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, but this is how we'd sort today's signal-callers right now. These power rankings, unlike offseason QB lists, are focused more on current standing than the bigger picture in an effort to tell the story of QBs' respective rises and falls.

Without further ado, the latest pecking order:

2023 NFL QB Power Rankings
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
The numbers are pedestrian by his standards so far, but it'd take a miracle to move Mahomes off this spot. He does more with less than, well, anyone. Evidence: He's still tied for third in TD passes (4) and fourth in QB rushing yards (75).
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins QB
So, by the looks of it, the early 2022 explosion was not a fluke. Does he underthrow a ball here and there? Sure. But how about every other pass, when he's dropping dimes to effortlessly execute Mike McDaniel's speed attack? He's got "it."
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
Just like Tua, he deserves credit for living up to this small sample size of 2022 poise. Yes, the 49ers' setup helps. But San Francisco isn't 2-0 without him. He controls the ball. He moves the pocket. He plays much wiser than a second-year pro.
Jordan Love Green Bay Packers QB
From Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers to this guy. He's been a bit boom or bust in terms of completion percentage (55.8) and botched a critical QB sneak in Week 2. But man does he throw a pretty downfield ball. Six TDs and no picks so far!
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
It was fitting that Allen responded to a Week 1 turnover fest with a Week 2 big-play bonanza. This is his deal. The lows are too frequent, but the highs are so high they make it worth the wait. Only Mahomes offers more game-changing juice.
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
The 0-2 record puts a blemish on his production, which basically tells the story of his whole Chargers career. He's got to be better late, when it matters most. But this remains an elite pocket passer bogged down by a poor staff and defense.
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
Dallas has stormed out to maybe the most impressive 2-0 record of any team, and Prescott has largely had to sit back and watch; it's a defensive show. But he was sharp even against the stingy Jets in Week 2. He's so often composed.
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
The Vikings' winless start allows Cousins skeptics to pile on, suggesting his big numbers are mostly meaningless. But behind a battered line, he's remained sharp as ever slinging it downfield. The one holdup: four turnovers in two games.
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
Not so dissimilar to Cousins, Goff has really embraced his role of overlooked but quietly sturdy pocket passer. His pick-six vs. Seattle in Week 2 could haunt Detroit, but only MVP candidate Tua Tagovailoa is averaging more yards per attempt.
Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles QB
After an ultra-smooth MVP bid in 2022, Hurts' uneasiness in the pocket has been apparent in a bit of a sloppy 2-0 start. But he's got four total TDs (including two on unstoppable QB sneaks) and all the talent to rekindle confidence moving forward.
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
Two games into the Todd Monken offense, and Jackson is already making strides as a patient passer, connecting with Zay Flowers to guide a key AFC North win in Week 2. Let's just hope his O-line and weapons can stay on the field with him.
Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB
For a guy who justifiably drew plenty of preseason MVP hype, Lawrence has been up and down in the Jags' 1-1 start. But he might've upset the Chiefs to stay unbeaten this year if it weren't for his wideouts consistently failing to stay inbounds.
Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks QB
In the NFL, sometimes it's all about how you respond. And Smith did just that against Detroit, rebounding from an ugly Week 1 -- and even uglier late-game sack against the Lions -- to air it out with bravado. He brings swagger to Seattle's offense.
Baker Mayfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
One of the top underdog stories to open 2023, Mayfield's best attribute as Tom Brady's successor has been one of his trademark weaknesses: controlling the ball. As long as he allows Todd Bowles' defense to lead the way, he's got an edge.
Russell Wilson Denver Broncos QB
It's still tough to get a true read on Russ under Sean Payton. He's certainly looked more like his old self, showcasing vintage deep balls vs. Washington. But Payton is clearly growing impatient with the way everything seems to slow to a halt late.
Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB
He's had to scratch and claw to come back against middling opponents in Arizona and Denver, but Howell has given Commanders fans plenty to admire, zipping the ball into tight windows while avoiding turnover-worthy plays.
Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB
The Rams have been all the buzz thanks to their chain-moving offense, which was expected to be a pushover after a rebuilding offseason. Stafford's helped orchestrate it, but his two ill-timed picks in Week 2 doomed a potential upset.
C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB
In recent years, it's become something of a game in Houston, trying to evaluate young QBs operating in not-so-friendly circumstances. Stroud is passing the test so far, showing veteran-level touch and adaptability even behind a makeshift line.
Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB
If grit is a tangible, sustainable thing, Ridder is set to keep climbing. While Arthur Smith may never shy away from his run-heavy approach, he got some clutch darts and scrambles from his second-year QB to upset the Packers in Week 2.
Mac Jones New England Patriots QB
The bar was set very low for the ailing former first-rounder entering 2023, so he's cleared it even as New England tries to avoid an 0-3 start. With sluggish weapons, Jones has been accurate and resilient, making two valiant comeback efforts.
Derek Carr New Orleans Saints QB
The Saints paid big bucks for Carr to take over under center, but they're 2-0 almost entirely because of their defense. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, if the ex-Raiders vet can learn to start faster. Alvin Kamara will be back in the lineup soon.
Daniel Jones New York Giants QB
Will the real Daniel Jones please stand up? Turnover-averse in 2022, he cratered back to Earth behind a banged-up line to open this year, only to surge back to dual-threat life for a comeback win over Arizona. His legs remain a top trait.
Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB
Athletically, Fields belongs so much higher. But his elusiveness has been just as much a curse as a gift in Chicago, where he's tended to hold the ball and play his way into trouble. Crunch-time giveaways have unfortunately become his thing.
Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans QB
His season opener may have had Titans brass pondering a full-on demotion, but Tannehill bounced back with big plays both through the air and on the ground against the Chargers. A huge test awaits in Week 3, up against the Browns' D-line.
Deshaun Watson Cleveland Browns QB
There are flashes of vintage Watson, such as when he dodged some collapsing pockets vs. Pittsburgh. But all in all, the ex-Texans star looks unsettled, both on anything resembling a downfield shot and in his conduct with opposing, jawing players.
Gardner Minshew Indianapolis Colts QB
The presumptive starter for Indy while rookie Anthony Richardson recovers from a concussion, Minshew was efficient in relief of AR15 vs. Houston. He'll face a much taller task trying to move the ball against Baltimore in Week 3.
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB
Blame it on the calf injury or the Bengals' O-line or whatever you may please, but the NFL's highest-paid QB is off his game. His Tee Higgins connection late in Week 2 was promising, but right now, Cincy's best bet might be to rest the ailing star.
Joshua Dobbs Arizona Cardinals QB
If not for the Giants' second-half miracle, Dobbs might've been a story of Week 2, showing off starting-caliber confidence as both a precision passer and scrambler. In the end, he's not being asked to do a whole lot for a rebuilding club.
Jimmy Garoppolo Las Vegas Raiders QB
Some Raiders fans have already begun to call for rookie Aidan O'Connell. Look, in a playoff-caliber setup, we know Jimmy G can play point guard. In two games with Vegas, he's up to three picks and has yet to score more than 17 points.
Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB
Get this young man a supporting cast, and the story might be different. Young has had to rely almost exclusively on short-area targets to move the ball, but he at least showed late-game fight in a comeback attempt vs. the stingy Saints in Week 2.
Zach Wilson New York Jets QB
Three picks against the Cowboys seemed to confirm what many have been saying: Without Aaron Rodgers, the Jets' big-game dreams are permanently on hold. But Wilson's certainly operating with more confidence than he did in 2022.
Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB
He's got the Steel City toughness (and a physical defense on his side), but Pickett's struggling to complete 60 percent of his throws, and after totaling nine picks in 13 starts as a rookie, he's already up to three this year. The whole flow is erratic.