2022 NFL QB rankings: Where Justin Fields stands ahead of season

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Schrock's QB rankings: Where Fields stands ahead of 2022 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The NFL content desert will stretch for another two weeks until training camps kick-off at the end of July.

With Jimmy Garoppolo's future and Deshaun Watson's suspension the only news-worthy things remaining in the NFL ecosystem, we're left to debate the things that really matter -- QB rankings.

Last week, I broke down the six quarterbacks from the 2021 draft class, the buzz surrounding them, and where they stand heading into their critical second season.

But where do Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence, and Trey Lance sit in the grand scheme of the NFL? Can anyone knock off Patrick Mahomes from the top spot he's occupied for the past three or four seasons? How much of a pass will I give Aaron Rodgers for throwing up another stinker in the playoffs?

Let's find out in the preseason edition of my 2022 QB rankings:

1. Patrick Mahomes

I won't entertain any arguments that Mahomes isn't the best quarterback in football. Since taking over as the Chiefs' starting QB in 2018, Kansas City leads the NFL in total offense and scoring offense. When you trade a player like Tyreek Hill, it says that your QB can raise everyone else's game to fill the void. I co-sign that statement. E-L-I-T-E.

2. Tom Brady

Did you really think Brady was going to retire? He's coming off a season in which he threw for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns at age 44. He's shown no signs of slipping and may retire before falling off the proverbial cliff.

3. Josh Allen

Allen proved that his third-year leap was for real, backing it up by throwing for 4,407 yards and 36 touchdowns. He's the real deal and has the Bills entering the season as the Super Bowl favorites. That'll probably work out. Right?

4. Aaron Rodgers

The back-to-back MVP finished his controversial season by laying an egg in the NFC Divisional Round against the San Francisco 49ers. That marks the second consecutive season in which "The Bad Man" didn't play like an MVP when everything was on the line. Rodgers is an all-time great, but it has been over 10 years since his one and only Super Bowl appearance. Regular-season trophies only mean so much.

5. Justin Herbert

The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year backed up his historic first season by finishing second in the NFL in yards (5,014) and third in touchdown passes (38). The arrow is pointing straight up for Herbert, who is among the MVP favorites this season.

6. Joe Burrow

"Joe Cool" led a Bengals team with a group of turnstiles for an offensive line to the doorstep of a Super Bowl title. He's already earning praise as the "closest thing" to Tom Brady. While it's hard to compare anyone to The GOAT, Burrow is clearly a star and poised to keep improving as he enters Year 3.

7. Matthew Stafford

Stafford washed the Lions stink off him and went and won a Super Bowl in his first season with Sean McVay and the Rams. The arm talent has always been there, and now Stafford has proven he's a "win because of" QB.

8. Lamar Jackson

How quickly people forget how great Lamar Jackson is. The Ravens star has started 49 games in his first season, accounting for 12 wins, 4,300 yards, and 35 touchdowns per season while winning an MVP. He has earned the big payday that's coming his way.

9. Russell Wilson

Wilson was unfairly criticized last season after returning too quickly from a finger injury that required in-season surgery. Over the past two seasons, he has thrown 65 touchdown passes and just 19 interceptions. He should be rejuvenated in Denver.

10. Derek Carr

Carr has been one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the NFL for years, but he answered many questions about him while leading the Raiders to playoffs amidst a season's worth of controversy and drama. Carr is reunited with his college teammate and good friend, Davante Adams. This fall, there's reason to expect big things from Carr and the Raiders' offense.

11. Kyler Murray

First-half Kyler Murray is a top-seven QB, but the young signal-caller has struggled to replicate that magic in the second half of the season. Murray's talent is evident, but I can't get his flop in the Cardinals' playoff loss to the Rams out of my head. Can Murray put an entire season together, or will 2022 be more of the same in the desert?

12. Dak Prescott

Like Murray and Wilson, Prescott might be getting unfairly dinged for playing through an injury last season. A calf issue clearly hampered him down the stretch, but he still managed to throw for 4,449 yards and 37 touchdowns while leading the Cowboys to an NFC East title. But he was mediocre in Dallas' playoff to the 49ers, completing just 53.49 percent of his passes while throwing for 254 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

13. Deshaun Watson

He hasn't played in over a year and might not play this season. Last we saw, he was an elite QB. Thirteen seems fair.

14. Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins is what he is at this point. He's a play-action-reliant passer you can win with if the weapons, line, and scheme are there. Nothing wrong with that, but nowhere near elite.

15. Mac Jones

Jones was viewed as the most pro-ready quarterback of his class coming out of the draft, and he backed that up by earning a Pro Bowl nod while leading the Patriots to the playoffs. Jones' touch and processing are among the best in the league, but he needs to improve his arm strength to go from this group to the next.

16. Matt Ryan

Ryan is no longer the elite passer he was six years ago, but he still has enough left in the tank to be a good quarterback when given the right pieces. Going from rebuilding Atlanta to contending Indianapolis should bring the best out of Ryan during the backstretch of his career.

17. Ryan Tannehill

After a brilliant 2020 season, Tannehill came back to earth a bit last season. His touchdowns dropped from 33 to 21, while his interceptions doubled from seven to 14. That could partly be due to Derrick Henry missing half of the season, but I'm skeptical that the Tannehill of 2020 can return, especially with A.J. Brown now in Philadelphia.

18. Baker Mayfield

He played almost the entire season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and never looked the same. Playing through the injury cost him a big contract extension. I remain a believer in Mayfield. The quarterback we saw during the 2020 season was a top-12 quarterback. Can he rediscover that Baker Mayfield in Carolina with Matt Rhule and, gulp, Ben McAdoo?

19. Jimmy Garoppolo

The problem isn't that Garoppolo is a terrible quarterback. It's that he has severe limitations and is prone to the face-palm interception. Still, he's a winner who was 10 minutes away from getting the 49ers to two Super Bowls in three seasons. That's not nothing.

20. Jalen Hurts

The list of players with 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in their first 20 career starts is: Jalen Hurts. That's the list. The Eagles quarterback still has to become a more polished passer, but he's improved every season since his freshman year at Alabama, so I won't count out a big jump in his second season as the starter.

21. Carson Wentz

The Commanders upgraded from Taylor Heinicke by trading for the erratic Wentz. The 29-year-old continued to struggle with accuracy and mechanical issues during his lone season in Indianapolis. PFF's Anthony Treash has a few stats that summed up Wentz's season in Indy after a solid first six weeks.

Via Treash:

From Week 7 on, he owned a 4.4% turnover-worthy play rate, which tied for 26th among qualifying quarterbacks. Wentz threw only 50.1% of his non-screen passes accurately in Indianapolis, ranking 30th in the NFL.

No thanks.

22. Justin Fields

Fields' stats were not good during his rookie season, a product of poor coaching and a bad offensive line that saw him under fire more than almost any quarterback in the NFL. But Fields' improved as the season went along, and the addition of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and the wide-zone offense should have his arrow trending up.

Last season, Fields recorded an NFL-leading 90.5 grade on throws outside the pocket, per PFF. He also led the NFL in passer rating (138..5) on designed rollouts, per SportsInfoSolutions. He was tied with Rodgers and Wilson with a big-time throw percentage of 6.1 percent. That number jumped to 7.3 percent on "in rhythm" throws, per PFF.

Getsy's offense promises to work to Fields' strengths. The Bears want to get him on the move, creating easy throws off play-action while setting up the deep shot. I'm bullish on Year 2 for Fields.

23. Trevor Lawrence

Much like Fields, throw out Year 1 from Lawrence. The Urban Meyer era was a disaster waiting to happen, and the No. 1 overall pick suffered because of it. Hiring Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell should help Lawrence settle in this season and get him back on track to becoming the next star QB.

24. Marcus Mariota

After spending two seasons as Derek Carr's backup, Mariota is fully healthy and ready to reclaim a starting role in the NFL. Mariota has two young weapons in Kyle Pitts and Drake London and is reuniting with his former offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. After a brilliant first two seasons in Tennessee, Mariota battled through several ailments and ultimately lost his job. He looked great in spot duty behind Carr during these past seasons, and there's reason to believe he can have a resurgence in Atlanta.

25. Jameis Winston

There will be hot streaks, but there will also be mind-melting decisions that result in back-breaking interceptions. The Jameis Winston experience is never dull and will be must-watch TV in New Orleans.

26. Trey Lance

The ceiling is incredibly high, and with Kyle Shanahan pulling the strings, he just might reach it. But after only 17 starts in college and two during his rookie season, we still have many questions about who Lance is and what he can be. There's a chance he ends the season 15 spots higher, but it's impossible to project.

27. Zach Wilson

I didn't see much I liked from Wilson during his rookie season. He took better care of the ball during the second half of the season, but I'm not sold he's the quarterback the Jets have been looking for.

28. Tua Tagovailoa

It's a make-or-break season for Tua. The Dolphins brought in Tyreek Hill, bolstered the offensive line, and hired Mike McDaniel to build an offense suited for what Tagovailoa does best. It could be the start of a meteoric rise, or the bottom could fall out in South Beach.

29. Mitch Trubisky

After a season at the Brian Daboll School of Quarterback Rehabilitation in Buffalo, Trubisky heads to Pittsburgh as the expected starter. I have no idea what to expect.

30. Daniel Jones

I'll be the first to admit that Jones was drafted into a horrible situation and has played better at times than the numbers would suggest. Still, I just can't bring myself to get on board. If Jones can't show marked improvement with Brian Daboll calling the plays, his time in the Meadowlands is probably over.

31. Jared Goff

He's keeping the seat warm until the Lions decide it's time to draft a franchise quarterback. C.J. Stroud? Bryce Young? Stay tuned.

32. Davis Mills

He was better than expected during his rookie season. He'll probably have a long career as a fringe starter/backup. Franchise QB, though? Unlikely.

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