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Top 5 Best Ever NFL Quarterbacks - Then and Now

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
8 min read
Top 5 Best Ever Nfl Quarterbacks 2020
  • How do the top-5 all time QBs measure up to today’s current best?
  • The game of pro football has evolved, and so have the leaders of these NFL teams.
  • The NFL quarterback is typically the highest-paid player on the roster.
  • Only one of the QBs on the all-time great list is still playing, but he’s not top-5 now.

Tough to say what makes a good NFL quarterback great – Super Bowl wins, total wins, total yards or touchdowns thrown – but to make the top five all-time or current lists of QBs, a player has to excel in all of those categories and more throughout his career.

The game of football has evolved greatly over the last three decades, as has the role of the quarterback as on-field general, so that, of course, makes it tough to compare the men who play the QB position currently with those who have in the past.

Here we take a quick look at the (arguably) top-5 QBs now and historically, men who have taken their position to its highest levels, and then we see how that expected greatness is reflected in their odds of success during this 2020 season.

Top-5 Quarterbacks THEN

These five quarterbacks are the historic best at their position, but only one, Tom Brady, still has the chance to improve their historic significance this season, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

5) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos

Anyone who watched Manning play saw a QB who reinvented the game, shouting adjustments at the line and winning Super Bowls with two franchises during his record-breaking career that consisted of 200 combined postseason and regular-season wins.

4) John Elway, Denver Broncos

Sure, he threw some interceptions, but Elway topped 50,000 passing yards and 300 touchdowns, plus the man was mobile, adding 3,407 rushing yards to his career totals, winning his final two Super Bowl appearances.

3) Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts

What’s incredible about Unitas and his “golden arm” was not only his ability to complete passes (40,000+ career passing yards, 290 touchdowns) but his ability to play the game in older times the “modern way,” with 3 championships to his name.

2) Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers

With eye-popping career numbers (40,551 total passing yards, 273 touchdowns), Montana made the Pro Bowl eight times and back-to-back MVPs in ’89 and ’90, finishing 4-for-4 in championships with 3 Super Bowl MVPs.

1) Tom Brady, New England Patriots

With six Super Bowl rings taking up more than one hand’s worth of fingers, Brady is no doubt the GOAT, and given that he still has a chance to win another league championship with the Bucs this year, his reign could continue for a while longer.

Top-5 Quarterbacks NOW

Just two of these current top QBs, Brees and Wilson, are veterans with five or more seasons under their belt, while the other three are the “new guys” who have all but taken over their position since entering the league.

5) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Now in his fifth NFL season, Prescott is facing a “prove it” year as he plays on the franchise tag in 2020 under a new head coach, averaging just shy of 4,000 passing yards per season with a 97.0 passer rating.

4) Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

This should be the 41-year old’s last season but most likely won’t be, since the Saints QB is still at the top of his game, and now he not only has one of the best receivers in the league in Michael Thomas, he also gets to target Emmanuel Sanders.

3) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Known as a passer and a rusher, Wilson has been remarkably durable at the position, having never missed a game, and now that he has a few targets to throw footballs at (D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Phillip Dorsett and tight end Greg Olsen) his 2020 could be out of this world.

2) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Talk about leaping into the league at full speed, Jackson and his ability to both scramble and throw have turned his Ravens into an AFC threat by leading his team both on the ground and through the air, last season with 1,206 rushing yards, a 66.1 completion percentage with 36 touchdowns on just 401 passes.

1) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

No surprise here, last seasons Super Bowl MVP is not only the best QB in the game playing today, but you could also argue he’s the best overall athlete in the league, his ability to bring his team back into the game proven time and time again, his career numbers impressive, averaging 4,564 passing yards, 38 TDs with just 8.5 picks per season.

NFL QB Total Passing Yards Odds

Odds taken 27 July, 2020 from DraftKings

NFL Quarterback, 2020 Season Total Passing Yards +/- Odds
Patrick Mahomes 4500.5 -110
Lamar Jackson 3250.5 -110
Russell Wilson 3900.5 -110
Drew Brees 3900.5 -110
Dak Prescott 4275.5 -110

Keep in mind the odds in these wagers will shift plenty of times before the actual games are played, so be sure to check back here often to get all the latest numbers.

NFL QB Season Total Odds

NFL Quarterback, 2020 Season Total TDs +/- Odds
Patrick Mahomes 34.5 -110
Lamar Jackson 26.5 -110
Russell Wilson 30.5 -110
Drew Brees 29.5 -110
Dak Prescott 27.5 -110
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Mike Lukas

1204 Articles

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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