NFL Quarterback Council 2023: Ranking top 10 QBs by trait

ByNFL experts ESPN logo
Monday, August 14, 2023

Today's NFL quarterbacks are asked to do so much every Sunday, and the best ones are often elite in multiple traits. Reading the field and finding weaknesses in the defense. Airing out deep shots for huge gains. Making precision passes on the move outside the pocket. Driving their teams downfield when the game is on the line. Picking up first downs on the ground when plays break down. But how do the top signal-callers in the league compare in each skill area? How do the NFL's best of the best stack up by specific traits and abilities?

For a third straight year, we asked ESPN's NFL analysts -- Matt Bowen, Tim Hasselbeck, Matt Miller, Dan Orlovsky, Jason Reid, Jordan Reid, Mike Tannenbaum, Seth Walder and Field Yates -- to rank their personal top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering the 2023 season in 10 distinct categories, from arm strength to pocket presence. We combined those lists with a points-based system to generate final rankings in each area, all 10 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 discussing what surprised them most about the final top-10s. We also gave a big stat to know, spun it forward with a young rising QB to watch for each trait and pointed out snubs who probably should have cracked each ranking. Let's start with the best downfield throwers in the league, but you can jump to each category to see how the top quarterbacks rank in the other nine skills.

Jump to:

Arm strength| Accuracy| Touch

Mechanics| Field vision| Decision-making

Compete level and toughness| In the pocket

Rushing ability| 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 throw 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? Here's how we voted ...

1. Josh Allen, Bills

2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

3. Justin Herbert, Chargers

4. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

5. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

6. Anthony Richardson, Colts

7. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

8. Matthew Stafford, Rams

9. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

10. Kyler Murray, Cardinals

Best of the best:Allen's arm strength became a big talking point after his pro day back in 2018, and he certainly has the power and velocity to air it out. But what makes that arm strength even more impressive is how he pairs it with exceptional accuracy down the field. No offense likes to find itself playing behind the sticks, but Allen's powerful right arm leaves a defense feeling vulnerable on any down, including third-and-long situations.-- Yates

Biggest surprise:I'm a little surprised Russell Wilson didn't crack the top 10. Even after a down season, he still has an absolute cannon to hit the deep balls. His 30 completions thrown at least 20 yards downfield last season tied with Allen for No. 1 in the NFL. Strength-wise, his arm is still very much top-10-caliber, and I'm expecting to see deep shots in Denver's game plan more often this year.-- Orlovsky

Stat to know:There were only six passes that averaged 50 mph while the ball was in the air last season, per NFL Next Gen Stats -- and three of them were thrown by Herbert. (All three went incomplete, but just being able to throw that hard is impressive.)-- Walder

Riser to watch:Justin Fields generates a lot of velocity behind his throws and can fit them into tight windows, and his downfield accuracy could increase significantly this season with improved personnel around him. With a few deep-ball completions to DJ Moore in his third pro season, he could be on this list by next summer.-- Jordan Reid

Snubbed:Leaving Derek Carr out of the top 10 is extremely questionable. He's a high RPM thrower who can attack all three levels of the field thanks to his arm strength, and the ball still explodes out of his hand. I'm also surprised Fields or Geno Smith weren't on here -- they both have a case.-- Bowen

Others who received at least one vote:Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson, Justin Fields, Will Levis, Russell Wilson, Trey Lance, Daniel Jones, Kirk Cousins, Geno Smith, Baker Mayfield, Tua Tagovailoa


Arm strength doesn't mean much if you can't place 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. Joe Burrow, Bengals

2. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

4. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

T-5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

T-5. Geno Smith, Seahawks

7. Kirk Cousins, Vikings

8. Matthew Stafford, Rams

9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

10. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

Best of the best:Speak with NFL defensive coaches about Burrow, and the first thing they mention is his ball placement. What jumps off the game tape, they say, is that Burrow not only invariably places the ball in good windows for receivers to attempt to make a play on it, but he also has a knack of delivering passes with ideal touch on every throw in the route tree. That combination regularly leaves defenses frustrated. And Rodgers -- entering his 19th season -- is No. 2 behind Burrow because, more often than not, he still puts receivers in a great position to succeed.-- Jason Reid

Biggest surprise: I'm pretty shocked that Josh Allen isn't on this list. You don't throw the ball with success as much as he does without accuracy. I would have guessed there would be more appreciation for how hard it is to be an accurate passer -- which he is at this stage of his career -- when you run the ball as much as he does (100-plus carries in four straight seasons). He now has three straight seasons with 35 or more TD throws, and he was only off target on 14.7% of his throws in 2022. -- Hasselbeck

Stat to know:Over the past two seasons, only two quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts have recorded a completion percentage over expectation (CPOE) of plus-3% or higher, per NFL Next Gen Stats. One is Burrow (plus-4.1%), who ranked No. 1 on our list. The other? Fifth-ranked Smith, all the way up at plus-4.8%.-- Walder

Riser to watch:Combine the talent of Lawrence as a thrower and another year of coaching from quarterback guru Doug Pederson, and it's natural to think T-Law is in for a huge step up in his development in 2023. We saw glimpses last year, as Lawrence led the Jaguars to the divisional round of the playoffs while completing 66.3% of his passes for 25 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. With a better supporting cast and more experience, he should soon be recognized as one of the league's most accurate throwers.-- Miller

Snubbed:The biggest snub was Lawrence. He was greatly improved last year, going from a 59.6% completion percentage as a rookie to 66.3% in his second year. With Calvin Ridley reemerging after his suspension and Evan Engram signed to a long-term contract, Lawrence and this entire Jacksonville passing offense should take a major stride forward in 2023.-- Tannenbaum

Others who received at least one vote:Josh Allen, Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Derek Carr


It's not only about pass velocity or placement. How the ball 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.

1. Joe Burrow, Bengals

2. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

4. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

T-5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

T-5. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

7. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

T-8. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

T-8. Kirk Cousins, Vikings

10. Jared Goff, Lions

Best of the best:There are ways to generally quantify touch, as Burrow's career completion percentage of 68.2% tells part of the story. But touch is about more than that, as Burrow has an uncanny ability to blend accuracy, velocity, trajectory and feel that leads to making throws into tight windows look far easier than they actually are to complete.-- Yates

Biggest surprise: Geno Smith should be in the top 10. I've made the case that no quarterback in the NFL threw more perfect passes last season than Smith, and many of those throws were downfield with perfect trajectory and pace on the football. He actually belongs in the top eight here.-- Orlovsky

Stat to know:Over the past two seasons, Rodgers leads quarterbacks in CPOE when targeting corner routes (plus-13%), and that's a pass that often requires excellent touch.-- Walder

Riser to watch:He's only a redshirt sophomore and hasn't been drafted yet, but North Carolina'sDrake Mayeis someone to watch in this category in the future. He has an especially great feel for deep throws to targets along the sideline, and it helped him hit 63 completions on passes of 20-plus air yards last season, the fifth-best mark in the country.-- Jordan Reid

Snubbed:I was shocked to see Matthew Stafford missing here. Yes, he can throw absolute lasers, but let's not forgot about his ability to deliver the ball with both touch and pace. It allows Stafford to layer throws over the second level of the defense or drop the ball into a bucket downfield. Other notable omissions that stood out were Josh Allen and Russell Wilson.-- Bowen

Others who received at least one vote:Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, Geno Smith, Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford, Justin Fields, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Jones, Jacoby Brissett, Lamar Jackson


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. Joe Burrow, Bengals

2. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

4. Justin Herbert, Chargers

T-5. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

T-5. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

T-7. Josh Allen, Bills

T-7. Kirk Cousins, Vikings

9. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

T-10. Matthew Stafford, Rams

T-10. Jared Goff, Lions

Best of the best:Burrow's completion percentages in each of his first three NFL seasons speak for themselves: 65.3%, 70.4% and 68.3%. But the foundation of those sparkling numbers is Burrow's nearly flawless mechanics. His footwork on drops, his arm angles on throws, his throwing delivery -- Burrow is a model of efficiency at all of it. And although Rodgers comes in at No. 2 on the list, he might be the greatest of all time in this area and remains masterful.-- Jason Reid

Biggest surprise: It sure seems like we have come a long way with what is considered sound mechanics. The top four QBs on this list all have an ability to change arm angles and find ways to get the ball out quickly. And with this new appreciation for different ways to be "sound" throwing the football, it's hard to shake guys like Lawrence, Cousins and Tagovailoa off the list. -- Hasselbeck

Riser to watch:We've heard a lot about the work ethic of Jalen Hurts, and that has helped him rework his mechanics since his Alabama days. He now has a looser throwing motion, crisper footwork and less wasted motion in his delivery. NFL analysts will soon be calling Hurts' mechanics some of the finest in football.-- Miller

Snubbed:To echo Matt Miller, Hurts is probably already the biggest snub here. We saw some real improvement from him all of last season, but I think his flawless mechanics stood out most in the Super Bowl, when he completed 71.1% of his passes.-- Tannenbaum

Others who received at least one vote:Jalen Hurts, Geno Smith, Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson, Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray

Field vision

Here we're looking 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. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

2. Joe Burrow, Bengals

3. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

4. Josh Allen, Bills

5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

6. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

7. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

8. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

10. Matthew Stafford, Rams

Best of the best:There are so many things that make defending Mahomes a near-impossible task, but near the top of the list is that no play is ever over. That's because Mahomes seemingly has a 360-degree view of every play, tracking both what is taking place right around him and what is happening down the field. His instincts and vision -- combined with his ability to elude pressure -- form a dangerous skill set.-- Yates

Biggest surprise: Kirk Cousins should be in the top 10. The Minnesota offense asks a lot of him when it comes to seeing the field and reading it out, often with multiple layers of progressions. He does it at a very high level.-- Orlovsky

Stat to know:Over the past three seasons, Mahomes has recorded the lowest rate of tight-window throws (10%), and his targets have had the most separation on average (3.8), per NFL Next Gen Stats. I often caution against using those metrics without further context, but I will say I think those numbers have a lot more to do with Mahomes and the Chiefs' scheme than the team's receivers. Since those stats are generated only on targets, it shows Mahomes is throwing to receivers who have separated, a credit to his ability to read the field.-- Walder

Riser to watch:Lawrence took a huge leap during his second season under coach Doug Pederson, but he could make an even bigger one this year. He looked more poised and in control in 2022, and with 20 of his 25 touchdown passes coming against man coverage, Lawrence thrived when teams attempted to play his receivers with one-on-one looks. If we see a jump in production against zone coverage, he will likely be in the top five of this category next summer. I'll also quickly mention USC'sCaleb Williams; the potential No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft has an innate feel for the entire field.-- Jordan Reid

Snubbed:Jared Goff sees it fast on both play-action and drop-back concepts, and he can hit defined windows or take the throws that are available. And in Detroit's heavily schemed pass game, he can set his throwing window to quickly deliver the ball. I'd also like to see Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr on this list.-- Bowen

Others who received at least one vote:Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, Lamar Jackson, Geno Smith, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Mac Jones, Ryan Tannehill, Jared Goff, Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones

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 fewer opportunities for the other team -- and likely more points for yours.

1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

2. Joe Burrow, Bengals

3. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

4. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

6. Jared Goff, Lions

7. Geno Smith, Seahawks

8. Kirk Cousins, Vikings

9. Josh Allen, Bills

10. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

Best of the best:It's easy to focus on the fact that Mahomes dazzles with no-look and behind-the-back passes, but most importantly, he keeps the Chiefs moving down the field by taking care of the football. As defenses adjusted after Mahomes' spectacular start to his career, regularly playing deep coverages designed to prevent his signature big plays, he, too, changed his approach. Instead of forcing balls into double coverage, which often results in turnovers, Mahomes became a tactician on short- and medium-range passes. And obviously, the results have been spectacular for the Chiefs.-- Jason Reid

Biggest surprise:I am really surprised Rodgers wasn't at the top of this list. Sure, 2022 was an ugly season for him, but we know he was dealing with a thumb injury. His track record of being aggressive with the football but also not turning it over is second to none. Before throwing 12 interceptions last year, he went four straight years with five or fewer and hadn't been in the double digits since 2010.-- Hasselbeck

Stat to know:Trevor Lawrence didn't crack our collective top 10, but the Jaguars passer had a 1.3% interception rate (sixth best) and 4.3% sack rate (fourth best) last season, all while playing behind an offensive line that ranked 31st in pass block win rate.-- Walder

Riser to watch:In two seasons as Ohio State's starter, C.J. Stroud had 85 touchdown passes and just 12 interceptions. He established himself as an elite decision-maker, and not just in limiting turnovers. He always knows where to go with the football, how to attack a defense and how to set his playmakers up for success. That'll carry over to the pros as soon as he acclimates to the speed of the NFL game with the Texans.-- Miller

Snubbed:Daniel Jones! No quarterback improved more in this area in 2022 than Jones, who had only five interceptions and six fumbles last season under the guidance of coach Brian Daboll. With pass-catcher Darren Waller added to the mix in New York, I expect a similar season out of Jones in 2023.-- Tannenbaum

Others who received at least one vote:Trevor Lawrence, Matthew Stafford, Daniel Jones, Derek Carr, Brock Purdy, Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Jacoby Brissett, Deshaun Watson

Compete level and toughness

Who has the most desire to win? Toughness rolls into it, and our analysts looked at each quarterback's bounce-back ability and resilience here, along with how well they can take a hit. Physicality is a big trait in this section, too. Compete level also speaks to a quarterback's command of his offense, leadership qualities and ability to deliver in the clutch. Simply put, you can never count out the players who made this top 10.

1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

2. Josh Allen, Bills

3. Joe Burrow, Bengals

4. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

6. Matthew Stafford, Rams

7. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

8. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

9. Justin Fields, Bears

T-10. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

T-10. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

Best of the best:There are intangible traits that you just know when you see them. The Chiefs have found themselves in precarious situations often -- even in the playoffs -- and perpetually overcome them. A double-digit lead is far from safe against Kansas City, and that starts with Mahomes' unflappable nature. He believes his team will always win, and more often than not, he's very right.-- Yates

Biggest surprise: I would probably have Hurts even higher when it comes to toughness. Cracking the top three is tough given the names occupying those spots, but it's also pretty hard to envision a guy who might be the best leader in football not appearing in that elite group at the top of the list.-- Orlovsky

Stat to know:Fields was contacted on 42% of action plays last season, by far the highest among quarterbacks in the league. Consider that Marcus Mariota ranked second ... at 32%.-- Walder

Riser to watch:Kenny Pickett could rise quickly in this category. He isn't afraid to take off and use his legs, and he has already displayed a high level of toughness and grit. Pickett had back-to-back fourth-quarter comebacks in Weeks 16 and 17 for the Steelers last season, making him the first rookie passer in NFL history to accomplish that in consecutive games.-- Jordan Reid

Snubbed:Ryan Tannehill displays a physical element at the position. He's competitive and tough -- both as a ball carrier and pocket thrower -- and I'm really surprised he didn't get more votes.-- Bowen

Others who received at least one vote:Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, Tua Tagovailoa, Russell Wilson, Kenny Pickett, Deshaun Watson, Daniel Jones

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. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

T-2. Joe Burrow, Bengals

T-2. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

4. Justin Herbert, Chargers

5. Josh Allen, Bills

6. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

7. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

8. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

T-9. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

T-9. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Best of the best:Mahomes is at No. 1 yet again. He has total command of the pocket and displays an uncanny ability to sense edge rushers closing from his blind side. Mahomes climbs the pocket deftly, spins to open areas smoothly or extends plays when necessary. His knack for eluding the rush while remaining in the pocket infuriates defensive players. While Burrow and Rodgers don't quite match Mahomes' moves in the pocket, they are darn good in this spot, too.-- Jason Reid

Biggest surprise: I didn't think Hurts would end up this high on the list. The subtle pocket movement that we witnessed Tom Brady do so well shows up with guys like Burrow, Rodgers and Mahomes, but it's harder to find in many quarterbacks. I wasn't expecting to see Hurts at No. 6.-- Hasselbeck

Stat to know:Mahomes had a 0.11 sack-to-pressure ratio last season, best in the NFL (Herbert was second at 0.15). And it was no fluke. Mahomes has led the NFL in that category in three of the past five years, and he finished second in the other two.-- Walder

Riser to watch:Let's go back to September 2022, when Alabama was trailing Texas by two points with 27 seconds left. That's when Bryce Young made a play that sums up his high-level pocket presence. A Texas cornerback executed a perfectly timed blitz and made contact with Young in the backfield, but he shrugged off the would-be tackler, broke the pocket while keeping his eyes scanning the field and eventually ran for a first down in a game-changing play that led to an Alabama victory. That's what the Panthers' No. 1 overall pick is bringing to the pros and why he already received votes here before even strapping on pads in an NFL game.-- Miller

Snubbed:Matthew Stafford's movement traits and instincts in the pocket have allowed him to play at a high level for a long time, so I would have expected him to make the top 10. But Brock Purdy is a close second for me as the biggest snub. He showed tremendous poise and instincts in the pocket as a rookie, and his 48 games of experience at Iowa State showed up in his play last season with the Niners.-- Tannenbaum

Others who received at least one vote:Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Bryce Young, Justin Fields, Geno Smith, Deshaun Watson, Ryan Tannehill, Derek Carr, Brock Purdy, Kyler Murray

Rushing ability

Many modern NFL quarterbacks have the ability to contribute in the run game, and offensive coordinators are not only looking to their QBs for designed runs and option reads more often but also unscripted scramble runs. So whose speed, instincts, vision, elusiveness and physicality as a runner are the most impressive?

1. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

2. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

3. Justin Fields, Bears

4. Josh Allen, Bills

5. Kyler Murray, Cardinals

6. Anthony Richardson, Colts

7. Daniel Jones, Giants

8. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

9. Justin Herbert, Chargers

10. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

Best of the best:The conversation surrounding Jackson's rushing should not be centered around whether he's the best in the NFL today -- it should be about whether he is the best rushing quarterback to ever play the game. I'd argue yes, as his combination of speed and agility completely changes the equation for the Ravens' offense every single play. He's unstoppable as a runner, averaging 6.1 yards per carry over five seasons and posting two campaigns with 1,000-plus yards on the ground.-- Yates

Biggest surprise:I'd personally have Joe Burrow in the top 10, and I'd probably drop Herbert out. Herbert barely runs (14th in QB rushes last season at 54), whereas Burrow scrambles a ton (75 carries in 2022, seventh most). Burrow is very much like Mahomes in the sense he can situationally break your back with a timely run. I'll also be interested to see if Richardson can get into the top three by next season.-- Orlovsky

Stat to know:We're combining designed runs and scrambles here, but I like to think of those as separate skills. In terms of designed runs, Hurts was the clear No. 1 in expected points added last season (48.2, almost double every other QB). But he ranked only sixth in EPA on scrambles, with Fields (45.8) and Allen (43.3) leading the way there.-- Walder

Riser to watch:Young quarterbacks can rely on their mobility as they adjust to the pro game. Orlovsky mentioned Richardson, but Bryce Young is also more than capable as a runner. He won't rip off a ton of straight-ahead chunk plays, but I see some similarity to Murray in how he stretches defenses with slippery playmaking ability outside the structure of the offense.-- Jordan Reid

Snubbed:With an ability to produce on both designed carries and scramble attempts, Deshaun Watson has the dual-threat traits to create conflict for opposing defenses as a runner. It's the speed that stands out most, but solid ball carrier vision and open-field instincts allow Watson to produce on the ground. Ryan Tannehill, Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson all could have made the list, too.-- Bowen

Others who received at least one vote:Ryan Tannehill, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Trey Lance, Russell Wilson, Joe Burrow, Sam Darnold, Sam Howell

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 -- and can be the difference between eventual points and a stalled drive.

1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

2. Josh Allen, Bills

3. Aaron Rodgers, Jets

4. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

T-5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

T-5. Joe Burrow, Bengals

7. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

8. Kyler Murray, Cardinals

9. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

10. Justin Fields, Bears

Best of the best:Mahomes is so far ahead of the pack in this area that he's really in a category of one. Coaches say NFL quarterbacks make their money on third down and off-schedule plays, and Mahomes is simply dominant in both areas. As great as he is in the pocket, he's even more dangerous when forced from it. He's comfortable delivering passes from myriad arm angles while on the run, keeping would-be tacklers off balance. It's the best part of his game, and that's saying something.-- Jason Reid

Biggest surprise: Deshaun Watson was very good at creating offense with second-reaction plays in Houston. It seemed like the Texans lived in empty looks, and he was able to extend plays to find something better. But after nearly two full seasons off the field -- including an 11-game suspension -- and a disappointing return to it late last season, there seems to be a big departure from where his off-schedule playmaking was in 2020. -- Hasselbeck

Stat to know:Herbert led the league last season in number of throws while moving at least 8 mph, per NFL Next Gen Stats, with 120. While Burrow trailed way behind in quantity (47), he made up for it with incredible efficiency, generating 0.53 EPA per play on those throws. No other QB was higher than 0.32.-- Walder

Riser to watch:Rookie Anthony Richardson can quickly climb the ranks in the second-reaction category, but we have to mention USC superstar and likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draftCaleb Williams. His ability to make plays happen and create from off-platform throws already has scouts comparing him to Mahomes. And Williams still has a full season of college football and almost a full year of learning under Trojans coach Lincoln Riley before he's hitting an NFL field. He should make this top 10 next year before even playing a pro game.-- Miller

Snubbed:While not necessarily known for this trait, Dak Prescott does a really good job of extending plays and keeping his eye level down the field. Daniel Jones also greatly improved in this area last season, ranking sixth in QBR outside the pocket (65.6).-- Tannenbaum

Others who received at least one vote:Dak Prescott, Geno Smith, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Tua Tagovailoa, Derek Carr, Daniel Jones

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