Inaugural NFL Power Poll Draws 274 Responses
Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen? Lamar Jackson or Tua Tagovailoa?
Those were the two quarterback-centric questions in our inaugural Power Poll—and there were more than 270 responses from the NFL world of team talent evaluators, writers and broadcasters.
The first question was one of talent—If you were starting a team today, who would you want as your quarterback, Mahomes or Allen? The second question was one of style—If you were starting an NFL team today, who would you want as your field general—Lamar Jackson or Tua Tagovailoa?
Let’s start with the first question—talent. Mahomes was the NFL MVP in 2018 and Allen the MVP runnerup in 2019. Mahomes has taken the Kanas City Chiefs to four consecutive AFC championship games and two Super Bowls. Allen has taken the Buffalo Bills to two consecutive AFC East championships and an AFC title game.
Allen is the NFL prototype for the position at 6-5, 240 pounds. He is the Terry Bradshaw, John Elway and Troy Aikman of his era—tall enough to see over his blockers and thick enough to get up from a blindside hit in the pocket. He has passed for 400 yards in games and rushed for 100 yards in others.
Mahomes isn’t the prototype—not at 6-3, 227. But he spins the kind of magic in the pocket that Kenny Stabler and Joe Montana crafted. With his improvisational ability and no-look passes, Mahomes gives defenses—and their coordinators—fits. He’s also one of only nine quarterbacks in league history to pass for 5,000 yards in a single season.
But it proved to be an easy call for the voters, who gave Mahomes the nod on 81 percent of the ballots. Allen received 15 percent of the vote and a dozen others voted “other.”
“I would be thrilled with either one and would expect to build a championship team around either one,” said Charean Williams of NBCSports.com. “But I’d pick Mahomes because he’s already done it. Allen still has something to prove… but I think he will.”
Added Bill Bender of the Sporting News, “Mahomes offers the best of the old school and the new school of playing quarterback. He can make all the throws and his creative playmaking skills separate him and make him impossible to defend. It will be like that in Kansas City for the next decade.”
But Allen had his supporters.
“Allen’s command and running ability that can carry an offense if need be,” said Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News-Tribune. “Plus his moxie and determination/motivation of never having been where Mahomes has make him my choice.”
Those who voted “others” weighed in for two more AFC quarterbacks.
“If I was starting a team, I’d also take a look at Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert,” said Joe Reedy of the Associated Press. “Both have shown they can perform with mediocre offensive lines and Burrow took his team to the Super Bowl in his second year.”
The second question wasn’t as easy. The style of quarterback was starkly different. Jackson has already proven himself to be one of the greatest running quarterbacks in NFL history. He’s already had five 100-yard rushing games in his career and two 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Keep in mind there have been only three 1,000-yard rushing seasons by quarterbacks in NFL history. Jackson has yet to throw for 3,200 yards in a season but his legs give defensive coordinators nightmares.
Tagovailoa isn’t a threat to run. In 29 career starts he has only 272 rushing yards. But as a pocket passer this season few have been better. Tagovailoa has completed 71 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and only three interceptions for the 7-3 Dolphins.
Legs or an arm? Jackson was given the nod in this question with 57 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Tua.
“Lamar gives a team a unique direction where I think more teams are headed,” said Hall of Fame wide receiver James Lofton.
Added Mike Prisuta, the sports director of WDVE in Pittsburgh: “I would love to see what Jackson could do with a Tyreek Hill, a Stefon Diggs or a Justin Jefferson—a highest receiver of the highest caliber—with which to work.”
The one knock on Tua was his inability to stay healthy. He has missed seven starts over the last two seasons with rib and finger fractures and a concussion.
“The second question was difficult,” said Mike Klis, a sportswriter for 9News in Denver. “I would have picked Tua except he’s been fragile physically. He’s a far better passer than Lamar, but I pick Lamar because of a greater chance of his availability.”
Added Nick Pugliese, the sports editor of the Palm Beach Post, “As great as Tua has been playing right now, let’s give it time—tough road games, bad-weather games with playoff implications... Those are the tests he will face in the coming weeks.”
About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of significant key players in American sports today. It's member list draws on people from media, team management, and league management. It is not a scientific survey, but the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those who know most about the sport.