The Best NFL QBs of All Time and When They Were Drafted

The Best NFL QBs of All Time and When They Were Drafted

If you take a look at the landscape of fantasy football today, quarterbacks aren’t nearly valued as high as other positions – unless you’re one of the best NFL QBs in the league. The truth is most fantasy owners would rather draft a running back or wide receiver – they’re more valuable.

There are several reasons why, but the two most prominent reasons are that you only have one quarterback in your starting rotation – compared to 5+ running backs and wide receivers – and quarterbacks have a harder time accumulating points – unless they’re a dual-threat quarterback.

The best NFL QBs in fantasy football are the ones that are just as dominant on the ground. When they combine their rushing stats with their throwing stats, they can accumulate points quickly. Quarterbacks that don’t run often are normally drafted in a later round in fantasy drafts. 

RELATED: 20 of the Best College Quarterbacks of All-Time

Who Are the Best NFL QBs of All-Time?

The Best NFL QBs of All Time and When They Were Drafted
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock

Of all the quarterbacks today, the only ones worth reaching for in your fantasy draft this year are Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, and maybe Kyler Murray. If you’re lucky, you might see these players drop to the second, third, or even fourth round. 

Three of those players – Allen, Mahomes, and Herbert – are in the midst of creating a legacy that’ll be remembered forever. It doesn’t matter where they land in a fantasy football draft, they’re going to have a great season regardless and will likely continue that success for years to come.

The question is whether or not they can sustain the success long enough to be considered one of the best NFL QBs of all-time. They’re certainly at the top of the food chain in today’s game, but how do they compare to some of the all-time greats? Well, let’s go ahead and meet them!

20. Warren Moon

Warren Moon went undrafted in the 1978 NFL Draft after spending three years at the University of Washington. He didn’t make his NFL debut until 1984 – by this time, he had already led the Edmonton Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cup titles in the CFL between 1978 and 1982.

Moon went on to spend 17 years in the NFL. During that time, he accumulated a 102-101 record as starting quarterback – throwing for 49,325 yards, 291 touchdowns, and 233 interceptions.  He was a nine-time Pro Bowler who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

19. Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 11th overall draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. He went on to play 18 seasons in the league, all of which with the Steelers. He decided to retire at the end of last season, bringing another Steelers’ era to a sudden close. 

During his time in the NFL, Roethlisberger threw for 64,088 yards, 418 touchdowns, and 211 interceptions. He had a 165-81-1 record as a starter and was the 2004 Rookie of the Year, a two-time Super Bowl champion, and six-time Pro Bowl player. The NFL will certainly miss him.

18. Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner went undrafted in 1994 after attending the University of Northern Iowa, where he didn’t receive a lot of playing time. After failing to make an NFL roster, he started working at a grocery store until joining the Arena Football League – where he finally made a name for himself.

Warner eventually joined the NFL in 1998, playing one game with the Arizona Cardinals. He earned the starting gig the following year and went on to lead them to a Super Bowl win during the 1999 season. He retired a two-time MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Hall of Fame quarterback. 

17. Jim Kelly 

Jim Kelly was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the 14th overall draft pick in 1983, but he would spend a couple of seasons in the USFL – where he found instant success. He later joined the Bills in 1986 and spent his entire 11-year NFL career with the team – putting them on the map.

During his time in the NFL, Kelly had a 101-59 record as a starter and threw for 35,467 yards, 237 touchdowns, and 175 interceptions. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and while he never won a title, he did lead the Bills to four-straight Super Bowl appearances. He’s now in the HOF. 

16. Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the first overall draft pick in 1970. While he didn’t have as long of a career as Ben Roethlisberger, he did spend his entire 14-year career with the team. During that time, he won four Super Bowls and two Super Bowl MVPs. 

Bradshaw finished his career with a 107-51 record as a starter – throwing for 27,989 yards, 212 touchdowns, and 210 interceptions. In addition to his success in the Super Bowl, he was a three-time Pro Bowler, 1978 MVP, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

15. Bart Starr

Bart Starr was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 17th round (200th overall) of the 1956 NFL Draft. He spent his entire 16-year career with the Packers, leading them to a 94-57-6 record as a starter. He won the MVP in 1966, throwing for 2,227 yards, 14 TDs, and three INTs.

Starr finished his illustrious career with 24,718 yards, 152 touchdowns, and 138 interceptions. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, five-time NFL champion, two-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. 

14. Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys with the first overall draft pick in 1989 and he spent his entire 12-year career with the team. He had his best season in 1993, throwing for 3,100 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions en route to his second Super Bowl victory. 

Aikman finished his career with 32,942 yards, 165 touchdowns, and 141 interceptions – leading the Cowboys to a 94-71 record in 165 games. He was a three-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP, six-time Pro Bowler, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

13. Sammy Baugh

Sammy Baugh was drafted by the Washington Commanders (then-Redskins) with the sixth overall pick in 1937. He went on to spend 16 seasons in the NFL, all of which in Washington. While he threw a lot of interceptions, he consistently got the job done and knew how to sling it.

Baugh finished his career with 21,886 yards, 187 touchdowns, and 203 interceptions. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro quarterback who won two NFL championships and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. His nickname was Slingin’ Sammy. 

12. Steve Young

Steve Young was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first overall pick in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft. He spent two years in Tampa, but didn’t play well and was shipped to the San Francisco 49ers. He had 10 starts over the next four years as Joe Montana’s backup. 

Young finally became the starting quarterback in 1991 and eventually pushed Montana out of the way – winning MVP in 1992. He also won MVP in 1994, the same year he won his third Super Bowl with the team (first as a starter). He led the 49ers to a 91-33 record in 13 seasons. 

11. Brett Favre

Brett Favre was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round (33rd overall) of the 1991 draft. He only played two games as a backup his rookie year and was eventually traded to the Green Bay Packers, where he was named starting quarterback for the 1992 season. 

Favre ended up spending the next 16 seasons in Green Bay before a three-year farewell tour with the Vikings and Jets. He won three-straight MVPs in 1995, 1996, and 1997. He was also a one-time Super Bowl champion, 11-time Pro Bowler, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

10. Roger Staubach

Roger Staubach was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 10th round of the 1964 draft – he was also drafted by the Chiefs in the AFL draft, but chose the Cowboys. He spent his entire 11-year career in Dallas and led the team to an impressive 85-29 record during that span. 

Staubach finished his Hall of Fame career with 22,700 yards, 153 touchdowns, and 109 interceptions. He was a six-time Pro Bowler who won two Super Bowls and one Super Bowl MVP with Dallas. Not only that, but he won the Bell Art Award and Walter Payton Man of the Year. 

9. John Elway

John Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts with the first overall draft pick in 1983, but sparked controversy when he refused to play for the team. They later traded him to the Denver Broncos, where he embarked on a legendary 16-year career in the NFL – all with the Broncos.

Elway finished his career with 51,475 yards, 300 touchdowns, and 226 interceptions. He won the MVP award in 1987, was a two-time Super Bowl champion, and was the Super Bowl XXXIII MVP. The nine-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004. 

8. Dan Marino

Dan Marino was drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the 27th overall pick in 1983, where he enjoyed instant success. He was named MVP his second season, throwing for 5,084 yards, 48 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. He went on to spend his entire 17-year career with Miami.

Marino finished his career with 61,361 yards, 420 touchdowns, and 252 interceptions – leading the Dolphins to a 147-93 record as starting quarterback. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro quarterback who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

7. Otto Graham

Otto Graham was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the fourth overall pick in 1944, but never played with the team because of World War II. He eventually signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns and made his NFL debut in 1946 – it didn’t take long for him to settle in.

Graham spent his entire 10-year career with the Browns, throwing for 23,584 yards, 174 touchdowns, and 135 interceptions. He was a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time NFL champion, four-time AAFC champion, and three-time MVP. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965.

6. Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ninth round of the 1955 draft, but was released before the season began. He eventually signed with the Baltimore Colts and made his NFL debut in 1956. Things started off rocky, but he settled in by his second season. 

Unitas spent the next 17 seasons with the Colts before playing one season with the Chargers. He finished his career with a 118-63-4 record as starter, throwing for 40,239 yards, 290 TDs, and 253 interceptions. He won three NFL championships, one Super Bowl, and three MVPs.

5. Drew Brees

Drew Brees was drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2001 draft. He played five seasons with the team before joining the New Orleans Saints, where he spent the final 15 years of his career. He had a 172-114 record as a starter in the NFL.

Brees finished his career with 80,358 yards, 571 touchdowns, and 243 interceptions. He’s a 13-time Pro Bowler, one-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP, two-time Offensive Player of the Year, 2004 Comeback Player of the Year, and future Hall of Famer. 

4. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the 24th overall pick in 2005. He spent the next three seasons as a backup to Brett Favre, but earned the starting role in 2008. Rodgers has been the team’s starting quarterback ever since – entering his 18th season

Rodgers currently has 55,360 yards, 449 touchdowns, and just 93 interceptions in 213 games played. He’s a four-time MVP, including the past two seasons, and won the 2011 Super Bowl – he was named Super Bowl MVP. The 10-time Pro Bowler is definitely a future Hall of Famer. 

3. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts with the first overall pick in 1998. He spent the next 13 seasons with the team before missing the 2011 season due to injury. Instead of returning to the Colts, he decided to spend the final four years of his career with the Broncos.

Manning finished his career with 71,940 yards, 539 touchdowns, and 251 interceptions. He was a 14-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champion, five-time MVP, one-time Super Bowl MVP, 2012 Comeback Player of the Year, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. 

2. Joe Montana

Joe Montana was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round (82nd overall) of the 1979 draft. He spent the next 14 seasons with the team – though he missed the entire 1991 season due to an injury. In 1993 and 1994, he finished his career with the Kansas City Chiefs.

As a starting quarterback, Montana led his teams to a 117-47 record in 164 games. He had 40,551 yards, 273 touchdowns, and 139 interceptions throughout his career, and was a two-time MVP, four-time champion, three-time Super Bowl MVP, and Hall of Fame quarterback. 

1. Tom Brady

Tom Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Despite being passed on 198 times in that draft, he went on to win seven Super Bowl titles – not just more than any other player, but more than any other franchise in NFL history. That’s crazy!

Brady might not be done, either. Despite retiring earlier this year, he eventually decided to return for his third season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – and 23rd season overall. He’ll have a chance to build on his career numbers – 84,520 yards, 624 touchdowns, and 243 total wins. 

Who Are the Best NFL QBs Right Now?

The Best NFL QBs of All Time and When They Were Drafted
Steve Jacobson / Shutterstock

Whereas quarterbacks used to be some of the first players taken in a fantasy draft, that’s simply not the case today. In fact, the same can be said about the NFL Draft in real life – teams aren’t willing to reach for a quarterback unless they’re a one-of-a-kind talent, which is quite rare today.

Just look at the 2022 NFL Draft – we had to wait until the 20th pick in the first round for the first quarterback to be taken. The next one didn’t come until the third round, where there were three. That’s different from the previous few years, which has seen several QBs taken in the top ten.

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It’s unclear what the future holds for the quarterback position, but some of the best NFL QBs today are Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, and more.

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