Young, Love, Hurts: NFL Quarterback Tiers for 2023


What’s as American as apple pie AND equally debated? No, it’s not the actual size of a 2×4 at Home Depot, but close—it’s the art of quarterback ranking.

As we hustle and bustle our way towards the NFL’s 2023 season, I’ve found myself with an eyebrow raised high at Will Brinson of CBS Sports and his quarterback tiers. But it’s all in good fun, right? Instead of endlessly arguing with his article in the echo chamber of my office, I’ve decided to lay down my own ranking, sorted into seven carefully curated tiers.

Tier 1: Rockford Peach

  • Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Notes: Speaking of a premium stud, Mahomes is indisputably in a league of his own. The only question with Mahomes is: will he win enough Super Bowls to overtake Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time? Entering his 7th season with two Super Bowl rings, he’s not just playing the game, he’s defining it.

Tier 2: Three Men and a Baby Geezer

  • Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
  • Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets

Notes: Burrow and Hurts are snapping at Mahomes’ heels, but without a Super Bowl, they linger in the second tier. Despite his age, Rodgers can still sling it with the best of them and he is too legendary to be anywhere but here. Allen’s talent is undeniable, but his turnover problem is a glaring weakness preventing him (and the Bills) from taking the next step forward. 

Tier 3: Barber Shop Brilliance

  • Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
  • Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Notes: With their luscious manes ablaze, Herbert, Lawrence, and Jackson have shown sparks of brilliance, but the fire of their potential is yet to fully ignite. Herbert, with his cannon arm and playmaking ability, could climb higher if he leads the Chargers deep into the playoffs. Lawrence, despite flashes of sensational all-around quarterback play, needs a consistently strong season. Many, like me, expect him to contend for the MVP in 2023. Jackson’s unparalleled athleticism has carried the Ravens, but he needs to prove he can stay healthy and win games with his arm now that he has a potent receiver room.

Tier 4: Yeah Butts

  • Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
  • Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints
  • Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
  • Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
  • Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
  • Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
  • Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
  • Jimmy Garoppolo, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Notes: In this tier, we’ve got the “yeah, but…” quarterbacks. Goff has demonstrated leadership and resilience amidst team turnaround. Another successful year coupled with a Lions playoff win could elevate him into tier 3. If Stafford returns from injury looking like the Stafford of old, he could bump up as high as tier 2. Unfortunately, his health remains a question mark and I’m not convinced he’ll ever be the same. Dak, Tua, and Geno have potential but must maintain health and consistent performance to prove they belong in a more elite group. No massaging of Deshaun Watson’s ego here, the Browns QB still needs to prove he is the QB we remember in Houston. In my opinion, Carr, Smith, Garoppolo, and Cousins have maxed their potentials in this tier.

Tier 5: Meh…diocrity 

  • Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
  • Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
  • Daniel Jones, New York Giants
  • Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
  • Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Notes: Russell Wilson’s 2022 slump was a shocker, and it’s uncertain if he can bounce back under Sean Payton’s scheme. Fields has massive potential at quarterback, yet his ability to win with his arm needs validation. A successful season throwing the football could very well catapult him up multiple tiers. Jones, Murray, and Tannehill? All a resounding “meh.”

Tier 6: Felt Purdy, Might Delete Later

  • Mac Jones, New England Patriots
  • Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers
  • Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Notes: Purdy and Pickett are promising prospects with potential stardom on the horizon. Mac Jones, shackled by former (and I use this term loosely) offensive coordinator Mat Patricia, might reveal unseen potential under new OC Bill O’Brien. Mayfield could also reestablish himself in Tampa Bay with a more familiar offense under new OC Dave Canales.

Tier 7: Young Love

  • Sam Howell, Washington Commanders
  • Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons
  • Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers
  • Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers
  • Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
  • CJ Stroud, Houston Texans

Notes: Here we have rookies and those still proving their worth. For me, a rookie quarterback stays here until they show up on the field. As for Howell and Ridder, their potential remains largely untapped, but upcoming seasons may surprise us all. With an underrated wide receiver group and Eric Bieniemy as the new OC, Howell has a chance to shine. Ridder has a promising future with a team loaded with weapons, but I’m not sure what to think about the new QB in Green Bay. The loch ness monster is a better-known entity than Love, for now.

Though we may agree to disagree on some placements, the undeniable truth remains—this list will look different come 2024. Remember: the rankings reflect today’s volatile NFL landscape, ripe with rookies aiming to prove themselves, veterans clawing to remain relevant, and mid-tier talent striving for elite status. Surely, these rankings will incite debate, perhaps some cheers and a few jeers. But that’s the essence of football. As the 2023 season kicks off, expect the unexpected.

Will Brinson of CBS Sports:


For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21


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Original Photo Credit: © Katie Stratman – USA TODAY Sports