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Let's rank some QBs -- 2018 offseason


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We used to do this every offseason, but it has been at least a couple years since I had the attention span to put a full ranking together. Below are my completely subjective QB rankings, arranged in categories/tiers that make sense to me. These rankings are based on pretty much everything that I think is relevant for NFL QBs -- team accomplishments, coaching staffs, past performance, future projections (somewhat), injury history, etc. 


I'd love to see anyone else's rankings also, and to compare notes. I'm sure there will be plenty of disagreement on some of these.


Elite -- To me, this is an exclusive group, which actually has shrunk in the last two years. I think there’s still a line between these three and the rest; these guys are are assaulting all-time records, and they have team-level accomplishments that put them ahead of the pack. To me, it gets tricky with Brees because the Saints have missed the playoffs four of the last six seasons, and I think an “elite” QB basically guarantees his team a playoff spot every season, but in analyzing their situation, it’s obvious that his team is lopsided in its structure and output, and they fall short despite his great performances.


Tom Brady -- It hurts me to say, as a Manning fan, but Brady is #1 because even though he’s in a great situation and gets a ton of help from coaching/teammates, he has the individual stats, team accomplishments, career longevity, and he has a track record of shining in the biggest moments. There are no relevant blemishes on his resume, IMO. His status as the overall GOAT was solidified for me in the SB vs the Falcons, leading a an unprecedented comeback on the grandest stage. Objectively, he’s not only the best in the game, but probably the best of the last 35 years.

Aaron Rodgers -- One of the deadliest playmakers ever to play QB, but unlike other outstanding performers, like Favre, he takes care of the ball, and unlike other big time passers like Brady, Brees, Manning, etc., he’s not physically limited in or out of the pocket, or with any throws or areas of the field. He doesn’t have a lot of single season volume records, but he owns the two most efficient passing seasons back to back in 2011 and 2012, and he legitimizes those performances every season. He can make every throw, when he’s healthy his team is a playoff contender, and he seems to be able to make magic happen in the most unexpected situations, including Hail Mary attempts in recent seasons. Still the player I would choose to build a team around for the next 3-5 years.

Drew Brees -- I sometimes debate whether he belongs in this tier, because his team seems to stay mediocre, but I ultimately decided that it’s not fair to downgrade him just because his team is lopsided and can’t play defense. Historically, when the defense is average or better, they make the playoffs and advance, but the offense always plays well with Brees under center, so I think it’s clear that it’s not Brees’ fault that the Saints haven’t performed better over the last six years. Statistically, he’s one of the greatest of all time, and when I watch him, I’m impressed by how he has complete command of the game; he has essentially mastered the position. When he’s on a roll, their passing attack is unstoppable.


Nobles -- Very high class, upper echelon QBs who consistently perform at a high level, despite whatever else is going on around them. 


Ben Roethlisberger -- Over the last few seasons, he’s become one of the most efficient QBs in the league by adjusting his offense to get the ball out and to playmakers faster, and his sack percentage has been nearly cut in half (I hope the Colts are paying attention), but he still can hang in there and wait for receivers down the field, shrug off tacklers and then throw great passes to every level of the field. He will be a 1st ballot HOFer.

Philip Rivers -- Just as good as Ben, more efficient at times but not as physically gifted, stuck on a team that can’t maximize their talent and get to a Super Bowl (or even get to the playoffs consistently), and part of that is constant injuries. Also a 1st ballot HOFer, and he’s one of the more underrated QBs in the league over the last five years.

Russell Wilson -- This guy is a magician. He makes “video game” plays all the time, must be one of the most frustrating QBs for pass rushers because of mobility and escapability, still has the ability to beat defenses with his arm, stays within himself, takes care of the ball, is efficient and highly productive, and still makes ridiculous plays down the field, and despite taking a lot of hits and being smaller, has never missed a game in 6 years. I think he's probably underrated.

Matt Ryan -- Hit a peak two years ago that rightfully earned him MVP, and if not for a total team meltdown he had a SB in his pocket. That year might prove to be an aberration, but even in previous years he’s been a reliable performer, with a bad team. He’s a no-doubt top ten QB, and has proven he has the ability to perform on an elite level.


Injured Nobles -- These two belong in the previous category, but are coming back from serious injuries and will have to show that they are still capable of changing the game for their teams. I don’t have any serious doubt that they will.

Andrew Luck -- When healthy, he can carry a bad team to the playoffs, and has the playmaking ability to beat virtually any team on any given Sunday. He’s been slowed by injuries the last three years but assuming he’s back to his old self, he will continue to be a terror for opponents. He has all the physical tools needed to dominate the league for the foreseeable future, and if the new regime does what they say they’re going to do, we might see even more from Luck than we saw in his early years.

Carson Wentz -- He was on fire most of the year, going from promising rookie to likely MVP in one season, and had elite efficiency along the way. He also has exceptional mobility and movement in the pocket, and it looks like the sky’s the limit for him once he’s back on the field. He’s also playing for a really smart coaching staff. I had him ahead of Luck because his 2017 was outstanding and because he plays with a speed that Luck never did, but I decided to swap them because Luck has a longer track record.


Barons -- There’s some upside in this group, and then others who are established and probably are what they are; former peak territory for players like Flacco, Tannehill, etc, who had flashes and even accomplishments, but never took the next step. This group can go either way.

Cam Newton -- This guy has a ton of overall ability, and produces with his arm and legs. He’s not as well-rounded and complete a passer as others in this category, and his passing efficiency will probably never be impressive, but he makes lots of plays and has insane ability, which earned him an MVP.

Kirk Cousins -- He has refined his raw ability as a passer, if not a playmaker, and has probably overachieved the last couple years, and now has to play with a new team and coaching staff. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t produce like has previously, but his ability to run a good offense is pretty well proven.

Matthew Stafford -- Has maybe stalled out, shown he can put up numbers but his teams don’t win games, can’t grab the division, always lose to better teams, can’t beat the Packers, etc. He’s an above average passer and a decent playmaker, but there’s no “It” factor with him.

Derek Carr -- I think he has the goods, and though he’s not the most physically impressive QB, he is a playmaker and a leader. He’s dealt with bad offensive coaching (why’d they fire Musgrave?) and injuries, but can hopefully get back to the near-MVP status he was approaching two years ago. Hopefully Gruden doesn’t ruin him.

Alex Smith -- Has mostly been your prototypical game manager; he will not hurt you with turnovers, but he may hold your offense back with his unwillingness to take a chance down the field, and will be with a new staff that probably won’t encourage him to be more of a playmaker. Surprisingly he was the most effective deep passer last season, and still just barely cracked 4k for the first time in his entire career. We’ve most likely seen his best, and smart money says he falls off moving forward, but Jay Gruden did a good job with Cousins, so maybe he’ll be a good fit for Smith also.


Nick Foles Tier

Nick Foles -- At this point he has proven his ability to lead a team, run an offense efficiently and put up points, even on the biggest stage, where he was outstanding. He was on the brink of retirement two years ago and is now SB MVP as a backup QB. He will likely be a backup again this season. He probably won’t have the chance to prove whether he is capable of being a starter before 2019, because the Eagles are smart and won’t trade him. I’d rather have him right now than anyone below him on this list.


Young Barons -- These players have shown special ability, and could eventually be Nobles, but it’s still too early to tell. I think they have obvious flaws that they may or may not overcome; they need good coaching and development, otherwise they will not reach their potential.

Jameis Winston -- He has obvious off field issues that go back several years, and that might cost him his job at some point. On the field, he turns the ball over too much and makes stupid mistakes, has questionable maturity and leadership. He has the talent to be an eventual MVP candidate, but he also has the potential to flame out over the next six months.

Marcus Mariota -- Still developing as a pro passer, but has high level ability with his arm, and can shred an undisciplined defense with his legs. He has probably been handcuffed by conservative coaching, but this year will be critical for him to show whether he’s going to be a tease or a stud.

Dak Prescott -- Probably an overachiever as an early starter, I doubt that he’ll ever be a dominant pro passer but has just enough playmaking to be a potential disruptor, and his dual threat ability gives him a boost. He can thrive if his team is smart with him.

Jared Goff -- This guy was left for dead a year ago, but once he was rescued from Jeff Fisher and paired with a smart offensive coach, it didn’t take long (Week 1, to be exact, though the Colts helped with that) for him to look like he might wind up being a really good QB, ala Matt Ryan; I think he’ll probably be more Alex Smith while Wentz has more potential to be Aaron Rodgers, but Goff has an advantage over Smith since he won’t (likely) have 5 different playcallers in his first 6 years. He also wound up being the 9th best deep passer in the league last year, so his college strength as a deep passer appears to have been unlocked by Sean McVay, and that might be the key to his pro career. And though everyone has him behind Wentz, he had a better completion %, int %, adjusted yards/attempt and essentially same passer rating as Wentz. Goff might be better than the 7 guys directly in front of him as early as this season. Let's stop writing off young QBs so quickly, and let's make sure they have good coaches.


Starting QB, Esquire -- We’ve seen what these guys can do, and they have either not played near their peak recently, or are wildly inconsistent, and yet they own 3 SB MVP awards, between them, showing that even an unimpressive QB can get hot long enough for your team to win a SB. There’s a legit chance that none of these five guys are starting by the end of this season.

Eli Manning -- Has had a great career, especially for an above average QB with a consistently inconsistent track record, and he’s probably done at this point.

Joe Flacco -- Had a nice run and got a SB and a fat contract, but is not good enough to carry his team and never has been, and the Ravens seem like they’re ready for the next guy. He might not be on the team in 2019.

Andy Dalton -- The poster boy for QB purgatory, when you have a youngish passer with some ability but he never performs at more than an above average level, and even then it’s only for a couple weeks at a time. It’s been seven years now, we can say for sure he’s not a playmaker, and he plays horribly in the playoffs. Sadly, his coaching staff isn’t capable of maximizing anyone, much less an average QB (LOL at the idea that he would have saved Polian’s job in 2011).

Ryan Tannehill -- Another middle of the road guy that can’t elevate his team, and he doesn’t even have the playoff appearances that Dalton does. Not a bad QB at all, but you can’t build your offense around him, and sadly, it seems like his teammates don’t like or respect him. He’s had a decent career and made a lot of money for a former hybrid QB/receiver, but it’s hard to see the Dolphins paying him another $19m in 2019.


Veteran Journeymen -- A group of QBs that actually are pretty good, or have played well at times in the past, but either can’t stay healthy or can’t hold the starting job very long.

Sam Bradford -- Word is he got injured thinking about training camp, but is and always has been a talented passer. At this point, he’s probably just keeping the seat warm for Rosen, who is like him in being a talented passer who probably can’t stay healthy.

Case Keenum -- Had a good year but couldn’t keep his job because of his obvious limitations. He probably has no real competition in Denver, but they have not and likely will not commit to him beyond this season, unless he has a great year.

Teddy Bridgewater -- It’s weird to call him a journeyman at this point, but that’s partly a projection, given his ability and the uncertainty that he’ll ever fully recover. He’s probably more likely to be traded during camp than to be the Jets starter in Week 8; Darnold is the future there.


Peasants -- The Blake Bortles Tier

Blake Bortles -- He was actually impressive late last season, he hasn’t had great coaching for the most part, and he showed some Eli-like ability in the playoffs last year, but there’s been a lot of bad and he’s just a placeholder until they find someone better. I think there’s still a 1% chance he turns into a quality starter that a good team can win with, and the Jags are spending at least $26.5m to play out that very small chance.

Tyrod Taylor -- Takes care of the ball and can make plays with his legs, but there’s not a lot of potential for him to be a long term starter. He was benched for no good reason last season, bounced back to help the team break a generation-long playoff drought, and then rewarded by being traded to the Browns, but no one cried for him. And the Bills did okay; pick #65 isn’t a bad return for an average QB, and they drafted a potential franchise QB in Josh Allen.

Jacoby Brissett -- Early word is he looks good in Reich’s offense -- and that’s encouraging because imagine what that means for Luck -- but he is a questionable NFL passer, not a quick decision maker, and struggles with accuracy. No doubt he’s an admirable teammate, great worker, exactly what you want as a backup for a veteran QB, and maybe can get a chance as a starter at some point in the future, but right now he is not a top 32 QB in the NFL, IMO. I’m fine with him as a spot starter for now.

Josh McCown -- He’s had some decent statistical performances, but over 5 seasons worth of starts it’s proven that when he plays, his team loses. He’ll be 39 when the season starts, probably great for your QB room, but it’s interesting that they’d give him $10m for a chance to start for a brief period while Darnold is groomed, and he might be their third best QB anyway.

AJ McCarron -- He’ll be in a 3-way competition with Nathan Peterman -- who threw 5 picks in one half last year -- and Josh Allen, a raw Division II passer who only completed 56% of his college passes. And like McCown, McCarron is probably the #3 guy.

Trevor Siemian -- He was given the job in Denver, completely bombed, and will probably never be a starter again. He’ll make a decent backup for Cousins in Minnesota.


Polls Still Open -- This group has too few games and starts for me to rank them against the rest of the league, but almost all of them have a serious shot at being Pro Bowlers.

Deshaun Watson -- He looked simply amazing in his half a season, and he might be the next big thing, which is exciting in a division that’s been plagued with bad QB play for a long time (outside of the Colts).

Jimmy Garappolo -- He eventually took over for a bad team and went 5-0, and then got PAID. He might be next year’s Carson Wentz, and despite being undefeated as a starter, he still doesn’t have enough games played to really know who or what he is.

Mitchell Trubisky -- Had decent debut, with some nice performances as the year went on, and now thankfully has been rescued from another overly conservative, old school head coach who doesn’t know how to handle a young QB. He might be able to take off with Nagy, who is very unproven himself, but comes highly recommended.

Patrick Mahomes -- The Chiefs saw one week of him and decided he could have Alex Smith’s job, mostly because he has a monster arm and serious playmaking ability, and he played like a seasoned pro in a meaningless Week 17 game. There’s considerable refinement work ahead, but things look good, and Andy Reid is good with QBs.

Nathan Peterman -- He has some talent (had some nice games in college), and might win the Buffalo job early in the year, but he’s probably not going to be a quality starter at any point.


Newcomers, in draft order --  first rounders only

Baker Mayfield -- There are big questions about his pro ability and fit, and he went to the most questionable team in the league. But now that they have a real front office (and it’s legit impressive, IMO) and have stuck with a coach for more than two seasons who happens to have an offensive background, maybe they can finally develop a QB who actually has some talent. I don’t believe he has the ability to be a top notch pro QB, but he could be an above average starter for a few years, which is a big improvement for the Browns.

Sam Darnold -- IMO the safest QB in the draft, and while I think the Jets are silly to pay $15m to two veteran backups, I think they’re smart to create a buffer between the field and their 20 year old rookie who is prone to turn the ball over. They also have a reputable offensive brain trust with Bates/Dennison, who can hopefully develop Darnold and get him ready to take the job -- and it might come sooner than it really should -- but he has the ability to be a Noble-level QB.

Josh Allen -- I think he has a near-fatal flaw with accuracy against lower level competition, but the physical tools are there and he can be an elite-level playmaker, as long as he can develop fundamentally. Sadly, I think his offensive coaching staff is an ill fit (journeyman coordinator with no real NFL success as a playcaller, no proven QB guru on the entire staff), and his head coach has a defensive background, so his prospects to be developed as a pro passer aren’t high, IMO. Weirdly would have been a great fit for the Browns, I think.

Josh Rosen -- The most talented passer this year, but has injury issues and questions about coachability; he might have been humbled by dropping in the draft. Even though the head coach is a defensive guy, they probably have the right offensive staff for him. I’ve been a Mike McCoy fan for over five years and he probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so Rosen will be developed by a coach who has experience with a wide variety of high profile and experienced QBs. And the QB coach is a former first round pick who spent a decade in the league and is still young enough to relate to Rosen’s millennial point of view, and who also won’t be going anywhere. With Bradford and Glennon in the room, he has a lot of veteran perspective to keep him in check. I think he can be a high level QB if he stays on it.

Lamar Jackson -- If they handle him right, he could be RG3 without the drama and ego, which is an acceptable starting QB for a few years, with the potential to wreck defenses when they make mistakes. I am not thrilled with his passing ability in the pocket against defenses that don’t leave receivers open. I’m also not a fan of the Ravens offensive coaching staff, starting with Marty Mornhingweg.

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Man that is a Great breakdown, I loved the way you labeled your classifications as well. Tough to argue any of it. I agree 100% with your Elite Class = Tom, Rodgers, and Brees. Ben is just a notch below I agree. Regarding Tom being the GOAT, very tough to argue that he isn't. Montana and Peyton are the only 2 that really have an argument against that. Let me think on this for a while and I will at least give you my Top 10 list here in a while. 

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Here is my Top 10 QB's going into next season. This is based on part of how they played last season but also on past history as well and assuming these QB's will be somewhat healthy


My Top 10:

1. Tom Brady


2. Aaron Rodgers


3. Drew Brees


4. Ben Roethlisberger


5. Russell Wilson


6. Matt Ryan - I have him slightly ahead of Wentz. He has made a SB and is 100% healthy.


7. Carson Wentz - He was on his way to winning MVP until his injury. Had 33 TD's and only 7 INTs. It's a bad look for him when the Eagles were able to win the SB without him but with him they may be unbeatable?


8. Phillip Rivers - Chargers went 9-7 last season. He carries that team and is one of most underrated QB's of this generation. He was 2nd in Passing Yards last season!


9. Matt Stafford - I have him slightly ahead of Luck because he's 100% healthy and had a Very Good season last year. He threw for nearly 66% of his passes and was 3rd in the league in passing Yards. That is tough to overlook. Lions also went 9-7.


10. Andrew Luck - I am assuming he will start on opening day and get to 100% health. He is a super talented QB and based on his past history = 3 Playoff wins, I have him ranked over guys like Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, and Jared Goff who have never won a Playoff game. He's better than Alex Smith too, Alex is a Game Manager. I think Luck will be better than Cam Newton as well. Cam is injury prone (he doesn't miss many starts but plays banged up alot) and hasn't been the same since he lost in the SB - he was ungodly that season up until Denver exposed him. Eli has won 2 SB's but that was many moons ago and he's showing his age.


-Luck to me has the 'IT' factor, not much rattles him. A QB like Cam gets rattled easily when his team is down and he is a poor loser.


-and yes if Luck is healthy is better than Nick Foles :funny:

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2 hours ago, Dingus McGirt said:

IMO, Winston is closer to the Bortles tier than to the Nobles.


That's a legit beef. Their accomplishments to this point are very similar. The difference for me is that I think Winston has significant upside; I don't think Bortles will get any better. Ironically, Winston is probably more likely to be out of the league in 3 years than Bortles, if he can't stay out of trouble. 

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Apologies for joining this conversation...     I read this one when it was first posted,  and I decided to re-read it again....


First,  I should say nice job.    You didn't sit down and write all this without doing a lot of homework before hand.   Props to you.     And unless there's a glaring error (and there isn't) I never think it's productive to get into the silly debates where someone writes "how could you put this guy ahead of that guy?"    Those discussions rarely hold interest for me.   We all see the same thing differently.


But there is one passage that jumped out at me during this reading.   And, if I remember correctly,   we danced this dance last September when the Colts acquired Brissett and you were underwhelmed then....


You wrote this....


Early word is he looks good in Reich’s offense -- and that’s encouraging because imagine what that means for Luck -- but he is a questionable NFL passer, not a quick decision maker, and struggles with accuracy. No doubt he’s an admirable teammate, great worker, exactly what you want as a backup for a veteran QB, and maybe can get a chance as a starter at some point in the future, but right now he is not a top 32 QB in the NFL, IMO. I’m fine with him as a spot starter for now.


Brissett is starting his third season in the NFL.    He did a nice job his rookie year playing in 3-4 games for the Pats unexpectedly and he did a nice job for the Colts last year all things considered.    Here's what I don't understand.    Belichick drafted Brissett, in part, on the recommendation of Bill Parcells.    I think the chances of Parcells,  Belichick and Ballard all investing in a Quarterback with such flaws that you list are right around slim and none.    Seriously.   I'm not saying he's without flaws,  but I thnk you jump to conclusions based as much on 2016 as 17.


But if that alone wasn't enough,  I'd add this.......   why would you pass judgement on a young quarterback who joined the Colts the first week in September.    He had no off-season with the team.    No camps back in March, April and May.    No tranining camp in July and August.   No time with the playbook.    He learned everything on the fly once he joined the team.    And he was playing with a very poor team,  especially the O-line.    With those circumstances,  why would you make any judgements on a player in those circumstances?    You might be right on each point.    But I wouldn't conclude that based on what I saw in 2017.    As far as I'm concerned he gets a complete pass.


By the way,  assuming Luck gets through the season without injury,  and Brissett does nothing to hurt whatever reputation he has,  I'm expecting the Colts to trade him next off-season.   Get a draft pick as compensation and then sign some free agent QB like Matt Hasselback 2.0 to be Luck's new back-up.    We've got a zillion dollars to spend,  so there's no reason to keep the kid as a back-up one more year only to potentially lose him for nothing.    Now, if Luck gets hurt again,  then all bets are off.    But I see Brissett as 2019 trade bait.    And I'd be fine with that.  

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13 hours ago, NewColtsFan said:

First,  I should say nice job.    You didn't sit down and write all this without doing a lot of homework before hand.   Props to you.     And unless there's a glaring error (and there isn't) I never think it's productive to get into the silly debates where someone writes "how could you put this guy ahead of that guy?"    Those discussions rarely hold interest for me.   We all see the same thing differently.



Thanks, and I agree with the bolded. 


To the Brissett topic... 


My reaction at the time of the trade last year wasn't because I didn't like Brissett or was underwhelmed by him. It was because I didn't think Stephen Morris got a fair shake by the coaching staff. I still don't. But there's something up with him, because he can't stick with a team, can't get on the field during the regular season, etc. He might be a terrible practice / meeting guy, can't earn the trust of his coaches, whatever. But it's weird watching that from the outside looking in, when he was the best backup for the Colts two preseasons in a row, at least during games.


That got misconstrued at the time of the trade, when it was unclear what the Colts were doing at QB and no one knew Luck was going to be out for the entire season. I didn't mean to stake my whole argument to the idea that Morris is/was just as good as Brissett, but I'm still not clear on why Morris can never get a chance. (Even the trade, at the time it seemed to signal that Dorsett was unlike to make the final roster, and that Brissett was unlikely to make the Pats final roster, so the swap made sense for both teams. I didn't view it as an indication that the Colts were enthralled with Brissett at the time. Maybe they were.)


But I was never down on Brissett, and I'm still not. I do think he has limitations as a passer, and I don't think those are necessarily determined by his circumstances. For instance, he has a slow wind up and delivery; being new to the team and offense would definitely slow down his decision making, but his throwing motion has always been deliberate, and that's problematic for me. Same for his throwing accuracy. I think those areas must improve before he can be a real starter in the NFL; same applies to his decision making, but hopefully being with a good offensive coaching staff and learning a good offense for a full summer will help.


As it stands, I don't think he's a starting quality QB, but his performance under better circumstances could easily prove me wrong. Many of the tools are there, physical and intangible.


And the thing that I think gets lost is that I think the world of Jacoby Brissett. He didn't get a lot of wins last year, but his play under those difficult circumstances is worthy of acclaim. His response after the ten sack Jacksonville game was outstanding. Reminds me of Case Keenum in 2013 -- went 0-8 as a starter for the Texans, but played his butt off, then he started last year for one of the best teams in the league, and now he's an $18m/year QB. And it's not just Brissett's play that I admire -- he has a great attitude, seems to be a great teammate, and because of that, I hope that he has great success. 


But if I was responsible for choosing a starting QB for all 32 teams in the league for this season, he wouldn't be one of the 32. And that's just based on what I think of his abilities and performance, to this point. I just went through the list, and it's close; I have him at #35. He'd probably be one of my top backups, but for a team with an established starter, not paired with a first or second year QB. 

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