The best dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history

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August 17th, 2021

The quarterback position has changed dramatically over the years. QBs can no longer just stand in the pocket, they need to be able to scramble and attack on every down.

Those who can do it well are truly prized commodities. The last three NFL MVP winners were all dual-threat quarterbacks, and six of the past 10 recipients were dual-threats too.

Join us now as we rank the top five dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history.

5. Russell Wilson

Team: Seattle Seahawks
Accolades: 7x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, 1x Super Bowl champion
Years active: 2012-present

It was very difficult to discern a difference between Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Lamar Jackson for this fifth spot. Ultimately, it came down to the longevity and success of Wilson’s career.

Wilson has run for 4,506 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career. That is 31.3 rushing yards per game and 5.6 rushing yards per attempt. He ranks fourth all-time in career rushing yards, and fifth all-time in career rushing yards per game among all QBs.

Russ has thrown for 33,946 yards, which ranks him 35th on the all-time passing yardage list. However, he averages 238.5 passing yards per game, which ranks 28th on the all-time list. Combine this all with 267 passing touchdowns (19th all-time) and you can see why he edges out Jackson and Newton on our list.

4. Randall Cunningham

Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens
Accolades: 4x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro
Years active: 1985-2001

Randall Cunningham was aptly nicknamed "The Ultimate Weapon" for his amazing abilities to leave the pocket and make teams pay for allowing him to do so. Cunningham ran for 4,928 yards in his career, which ranks third all-time among quarterbacks. He also averaged 30.6 rushing yards per game (sixth all-time) and 6.4 yards per attempt (third all-time).

Cunningham’s 35 rushing touchdowns ranks sixth all-time among quarterbacks, but he was also deadly through the air. He threw for 29,979 career yards and 207 touchdowns. He finished second in MVP voting three times in his career, and was a human highlight reel.

3. Fran Tarkenton

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants
Accolades: 9x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, 1x MVP
Years active: 1961-1978

The OG dual-threat quarterback comes in at No. 3 due to his longevity and passing prowess. Fran Tarkenton rushed for 3,674 yards, which is sixth all-time among quarterbacks. He ran for an average of 5.4 yards per carry and had 32 rushing touchdowns.

Through the air, Tarkenton amassed 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns, which is good for 13th in passing yards and 11th in passing touchdowns all-time. He made three Super Bowls in his career, but unfortunately lost all of them. However, the appropriately nicknamed "Scrambler" showed that a running quarterback can succeed in this league.

2. Steve Young

Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers
Accolades: 7x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 2x MVP, 2x Super Bowl champion, 1x Super Bowl MVP
Years active: 1985-1999

Steve Young had to start his Hall of Fame career sitting on the bench behind another Hall of Famer, Joe Montana. However, once he got his chance, he made it count with both his feet and his arm.

Young ran for 4,239 yards (fifth all-time) and 43 touchdowns (second all-time). He averaged 25.1 yards per game and 5.9 yards per attempt. Young threw for 33,124 yards and 232 touchdowns. The lefty also holds the Super Bowl record for passing touchdowns in a game.

He truly could do it all. 

1. Michael Vick

Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers
Accolades: 4x Pro Bowl
Years active: 2001-2015

The accolades may not be there, but no one changed the game like Michael Vick did when he burst onto the scene in the early 2000’s. In the 2006 season, he became the only quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards until Lamar Jackson joined him after the 2019 season.

Vick ran for 6,109 yards (first all-time) and 36 touchdowns (fifth all-time) in his career. He also averaged 42.7 yards per game (second all-time) and 7.0 yards per carry (first all-time). Vick also had a rocket arm and threw for over 3,000 yards in a season twice in his career.

Vick is the reason the game changed towards the running quarterbacks and the reason guys like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, and Patrick Mahomes have taken over this league.