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Top 10 NFL Quarterbacks to Start a Franchise With

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen embrace after an AFC Divisional Round matchup in January of 2024.
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever wondered what a league-wide redraft might look like in the NFL? Well, today let's take a look at who the 10 best quarterbacks are in the league for starting a franchise from scratch.

Now, the key thing to remember here is that we are starting a franchise from scratch and building for the future. This is an important detail to keep in mind, as it means all things will be taken into consideration, such as current skill level, age, potential and contracts. That said, before getting into this, please don't say that these aren’t the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL, because they’re not. It is the top 10 to start a franchise with. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s get into it.

No. 1: Patrick Mahomes

Obviously, this one is a no-brainer. Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league right now, and he is also still just 28-years-old. Not only is he ridiculously good, and young, but Mahomes’ contract is also very favorable. He is currently the ninth highest-paid quarterback in the league, an obvious steal for the best of the best. No need to waste too much time here, argue with a wall if you think someone else should be number one.

No. 2: Josh Allen

After Mahomes at No. 1, you can start making arguments for No. 2-10. Although you could make good arguments for other guys at No. 2, Allen is the answer. Many people would agree Allen is the second-best quarterback in the league, as of today. Like Mahomes, Allen is also on the younger side at 28-years-old, and is the 10th highest-paid quarterback in the league—another steal. It’s honestly remarkable that he has yet to win an MVP, but there's a very good chance he gets at least one or two by the time he hangs up the cleats.

No. 3: C.J. Stroud

Again, things are tougher below Mahomes, but there’s still a group that are a cut above the rest. At No. 3, let's go with Stroud. Stroud had one of the greatest rookie seasons by a quarterback in NFL history last season. Although it’s just one year, Stroud looks like the real deal and should only improve. He is 22-years-old and on a rookie contract, what’s not to love?

No. 4: Lamar Jackson

Jackson slides into the four spot in this exercise. You could make the argument for the two-time MVP to be the second guy off the board, but he finds himself at No. 4 for a couple of reasons. First of all, Allen is slightly better than Jackson, even if the awards don’t say so. Second, Stroud is five years younger and on a rookie contract, which is why he gets the nod over Jackson, as well. However, as mentioned above, all the guys in this range are very close. Jackson is the third-best quarterback in the league and only 27-years-old. He is the fourth highest-paid quarterback in the league, but his talent and age more than make up for his loftier contract. 

No. 5: Jordan Love

I’ll preface this by saying, yes, I am a Green Bay Packers fan. However, I will also include that my co-host and on my podcast, “Rock Hard Ball,” also did this exercise and he (a Detroit Lions fan) still took Love with the fifth overall pick. There is a real argument to be made that Love was the best quarterback in the league for the second half of last season. He is only 25-years-old and is (for the time being) on a cheap contract. Love should only continue to get better, but will also have a much higher salary, in the near future. 

No. 6: Joe Burrow

Burrow is an interesting case in this exercise. On one hand, he is probably the third or fourth-best quarterback in the league and is only 27-years-old. On the other hand, he has had injury issues and is currently the highest-paid quarterback in the league. There was a time just a few years ago when we were talking about Burrow being the second-best signal caller in the league, and he took his team to a Super Bowl. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, he has since struggled with injury issues and the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t found the same level of success since that run in 2021. All in all, any general manager would be happy to have Burrow under center, and here’s to hoping he can stay healthy.

Joe Burrow exiting the NFL's in game injury tent.
© Sam Greene/The Enquirer/USA TODAY NETWORK

No. 7: Justin Herbert

I always have been a big believer in Herbert. Herbert is uber talented and if given a good roster to work with, his team would see a lot of success. Herbert gets a little bit of heat from fans and the media due to his lack of team success, but the 26-year-old gun-slinger is one of the best in the league. If the Chargers can get things figured out on a team level, there’s a good chance Herbert moves up this list, as we have yet to see his full potential. A slight mark against Herbert is the fact that he is the third highest-paid quarterback in the league, but that’s not enough to drop him any lower than No. 7. 

No. 8: Trevor Lawrence

Similar to Herbert, I’ve always been a big believer in Lawrence, and for a lot of the same reasons. He’s big, strong, talented and has loads of potential. Lawrence has struggled at times in his career, but the possibilities of him leading a team to success are obviously there. He is only 24-years-old, and as of now, still on a cheap contract. 

No. 9: Caleb Williams

Williams is undoubtedly the biggest wild card in the picture. Yes, Williams has yet to play a game in the NFL, but the talent is undeniable. As far as play style and raw talent go, he is the closest thing we've seen to Mahomes since Mahomes himself. Therefore, don't be shocked if Caleb Williams is immediately a top 12, maybe even top 10 quarterback in the league right away. For all we know we could find Williams at No. 2 on this list come next year.

No. 10: Jalen Hurts

Rounding things out is Hurts. I think that I am a little lower on Hurts than others, but he is still a damn good quarterback. Hurts is 25-years-old and obviously talented, but there are a couple of holdups with him. First of all, he is the fifth highest-paid quarterback in the league, not a huge con but worth noting. Second, Hurts has been in a very good situation his entire career, so who knows exactly how much of the Philadelphia Eagles’ success is directly linked to him (this is why Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers does not appear on this list). That being said, Hurts is definitely still good enough to win his team a Super Bowl, but the other guys on this list have more appeal.


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