Top 50 Quarterbacks of All-Time
The staple of any good offense has generally been the quarterback, and we are now living in an era where it is a must to go onto have any postseason success. Measuring a good quarterback can come down to a few things, and many seem to point towards Super Bowl wins. That would of course put Tom Brady as the greatest of all-time, but it would also have Terry Bradshaw up there was well. In addition to Super Bowl wins, efficiency, overall stats, and durability are other keys. A name like Philip Rivers has been one of the most durable and consistent quarterbacks in the last few decades, yet is likely going to be surpassed over by a few names from this era. The Peyton Manning and Joe Montana names are going to be at the top of the list, but after we get by the clear-cut options, we start to have some names that everybody might not agree with. We also have to think about the eras that quarterbacks played in, where 500+ passing attempts were extremely rare, or maybe a quarterback broke the mold and transformed the NFL.
1. Tom Brady
Brady has over 500 passing touchdowns in counting, and we look back at the 2007 team that nearly ran the table, but the Randy Moss connection was one of the best we have ever seen. Brady has five Super Bowl titles, and is a three time MVP winner. This is all in counting of course, as the 41-year-old doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. He ranks third all-time in passing touchdowns, and fourth in passing yards.
2. Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning’s playoff record is what keeps him from likely being the GOAT. He is first all-time in passing touchdowns, although Drew Brees and Tom Brady are closing in quickly. Manning is second all-time in passing yards, and is a five-time MVP. He managed to get to 14 Pro Bowls, and was a seven-time All-Pro. Manning did manage to win two Super Bowls, but was a part of many Colts teams that could have made it more. Adding another Super Bowl or two would have solidified himself as the best of all-time in my eyes.
3. Joe Montana
Joe Montana was one of the best to do it, and you could easily flip flop his name with a few of the names listed within the top ten, but Montana in the era he did it in was something special. He finished with a 63% completion rate, over 40,000 yards, and 273 touchdowns. He went 4-0 in Super Bowls and finished with two MVPs as well. The 49ers lucked out with the long tenure of Montana, transitioning to Steve Young in the early 90s. Montana was the 1989 Offensive Player of the Year, where he completed 70% of his passes. He is a 49er legend, and definitely a top QB of all-time.
4. Dan Marino
Dan Marino broke into the NFL during the early 80s and passing attacks were a bit limited. Marino was a glimpse of what to see in the future, as the Dolphins were a high flying offense that through over 550 times most seasons. He racked up over 60,000 yards and 420 passing touchdowns. He never won a Super Bowl, which is the only knock on his record when evaluating him with other quarterbacks. Marino won one MVP award, and was a nine-time Pro Bowler.
5. Brett Favre
The gunslinging Brett Favre is going to be known for playing like a child, in a good way, and then the interceptions. We all wanted to be like Favre running down towards the end zone with our hands up, and if you didn’t, you are a liar. Favre won his only Super Bowl in 1997 where he also had 35 passing touchdowns. He finished with over 500 and over 71,000 passing yards. The 336 interceptions are certainly a downgrade, but Favre didn’t change his style for anyone, and we have to celebrate that now. Favre also played a very durable career, finishing with over 300 games played.
6. John Elway
John Elway is up there on the list of quarterbacks, but this might be where we start the first tier drop off. Elway is ninth all-time in passing yards, and 11th in passing touchdowns, which puts his name among some of the bets. He also was a two-time Super Bowl winner late in his career, and took hime an MVP. Elway’s 234 career games added up, given he didn’t have a season over 30 passing touchdowns, and had only one season over 4,000 passing yards. Because he didn’t have any flashy seasons, this downgrades him a bit, but the overall success was still there.
7. Steve Young
San Francisco lucked out with a string of strong quarterback play, and Steve Young followed Joe Montana in an era where San Francisco was winning titles left and right. Young is a Hall of Famer, and won three Super Bowl titles. He was not only a fantastic passer, but also rushed for over 4,000 yards and for 43 touchdowns. This is all in addition to his 33,000 passing yards and 232 passing touchdowns. Young completed 64% of his passes, and was also an Offensive Player of the Year in 1992.
8. Drew Brees
The path of Drew Brees is an interesting one, who was questioned during his time in San Diego and also was always overlooked because of his height. Brees has turned into one of the most accurate passers in the game, and moving to New Orleans with their aerial attack pushed him to break many records. Brees is second all-time in passing touchdowns, but another season would likely take him over Peyton Manning to be number one. He is also number one all-time in passing yards, and by a hefty margin now. Brees is one of the best to do it, and another Super Bowl ring would truly cement himself among the greatest.
9. Johnny Unitas
Johnny Unitas was one of the early greats, and that era he might have been the best of all-time. He was somewhat of a game changer for the sport, as his passing yards were far higher than some of the others during that time. Unitas was a three-time MVP winner, and took up three NFL Championships and one Super Bowl Championship. He also finished with five All-Pro appearances, and ten Pro Bowls. Unitas finished with 290 touchdowns and over 40,000 passing yards, which is iconic for his time.
10. Otto Graham
We go back to the 40s and 50s to find Otto Graham, who threw for 23,000 yards and 175 touchdowns. Graham is a Hall of Famer, and is decorated in championships. He won four AAFC Championships and three NFL Championships. Graham played his entire career with the Browns, and threw for 20+ touchdowns in three of his eleven seasons. Graham isn’t going to stand out, but when we go back to this era of time, Graham was the top of his class, and his Hall of Fame status shows it.
11. Fran Tarkenton
Fran Tarkenton was a part of the Minnesota Vikings stretch in the 70s where they were doomed in the playoffs. He played for the Giants as well in the late 60s. Tarkenton threw for over 45,000 passing yards and 342 passing touchdowns. He also played over 200 games and was over a .500 quarterback as well. Tarkenton is a Hall of Famer, and went to nine Pro Bowls. He also won the 1975 Offensive Player of the Year award, and was an All-Pro in 1975. His last season he went out with nearly 3,500 yards and 32 touchdowns.
12. Aaron Rodgers
I feel strongly that we were truly robbed of a better Aaron Rodgers’ career than what we have been given. He is already over the age of 35, and does have a Super Bowl and two MVPs to show for it, but has also had two seasons cut short due to injury and a moron head coach for the last ten years. Rodgers has over 40,000 passing yards and counting, and has surpassed 330 passing touchdowns. His stats are still accumulating, and Rodgers is one of those quarterbacks you have to watch to know how good he truly is.
13. Roger Staubach
Roger Staubach only played 131 games, but went 85-29 in his career. He had 21 game winning drives in his career, which gave him the name Captain Comeback. Staubach also broke into the league at 27, playing till he was 37, which was an odd amount of playing years. He managed to win two Super Bowls, and went to six Pro Bowls. Staubach finished with only 22,700 career yards and 153 touchdowns which isn’t going to fall in line with a lot of names here, but for the era he was a strong quarterback.
14. Dan Fouts
Dan Fouts was another strong quarterback who never managed to win a Super Bowl. He went about .500 in his career with some very mediocre teams, but his production was strong. He finished with over 250 touchdowns and 43,000 yards. Fouts is 16th all-time in passing yards, and 20th all-time in passing touchdowns. The 242 interceptions is a blip on his overall record, but Fouts had some strong 4,000+ yard seasons, which was rare during his time. He also hit a career high 4,802 yards and 33 touchdowns in 1981.
15. Bart Starr
Bart Starr finished with a 94-57-6 record in his career, throwing for over 24,000 yards and 152 passing touchdowns. Starr is a Hall of Famer, and is one of the more iconic Green Bay Packers. He won two Super Bowls and five NFL Championships. Starr also has an MVP to his name. Starr never surpassed 20 touchdowns in a season, or 2,500 passing yards, but this was more of an era thing playing the 60s. His success with Green Bay is what is more notable here.
16. Warren Moon
Warren Moon was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2006, and is one of the better quarterbacks to come out of this era. We remember Moon during his time with Houston, where he had a couple of seasons over 4,500 yards and had a career high in touchdowns at 33. Moon went to the Pro Bowl nine times, and won Offensive Player of the Year in 1990. Moon ranks 14th all-time in passing touchdowns, and 10th all-time in passing yards. He is up there among the best.
17. Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman is a top 50 quarterback, but the more I looked into him, the more I dropped him below others. Yes he won three Super Bowls with a tremendous Dallas team that was more than just Aikman. He went 94-71 in his career, throwing for over 30,000 yards and just 165 passing touchdowns. Give it another 10-20 years and Aikman isn’t likely going to be cracking this list. He did go to six Pro Bowls, but was never an All-Pro. He was a decent game manager for his running backs, but that was about it.
18. Joe Namath
Broadway Joe Namath might be a bit overrated, but in NFL history he certainly belongs in the top 50. Namath has 220 interceptions, which is far over his 173 passing touchdown total. He also completed just 50% of his passes, and was under .500 for a record in his career. He did manage to win three AFL Player of the Year awards, and an AFL Championship. This combined with his Super Bowl, and five-time Pro Bowls. Namath was a bright spot during a time with a few quarterbacks that were thriving in the league.
19. Randall Cunningham
Randall Cunningham was one of the more dynamic quarterbacks in the league, and his rushing ability was one of a kind during this era. Cunningham rushed for nearly 5,000 yards in his career, and had 35 rushing touchdowns. He also went 82-52 in his time, and had nearly 30,000 passing yards and 207 passing touchdowns. Cunningham was also one of the better quarterbacks at not turning the ball over, which is something that ranks highly for me when evaluating a quarterback.
20. Terry Bradshaw
Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls, which is going to insert himself in a lot of all-time talks, but he still ranks a little lower to me. He finished with 212 touchdowns and 210 interceptions. Bradshaw’s game didn’t really evolve until the second half of his career, where he started to throw 20+ touchdowns a season. He did go 107-51 in his career, but played during one of the best defensive stretches of all-time, which was a nice bump to his career. Bradshaw did manage to take home an MVP award, and was a Pro Bowler three times.
21. Y.A. Tittle
Y.A. Tittle played back in the late 40s, 50s, and 60s. He is a Hall of Famer, and was inducted in 1971. He won an MVP, and was a seven time Pro Bowler, with three All-Pro appearances. Tittle finished with 242 touchdowns in his career, and 33,000 passing yards. He also rushed for 39 touchdowns in his career. Tittle was one of the few on this list who didn’t go onto win a championship, and playing from 22-to-38 he had some opportunities later on his career.
22. Ken Stabler
Ken Stabler went 96-49-1 in his career, and completed about 60% of his passes. While he finished with more interceptions than touchdowns, he won’t be the only name to do so on this list. He finished with 27,000 yards, and 194 touchdowns. He had success winning a Super Bowl, and was an MVP as well. In 1974 he won the Offensive Player of the Year award, and was a four-time Pro Bowler. Stabler was a later Hall of Fame add, being induced just a few years ago in 2016.
23. Bob Griese
Bob Griese was a part of that undefeated Miami team, but only started a few games. He finished his career with 161 games, and went 95-56-3 in that time. He had 192 passing touchdowns, was also a two-time Super Bowl Champion which helps his cause on this list. Griese was an eight-time Pro Bowler and was a two-time All-Pro. Griese’s best season came in 1977 where he had 22 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards. This was another quarterback who was surrounded by a good defense and stellar running game as well.
24. Len Dawson
Len Dawson crushed during his era, and was a three time AFL Champion and had one Super Bowl title as well. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame back in 1987. Dawson sat as a backup for the first few years of his career, and once things got going he was one of the best in the league. He played 19 seasons, finishing with 239 touchdowns and 28, 711 yards. Dawson also had one of the better touchdown to interception ratios on this list. He finished with two All-Pro appearances and had seven Pro Bowls.
25. Sonny Jurgensen
Sonny Jurgensen finished 255 yards in his career, which is good for 19th all-time. He also had over 30,000 yards, and had a 4.4% interception percentage. He was a five-time Pro Bowler, and two-time All-Pro. Jurgensen also won an NFL Championship. During the 60s and 70s, he was airing it out a bit more than other quarterbacks, and had quite a few 3,000+ yard seasons which was somewhat abnormal at the time. He had a career high in 1967, where he threw for 3,747 yards and 31 touchdowns.
26. Jim Kelly
Jim Kelly was a part of the Buffalo Bills team that went to the Super Bowl quite a few times to only fall short each time. Kelly managed to go 101-59 in his career, and played his entire with Buffalo. He finished with 237 passing touchdowns, and over 35,000 yards. Kelly was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, and went to five Pro Bowls. In 1991 he set a career high in touchdowns with 33. He had six seasons where had had double-digit wins, and it is a shame they couldn’t pull off one Super Bowl win.
27. Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb will go down as one of the more notable quarterbacks in the 2000s, as well as being famous for his Campbells Chunky Soup commercials. McNabb finished with over 35,000 passing yards and a total of 234 passing touchdowns. He also had a tremendous interception rate as well. We might not remember him as a runner, but he ran for nearly 3,500 yards and had 29 rushing touchdowns as well. He went to six Pro Bowls, but failed to generate more accolades and stumbled in the playoffs often.
28. Phil Simms
While he may be a terrible announcer, Phil Simms is a two-time Super Bowl champion, and went to the Pro Bowl twice as well. Simms is likely not going to crack the Hall of Fame, but still put in a quality career as the Giants quarterback for 164 games. In that span he went 95-64, and threw for 33,462 yards and 199 touchdowns. Simms never had monster seasons, although he had a career high of over 4,000 passing yards in 1984. Simms also enjoyed one of the better defensive runs in the last few decades with that Giants defense being one of the best of all-time.
29. Joe Theismann
Joe Theismann is one of the Washington Redskin greats, who played his entire career with the Skins. He went 77-47 as a starter, and also won a Super Bowl. Theismann was a consistent performer each season, and finished with 25,000 yards and 160 touchdowns in his career. He also was a decent runner, finishing with nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Theismann won the Offensive Player of the Year award in 1983, and was also named All-Pro.
30. Steve McNair
Steve McNair was a dynamic quarterback, who also thrived on the ground as well. He rushed for 3,590 yards and 37 rushing touchdowns. He also finished with over 30,000 passing yards and 174 passing touchdowns. McNair finished with a 91-62 record, and also had an MVP. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and led a group of Tennessee teams that fell just short in the playoffs. Drafted third overall back in 1995, he was certainly a top five pick that lived up to the hype.
31. Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger may not be up there with the Manning and Brady’s of the world, but he is one of the better quarterbacks we have seen in the last two decades. He has made it to six Pro Bowls and counting, and also was the Rookie of the Year back in 2004. Roethlisberger has been surrounded by great weapons in his career, which has brought a stable career. He has over 55,000 passing yards, and over 350 passing touchdowns. He should likely play a few more seasons to pad these stats as well. Roethlisberger was one of the tougher quarterbacks to bring down, and while he isn’t a fast quarterback, he has nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
32. Boomer Esiason
Boomer Esiason had one of the worst haircuts on this list, but was a quality quarterback which might overshadow that fact. He went under .500 in his career, but played on some bad Bengals team that were not necessarily because of his play. Esiason finished with over 35,000 yards and 247 passing touchdowns. He also won an MVP, and went to four Pro Bowls. Esiason had a career high 28 touchdowns and 3,500 yard seasons in back to back years back in 1988 and 1989.
33. Jim Plunkett
Jim Plunkett bounced around a bit, playing with Oakland, New England, and San Francisco. He won two Super Bowl titles, yet never made any Pro Bowls. He was a Comeback Player of the Year in 1980, but doesn’t have any accolades. Plunkett may not have made the list without the two Super Bowls, but during the era he was on some bad teams, and the passing offenses were not in high volume. He still finished with over 25,000 yards and 164 touchdowns.
34. Kurt Warner
Coming into the league at age 27, Kurt Warner took a different route playing in the Arena League first. While the career trajectory is something that could go either way, if he would have broke into the league earlier there is a chance he is up there in the record books. He managed to throw over 30,000 yards and 200+ touchdowns in just 12 years. He was a part of the Rams Super Bowl team, and that St. Louis team was one of the best offenses in history. Warner won two MVP awards, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2017.
35. Archie Manning
While he isn’t as decorated as his two sons Eli and Peyton Manning, Archie was a favorite in New Orleans where he spent most of his career. Manning threw for over 20,000 yards and had 125 passing touchdowns. He also rushed for over 2,000 rushing and 18 touchdowns. Manning went to two Pro Bowls, and while he was often overshadowed on a seasonal basis, he had some strong years. Once the Saints aired it out a bit, he started throwing 3,000 yard seasons.
36. Rich Gannon
Rich Gannon went 76-56 in his career, and nearly won a couple of Super Bowls with Oakland in the early 2000s. Gannon didn’t really start thriving until after his age 30 season, and it took some time for him to gain consistency as a starter. He still managed to finish with four Pro Bowls, and two All-Pro appearances. Gannon had a career high in yards back in 2002, where he posted 4,689 yards. He had 20+ touchdowns in four straight seasons with the Raiders.
37. Mark Brunell
Mark Brunell has a Super Bowl ring to his name, and is a three-time Pro Bowler. He finished with over 30,000 passing yards, and had 184 passing touchdowns. Brunell may not be a name that you think belongs within the top 50, but he was a steady quarterback in the late 90s and early 2000s. He also has one of the better touchdown to interception ratios. He led some good Jacksonville teams, which was the last time they were consistently good. Brunell also rushed for over 2,000 yards.
38. John Hadl
John Hadl was a solid quarterback in the 1960s, and was a gunslinger given he produced over 33,000 yards on somewhat limited attempts. Hadl also had 244 passing touchdowns, and averaged 7.1 yards per attempt. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, and was named All-Pro once. Hadl also managed to win an AFL Championship. In 1968 he set a career high in touchdowns and yards, throwing for 3,473 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also posted above a .500 record in his career.
39. Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers has over 50,000 passing yards in his career, and over 350 passing touchdowns. Both rank inside the top ten all-time, and Rovers continues to churn out solid seasons. He is about 40 games over .500 in his career, but has failed to crack the playoff success. He is also one of the most durable quarterbacks starting 16 games in every season since 2006. Rivers has played his entire career with the Chargers, and a Super Bowl win would have him jump up the rankings as one of the true greats.
40. Drew Bledsoe
Drew Bledsoe was a high volume quarterback, which we remember from the New England Patriots before his injured season in 2001 where Tom Brady then took over. Talk about a nice transition. Bledsoe finished his season with over 40,000 passing yards and 251 touchdowns. He was also a Super Bowl winner, and a four-time Pro Bowler. Bledsoe went 98-95 in his career, and went through some bad seasons with the Patriots, which a lot of fans now will fail to remember.
41. Bernie Kosar
Bernie Kosar is a former number one pick, and we remember him as a Miami Hurricane as well from those 80s teams. Kosar ended up winning a Super Bowl and was announced to the Pro Bowl just one time. He completed nearly 60% of his passes, and threw for 23,301 yards and 124 touchdowns. Kosar’s time is mainly recognized in Cleveland, where he played 108 games.
42. Trent Green
Trent Green came into the league at age 27, attempted one pass in his rookie year, and then started the next for Washington before missing the entire 1999 season with an injury. He went to St. Louis to start five games, and then his time in Kansas City finally came. He was a two-time Pro Bowler, and had three straight seasons with over 4,000 yards. He finished with 28,000 passing yards, and 162 total touchdowns. A few more productive seasons and with a more stable team he would be higher on the list.
43. Ron Jaworski
Ron Jaworski went 73-69 in 188 games as a starter, and in the nickname rankings the Polish Rifle or Jaws were pretty solid. He threw for 28,000 yards and 179 touchdowns. He played on a few good Philly teams, but for the most part it was a rough era there. Jaworski was a Pro Bowler just once. Jaws posted a couple of 3,000 yard seasons, and had a career high in touchdowns during his 1980 season, tossing 27 touchdowns. This was also his Pro Bowl season.
44. Daunte Culpepper
Prime Daunte Culpepper was extremely good, and of course the Minnesota wide receiver core helped him out a bit, but the injuries started to derail his career, which was a real shame. He finished with 24,000 passing yards and 149 touchdowns, but his numbers could have been better with better health. He was a three-time Pro Bowler, and also rushed for 34 touchdowns and 2,500+ rushing yards. In 2002 he rushed for ten touchdowns and 609 rushing yards.
45. Vinny Testaverde
Vinny Testaverde is 16th all-time in passing touchdowns, and 14th in passing yards. This might surprise some folks, but while his teams were not very good, he had a long career of chucking the football. Most of his seasons were losing ones, but 45,000+ passing yards and 275 passing touchdowns are pretty stellar numbers. He was a number one overall pick, and two time Pro Bowler.
46. Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan just missed out on adding a Super Bowl to his track record, but when we look at Ryan’s success there is a lot to like. He is 12th in passing touchdowns, and on the rise with more years in play for him, and is 12th all-time in passing yards. Since Year 3, Ryan has been over 4,000 yards in each season. He is also 102-72 currently as a starter, completing 65% of his passes. He has an MVP, and was also a Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. Ryan should be a Hall of Famer when all is said and done.
47. Eli Manning
While Eli Manning may not be the most efficient or the most consistent quarterback, he has racked up a pretty impressive career that will likely be coming to a close soon. He is currently 8th all-time in passing touchdowns, and 7th all-time in passing yards. Manning has also played in New York his entire career, and won them two Super Bowls as well. He is a four-time Pro Bowler. Manning’s stats can be somewhat tied to his high volume, throwing over 8,000 times in his career, but has completed 60% of them.
48. Michael Vick
Michael Vick was one of the most dynamic quarterbacks we have seen, and we will likely not see another quarterback like him. Vick of course had his troubles where he missed two years due to dog fighting, but was a four-time Pro Bowler. He rushed for over 6,000 yards and had 36 rushing touchdowns. If Vick could have stayed healthy and gotten away from legal troubles, we would likely be looking at one of the greats. Atlanta Vick was impossible to stop on the field and in Madden.
49. Jim Hart
Jim Hart was a longtime Ram, playing with them for 18 seasons. He had over 30,000 passing yards, and had a total of 209 passing touchdowns. Hart had four Pro Bowl appearances, yet couldn’t put together anymore accolades. He was prone to interceptions, with 247 in his career, which is one of the higher numbers in his career. Hart wasn’t the most efficient quarterback, but the production over 19 years puts him on the list, barely.
50. Doug Williams
Doug Williams played just nine seasons, and did manage to win a Super Bowl. He played half his career in Tampa Bay, and the rest with Washington. He ended up getting passed up in Washington, and his sub .500 play likely was the cause of it given some of his teams were pretty bad. Williams managed to throw for 17,000 yards and 100 touchdowns. In his younger days, Williams was an efficient runner, and rushed for 15 touchdowns in 884 yards.