NFL Backup QB Power Rankings, 1-32: Andy Dalton Offers Cowboy Elites Behind Dak Prescott


The importance of the backup quarterback position in the NFL should not be underestimated. Without Teddy Bridgewater a season ago, the Saints’ season could have collapsed when Drew Brees missed five starts with a thumb injury. With Bridgewater, the Saints went 5-0 and ultimately won NFC South. Without Matt Moore a season ago, the Chiefs might have lost too much seed when Patrick Mahomes missed nearly three full games with a knee injury. With Moore, the Chiefs went 2-1 in these three games and eventually captured the second seeded AFC. Without Nick Foles a few years ago, the Eagles would not have won the Super Bowl with Carson Wentz on the sidelines.

Backup shifts are important and their limited availability makes them even more important. There aren’t even 32 starting caliber quarterbacks in the NFL, which means that most teams are unable to field a starting caliber backup quarterback. There are only a few lucky ones. The rest of the pack is usually forced to spend the season with a veteran who has an understanding of the league and system, but who does not have the attributes to execute the offense at a sufficiently high level, or a young quarterback who has never really played in the NFL, which is why most teams cannot survive the loss of their starting quarterback.

With all that in mind, now that most of the free agency shifts have been signed with the notable exception of Cam Newton, we have decided that the time has come to classify the 32 teams according to their quarterback situation. Reserve. First, a few notes:

  • Only immediate backup has been taken into account. The third chain quarterback of each team, for those carrying more than two quarters, was not taken into account in the ranking. Neither did the starting quarterbacks. We are only looking at the second quarterback on the depth graph.
  • In case the lines between a team starter and the backup are blurred (looking at you, Chicago), I did my best to make a judgment on who I think will be the team backup the week 1 (looking at you, Trubisky).
  • In the case of highly recruited recruits, such as Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Love, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts, their long-term value for their respective teams has been strengthened. They may not be as good as backups at the moment as some established veterans, but the fact that they have the potential to transform into something more has given them added value when we already know that established veterans like Brian Hoyer and Chase Daniel are strong backups at their absolute best.

On the list.

32. Anthony Gordon of the Seahawks

Russell Wilson’s durability has made the Seahawks’ quarterback position irrelevant over the years. He has never missed a game in his career. The Seahawks are hopeful that Wilson will stay healthy in 2020, as it will be Gordon, an undrafted free agent from Washington State, who will take over. Don’t expect him to be another Gardner Minshew. As Lance Zierlein of wrote in his Gordon draft profile, “Gordon lacks field awareness and Minshew’s determination in the reading covers. He throws with touch but doesn’t have the strength of the arms or the eye discipline to prevent the NFL covers from closing his throwing windows. The Seahawks are among those teams that would make a lot of sense for Cam Newton as a replacement.

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31. John Wolford of Rams

For the Rams, Jared Goff had better bounce back from a tough 2019 season and stay healthy, as the options behind him are limited. Who is John Wolford? He played collegiate at Wake Forest, where he threw 29 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2017. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent who signed with the Jets. He started for the Arizona Hotshots at short-term AAF. And he’s been with the Rams ever since. He hasn’t played in an NFL game yet.

30. Logan Woodside of the Titans

The Bengals’ seventh round pick two years ago still hasn’t let the NFL pass. In Toledo, he posted flashy numbers, but as noted in his draft profile on, his lack of size and elite arm strength should hamper his ability to thrive in the NFL if he on the occasion. Woodside will fight for back-up work with seventh-round rookie Cole McDonald. If McDonald’s wins the job, don’t expect the Titans’ ranking to change much. There is a reason why he was caught in the seventh round: it is a development perspective that lacks many of the traits common to NFL caliber quarters. In short, there is not much tangible difference between the two. They are both unproven with clear limits.

29. Sean Mannion of the Vikings

After 12 seasons in Oregon State, Mannion had a successful career as a replacement. In five seasons, he has started only two games with 13 appearances in total, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 57.5. OK, I lied: Mannion only started in Oregon State for four seasons and even though he has had a career as a replacement, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s “good”.

28. Brett Hundley of Cardinals

Hundley simply never became the type of quarterback that many thought he could become when he was at UCLA. The Packers’ fifth round pick is now in Arizona, where he will support Kyler Murray. If Hundley is pushed into action, the cardinals are likely doomed. He has thrown four more interceptions than touchdowns in his career (13-9), has an average of 5.6 yards per attempt and has a passer rating of 67.6.

27. David Fales of the Jets

Adam Gase certainly has something for Fales. The couple first partnered in Chicago, again in Miami, and now in New York, where Fales will again find himself behind Sam Darnold. What is remarkable is that in six professional seasons, Fales has only attempted 48 assists. His numbers are not at all impressive (6.0 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 79.1), but with this small sample, it’s hard to know how bad or good he is. But being there for six seasons and only having a chance to throw the ball 48 times does not bode well for the Fales or Jets if he has to intervene under the center during the coming season.

26. Bills ‘Matt Barkley

My favorite fun fact from Matt Barkley is that he once wore a jumpsuit under his uniform as a member of the Bears to avoid the cold. He actually played halfway to decent football in this match, given his lack of experience as an NFL quarterback and the fact that he wore a wetsuit under his uniform during a real NFL game live. Unfortunately, I don’t have much more to say about Barkley as an NFL quarterback. There is a reason why he is a replacement; he has a passer rating of 65.7 in his career. It would not be entirely surprising to see rookie Jake Fromm usurping him at some point during the coming season. In fact, I flirted with the idea of ​​filing Fromm here instead of Barkley.

25. Joshua Dobbs of the Jaguars

Dobbs spent part of its off-season working at NASA. He majored in aerospace engineering at the University of Tennessee. I’m talking about it because Dobbs seems to have a very bright future after football. As for his future in football, it is still unclear. He has only thrown 12 assists in his career. This makes it better than the options listed before it. We know these are bad quarters. We think Dobbs is not good, but we are not sure.

24. Will Grier of the Panthers

It is too early to write off Grier completely. He only started two games as a third-round rookie a year ago. But the first results are not promising. In those two starts, Grier had 28 of 52 (53.8 percent) for 228 yards (4.4 YPA), no touchdown, four interceptions and a passing rating of 33.2. Thanks, then.

23. Ryan Finley of the Bengals

Finley was fortunate to succeed Andy Dalton a year ago as a fourth-round rookie, but flopped so hard that the Bengals returned to Dalton in the starting line-up. With just 5.4 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 62.1 in three starts, it is not hard to understand how he lost his starting job so quickly. However, since he is only entering the second year, let’s not completely reduce his ability to become a competent replacement for Joe Burrow.

22. The Buccaneers Blaine Gabbert

The 10th pick in the 2011 draft didn’t see his career go as planned, but at least he made a living by being a replacement. The problem is, even as a backup, it has rarely been successful. We all know it was a disaster as a Jaguar starter from 2011 to 2013, but since then, as a replacement for the 49ers, Cardinals and Titans, he has completed 59.4% of his passes, averaged 6.5 yards per attempt and threw 26 touchdowns. and 23 choices for a passer score of 77.5. This makes it quite similar to most backup shifts.

21. Jeff Driskel des Broncos

It is telling that every person on the planet with Kenny Golladay in his Fantasy team rejoices when Driskel replaced by David Blough for Lions Thanksgiving game against the Bears last season. In Driskel, Broncos get quarterback who, replacing Matthew Stafford a year ago, went 0-3 as a Lions starter, threw an equal number of touchdowns and interceptions (4), averaged 6.5 yards per attempt and finished with a passer rating of 75.3.

20. AJ McCarron of the Texans

During the 2018 season, McCarron was the replacement for Derek Carr in Oakland. He arrived just before the start of the season via trade. When asked about the potential he had for the team, he accidentally gave us the perfect slogan for his NFL career.

All jokes aside, no one has the impression that McCarron is a quarter-caliber starting. In a six-year career, McCarron completed 62.4% of his passes, with an average of 6.7 yards per attempt, a TD-INT ratio of 6-3 and a passing score of 86.2. In his first playoff start, replacing Andy Dalton, he scored 23 of 41 for 212 yards (5.2 YPA), a touchdown, a choice and a passer rating of 68.3. God forbid he should enter it, indeed.

19. Colt McCoy of the Giants

A third round pick of the Browns in 2010, McCoy became a decent backup quarterback. The problem is, when you look at his numbers, his career statistics are weighed down by his first two years in the league, when he was a starter in a terrible Browns team. During those two seasons, McCoy has been really dreadful, scoring 58.4% of his passes, averaging 6.3 yards per attempt, throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns (20) and having a passer rating of 74 , 5. He went 6-15 as a starting quarterback. But in the years that followed, when he moved to a more permanent replacement, he found his balance, making 67.2% of his passes, averaging 7.4 yards per attempt, throwing nine touchdowns and seven choices with a passer rating of 89.5. No one will mistake it for a starter. But it is a decent backup considering the other options available in the league.

18. Kyle Allen of the Redskins

I will never understand why the Redskins felt the need to trade a fifth round pick for a quarter of backup. The Redskins are not an emergency quarterback far from being taken seriously as a playoff team. A fifth-round pick, which at least has the potential to turn into a long-term asset, would have had far more value for the Redskins. Alas, they now have a quarterback behind Dwayne Haskins. In Allen, the Redskins get at least one backup quarterback with starting experience after replacing Cam Newton a year ago. But Allen was not good in his 12 starts with the Panthers. Despite seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first four starts, Allen finished with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions at the end of the season. He accomplished this by throwing 16 interceptions in his last nine games of the season. And that’s why he’s a replacement, not a starting quarterback.

17. Robert Griffin III of the Ravens

The former rookie of the year is no longer what he used to be, but he fits perfectly with the Ravens’ offense. Since his impressive rookie season in 2012, he has completed 61.9% of his passes, averaging 7.0 yards per attempt, and has thrown the same number of touchdowns as interceptions (23), but he has some experienced and has enough mobility to execute the same offense style as Jackson (albeit at a much slower, less electric pace). This is what teams often look for in their backup.

16. Matt Schaub des Falcons

In 2019 Schaub started a game for the Falcons. They didn’t win, losing 27-20 to the Seahawks, but Schaub managed to throw for 460 yards in the process. He has a history of good football as a beginner, although we have not seen this version of him for nearly 10 years. Still, the teams could do much worse than Schaub at the save position.

15. Rudolph Mason of the Steelers

When Rudolph had the chance to usurp Ben Roethlisberger last season, it didn’t go as planned. While the Steelers went 5-3 with Rudolph as the starting quarterback, their success was almost entirely due to their defense. In 2019, Rudolph made 62.2% of his passes, averaging 6.2 yards per attempt, and threw 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions for a score of 82.0 passers-by. For an emergency quarterback, these figures are fairly pedestrian. For a leaving quarter, these figures are horrible. Fortunately for the Steelers, he is their replacement.

14. Lions ‘Chase Daniel

According to Spotrac, Daniel has earned $ 34.3 million in his 11 NFL seasons. During those 11 seasons, he started five games. Daniel made a living as an emergency quarterback. Over the past two seasons, as a replacement for Mitchell Trubisky of Chicago, he has completed 70% of his passes, averaging 6.8 yards per attempt, thrown six touchdowns and four interceptions, and has generated a score of 91.1 passers-by – good numbers for a backup. But he has clear physical limits, which kept him from slipping into the top 10.

13. Brian Hoyer of the Patriots

It’s no secret that 34-year-old Hoyer is at this point in his career. In the past 11 seasons, he has completed 59.1% of his passes, averaging 7.0 yards per attempt, making 52 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, and generating a passing assist rating of 82.5. Despite these numbers of pedestrians, he managed to secure starting opportunities for needy quarterback teams (at the time) such as the Cardinals, Browns, Texans, Bears, 49ers and Colts. He didn’t stay in any of those places – and for good reason: he’s not a quarterback. It is good support for the Patriots, however. He knows their offensive system. But if he is asked to play important minutes, he will have a hard time. Knowing the system can only be important. Being able to run the system at a high level by consistently doing NFL level shots is more important. Hoyer has never really been able to do this at any point in his long career.

12. Nick Mullens of the 49ers

In 2018, Mullens started eight games for a poor 49ers team. In those eight games, the 49ers were 3-5. Mullens passed 64.2% of his passes, averaged 8.3 yards per attempt, thrown for 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and had a passing assist rating of 90.8. He did all of this as a sophomore who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. It’s impressive – impressive enough that if he’s forced to replace Jimmy Garoppolo in the coming season, I would be confident enough of Mullens (and Kyle Shanahan, of course) to keep the 49ers afloat.

11. Chad Henne of the chefs

It’s less on Henne and more on Andy Reid. A year ago, Matt Moore was not playing football until Henne was injured in August and the Chiefs were forced to find a new replacement on the eve of the season. Despite his absence from football until August, Moore helped the Chiefs survive Patrick Mahomes’ knee injury by making 65.6% of his passes, averaging 7.3 yards per attempt, throwing four touchdowns and none interception, and posting a score of 102 smugglers in three games. Henne is no more talented than the other quarters listed before him, but he has the best attacking coach in the league on his side. That’s why it’s so high. He’s good enough to do what Moore did a year ago.

10. Mitchell Trubisky of the bears

Trubisky is not a good quarterback from the NFL. But if he loses the quarterback competition against Nick Foles, which is obviously the assumption I make by listing him here instead of Foles, he will immediately become one of the best backup quarterbacks. The past three years have suggested he’s a low-end starting quarterback – last season he ranked 27th in DVOA – but again, that would make him a great replacement. He is mobile, can use his athletics to make pitches outside the game structure and is able to play good football for short periods of time. It is when he asks to play weekly that he encounters clear problems as his limits become concentrated. But as a backup, it won’t be a problem.

9. Justin Herbert of the Chargers

It may be unfair to Herbert, the third quarterback caught in the 2020 draft behind only Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Maybe he should rank above love and pain. But I was not convinced by what he had recorded on Oregon in the last four seasons. Unlike Love and Hurts, Herbert doesn’t really have the excuse “he just needs time to develop” that these two other recruits have. We haven’t really seen Herbert play at a truly exceptional level yet. I am skeptical that we will ever be. However, given his advantage, he slipped into the top 10. At least he still has potential. Most quarterbacks on this list have no benefits. Herbert, in theory, does. That’s why it’s so high.

8. Jalen Hurts of the Eagles

As a second-round rookie, Hurts is both a stranger and a bit of a project, but he also has a huge advantage. I would prefer to have an unknown project with an advantage that most of the backup shifts listed before it, because we already know that most of these shifts are not good – which is why they are backups. Hurts, on the other hand, at least has the potential to develop into something more. Add to the fact that he plays for a coach who is known to make the most of his backup quarterbacks, and that is why the Eagles are ranked so high. Coaching is important.

7. Jordan Love of the Packers

The Packers’ decision to take Love in the first round when they had so many more urgent needs may be questioned, but at the very least, they upgraded the backup quarterback from Tim Boyle to Love . Again, there is a very strong argument to be made that the Packers should have tried to help Aaron Rodgers win now instead of upgrading the backup quarterback, but it’s not space to do it. All we know is that love has the potential to become a long-term starter in the league. His talents were exposed at Utah State in 2018, when he averaged 8.6 meters per attempt while throwing 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions. But his faults were also exposed the following season, when his attempted yards dropped to 7.2 and he threw 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Yet he wears upside down – enough upside down to land in the top 10. His long-term value has made him rise to the occasion.

6. Browns ‘Case Keenum

Right now, we all know the limits of Keenum as a quarterback. But we also know that he made the most of his limited physical skills to become a marginal starter who, in the right situation, can play good football. We saw it as recently as in 2017, when he replaced Sam Bradford, he scored 11-3 as a Vikings starter while throwing for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passage of 98.3. No one should expect a repeat in Cleveland if Baker Mayfield is injured. But Keenum is capable and experienced enough to play competent football on a stacked attack in Cleveland.

5. Jacoby Brissett of the Colts

Brissett is probably not a quarter caliber at the start. Over the course of his career, he has completed just under 60% of his passes, an average of just 6.6 yards per attempt, has a TD-INT ratio of 31-13 and has a passing score of 84, 6. But these are large numbers for backup. A year ago, the Colts were 7-8 with Brissett at quarterback. They were right to aim higher by signing Philip Rivers, but Brissett offers them a solid insurance policy behind Rivers.

4. Marcus Mariota of the Raiders

Admittedly, it’s been a while since Mariota did not play as a starting caliber quarter. His last legitimately good season dates back to 2016. Even looking at his career numbers, it is clear that he is one of the best reserve quarterbacks and has a legitimate chance of eventually overtaking Derek Carr on the board depth of the Raiders. In fact, it would not be surprising if Mariota did so even before the season started, although with the truncated offseason, Carr is a much better bet to start the season as a starter. Mariota’s completion percentage is 62.9, an average of 7.5 yards per attempt, has 76 touchdowns and 44 interceptions and has generated a passing score of 89.6. The biggest question with Mariota remains her health.

3. Tua Tagovailoa of the dolphins

I was tempted to rank Tagovailoa even higher, but concerns about his health are legitimate. Still, he is the rare backup quarterback who has the obvious potential to become a franchise savior. That’s why the Dolphins took him to No. 5 in the 2020 NFL Draft. Before suffering from a hip injury, Tagovailoa was the quarterfinal’s best hope in his draft class. If he is in good health, he has a chance to change the franchise. Obviously, since he’s a rookie, ranking him at that level requires a ton of projection and optimism, but I agree with his advantage.

2. Andy Dalton of the Cowboys

What a signature Dalton was by the Cowboys. They just made the biggest backup quarterback upgrade in the entire NFL, from Cooper Rush to a quarterback in Dalton, who ranks ninth in passing yards, 10th in touchdown and eighth in quarter since entering the league in 2011. Dalton was not good in 2019 – he was even bad enough to get on the bench for Finley for a short stretch – but he didn’t get much help from ‘a bad offensive line and a receiving group without AJ Green. In Dallas, Dalton will play with the best trio of receivers in football, a top five back and an attacking line in the top five. In addition, Dalton is only two seasons away from playing competent football. In 2018, he ranked 17th in both DVOAs, which measure value per game, and total QBR. He has often been a quarterback who can succeed as long as he has help around him. In Dallas, he will get exactly that. If Dak Prescott misses a moment, either because of his contract situation or because of an injury, the Cowboys will be well equipped to survive his absence with Dalton.

1. Saints ‘Jameis Winston

Yes, Winston led the league with 30 interceptions, seven of which were returned for a defensive touchdown. But he also threw for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns. If Drew Brees were to fall with an injury and miss a few weeks, as he did in 2019, the Saints would have confidence that Winston would be able to keep them afloat. After all, he is able to get hot for a few weeks at a time. It happens every season.

What blew the Saints with Winston against the Cowboys with Dalton was that Winston is more than a good short-term backup quarterback. It also gives the Saints a potential long-term option as they seek to successfully transition from the Brees era. Winston is only 26 years old. He has to cut sales, but learning from Sean Payton and Brees can only help him. Winston is both an excellent backup quarterback and a potential long-term quarterback, while Dalton, 32, is just a short-term backup.

More, he can see now. It could be important.


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