Since it’s the most criticized position in all of sports, it’s sometimes important to take a look at the most underrated NFL quarterbacks of all time.
Over the years, there have been plenty of underappreciated quarterbacks who may not have been superstars but who were far better than most fans realized. After all, if fans are going to criticize the most overrated NFL players, it’s only fair that we take a little time to highlight the most underrated NFL players.
Most underrated NFL quarterbacks of all time
But who are the underrated QBs who warrant a special mention?
The list of potential candidates is larger than you might think because of how easy it is to forget quarterbacks who didn’t win multiple Super Bowls or become the face of the league. Nevertheless, we were able to narrow our list down to the 10 most underrated NFL quarterbacks of all time.
10. Mark Brunell
The Jaguars are often remembered as a great expansion franchise that went to the AFC Championship Game in their second season and to the playoffs four times in their first five years of existence.
Well, it was Mark Brunell at the helm during that time. He’s not in the Hall of Fame and he didn’t have eye-popping numbers, but Brunell was one of those quarterbacks who used to run around and find a way to make plays.
To his credit, he made the Pro Bowl three times and led the NFL in passing yards during the season Jacksonville reached the AFC Championship Game. But that still doesn’t do justice to how good Brunell was during his career.
9. Randall Cunningham
As an athletic quarterback who used his legs a lot during the late 1980s and 90s, it’s not surprising that Randall Cunningham is a little underrated in retrospect. In that way, Cunningham was far ahead of his time.
Plus, most people probably don’t realize that he led the NFL in passer rating in 1998, which was during the twilight years of his career. For his career, Cunningham came up just short of 30,000 passing yards and a little short of 5,000 rushing yards, two plateaus that few quarterbacks have reached with Cunningham coming painfully short of both.
8. Vinny Testaverde
By the standards of the top overall pick in the draft, Vinny Testaverde might be considered a flop. But he did more than enough in his career to be considered among the most underrated QBs ever.
It’s hard to live down suffering the most losses of any starting quarterback in NFL history. But that’s because Testaverde played a long time, kept getting teams to take a chance on him, and usually played for bad teams. People don’t realize that he made the Pro Bowl twice, won 90 games during his career, and finished his career with more touchdowns than interceptions. Most people Testaverde as a complete failure, but that’s simply not true.
7. Tony Romo
Most agree that Tony Romo is now one of the best color analysts the NFL has ever had, but we sometimes forget he was one of the more underrated QBs. He had to begin his career as a backup and had his career end early because of an injury.
In between, Romo had a lot of good years, even if most fans only remember his 2-4 playoff record. In 2014, Romo led the league in both passer rating and completion percentage, putting together one of his best seasons. He played just four games the following season after getting hurt and retired the year after that, so who knows if Romo would have had more good years in him if he could have stayed healthy.
6. Drew Bledsoe
For whatever reason, there’s not much love for the quarterback whose injury paved the way for Tom Brady’s career. He was the legitimate face of the Patriots before that injury and had been to the Pro Bowl three times and led the NFL in passing once while in New England.
Drew Bledsoe wasn’t quite the same after the near-fatal injury that caused him to lose his job to Brady. However, he did put together a few good years in Buffalo. More importantly, his accomplishments early in his career are often unfairly overlooked.
5. Jim Kelly
His inability to win a Super Bowl in four tries has surely contributed to his becoming one of the great underrated QBs in NFL history. If he had won just one or two of those Super Bowls, he’s probably looked at differently.
During the stretch of Buffalo’s four straight Super Bowl losses, the Bills were a force to be reckoned with offensively. Kelly orchestrated the no-huddle, shotgun offense years before it was en vogue throughout football. Even though he was a five-time Pro Bowler and is in the Hall of Fame, Drew Kelly isn’t held in high enough esteem simply because he was never able to win the big one.
4. Dan Fouts
Dan Fouts always seems to be absent from the shortlist of the greatest quarterbacks ever. But perhaps he deserves to be closer to the top of that list.
After all, he was the first quarterback to throw for at least 4,000 yards in four consecutive seasons, leading the NFL in passing in all four of those years. In two of those seasons, Fouts also led the league in passing touchdowns and won Offensive Player of the Year honors.
He never managed to get the Chargers to the Super Bowl, which is why it’s easy to overlook him. However, Fouts had a long and productive career and for a period of five or so years was truly among the elite quarterbacks in the league.
3. Warren Moon
Warren Moon remains among the most underrated QBs ever largely because he spent so much time in the CFL.
Of course, he was a huge success in the CFL, helping the Edmonton Eskimos win five straight Grey Cup titles. Even after all of that, he spent 17 seasons in the NFL, playing deep into his 40s.
During that time, he was a Pro Bowler nine times and led the NFL in passing twice. He was even Offensive Player of the Year in 1990. Yet, his accomplishments are largely overlooked because he didn’t win a Super Bowl despite his championship pedigree while in the CFL.
2. Donovan McNabb
For the most part, all people remember about Donovan McNabb is getting booed by Philadelphia fans on draft day and his failures to win a Super Bowl, especially when he looked winded and out of shape late in the only Super Bowl he played in.
But in a way, that’s what makes him one of the most underrated NFL quarterbacks of all time.
People only remember him for his shortcomings and failures and not the fact that he helped the Eagles get to five NFC Championship Games, including four in a row. McNabb was also a six-time Pro Bowler and just the fourth quarterback to reach 30,000 passing yards, 200 passing touchdowns, 3,000 rushing yards, and 20 rushing touchdowns, putting him alongside Steve Young and John Elway for quarterbacks who accomplished that feat.
During the first decade of the 21st century, it’s hard to find many quarterbacks not named Tom Brady who were better or more consistent than McNabb.
1. Ken Anderson
The fact that Ken Anderson somehow isn’t in the Hall of Fame makes him easily the most underrated quarterback ever. He led the NFL in passer rating four times and passing yards twice.
Anderson also won MVP honors in 1981 but was only selected to the Pro Bowl four times. The year he won MVP, Anderson led the Bengals to their first playoff wins in franchise history and their first-ever Super Bowl appearance, coming one brilliant Joe Montana drive short of winning that game.
He also played 16 seasons in the NFL, showing incredible longevity, and ending his career seventh on the all-time passing list. While he remains a legend in Cincinnati, more NFL fans should be aware of how great of a quarterback Anderson was during his career.