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Clayton: What NFL QB rankings say about Seahawks and the NFC West

Russell Wilson is No. 4 in the Pro Football Focus QB rankings for 2021. (Getty)

For years at ESPN, I was asked annually to rank the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

With Seahawks’ drama with Russell Wilson over, does he have a regret?

Now, I sit back and watch others do that. Pro Football Focus did a great job of rating the quarterbacks last week. This is a quarterback-driven league, so the better the quarterback, the better the team. And it’s no surprise how PFF rated the top quarterbacks for this year.

Patrick Mahomes is No. 1. He’s been to back-to-back Super Bowls. Tom Brady left the New England Patriots and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s No. 2. Aaron Rodgers has had back-to-back 13-win seasons and was last year’s MVP. He’s No. 3. The Seahawks’ Russell Wilson dropped from No. 3 to No. 4 but that’s because of Brady moved up. Deshaun Watson is No. 5.

What’s interesting is that Rodgers and Watson want to be traded from their teams. A Rodgers trade could change the power structure of the NFC, which has already been impacted by the New Orleans Saints, who should have a drop because of Drew Brees’ retirement and roster losses due to a smaller salary cap. The Packers won’t be a playoff contender without Rodgers. Remember that when he got hurt got hurt in 2017 and played only seven games, the Packers finished 7-9. That was after a 4-3 start, so they were 3-6 without him.

This is time of the year when everything gets rated – teams, positions coaches, you name it. What was interesting were the rankings of the quarterbacks in the NFC West. Everyone agrees the NFL West is the best division in football, as you can argue all four teams are playoff contenders.

PFF weren’t as enamored with NFC West quarterbacks, however. It did give a good review for the Los Angeles Rams’ trade for Matthew Stafford, who came out as the No. 11 quarterback. That’s a big improvement from Jared Goff, who was rated No. 26. The surprise was the low rating for Arizona’s Kyler Murray. He came out No. 17 even though he looks like one of the better young quarterbacks in the league.

It’s worth noting how many teams made the playoffs last season with quarterbacks ranked in the top 14. The Raiders’ Derek Carr (13) and Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins (14) didn’t make the playoffs. Matt Ryan came out with a No. 9 rating on a bad Atlanta Falcons team. Dak Prescott is No. 7 but his injury destroyed the Dallas Cowboys’ season. He was 2-3 before getting hurt and the team was 4-7 without him. Prescott’s expected return should put the Cowboys back in the playoff race, though.

Then there’s the PFF rating that the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo received. He’s No. 22, rated one behind Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall draft pick who hasn’t played a game. Even Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Washington Football Team was rated No. 19, three ahead of Jimmy G.

So many team ratings have the Seahawks at No. 3 in the division behind the Rams and the 49ers even though they have the best quarterback in Wilson. Say what you want – Wilson and the Seahawks won 12 games and the division last year. Their roster didn’t get worse. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

Follow John Clayton on Twitter.

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