Top 20 Best Quarterbacks of All Time

By Ryan Finklestein - December 07, 2018

The quarterback position is the most important in all of sports as a team cannot be successful unless they have a competent signal caller under center. There have been many great players to play quarterback in the NFL which have led their teams to success. Here are the 20 best to ever play quarterback in the NFL.

20. Dan Fouts

Dan Fouts was the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in a three consecutive seasons. Fouts accomplished this during a stretch in which he led the NFL in passing for four straight years. This might not seem crazy nowadays, but during his era Fouts was doing things that we had never seen before.  

19. Warren Moon

Warren Moon is the first African-American quarterback   to be elected to the Hall of Fame. After being a star quarterback in the CFL, Moon came to the NFL to become the starting quarterback for the Houston Oilers. Moon played a majority of his career in Houston and won the 1990 MVP award after leading the league in both touchdowns (33) and passing yards (4,689).  

18. Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner became a superstar when playing for the St. Louis Rams as he led what was known as “The Greatest Show on Turf”, for his offense that including fellow Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk. Warner won two MVP awards while playing in St. Louis and went to three Pro Bowls. In Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner led the Rams to victory as they narrowly edged out the Tennessee Titans by a score of 23-16. Warner threw for 414 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and was named the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP.  

17. Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly was known for running a no-huddle shotgun offense and led some of the greatest offenses in NFL history. The Buffalo Bills went to four consecutive Super Bowls with Kelly under center, although they lost all four games. Kelly eclipsed 35,000 passing yards in his career and was a five-time Pro Bowler.  

16. Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman was the first overall pick of the 1989 NFL Draft and would go on to have an amazing career with the Dallas Cowboys. Aikman guided a lethal offense that included fellow Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin which was one of the best the NFL has seen. Aikman won three Super Bowls and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII.  

15.Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL since coming into the league in 2004. In just his second season starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Roethlisberger led his team to a victory in Super Bowl XL. Roethlisberger won another Super Bowl three years later in Super Bowl XLIII. Big Ben is known for his ability to improvise outside of the pocket and has accumulated over 50,000 yards passing in his career.  

14. Len Dawson

Len Dawson was just recently in the news when Patrick Mahomes broke his franchise record of 30 touchdowns in a single season. The record held for over 50 years. Dawson won the AFL championship three times with the Chiefs and also won Super Bowl IV. Dawson led the AFL in passing touchdowns four times and in passer rating six teams.  

13.Fran Tarkenton

At the time of Fran Tarkenton’s retirement he owned every single major passing record. Tarkenton spent a majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings and his No. 10 was retired by the team. Tarkenton won the Most Valuable Player award in 1975 when he led the NFL in passing touchdowns with 25.  

12. Roger Staubach

Roger Staubach is one of four quarterbacks to ever win both a Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl MVP. Staubach was a Pro Bowler six times and led the NFL in passer rating four times during his career. Known by the nickname “Captain America”, Staubach is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Denver Cowboys.  

11. Bart Starr

Bart Starr was first of many amazing quarterbacks that the Green Bay Packers have had in their history. Starr is the only quarterback in NFL history to win three consecutive league championships. He is also tied with Tom Brady for the most league championships as they have both won five.  

10. Steve Young

When Steve Young retired, he had the highest career passer rating of any player in NFL history. Young led the league in that category six times, which is a record, and also led the league in completion percentage and yards five times. Young was a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 4,239 yards and 43 touchdowns during his career. Young also won three Super Bowls and two league MVP awards.

9. Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas played the quarterback position in a way more similar to what we see today and not at all like the other quarterbacks of his era. Unitas held the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass, which stood for half a century before Drew Brees broke it in 2012. Unitas won three MVP awards, three championships and also won Super Bowl V in his Hall of Fame career.  

8. Brett Favre

Brett Favre is football’s iron man as he started 297 consecutive games in his career, which is a record that won’t likely be broken. When Favre retired he was the all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and wins, but Peyton Manning broke all of those records. Favre won Super Bowl XXXI and also brought home three MVP trophies in his career.

7. John Elway

John Elway was a nine-time Pro Bowler, who spent his entire career with the Denver Broncos. Despite being one of the top quarterbacks in the league, Elway could not win the biggest game as he lost three Super Bowls at the start of his career. Then in 1997, Elway won Super Bowl XXXII and would go on to repeat the following year in Super Bowl XXXIII. Elway retired after winning his second Super Bowl and first Super Bowl MVP.  

6. Aaron Rodgers

Just from the eye test, Aaron Rodgers could probably be called the greatest of quarterback of all-time. There just has not been many passers more gifted then Rodgers at throwing the football. In his MVP season of 2011, Rodgers had a quarterback rating of 122.6 which is the best single season mark in NFL history. Rodgers has the best career quarterback rating of any player that has played the position.  

5. Drew Brees

This season, Drew Brees passed Peyton Manning’s record of 71,940 career passing yards to become the NFL’s all-time passing leader. Brees has never won an MVP award, but with the way he has played thus far this season, he may finally take home the one trophy missing from his trophy case. Brees did win a Super Bowl MVP though, when he led the Saints to their first championship in Super Bowl XLIV.  

4. Dan Marino

Easily the best quarterback in NFL history to never win a Super Bowl. In fact, Dan Marino is still considered by some as the best quarterback they have ever seen as he was an amazing pure passer. Marino won the MVP in 1994 and led his team to the playoffs 10 times in his 17-year caeer.  

3. Joe Montana

Before Tom Brady eclipsed him in Super Bowl wins, Joe Montana was considered by many as the greatest quarterback of all time. Montana went to four Super Bowls and won them all. Known as “The Comeback Kid”, Montana was as clutch as they come and became the first player to win three Super Bowl MVPs.  

2. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is probably still the greatest regular season quarterback in the history of the NFL. Manning had a record 14 4,000 passing yard seasons and a record five MVP seasons. Manning has the most career touchdown passes (539) and hold the records for most passing yards and touchdowns in a season. Manning won two Super Bowls and got to finish his career on top, as his Super Bowl 50 victory was the last game of his career.  

1. Tom Brady

When Tom Brady came back from down 28-3 in Super Bowl LI to make one of the most improbable comebacks we ever seen, he ended all arguments. Brady is the greatest quarterback we have ever seen and he is still playing at a high level at 41 years old. Brady has played in eight Super Bowls, which is more then any other quarterback. Brady’s five Super Bowl wins are also a record for quarterbacks.