The 2022 NFL offseason has been filled with marquee quarterback moves. Entire conferences have shifted power thanks to the headlining trades — and, in Aaron Rodgers’ case, non-crafts — of the past few months. But which divisions are most stacked with star power below the center? We decided to rank the eight based on collective QB talent, and the pecking order might surprise you, especially considering where the greatest caller of all time is:
8. NFC South
Yes really. Brady himself is easily a top-three QB, even going as far as 45. Obviously, we trust him under center more than anyone. But its divisional counterparts leave a lot to be desired. Winston is an intriguing flyer for the Saints (again), but he’s only started a full season once in the past five years, he’s coming off a torn ACL and he’s part of a team in transition. Mariota may have legs, but he doesn’t have the durability or the supporting cast to inspire confidence in Atlanta. Darnold, meanwhile, is just a turnover-subject placeholder for whoever Carolina adds next.
7. NFC East
Prescott still has a lot to prove as a playoff QB, but he’s a rock-solid pocket passer capable of a top-10 finish. Wentz is a derided name these days, still struggling with forced pitches and delayed decisions, but he’s still serviceable, and the latest change of scenery might actually reignite his flame. Hurts has been a limited passer so far, but his mobility and determination give him a high floor. Jones, meanwhile, might actually be able to rely on his dual threat abilities under Brian Daboll.
6. AFC South
You would easily take Brady over any of these guys. But overall, look a little closer, and you potentially have three top-15 starters in Ryan, who is aging but should benefit from a stronger setup at Indianapolis; Tannehill, who likely peaked but should bounce back with an improved smash-mouth Titans squad; and Lawrence, who can’t get much worse in a well-stocked Jaguars team under Doug Pederson. Mills also went through a tough time in 2021, but can we count on him as a franchise arm?
5. AFC East
Allen carries a lot of the weight here, bringing Brady-level MVP stuff to the Bills. But the other names offer enough advantages to justify the higher slot than the NFC South. Jones, though streaky as a rookie, has the makeup of a top-15 precision passer. Tagovailoa gets a lot of flak for his conservative approach, but he’s made small strides and is ready for a bigger one with a flashier supporting cast. Wilson is the wildcard, offering raw athleticism but with a lot to prove as a decider.
If Stafford was still in Detroit, he’d probably be stuck in the middle tier of starters; but here we are, fresh off his Super Bowl win, and his big arm has finally found a perfect home. Murray’s apparent contract demands don’t match his second-half slumps, but he’s still a top-10 game-changer when healthy and motivated. Lance is a complete unknown as the successor to trade chip Jimmy Garoppolo, but at least he has a high floor as a runner. Lock, meanwhile, is probably just warming the seat in Seattle.
3. NFC North
A-Rod may still be looking for another glorious finish in the playoffs, and the departure of Davante Adams will hurt, but he still has one of the softest arms and the smartest mind. Cousins is even less inspiring when it comes to the playoffs, but he doesn’t get enough credit for his efficiency and big play arm. Fields needs to pick his spots better, but as long as the Bears help him, he has all the tools to make a difference. Goff is the definition of a situation-dependent starter, but you could do worse.
2. AFC North
Joe Cool has already established himself as one of the best snipers in the game, while doing all the little things right in the pocket. Let’s just hope he can stay up. Jackson is still trying to ride out the hump as a consistent passer and playoff QB, but just try to defend his athleticism when he’s healthy. Watson wears a monumental asterisk, still facing 22 civil lawsuits — and a likely suspension — for alleged sexual misconduct, but his pocket presence and mobility are a marked improvement on Baker Mayfield. Trubisky, meanwhile, is a low-risk, decent-reward flyer in Pittsburgh, where he can rely on a solid running game and defense.
1. AFC West
The gold standard. AFC North would come close if not for Watson’s off-pitch questions. Here, however, we have a truly pristine crop of starters. Mahomes isn’t invincible as he once appeared, but his off-script play keeps the Chiefs in every game. Herbert is a prototypical elite pocket passer who is only getting better. Wilson is coming off a calmer, injury-ridden year, but he remains one of the veterans most ready for the job, and he’s clearly motivated by the change of scenery. Carr is the weak link in the pack, often spinning in the top 12 without many big wins to show for it, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a rock-solid starter, which he absolutely is.