ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler’s series of surveying “more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players” to rank the top 10 players at each position in the NFL has sparked some debate over previous entries, but none more than the quarterback rankings.
The biggest surprise of the list was the omission of 2019 unanimous MVP Lamar Jackson from the top 10. Jackson was instead relegated to an honorable mention. Quarterbacks ahead of Jackson included Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, Matthew Stafford, Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, and Dak Prescott.
“Keeping a quarterback with an MVP award and a 37-12 record as a starter off a top-10 list is surprising, but that’s exactly what more than half of the voters did,” Fowler wrote. “Despite standout moments in 2021 — including 442 passing yards on Monday Night Football against the Colts in October — Jackson finished the year with a career-low 50.7 QBR. He struggled mightily in his last three full games with six interceptions and 13 sacks as teams blitzed him heavily. And he missed the last month of the season with an ankle injury, fueling concern about how his running style will hold up long term.”
Jackson suffered an ankle injury against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14 that ended his season. The injury came on a passing play where Jackson was tackled after getting the ball to tight end Mark Andrews.
Regarding Jackson, Fowler wrote that an NFL offensive coach said, “hard to stay healthy when you run that much; he’s actually gotten a lot better as a passer. But if you play that way [with a run-heavy attack] and it’s a close game and you’re down, it’s really hard to win, because you’re asked to do what you only minor in, not major in, and that’s passing the ball when they know you are gonna pass it.”
Fowler wrote that an NFC personnel evaluator added, “Innately competitive, driven and mentally tougher than just about anybody. You just run into a few issues late in the year: For as much as you run him, you get worn down.”
Last season was the first time that Jackson has missed games due to an injury over his first four seasons in the NFL. Jackson also exited and did not return in a playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills the season prior after suffering a concussion while chasing down a bad snap.