Contributor: John Dudley
Football has a clear top dog both in the game and in the hobby with Patrick Mahomes. That said, I’d argue that it is better for the hobby when it is less clear who is on top. Montana, Marino, or Elway? Favre or Young? Brady or Manning? Heck, even Couch or Harrington? The hobby flourishes when there are multiple top-tier quarterbacks vying for dominance. The big question for me this season is can any quarterback live up to the challenge and start rivaling Mahomes.
The following top 10 lists looks at who could challenge Mahomes for the top spot in the hobby. I’ll let the football prognosticators debate overall careers and just focus on the hobby outlook of the quarterbacks. Think of the list as ranking the odds one of these guys becomes a true rival for Mahomes.
1. Josh Allen- Allen is the clear rival to Mahomes. He just hasn’t delivered fully yet. With a Super Bowl win, Allen is the one guy on this list who will instantly be in the mix with Mahomes for the biggest quarterback in the hobby. Collectors are already big on Allen and they are just waiting for him to separate himself from the pack a bit. He’s done this in the regular season already. Now, it is time for a postseason run.
2. Jalen Hurts- Hurts benefits greatly from last year’s postseason success. Another strong season and the narrative of Hurts as a winner and franchise-changing quarterback will grow. It doesn’t hurt that like Allen, Hurts can compete with Mahomes in terms of fantasy football production. On the other hand, Hurts has a lot of skeptics who are convinced the clock will strike midnight and turn Hurts’ career back into a pumpkin.
3. Joe Burrow- Burrow has had two great seasons in a row and is poised to be Mahomes rival if he can make another deep postseason run. I like his odds of doing this with a great set of weapons highlighted by Ja’Marr Chase. I’m not big on the Chiefs this year and think at least one of the three guys in this top tier will end the year as the rival to Mahomes.
4. Justin Herbert- Herbert is getting eerily similar to Philip Rivers as each year goes by. They both are the thinking man’s quarterback and are beloved by the quarterback gurus. They both also kind of fall flat and their teams never quite reach their potential. Herbert is getting closer to Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Matt Ryan territory each year. All will wind up in the HOF, but all clear second-tier quarterbacks in terms of hobby love. This is the make-or-break year for Herbert. He’s still young enough that a stellar season can send his cards through the stratosphere, but each disappointing season makes such a takeoff less likely.
5. Trevor Lawrence- Lawrence has the pedigree to contend with Mahomes. Perhaps no other position in sports is as tied to initial evaluations as quarterbacks. Kurt Warner spent years fighting to get hobby attention and collectors value former first-round quarterbacks highly even after years of mediocre production. The narrative favors Lawrence’s hobby success. A solid year and a trip to the playoffs will be enough to keep the hype alive. Anything more, and he will jump up to Allen’s level. If he can bring home a Super Bowl, he might even eclipse Mahomes as the hottest quarterback in the hobby.
6. Brock Purdy- Purdy wasn’t flashy last year, but he was also significantly better than just a mere game manager that many naysayers make him out to be. He’s still got some of the best weapons in the game and has secured the starting job. That job security along with more snaps with said weapons gives Purdy a good shot to propel himself to the top of this list. Purdy does have a tenuous spot on this list though. With just a couple of bad starts, his card prices can, and will, crumble. It might not be fair, but it is likely.
7. Kenny Pickett- Pickett is pretty much everyone’s sleeper this year. He’s got the Steeler’s pedigree going for him and strung together some decent games at the end of last year. I see him being in the same territory as Trevor Lawrence was last year. Collectors will give Pickett a shot and he can move up this list as long as he puts together a top 15 quarterback performance. He’s got the easiest path to more hobby value of anyone on this list.
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8. Dak Prescott- Let’s be clear, if Dak didn’t play for the Cowboys, he wouldn’t crack the top 10. He does though. The hobby has been waiting for a major Cowboys star for years. Many Cowboys players have seen their cards sell for high prices due to the franchise’s popularity, but we haven’t seen what a truly transcendent Cowboys player would do in the hobby. Dak is no spring chicken, but he is young enough to become that transcendent star.
9. Lamar Jackson- Jackson gets overlooked in the hobby. He’ll need a Super Bowl run for folks to overcome the hobby momentum that keeps his cards priced substantially under Mahomes. Even though he’s got an MVP, collectors just don’t buy Lamar as one of the top few quarterbacks. He’s got a good shot to do something special this year, but if he doesn’t it might be time to bail on him in terms of the hobby.
10. Aaron Rodgers- Rodgers is a surefire first-ballot HOF quarterback, but he is in a class decidedly lower than Mahomes. If he could string together a couple of MVP-caliber seasons along with some postseason success, he could find himself back on Mahomes’ level. It’s doubtful, but Rodgers is the only quarterback on this list who has ever been considered the unequivocal top quarterback in the league for multiple years. He’s great, but Father Time will not be defeated for long.
It is also possible that none of these guys will ever rival Mahomes. The real rival might be a rookie or could even still be playing in college. I’m betting one of these quarterbacks will put together enough success to give Mahomes a run for his money though. Who do you think will be Mahomes’ rival, or will he even have one? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you haven’t checked out the insanely useful Card Shop Live app, what are you waiting for? It’s great for breaks, personal rips, singles, and hobby info. The breakers are all heavily vetted so no shenanigans here.