The 2016 NFL Draft was seen as a bit of a wasteland when it came to quarterbacks. Everyone had Jared Goff at the top with a bullet, then Carson Wentz was seen as the next-best quarterback but the drop off from there was precipitous. The Philadelphia Eagles were so convinced of the top-heavy nature of the QBs in 2016 that they traded up to No. 2 in order to take Wentz.
The entire feeling around the draft’s quarterbacks was unsettling. Goff was the lock because there really wasn’t anyone else, Wentz was unproven against top competition and considerably risky for a top five pick, and at the time the only other player considered worthy of a 1st rounder was Paxton Lynch, who was taken by the Broncos.
Fast forward three years and this is what made the draft so stunning. Here was this collection of passers, none of whom were considered locks, or even first round picks — and yet three NFL teams appeared to get their franchise quarterbacks from the draft. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz led their teams to the Super Bowl, Dak Prescott turned the Dallas Cowboys into a contender. Goff and Wentz got huge new contracts, Prescott was on the precipice of one. Everything was rolling.
A year later it all fell apart.
The Los Angeles Rams traded Goff, deciding he wasn’t their guy after another inconsistent season. Wentz was dealt from the Eagles because his relationship with the team deteriorated. Prescott never got his big money deal, and was lost to the season with injury. The underdog pack of quarterbacks who became stars all fell back to earth at the same time. Now, we look ahead to the next chapter for the 2016 class and see who’s the best quarterback of a pack.
No. 1: Dak Prescott
There’s one reason why Prescott has turned out to be clearly the best quarterback of the class: Consistency. Across his four years as a starter he’s never posted a QB rating below 85.0, and averaged 97.3 across this time.
Before his 2020 injury Prescott was on a tear once again, throwing for 1,856 yards and nine touchdowns in five games. It was on pace to be the best year of his career, until his season was dashed. We still don’t know how he’ll recover from the fractured and dislocated ankle that ended his season, but all signs point to him being back with littler concern for lingering problems.
If I were going to start a team right now with a 2016 quarterback it would be Prescott by a mile.
No. 2: Carson Wentz
I’ve written extensively about the problems that led to Wentz’s downfall in Philadelphia, and that’s what makes him second on this list. When Wentz is on he’s the best quarterback in this class. When he’s plugged in, and things are going his way, Wentz could legitimately be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
He showed this during the team’s 2017 Super Bowl run before being injured. There was no shortage of talk whether Wentz was the MVP of the NFL.
Now, things are very different. There’s no question he needs to be completely broken down and built back up by the Colts, where he’ll need to learn a healthy dose of humility, and also how to trust his offensive line again. That’s a big task, but Frank Reich knows him well. Looking at future upside I just feel better about Wentz’s prospects than Goff’s, which is why I have him second.
No. 3: Jared Goff
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Jared Goff. That’s what makes the scenario so bizarre. He went from leading his team to the Super Bowl, to there being doubts, to becoming chopped liver in two years.
A big reason for that was the massively misplaced faith the Rams had in him, making Goff one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. If you’re paying a player that much they need to make a make a huge impact on the league, and Goff was woefully inconsistent.
Goff stuffed his stats with mammoth games against good teams, then fell apart against good defenses. It makes his overall numbers look a lot better than they really are. There’s a chance he can find that consistency with Detroit, but I’m not betting anything on it.
No. 4: Jacoby Brissett
It’s bizarre the Indianapolis Colts now have two of the top quarterbacks from 2016, but here we are. It’s been a wild ride for the former 3rd round pick who went from backing up Tom Brady, to taking over for Andrew Luck, and actually showing some flashes along the way.
Still, Brissett to me looks like a lifetime backup any team would love to have. He’s going to step in where needed, win you some games, and look great in the process — but things go bad under the weight of a 16 game schedule. Especially when defensive coordinators are aiming to stop him.
No. 5 (tied) Brandon Allen, Jeff Driskel, Jake Rudock, Nate Sudfield
I’m not going to even pretend there’s a need to rank these guys. All will be fighting for backup and third string jobs in the NFL
No longer in the league: Connor Cook, Brandon Doughty, Christian Hackenberg, Cardale Jones, Paxton Lynch.
I don’t have anything to say really. Lynch is the biggest disappointment here, because it’s one thing to not live up to expectations as a former 1st round pick, and another entirely to be out of the league in four years.
Lynch just never had it, and the Denver Broncos realized it almost immediately.