Patrick Mahomes is once again viewed as the NFL’s clear top quarterback.
In The Athletic’s annual NFL quarterback tiers, voted by 50 coaches and executives, the Chiefs quarterback was a unanimous Tier 1 pick, holding the highest voting average among all quarterbacks (1.00). It marks the fifth straight year that Mahomes has earned Tier 1 honors and the third time in the last four years that he’s been unanimously voted into the top tier.
“He’s clearly the best player in the league and just entering the front end of his prime window,” an anonymous exec said to The Athletic. “He reminds so much of [Aaron] Rodgers. This is the time in his career where, just like Rodgers, the final polishing of his game will be in his play-clock manipulation, calling timeouts and knowing even better when to give up on plays.”
Mahomes is coming off arguably the best season of his career. He earned MVP honors for his play in the regular season, throwing for a career-high 5,250 yards to go along with 41 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, a 105.2 passer rating, 358 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.
Mahomes followed up his MVP regular season with a historic postseason run, throwing for 703 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception as he battled through an ankle injury to lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl title. He threw three touchdowns in the Super Bowl win, earning him Super Bowl MVP honors. He became the first player in NFL history to win both MVP and Super Bowl MVP plus lead the league in passing yards and touchdowns all in the same season.
Patrick Mahomes on if Chiefs are a dynasty: ‘You gotta win 3’ | SPEAK
Joy Taylor, LeSean McCoy, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Joe Haden react to Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes response indicating the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are beginning their dynasty.
Right behind Mahomes were his main AFC rivals, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. The Bengals quarterback received 49 Tier 1 votes and the Bills quarterback had 44 Tier 1 votes. Two other AFC quarterbacks rounded out Tier 1, with Aaron Rodgers coming in fourth in Tier 1 votes (30) and Justin Herbert coming fifth in Tier 1 votes (29).
Jalen Hurts wasn’t included in Tier 1, but the runner-up for 2022 MVP and the Super Bowl was the biggest riser in the 2023 quarterback tiers. The Eagles quarterback went from a mid-Tier 3 quarterback to the top of Tier 2 after his breakout year. Hurts dominated in the passing game (3,701 yards, 22 touchdowns, six interceptions and 101.5 passer rating) and continued to be strong on the ground, rushing for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Should Jalen Hurts run less this season?
Lane Johnson joins Colin Cowherd on The Herd to discuss the latest news in the NFL. Johnson sheds light on Jalen Hurts’ growth as a QB and weighs in on whether he should run less at the QB position this season.
However, there was one big qualm that one of the 38 people who voted Hurts in Tier 2 had: his inability to pull through in the clutch.
“That is why I was so fascinated with the Super Bowl,” a head coach told The Athletic. “If they do not call that pass interference (on the Eagles), Kansas City kicks a field goal and then we find out once and for all, Jalen Hurts in the 2-minute. Because the last time he was in one, and people forget this, they lost at home on Monday night. Washington didn’t let him out of the tackle box, and Philly did not win that game.”
Hurts only had one fourth-quarter comeback last year and has just three in his career.
Tier 2 also included Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson and Kirk Cousins, but it didn’t include Russell Wilson. The Broncos quarterback had the biggest drop in the 10-year history of the vote, going from a 1.72 average vote in 2022 to a 2.82 average vote in 2023. Wilson effectively swapped spots with Hurts, going from one of the top Tier 2 spots to a mid-Tier 3 slot.
The 2022 season was a disaster for Wilson and the Broncos. After many viewed Denver as one of the Super Bowl favorites entering the season, the Broncos ended up going 5-12. Wilson’s career-worst season was at the center of that. Wilson’s 16 passing touchdowns, 60.5 completion percentage and 84.4 passer rating were the lowest in his 11-year career.
Yet, there is some optimism that Wilson, who received 11 Tier 2 votes and 37 Tier 3 votes, can turn things around in 2023 under Sean Payton.
“If Russ is not stubborn, if he has a willingness to listen and if he respects Sean Payton as much as I think he probably does, there will be more stability and he won’t do things that maybe are out of his declining skill set right now,” an exec told The Athletic. “Some guys, they are only willing to listen to someone they truly respect. Sean Payton’s system does allow for a lot of gimmes.”
Payton-Russell Wilson, Reid-Mahomes highlight J-Mac’s Top NFL QB/HC duos
Some other notable jumps in the rankings came from Justin Fields, Tua Tagovailoa, Daniel Jones (who all went from Tier 4 to Tier 3) and Geno Smith, who went from Tier 5 to Tier 3.
Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more