Dustin Baker’s 2023 QB Rankings
The Kansas City Chiefs hope to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 2023, and if they accomplish the feat, they’ll be the first club since 2003-2004 to pull it off.
Dustin Baker’s 2023 QB Rankings
Teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and perhaps Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to finish near the bottom of the NFL and enter the Caleb Williams Sweepstakes next April.
So, as a preview to the 2023 regular season, let’s peek at the NFL’s top quarterbacks, ranked from 32 to 1. The criteria are simple — which quarterback(s) would you most like to have on ‘your’ team for the 2023 season? The rankings do not forecast 2024 and beyond — this is a win-now list of 2023 rankings.
32. The Cardinals Situation
Arizona will start Colt McCoy or Clayton Tune — and then welcome back Kyler Murray when they’re about 1-7 or so. Murray is already prone to disgruntlement, so rejoining a team nearing playoff elimination won’t be fun.
31. Sam Howell (WAS)
Perhaps this man will surprise the masses, but it doesn’t totally feel like it. Jacoby Brissett could take over before it’s all said and done in 2023.
30. Anthony Richardson (IND)
We blinked, and the Colts transformed into a quasi-dysfunctional organization. Built like Daunte Culpepper, let’s hope for Indianapolis’ sake that chaos doesn’t ravage Richardson’s development. He will need a lot of it.
29. C.J. Stroud (HOU)
A 1st-Round quarterback paired with a defense-first coach doesn’t feel like a match made in heaven, but perhaps it will work if Demeco Ryans is the real deal.
28. Desmond Ridder (ATL)
Ridder will either blossom into a bonafide QB1 in the league, or Atlanta will nibble at the Caleb Williams Sweepstakes.
27. Baker Mayfield (TB)
We can’t quite shake that primetime game in 2022 when Mayfield arrived after a couple of days’ worth of playbook study and thrived. He isn’t horrible, and there’s a chance his career is revitalized in Tampa Bay.
26. Mac Jones (NE)
Jones looked like a stud against the Vikings on Thanksgiving night last year, but Ed Donatell’s defense was a stud-maker in 2022, generally speaking.
25. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)
Garoppolo will get hurt, and Las Vegas will end up with Brian Hoyer under center. It’s comin’.
24. Jordan Love (GB)
Thirty-plus years of Hall of Fame quarterback performance is a tough act to follow, but we cynically believe Love will play quite well — just not as well as Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre.
23. The 49ers Quarterback
Whoever it is — the 49ers will reach the postseason and not quite win the chip in February. Then, they’ll probably pursue soon-to-be-free-agent Kirk Cousins in March.
22. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)
Perhaps his final hurrah as an established starter, Tannehill has the benefit of Mike Vrabel at head coach. Vrabel doesn’t coach bad teams, so the Titans will be relevant no matter what.
21. Bryce Young (CAR)
Young will turn heads before too long, but he likely won’t be a Pro Bowler right away. Few are. Still, he will show flashes of promise like all good rookies, and the Panthers trajectory will be high heading into 2024.
20. Justin Fields (CHI)
After the Bears finished 3-14, ‘QB Wins’ became a bad statistic per folks that usually tout QB Wins as a wise evaluation tool. Accordingly, the media turned Fields into the next big thing, and we shall see if that was smoke or prophecy.
19. Russell Wilson (DEN)
Wilson will conduct a bounceback year and prove a decade’s worth of production in Seattle wasn’t an accident. He just has to. If he does not, his would-be Hall of Fame induction will be in dire jeopardy.
18. Daniel Jones (NYG)
Jones flogged the Vikings twice in three weeks last year, and the final time really, really mattered. Then, the Giants paid him $40 million per season, in large part because of Minnesota’s soft defense. He’s decent — but no better.
17. Jared Goff (DET)
Goff quietly tallied a Kirk Cousins-like statline in 2022 and deserves respect. But do you really fear him on Sundays at quarterback?
16. Kenny Pickett (PIT)
Pickett is set up to excel in Pittsburgh due to the culture and Mike Tomlin. He showed glimpses of maturity last year and will soon turn into a trustable QB1.
15. Derek Carr (NO)
A longtime participant in the Spider-man meme with Kirk Cousins, Carr will get what he’s always wanted in New Orleans — a defense worth a damn. The Saints will win the NFC South with a 10-7 or so record.
14. Geno Smith (SEA)
Russell Wilson left Seattle last year, and Smith slid in with a vintage Russell Wilson statsheet. He has one chance — this year — to prove 2022 wasn’t an outlier.
13. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)
Until he silences the injury naysayers, Tagovailoa won’t graduate into the league’s Top 10 tier of quarterbacking. Yet, all he needs is a 15-17 game season to prove his mettle and durability.
12. Matthew Stafford (LAR)
There’s a temptation to believe Stafford won his Super Bowl a year and a half ago, and that will have been the last good-good thing he did in the NFL. He needs a Staffordish season in 2023 — without the Rams teetering into futility. Their roster isn’t very promising. Stafford is only outranked by the next man on the list because of his recent injury history.
11. Kirk Cousins (MIN)
Cousins had the summer of a lifetime with a Netflix docuseries and his highest-ever ranking in the player-voted NFL Top 100. He’ll experience the same offensive coordinator in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2015-2016 when Sean McVay ran Washington’s offense.
10. Dak Prescott (DAL)
Prescott is so damn close to edging his reputation to the next level — but he never really takes the plunge. He quietly turned 30 this summer and needs at least to reach an NFC title game at some point.
9. Deshaun Watson (CLE)
You don’t have to like the guy — all the power to you if you do not — but he’s probably sitting on a major reclamation season, on the field anyway.
8. Trevor Lawrence (JAX)
Lawrence graduated to the Top 10 last year after heroic performances down the stretch of the season. He needed those couple of moments, and he got them. Now, he must win two playoff games in the same season to take the next step.
7. Jalen Hurts (PHI)
We’d be interested to see what Hurts could do outside of Philadelphia’s offensive line, but he’s still quite awesome. Never forget how close that Super Bowl was in February until the Chiefs pulled away.
6. Aaron Rodgers (NYJ)
Favre Jr. takes his show to New Jersey. We’ve seen this before. One of 2023’s most interesting storylines will be if Rodgers plays like 2020-2021 MVP guy or 2022 mid-tier guy.
5. Justin Herbert (LAC)
Paired with Kellen Moore, Herbert can take off even more in 2023 — and it’s not like he hadn’t taken off already. Somehow, he received no blame for squandering the playoff lead in January to the Jaguars, but media-darling QBs like Herbert rarely receive heat.
4. Lamar Jackson (BAL)
Jackson will have the best offense around him in his life, on paper. Injuries undid his last two seasons; let’s hope the third time’s the charm for his sake.
3. Josh Allen (BUF)
Allen caused oodles of turnovers in 2022, but nobody cared. He’s the modern-day, fun-loving gunslinger that everyone loves to love.
2. Joe Burrow (CIN)
Patrick Mahomes will always best Burrow’s raw talent, but that’s unsolvable. Regardless, Burrow is the league’s second-best passer — at the ripe old age of 26.
1. Patrick Mahomes (KC)
He’s the king. No other caption needed.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).