even as a runner. Tannehill isn't the most exciting player, but there aren't many more willing and able to take a physical toll than he can. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Jalen Hurts, Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield, Justin Fields, Malik Willis, Trey Lance, Trevor Lawrence, Derek Carr, Mac Jones, Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray, Matt RyanandDeshaun Watson

Pocket presence

Pocket presence refers to how a quarterback operates in the pocket. Some things our analysts looked at here include: ability to sense and avoid pressure, command and mobility within the pocket, calmness under duress and how a QB gets it done from both under center and shotgun formations.

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs4. Joe Burrow, Bengals5. Josh Allen, Bills6. Justin Herbert, Chargers7. Dak Prescott, Cowboys8. Matthew Stafford, Rams9. Matt Ryan, Colts10. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Best of the best:While Tom Brady is among the league's least mobile quarterbacks in many metrics, his pocket navigation is the best because of his pristine footwork and the ability to marry that footwork to what he is seeing and anticipating. And Brady has the mindset to stand tall in the pocket to face pressure and knows when he must get rid of the ball. All 10 of our voters put Brady at No. 1 on their list here.-- Yates

Biggest surprise: Brady at No. 1 makes complete sense, considering the way he makes subtle movements in the pocket to create space and find ways to get the football off. But Matt Ryan sticks out to me as a QB who manages the pocket in a similar way, and I was surprised he was only ninth here. Many of the other quarterbacks on the list are either very willing or eager to bail from the pocket. -- Hasselbeck

What the tape says:There's clinic tape here on Dak Prescott. I love his ability to climb and reset the throwing window, or slide to navigate a muddy pocket. And Prescott will hit the eject button against interior pressure, fading to create a new throwing platform with his shoulders square and eyes up to find an open target. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Brady makes his offensive line look good, rather than the other way around. Tampa Bay quietly had just the 19th-best pass block win rate in the league last season (60.3%, per ESPN and NFL Next Gen Stats), but Brady recorded the lowest sack rate (3%) and pressure rate (17%) among all quarterbacks. -- Walder

Riser to watch:It's important to remind people that Justin Herbert was coached to not run and not manipulate the pocket at Oregon since he was too important to the team to risk losing to injury. Now that he's in the NFL, Herbert has started using his legs more, and it has become a dynamic part of his game. As he matures at the position and grows accustomed to pro-level speed on defense, watch Herbert's pocket presence become a major strength of his game.-- Miller

Snubbed:It is rare for rookie quarterbacks to step in right away and manage a pocket in any capacity, let alone like a 10-year veteran. But that's what Trevor Lawrence did in 2021. Jacksonville's offensive line was no better than mediocre last season, but Lawrence's ability to preempt blitzes and locate the weak spots in the protection allowed him to consistently beat pressure before it arrived. Moreover, Lawrence's movement is efficient and tight, which is surprising both for a rookie and for a long-limbed 6-6 passer. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, Kyler Murray, Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Mac Jones, Teddy BridgewaterandRyan Tannehill


They might not be scripted, but plenty of successful plays happen when a quarterback sees open field and scrambles for a big chunk. And sometimes that includes a forced scramble, when pressure or a broken play leave the quarterback no option but to tuck and run. Creating outside the pocket -- including making some throws on scramble runs -- can be the difference between eventual points on the board and a stalled drive.

1. Lamar Jackson, Ravens2. Josh Allen, Bills3. Kyler Murray, Cardinals4. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs5. Jalen Hurts, Eagles6. Justin Herbert, Chargers7. Justin Fields, Bears8. Deshaun Watson, Browns9. Russell Wilson, Broncos10. Ryan Tannehill, Titans

Best of the best:Defenses can tolerate when Lamar Jackson gains chunk yardage on designed runs. Sometimes their scheme just beats your scheme. But it's his scrambling --when a defense either generates pressure or holds up well enough in coverage that Jackson has no choice but to break free -- that is downright demoralizing. And it rarely ends well for a defense, while often leading to a Ravens highlight play. -- Yates

Biggest surprise: Trey Lance will end up being the best in this category when it is all said and done. For him to not even be on this list right now, despite his limited résumé, is a travesty. Keep an eye on Trevor Lawrence as well. Both of these young QBs will be in the top five by the time the 2022 season is over. -- Riddick

What the tape says: Patrick Mahomes could be No. 1 on this list when we look at his ability to pick up the sticks with his legs in big-game moments or when scrambling to throw. He's also one of the best I've studied at making plays late in the down. And there's a normalcy he brings to the position when he has to go off-script. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Other quarterbacks have scrambled at a higher rate, but no QB had more expected points added via scrambles last season than Josh Allen. And even if we extend the window back to the past two years, Allen still is No. 1. -- Walder

Riser to watch:We've already seen some of Malik Willis' scrambling ability; he dashed away from Ravens first-rounder Kyle Hamilton in the preseason opener as he ran for a toe-tapping touchdown. We should expect to see more of the same once Willis gets starting reps. That might not happen in 2022 given the job Ryan Tannehill has done in Tennessee, but once Willis does take over the job full time, he will be one of the top five runners at the position in the NFL. -- Miller

Snubbed:Joe Burrow isn't going to kill teams as a runner, but he will make them chase him outside the pocket. Burrow is bigger than people seem to realize (6-4, 215 pounds), giving him a tricky combination of strength and short-area quickness to make the most of his sharp instincts. Burrow's magic outside the pocket played a huge role in Cincinnati's success last season, even if a lot of it came on scramble-drill throws rather than Burrow taking off to run. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Joe Burrow, Trey Lance, Malik Willis, Aaron Rodgers, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Dak PrescottandSam Darnold

Designed-run ability

Many modern NFL quarterbacks have the ability to contribute in the run game, and offensive coordinators are looking to their QBs for designed runs and option reads more often. So whose speed, instincts, vision, elusiveness and physicality as a runner are the most impressive?

1. Lamar Jackson, Ravens2. Josh Allen, Bills3. Jalen Hurts, Eagles4. Kyler Murray, Cardinals5. Justin Fields, Bears6. Justin Herbert, Chargers7. Trey Lance, 49ers8. Deshaun Watson, BrownsT-9. Dak Prescott, CowboysT-9. Malik Willis, Titans

Best of the best:Lamar Jackson is a runaway (pun intended) winner of this category, and the more salient conversation might just be whether he's the best runner we've ever seen at quarterback. His ankle-breaking open-field moves and rare speed are incredible, and he's a threat every year to sail past 1,000 rushing yards. Since being drafted in 2018, he has averaged 6.0 yards per carry -- tops among all qualified players, not just quarterbacks.-- Yates

Biggest surprise: He's a rookie, and we might not even get to see him in action this season, but I believe Malik Willis is already a top-five rushing quarterback. He displays a rare combination of power and elusiveness that should translate at the next level. His 878 rushing yards at Liberty last season were the second most among FBS quarterbacks.-- Kimes

What the tape says: Jackson is the league's most electric player, with dynamic ball carrier traits that are used well in the Ravens' system. That's where we see his vision to find open daylight, the short-area burst and the home run ability. Jackson can cut at top speed, and he creates consistent issues for opposing defenses because of the impactful run-game element he brings to the position. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Jackson has 1,028 rushing yards on designed carries over the past two seasons. He played only 27 games in that time, but that total is still over 400 more yards than any other QB has in that span. -- Walder

Riser to watch:Because of his combination of size (6-4, 224 pounds), mobility and vision as a runner, Trey Lance is likely to be used often in the QB designed-run game for Niners coach Kyle Shanahan. And I wouldn't be surprised if he quickly becomes one of the more dangerous runners at the position in the NFL this season. -- Reid

Snubbed:Ryan Tannehill is good on not only sneaks but also bootlegs and zone reads. In each of the past two seasons, he ranked second in Football Outsiders' DYAR stats on designed runs, and 31 of his 36 designed runs since 2020 have been converted for either a first down or a touchdown -- highlighted by him outrunning three Packers defenders on a 45-yard read-option touchdown late in the 2020 season. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Jones, Trevor Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Zach Wilson, Marcus Mariota, Mitch Trubisky, Carson WentzandDrew Lock

Second-reaction ability

To close, we looked at a trait that leads to so many highlights throughout an NFL season. Quarterbacks won't always be able to sit in the pocket and throw darts. With pressure coming off the edge or up the middle, getting outside the pocket and making off-schedule throws on the run is important in today's game. Those are the off-platform passes from different arm angles and body positions, often on the move.

1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs2. Josh Allen, Bills3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers4. Justin Herbert, Chargers5. Russell Wilson, Broncos6. Lamar Jackson, Ravens7. Kyler Murray, Cardinals8. Deshaun Watson, Browns9. Joe Burrow, Bengals10. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Best of the best:Yes, Patrick Mahomes can stand up and handle pressure in the pocket when a defense bears down on him, but what makes him such a play-wrecker is how he avoids the initial rush, buys time and then turns what looks like a massive negative play into an explosive offensive play. He's creative, mobile, fearless and determined on every snap. Since taking over as starter in 2018, Mahomes has a league-leading 37 touchdown passes from outside the pocket.-- Yates

Biggest surprise:I was actually surprised that Kyler Murray wasn't No. 1. He has a rare ability to make plays on the move, with short-area quickness and tremendous arm strength. And while Joe Burrow has a ton of strengths, I don't consider him a top-10 player in this category. I'd put Ryan Tannehill over him here. -- Tannenbaum

What the tape says:Murray can find open rush lanes or escape pressure to create explosive plays as a second-reaction runner. And we know the arm talent is there when Murray extends the pocket as a thrower on the move. I see high-end mobility here with a quarterback who can keep plays alive and still produce when things go south after the snap. -- Bowen

Stat to know:Over the past two seasons, Mahomes' 72 expected points added generated on throws outside the pocket blows away every other quarterback, with Justin Herbert coming in second with 52. It's not just volume; Mahomes is efficient, too. He posted a 73.8 QBR on those throws and an 82 QBR on throws made while on the run. -- Walder

Riser to watch:Jalen Hurts excelled in creating plays outside the framework of the offense during his first year as the Eagles' full-time starter, and it improved during each of his college seasons. Hurts is mobile and savvy in knowing how to get out of trouble. Expect him to continue operating efficiently within the structure of coach Nick Sirianni's offense, but he'll also continue to be a playmaker when things break down around him. -- Reid

Snubbed:The caveat here is that Matthew Stafford too often puts himself in position to throw off-platform for no real reason, and you get a few clunkers. But more often than not, he can deliver from awkward platforms, both in and out of the pocket. Stafford plays with great core strength and a flexible throwing motion that allow him to get the most out of his arm, no matter the predicament. -- Schatz/Klassen

Others who received at least one vote:Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Tom Brady, Baker Mayfieldand Zach Wilson

*Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was included in our voting, but he will serve an 11-game suspension and won't play until Week 13 at Houston. Watson has been accused of inappropriate conduct and sexual assault during massage therapy sessions in lawsuits filed by 25 women. One of the 25 lawsuits was dropped after a judge's ruling in April 2021 that the plaintiffs needed to amend their petitions to disclose their names, and two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him. A grand jury in Texas did not bring criminal charges. Watson has settled or agreed to settle all but one of the remaining lawsuits.

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