Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

Quarterbacks. We love them. We debate them. And we do it all because, at the end of the day, they're the most important ingredient in a championship recipe. It's possible to win it all without an elite signal-caller, but history shows it's much easier otherwise. So we're keeping tabs on all 32 starters throughout the 2023 season.

Which ones are the best of the best? And which ones could be nearing a demotion? All QBs are at least partly a product of their respective situations, which means the gap between most mid-tier starters can be razor thin. But this is how we'd sort today's passers from best to worst, factoring in both past production, present status and future outlook for the 2023 campaign:

2023 NFL QB Power Rankings
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
Travis Kelce's absence affected him more than expected against the Lions, but if it weren't for repeat drops from Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore, he'd likely be 1-0. The magician still does more with less than just about anyone in the game.
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB
A rain-soaked matchup with the Browns' defense rendered him a total non-factor, underscoring his need for at least a mildly operable pocket. But he's rarely gone consecutive games without showcasing his trademark precision and touch.
Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles QB
Like the other elite QBs here, he looked more pedestrian than usual in Week 1, bailing for short-yardage scrambles against a physical Patriots "D." But he should have a big bounce-back opportunity vs. Minnesota in a prime-time home opener.
Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB
The Jaguars got lots of preseason hype, and Lawrence delivered against the Colts, feeding picture-perfect throws to Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones in key spots. He could easily be the NFL's smoothest pocket passer this side of Burrow. (+2)
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
His first outing under Kellen Moore didn't have the same sizzle as that of, say, opposing QB Tua Tagovailoa. But he remains one of the game's most reliable do-it-all throwers, keeping L.A. toe to toe with Miami even as his defense flailed.
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
His supersized arm and fearless running make him the chief rival to Mahomes in terms of sheer QB play-making, but his insistence on playing superhero has made him a turnover magnet. As a result, Buffalo is increasingly boom or bust. (-2)
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
No one expected the Ravens' new offense to turn him into an ultra-efficient passer right away, but all of the same Jackson questions remain: he'll always be dynamic on the move, but it was Baltimore's "D" that powered his Week 1 win. (+1)
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
If the Cowboys defense keeps wreaking havoc as it did against the Giants, Dak might be able to sit back and play game manager in the NFC East. He'll have a much bigger challenge facing the Jets' vaunted "D" in Week 2. (+1)
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
All that handwringing over Purdy's elbow and small rookie sample size, and then the guy picks apart the Steelers on the road for a blowout win. Yes, he's in Kyle Shanahan's system, but he continues to operate with such ease. (+2)
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins QB
It's fair to be concerned about his medical track record. It's also fair, after seeing him sling it left and right -- not only deep but on the move and in tight windows to edge Herbert and the Chargers -- to say he's got an "it" factor. (+2)
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
Two fumbled snaps halted the Vikings' rhythm in an upset loss to the Buccaneers, where Baker Mayfield showed more fight. Odds are his reliable play-action accuracy will even Minnesota out, but then again, he's got the Eagles next. (-1)
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
His Week 1 outing was par for the course: while he wasn't particularly special throwing to a relatively thin WR corps, he did enough when it mattered to help pull off the upset of Kansas City. He's best as a figurehead for a playoff lineup. (+1)
Jordan Love Green Bay Packers QB
The biggest riser entering Week 2, Aaron Rodgers' successor looked plenty worthy of his job against the Bears, effortlessly tossing three scores. There's room for more efficiency, but it's clear he's got the tools to air it out regularly. (+7)
Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB
Written off as a likely casualty of the Rams' rebuilding, injury-riddled lineup, Stafford instead fed Puka Nacua (Cooper Kupp Jr.?) to upset Seattle, reviving hope that Sean McVay can keep the big-armed veteran upright this year. (+4)
Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks QB
Is this the beginning of the end of the Geno resurgence? Smith's turnover tendencies reared their head late in his 2022 breakout, and then he averaged just 4.3 yards per attempt in Week 1 vs. the Rams. Stay tuned here. (-1)
Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB
All the physical gifts are there, but we're now into Year 3, and the aerial consistency just isn't there. He still deserves time to grow, and his rushing talent is almost unmatched, but the fear is this is another QB-coaching mismatch in Chicago. (-1)
Deshaun Watson Cleveland Browns QB
He was hardly a steady hand in the Browns' lopsided win over the Bengals in Week 1, but he also did far more than Burrow, notably using his legs to offset inclement weather. A Week 2 trip to Pittsburgh is another prove-it opportunity.
Derek Carr New Orleans Saints QB
He spent the first half of his Saints debut duking it out with Ryan Tannehill for ugliest Week 1 performance, only to rebound with some gutsy downfield targets to secure the win. It won't always be pretty, but he's feisty like his team's "D." (+1)
Russell Wilson Denver Broncos QB
The bar has been set so low for the former Super Bowl champion that merely controlling the ball in Week 1 registers as a win for Wilson. The challenge will be going from passable to special under Sean Payton, who wants to win now. (+2)
Jimmy Garoppolo Las Vegas Raiders QB
While Russell Wilson took better care of the ball, Garoppolo got the win in Week 1, mostly due to instant chemistry with WR Jakobi Meyers. The X-factor here, as always, centers on him staying healthy, which hasn't happened in years. (+4)
Daniel Jones New York Giants QB
All of Jones' 2022 progress as a turnover-averse franchise QB evaporated in a 40-0 shellacking vs. Dallas, though his shoddy line is partly to blame. With Andrew Thomas ailing, he may need to double down on scrambling. (-5)
Anthony Richardson Indianapolis Colts QB
The rookie's debut stat line was similar to that of Justin Fields in Week 1, reiterating the Florida product's erratic passing but explosive legs. The difference is Richardson is 21, just getting started. Indy has a big-play item on its hands. (+5)
Mac Jones New England Patriots QB
After a slow start vs. the Eagles, Jones settled in under Bill O'Brien and started dealing in pivotal moments, nearly coming back to upset the reigning NFC champs. He needs time to make it work, but Week 1 was a positive step forward. (+7)
Baker Mayfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
It took a strong defensive effort and a late, tight-game push to upset the Vikings, but Mayfield's trademark moxie was on display in crunch time. He may not outgun you in a shootout, but he might wear you down with his grit. (+5)
Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans QB
An ugly three-pick outing vs. the Saints could have Tennessee considering a switch to one of his younger backups sooner rather than later, but his experience should propel at least a slight rebound moving forward. Either way, the bar's low.
Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB
Howell's gift and curse is probably his rough-and-tumble, gung-ho attitude, which allowed him to enter 2023 with confidence but also enabled the lowly Cardinals to hang around in Week 1. Every week will be a test for the youngster. (+2)
C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB
He showed some ability to push the ball and extend plays even without a premium setup, but it could be a while before Stroud is comfortable enough to really showcase tightrope accuracy. As with his fellow first-round QBs, patience is key. (-1)
Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB
Few young QBs saw their stock dip as drastically in Week 1, where he looked totally out of sorts up against the 49ers. Pickett has the right attitude for the NFL, but now without Diontae Johnson, his struggles could continue. (-5)
Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB
We love Young's intangibles, and with time, he'll surely adapt to NFL speed. But it's clear he's working overtime just to avoid negative plays in a middling setup, struggling to complete more than 50 percent of his throws in his first career start. (-7)
Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB
Five starts in, does anyone have any idea who he is as a QB? Unsurprisingly, Arthur Smith made Week 1 all about the ground game, asking the second-year man to throw all of 18 short-area passes. To Ridder's credit, he hit most of them. (+1)
Zach Wilson New York Jets QB
Aaron Rodgers' tragic early exit vs. the Bills thrust Wilson right back into QB1 duties, and while he kept at it until the end, showing confidence in a tight win, he remains a high risk, prone to dancing around. Will New York stand pat for long?
Joshua Dobbs Arizona Cardinals QB
He completed 70 percent of his throws to nearly upset the Commanders, but he also compiled only 132 yards on 21 completions. It's as advertised: Dobbs is a career backup who just happens to be holding down the fort in Arizona.