4. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Talk about someone climbing the ranks in a hurry. Joe Burrow looked solid as the No. 1 pick in 2020 but was still just 2-7-1 as the starter for the Cincinnati Bengals. He also had his season end on a torn ACL, leaving many to wonder how he would look in 2021.
Burrow came out and quickly showed the injury was not going to slow him down. He led Cincinnati to a win in Week 1 over Minnesota while throwing for 261 yards and three touchdowns. Things only got better from there including an unreal stretch where he had 525 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Baltimore and 446 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Kansas City.
Those wins put them in the playoffs as Burrow got to rest in Week 18 while enjoying a 10-6 season as the starter. He then showed he was hungry for more, leading the Bengals to their first postseason win in 31 years in the Wild Card Round over Las Vegas.
3. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
You can tell a quarterback is elite when he throws for 4,839 yards with 37 touchdowns and 13 picks in a season where people were asking if he lost a step. Patrick Mahomes was slow out of the gate for his own standards and the Chiefs were 3-4 at one point.
Then, things started to click as they went on a roll and finished 9-1. Mahomes continued to make throws that seemed physically impossible while frustrating defenders who simply had no answers.
He’s now 50-13 in his career as a starter with 18,991 yards. He also has 151 touchdowns against just 37 picks. He’s a threat to score on any play and is one of the most feared passers in the game.