41. Bob Waterfield: Waterfield might be a name that plenty of football fans haven’t heard before which is due to the fact that his career ended in 1952, but he was one of the stars of the league in the 40’s a deserves a spot on this list.
Waterfield was selected in the fifth round (42nd overall) by the Cleveland Rams in the 1944 draft and spent his entire eight year career as a member of the Rams organization (in Cleveland and Los Angeles). Back in those days, a lot of players played multiple positions and Waterfield was no different. Along with being a quarterback, Waterfield, punted, kicked and played defense at a very high level, but since this the ranking of the best quarterbacks we will set that all aside and focus on what he did as just a signal caller.
The best years of his career came in 1945, ’46 and ’49. As a rookie in ’45, Waterfield led the league in touchdown passes (14) and rushed for five more scores. He was named a First-Team All-Pro and won the Joe F. Carr Trophy as the league MVP (according to pro-football-reference.com), in carrying the Rams to the NFL Championship.
1946 was another great year for Waterfield as he once again led the league in touchdown passes (17) and earning First-Team All-Pro honors for the second consecutive year. In ’49, Waterfield set a new career high with 2,168 passing yards (2nd most in the NFL) and tied his career high with 17 touchdowns (good for third in the league) while being named a First-Team All-Pro for the third time.
For his career, Waterfield the two-time Pro Bowler threw for 11,849 yards and 97 touchdowns while also scoring 13 touchdowns on the ground. For his efforts, Waterfield was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.