Heading into the 2022 season, there wasn’t a more talented group of quarterbacks anywhere in the NFL outside of the AFC West. Former Seahawks Super Bowl-winning passer Russell Wilson was just traded to the Broncos and Derek Carr was coming off a playoff appearance with the Raiders. Add both of them to a group with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert and you had yourself the most exciting division in football.
However, things didn’t pan out nearly as well as many hoped. Wilson wound up being a dud in his first season with the Broncos and the Raiders stumbled to a top-10 pick in this year’s draft. Both the Chargers and Chiefs made the playoffs (the latter also winning the Super Bowl) so at least half of the division played up to some level of their standards.
With that season now behind us, the folks at NFL.com went about ranking each division once again based on their talent at quarterback and you’ll likely be surprised to find out the AFC West failed to crack the top two this year.
According to NFL analyst Adam Schein, the AFC West is the third best division in terms of quarterback talent, behind the top-ranked AFC North and the second place AFC East.
Is this surprising to you? Well, it should be. The number ranked group from the AFC North obviously boasts both Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson. But beyond that? Second-year passer Kenny Pickett and Deshaun Watson, both of whom struggled in 2022 when they both finally made it onto the field.
Somehow, this group was deemed better than both the AFC West and the AFC East who honestly garner one of the best quarterbacks groups with Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, and the newest addition in Aaron Rodgers. Now that group is far-and-away better than the quartet above them, but that’s just one man’s opinion.
In fact, I’d still place the AFC West above the AFC North based on the same reasoning the West dropped. Wilson had a bad year and expectations are low for Jimmy G in Las Vegas. Watson is coming off a down stretch and Pickett wasn’t anything spectacular as a rookie. It’s almost a wash between the two, in my opinion.
Here’s what Schein had to say about the Chargers in the AFC West:
“In terms of natural talent, Herbert isn’t far from Mahomes. He’s the kind of quarterback you build in a lab: a strapping athlete at 6-foot-6 and 236 pounds with a golden arm. Still just 25 years old, Herbert’s poised to author his best season yet in Year 4. With first-round pick Quentin Johnston joining Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the Chargers have a legit Big Three at wide receiver — with an emphasis on BIG. I can’t wait to see how Los Angeles’ new offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore, maximizes the Bolts’ aerial attack.”
Here’s how the rest of the rankings fared:
4.) NFC North (Kirk Cousins, Justin Fields, Jordan Love, Jared Goff)
5.) NFC East (Dak Prescott, Jalen Hurts, Sam Howell, Daniel Jones)
6.) NFC West (Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray, Geno Smith, Brock Purdy/Trey Lance)
7.) AFC South (Trevor Lawrence, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Ryan Tannehill)
8.) NFC South (Desmond Ridder, Bryce Young, Derek Carr, Baker Mayfield)