Of those, 56 quarterbacks threw at least 25 passes, and 48 threw at least 70 passes, or about two games worth.
That shows the importance of not only having a star at the most important position in the game, but a quality backup and a developmental quarterback in the wings. That seems to be the ideal setup and part of the criteria used in ranking the top five quarterback situations in the NFL today – a star for the present, ideally a veteran for the backup and a legitimate talent to develop.
Depth: Scott Tolzien, Brett Hundley, Matt Blanchard
Simply put, Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL. His 112.2 rating was second in the NFC, his 8.4 yards per attempt is second-best and his 4,381 yards were third. He and Tony Romo were the only two starters in the league last year with a rating above 105. But it goes beyond stats with Rodgers. He has an excellent feel for the game after learning from the successes and mistakes of Brett Favre. It’s not always about yards or touchdowns (his 38 led the conference), but being smart with the ball according to game situations. Impressively, he threw only five interceptions in 520 passes. The Packers also have a good mix of an experienced starter and one to develop behind Rodgers now that they found good value in drafting Hundley in 2015. Rodgers has a lot of good years left in him, but having Hundley for the future just in case was a wise move.
Depth: Matt Hasselbeck, Bryan Bennett
The Colts have the perfect mix of young superstar quarterback, accomplished veteran that can still perform if needed, and a raw, strong-armed rookie to develop. The biggest drawback to their situation might be that, while Bennett has the raw skills, he is considered a long-term project. For the Colts, however, that is OK because Luck is going to be a dazzling the league for a long time, too. Luck might not be the best quarterback in the league yet, but he’s darn close after throwing 40 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and averaging 297 yards per game. Hasselbeck proved very capable last year, throwing two touchdowns, no interceptions and compiling a 102.6 rating in 44 pass attempts. But this is Luck’s show now and well into the future.
Depth: Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson, Ryan Griffin
Brees has consistently been one of the most productive quarterbacks of the last decade and almost always doing it with an average or worse running game. For the last seven years, he has had a rating of 90 or better, alternating every other year at 100 or better. Nobody seems to understand the importance of getting rid of the ball on time better, as witnessed by his 29 sacks despite throwing an incredible 659 passes last year. His had 4,952 yards, 35 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for a 97.0 pass rating. In 2014, he didn’t have a 1,000-yard running back or receiver, but he had three receivers with 880 yards or more. What makes the Saints position on this list so desirable is they have the Pro Bowl quarterback as a starter, the veteran backup and the highly-acclaimed rookie (Garrett Grayson) to develop. With Brees at 36 years old, it might be just the right timeframe for Grayson to develop before Brees hangs up the spikes.
Depth: Jimmy Garoppolo, Garrett Gilbert
The Patriots are this high only partially because of Brady, and if his four-game suspension is completely upheld, they probably shouldn’t be this high. Still, Brady had a 97.7 rating last year, threw for 4,109 yards, 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions and, oh yeah, won another Super Bowl. He isn’t always as flashy as others, but he is the just-win-baby quarterback of the East. Garoppolo proved competent in limited action, completing 70.4 percent of his 27 passes and he will get much more action if Brady’s suspension is upheld. With Brady turning 38 before the season begins, the future of the Patriots will rest on Garoppolo … eventually.
Depth: Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones, Tajh Boyd, Tyler Murphy
Roethlisberger led the AFC with a 103.3 rating and 4,952 yards passing with 32 touchdowns and nine interceptions. That alone puts him ahead of Joe Flacco in the AFC rankings, but good experience behind him is lacking and the developmental prospects are questionable, too, which is why the Steelers don’t rank any higher. Still, Roethlisberger hasn’t missed a game the last two seasons, has never missed more than four games in a season in his 11-year career, and he’s still only 33 years old. For the 6-foot-5, 241-pounder, a well-compensated backup may not be as vital, but pretty soon the Steelers will have to start grooming their quarterback of the future.