Tier 1: The Best of the Best
1. Patrick Mahomes
He's the best quarterback in football by a wide margin. His traits are unparalleled: cross-body slinging, elite pocket presence, mind-boggling accuracy, the strongest arm I've ever laid eyes on outside of Josh Allen, and the ability to just make you gasp aloud. He's the standout. Always has been, likely always will be. The only concern with Mahomes is whether or not he can sustain his production if either Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill is sidelined with an injury. Can Mahomes do what Brady did for years and elevate Mecole Hardman into a Wes Welker or Julian Edelman-level player?
2. Aaron Rodgers
The MVP of 2021 made headlines all off-season. Breaking news, people: the off-season is over, and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are going to rip people's heads off this season. Jeopardy and Shailene Woodley mean nothing now. Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan, MVS, Lazard, and Aaron Jones mean everything now. There's literally nothing more devastating to opposing defenses than a pissed off Aaron Rodgers.
If he goes out this season and wins an MVP and a Lombardi trophy, then he should just be named emperor of the Green Bay Packers for eternity. If I had any rooting interest in them or had any stock in the organization, that's what I would be lobbying for. This guy's showed zero signs of slowing down and clearly has an intense love for the game still. Why not let him dictate everything? Because he's a bit of a drama-queen? And the other billionaire owners aren't? Please, just because he's in the spotlight more often than them doesn't mean he'd be less successful in their roles. I'm genuinely suggesting this. Rodgers for Emperor of Wisconsin.
3. Tom Brady
Timeless Tom. Need I say more?
Tier 2: Day One Franchise Changers
4. Josh Allen
The strongest arm I've ever seen. Not just when it comes to throwing the ball the furthest distance, but the velocity and breathtaking zip that he puts on the ball when squeezing it into seem routes to Stefon Diggs or slants to Cole Beasley. I wouldn't be surprised if he incidentally broke a referee's entire rib cage on a misplaced throw this season. The biggest question with Josh is if he'll continue his all-time progression from last season (where he made the biggest single season jump in completion percentage in the modern era), or take a step back into the 2018-2019 reality (when he had the worst completion percentage in the league two years in a row). Either way, Buffalo's going to be appointment-viewing television this year.
5. Russell Wilson
There are few holes, if any, in Russell Wilson's game. His only downfall has been the play-callers who have drawn up stagnant equations to seemingly comprehensible defensive schemes. Last year, the Seahawks tore defenses with one-high-safety apart. Once defenses realized this, they started running two-high defenses with shell concepts that prevented big plays to D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. We can expect Shane Waldron, Seattle's new play-caller who hails from the almighty McVay coaching tree, to incorporate some more modern death-by-a-million-papercuts type schemes.
6. Dak Prescott
Is Dak good enough to drag a below-average defense and an all-world offense to a division championship? The answer should be simple, but it's perhaps the most complicated question of the 2021 season. I highly doubt these questions would exist if it weren't for his injury concerns, but Dak's going to have to put up 5,000 yards and 45 TDs if the Cowboys want to clinch a playoff berth this season. That might be hard to do with the dinosaur Mike McCarthy being a girthy clog on the sidelines, but Dak has all of the traits you'd want from a modern quarterback on America's team. He's tough, quick, clear-headed, accurate and has command over the offense. The Cowboys are going to be, as always, one of the most fascinating teams in the league this season.
7. Lamar Jackson
There's no reason that Lamar should be outside of anybody's top ten quarterbacks list. He's as dynamic of a playmaker as the NFL has ever seen. Greg Roman just needs to start thinking of him as more of a point guard and less as a runningback. He's restricted Lamar's growth as a passer the last couple of years by running dated concepts in the passing game. Part of that is because Willie Snead has been his best outside weapon and Marquise Brown hasn't lived up to the hype, but there's still no excuse for the lack of progression in Baltimore's passing game. Especially when they have one of the two most dominant rushing attacks in all of football, play action should be their best friend, not just another portion of their offensive repertoire. Lamar struggles with accuracy at times, but he's had more flashes than he has disappointments. I firmly believe that he has the ability to be a top-five quarterback again this season.
8. Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert's head coach last season was Anthony Lynn. Let me put that into perspective really quick: Anthony Lynn, a former NFL running-back who seems like a great guy by all accounts, was the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers last season and has now been demoted to the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator. The Detroit Lions are not going to try to win football games this season. Their hiring of Lynn as their play-caller was intentional. Okay, we good now? Awesome, because Justin Herbert threw for 4,300 yards and 31 TDs last season. If you thought last season was the flow-god explosion, then wait until he gets a real play-caller like Joe Lombardi on the sidelines.