6. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
At his best Deshaun Watson is an MVP candidate and is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league, there is no refuting that. However, the guy also has not played since the 2020 season and in 2020 he did not elevate the Texans.
Yes, his numbers were great and yes, the talent around him wasn't. But having a 4-12 record as a quarterback who is supposed to be elite is not a great look. Heck, the Texans went 4-13 in 2021 without Watson, so what does that tell you?
Watson is good enough to be no. 1 on this list if he goes off in 2022. But with a year off, I can't rank him any higher than sixth, especially considering he might miss games via suspension this year.
5. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Yes, Joe Burrow made the Super Bowl and yes, he was Pro Football Focus' top-graded quarterback last year. He is a great quarterback. That being said, Burrow was not the reason why the Bengals made the Super Bowl (the defense was) and PFF grades can be rather subjective and should not be the end-all, say-all.
Burrow is still a top-10 quarterback in the league and is obviously good enough to lead his team to a Super Bowl. He is likely going to get better as well. However, just because he made the Super Bowl because his team stepped up does not make him a top quarterback. If Derek Carr were to throw a touchdown in the AFC Wild-Card Game instead of an interception then we would not be having this conversation.
Burrow ranked 12th in QBR and 10th in EPA last season. He is great, but the AFC is loaded.