Key Takeaways

  • Evolution of the Quarterback Role: From hand-off specialists to dual-threat leaders, quarterbacking has evolved to emphasize both passing and rushing abilities.
  • Rise of the Dual-Threat Quarterback: Highlighted by Randall Cunningham’s achievement of 500 rushing yards in five consecutive seasons, signaling a shift towards more versatile quarterbacks.
  • Top Rushing Quarterbacks Identified: Using a points system based on rushing yards, yards per carry, yards per game, and rushing touchdowns, the best rushing QBs in NFL history were ranked.
  • 2000s Domination: Five of the top 10 rushing quarterbacks primarily played during the 2000s, showcasing the era’s shift towards mobile quarterbacks.
  • Active Players Shining: An active quarterback is in a strong position to claim the top spot in the future, demonstrating the ongoing evolution and importance of mobility at the position.
  • Notable Rankings: Michael Vick leads with the highest total rushing QB points (103/108), followed by Randall Cunningham and Steve Young, illustrating the significant impact of their rushing abilities on the game

The Best Rushing Quarterbacks in NFL [To Date]

The quarterback position has always represented the leader of the offense over the course of football history, but the duties entailed in the role have changed several times.

When schemes primarily centered around running the ball at the dawn of the sport, quarterbacks were mostly expected to hand the ball off, only occasionally keeping the pigskin for themselves to run or throw. The importance of passing increasingly grew until the prototypical QB became a pocket passer whose running duties were minimal.

In 1990, however, Randall Cunningham became the first quarterback to total 500 rushing yards in five straight seasons. Thus began the rise of the dual-threat quarterback, a weapon who could march his team downfield with his arms and/or legs.

To determine the best rushing quarterbacks in NFL history, PointAfter considered the 27 players with at least 2,000 rushing yards and 500 passing attempts. Each player was then rewarded between 1-27 points for their standing among the group in rushing yards, yards per carry, yards per game and rushing touchdowns. Therefore, the maximum total one could achieve is 108 points.

By this system, five of the top 10 rushing QBs primarily played during the 2000s — and one is an active gunslinger who’s in good shape to take over the top spot in the coming years.

Note: Ties were broken by giving advantage to active player. If neither quarterback is active, tie was given to player with more rushing yards.

#27. Mark Brunell

Total Rushing QB Points: 20/108

Career rushing yards: 2,421
Yards per carry: 4.7
Yards per game: 12.5
Touchdowns: 3

#26. Jeff Blake

Total Rushing QB Points: 21/108

Career rushing yards: 2,027
Yards per carry: 4.9
Yards per game: 16.9
Touchdowns: 2

#25. Bobby Layne

Bobby Layne

Total Rushing QB Points: 29/108

Career rushing yards: 2,451
Yards per carry: 4.0
Yards per game: 14.0
Touchdowns: 12

#24. Jeff Garcia

Total Rushing QB Points: 31/108

Career rushing yards: 2,140
Yards per carry: 4.6
Yards per game: 17.1
Touchdowns: 13

#23. Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson

Total Rushing QB Points: 33/108

Career rushing yards: 2,220
Yards per carry: 5.6
Yards per game: 11.6
Touchdowns: 6

#22. Rich Gannon

Total Rushing QB Points: 35/108

Career rushing yards: 2,449
Yards per carry: 4.7
Yards per game: 15.6
Touchdowns: 8

#21. Archie Manning

Archie Manning

Total Rushing QB Points: 36/108

Career rushing yards: 2,197
Yards per carry: 5.7
Yards per game: 14.5
Touchdowns: 4

#20. Aaron Rodgers

Total Rushing QB Points: 38/108

Career rushing yards: 2,175
Yards per carry: 5.0
Yards per game: 17.3
Touchdowns: 8

#18. Terry Bradshaw

Total Rushing QB Points: 39/108

Career rushing yards: 2,257
Yards per carry: 5.1
Yards per game: 13.4
Touchdowns: 16

#19. Steve Grogan

Steve Grogan

Total Rushing QB Points: 40/108

Career rushing yards: 2,176
Yards per carry: 4.9
Yards per game: 14.6
Touchdowns: 20

#17. Jim Harbaugh

Total Rushing QB Points: 41/108

Career rushing yards: 2,787
Yards per carry: 5.0
Yards per game: 15.7
Touchdowns: 4

#16. Roger Staubach

Total Rushing QB Points: 47/108

Career rushing yards: 2,264
Yards per carry: 5.5
Yards per game: 17.3
Touchdowns: 6

#15. John Elway

Total Rushing QB Points: 48/108

Career rushing yards: 3,407
Yards per carry: 4.4
Yards per game: 14.6
Touchdowns: 18

#14. Russell Wilson

Total Rushing QB Points: 58/108

Career rushing yards: 2,430
Yards per carry: 5.9
Yards per game: 38.0
Touchdowns: 1

#13. Greg Landry

Total Rushing QB Points: 64/108

Career rushing yards: 2,655
Yards per carry: 6.2
Yards per game: 18.2
Touchdowns: 8

#12. Fran Tarkenton

Total Rushing QB Points: 65/108

Career rushing yards: 3,674
Yards per carry: 5.4
Yards per game: 14.9
Touchdowns: 16

#11. Bob Hoernschemeyer

Total Rushing QB Points: 66/108

Career rushing yards: 4,546
Yards per carry: 4.3
Yards per game: 40.2
Touchdowns: 14

#10. Daunte Culpepper

Total Rushing QB Points: 67/108

Career rushing yards: 2,652
Yards per carry: 5.2
Yards per game: 25.3
Touchdowns: 19

#9. Tobin Rote

Tobin Rote

Total Rushing QB Points: 68/108

Career rushing yards: 3,128
Yards per carry: 4.9
Yards per game: 21.0
Touchdowns: 23

#8. Donovan McNabb

Total Rushing QB Points: 72/108

Career rushing yards: 3,459
Yards per carry: 5.6
Yards per game: 20.7
Touchdowns: 15

#7. Bobby Douglass

Total Rushing QB Points: 73/108

Career rushing yards: 2,654
Yards per carry: 6.5
Yards per game: 29.2
Touchdowns: 11

#6. Kordell Stewart

Total Rushing QB Points: 74/108

Career rushing yards: 2,874
Yards per carry: 5.1
Yards per game: 23.0
Touchdowns: 24

#5. Steve McNair

Total Rushing QB Points: 80/108

Career rushing yards: 3,590
Yards per carry: 5.4
Yards per game: 22.3
Touchdowns: 23

#4. Cam Newton

Total Rushing QB Points: 87/108

Career rushing yards: 3,207
Yards per carry: 5.4
Yards per game: 41.1
Touchdowns: 25

#3. Steve Young

Total Rushing QB Points: 93/108

Career rushing yards: 4,239
Yards per carry: 5.9
Yards per game: 25.1
Touchdowns: 25

#2. Randall Cunningham

Total Rushing QB Points: 95/108

Career rushing yards: 4,928
Yards per carry: 6.4
Yards per game: 30.6
Touchdowns: 20

#1. Michael Vick

Total Rushing QB Points: 103/108

Career rushing yards: 6,109
Yards per carry: 7.0
Yards per game: 42.7
Touchdowns: 22

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