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2017 NFL QB Tier Rankings

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  • 2017 NFL QB Tier Rankings

    2017 NFL QB Tier Rankings

    Mike Sando/ESPN Senior Writer
    This marks my fourth annual NFL QB Tier rankings, featuring an expert panel that was our largest one yet. Fifty league insiders placed 36 QBs into one of five tiers, with Tier 1 reserved for the best and Tier 5 for the worst.

    Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady were again the only unanimous Tier 1 selections, but they had fresh company in the top grouping. Colin Kaepernick, though unsigned, came in ahead of eight potential starters. There was also some drama, as the 49th and 50th ballots collected determined which tiers Matt Ryan and Dak Prescott fell into.

    The higher the tier, the less help the quarterback needs to be effective, especially when circumstances inevitably call for him to flourish in pure passing situations -- those highly pressurized times when handing off or running with the ball do not cut it, and the quarterback must win from the pocket for his team to have a chance.

    The breakdown of our 50 voters this year: Nine general managers, six pro personnel directors, five other executives, five head coaches, seven offensive coordinators, six defensive coordinators, five defensive assistants, three analytics directors, two quarterbacks coaches and two national scouts.

    Rookie quarterbacks have been excluded from this file, due to a lack of information for our panel to judge.

    A Tier 1 quarterback can carry his team each week. The team wins because of him. Expertly handles pure-pass situations.

    Tom Brady
    The Atlanta Falcons had just taken a 28-3 lead over the Patriots in the Super Bowl when a text-message reply came through from one of my regular QB Tiers voters.

    "Nothing is over!" the text read. "28-3 turns game into pure pass. #12 will close this gap -- may not be enough, but gap will close. Quinn better get his marker board out on the sideline cuz he's gonna run outta pass D calls."

    The record-setting comeback Tom Brady led improved his record to 16-12 (.571) during the past five seasons when the Patriots' opponents exceeded 24 points. Teams lose those games 80 percent of the time. Derek Carr (7-15, .318) is second and Matt Ryan (12-26, .316) third among QBs with at least 32 starts since 2012.

    "To be honest with you, Brady probably needs to have his own category," a former GM said. "Brady, above the neck, is just way ahead of everybody, and his competitiveness is every bit as good as [Aaron] Rodgers' competitiveness. His toughness is every bit as good, if not better. For all the GQ stuff, the guy is a blue-collar quarterback and his ability to process, his smarts, his poise are just off the charts."

    Earlier this summer, a separate poll of 10 longtime NFL coaches and personnel people identified Brady as the NFL's best quarterback of the past 40 years. Rodgers was fifth.

    "At one time in the league, I thought I'd never see anybody better than Joe Montana," a QB Tiers voter said. "Joe had his own category. This guy [Brady] is like that, if not better."

    The ability to carry their teams and strike fear into opponents when the game becomes pure pass separates Tier 1 quarterbacks from the rest.

    "To me, that is the whole deal," a defensive coordinator said. "Some guys are system guys, meaning they have to run their whole offense -- run game and pass game -- to be effective. If you make them one-dimensional and they have to try to win it at the end, to me, that is what separates them."
    Aaron Rodgers
    The Packers ran dangerously low on running backs and defensive backs last season, putting pressure on Rodgers to carry them. Carry them, he did. Rodgers tossed 15 touchdown passes without an interception during a six-game winning streak to end the season. He then led Green Bay to the NFC Championship Game. No quarterback in the game possesses his combination of pure passing ability and athleticism.

    "His ability to improvise or make plays when the defense is perfectly executed is unique," a personnel director said. "I'm not a big fan of the 'arm talent' term, but some of the throws Rodgers makes, even when you are playing against him, you are just like, 'Holy s---, what do you do?' He is very frustrating for a defense because you play everything exactly right and he still just makes a 'holy s--- play' and it's demoralizing."

    While Rodgers dazzles with his uncommon athleticism, a veteran defensive coach said the quarterback's pre-snap recognition is exceptional.

    "If he can figure [the play] out, you can forget about it," this coach said. "And then, unless it is third-and-a-mile, there is not a third down he doesn't think he can convert. If you three-man rush him, he is going to extend plays and let guys uncover and he can put the ball in tight windows."

    An offensive coordinator said he thought Rodgers had the quickest release in the game, calling Rodgers "scary" for his ability to throw with accuracy and velocity from awkward angles.

    "A lot of quarterbacks are pretty good sitting back in the pocket, but the first or second read disappears and they break down," a personnel director said. "With him, he can extend the play and do pretty miraculous things. Last year, the talent around him struggled, but he was still able to play some pretty elite games even after he lost his receivers and didn't have a running game."
    Ben Roethlisberger
    The 50th and final ballot collected broke a tie between Roethlisberger and Drew Brees for the third overall spot. Roethlisberger checks several of the Tier 1 boxes. He can carry the Steelers' offense and win playoff games doing so. The question was whether Roethlisberger did these things consistently enough to earn the highest respect.

    "There is nothing that is not a [Tier] 1 about that guy," an offensive coordinator argued. "He is awesome. I heard that at their quarterback meetings, they sit and talk about golf, and he just goes out there and he is just competing and winging it and he kills everybody every week. He saves plays with his feet, he moves around and it is never too big for him."

    A defensive coordinator who placed Roethlisberger in the top tier cursed six times in his first six sentences when asked about the Steelers' quarterback. Those were curse words born of respect from years of playing against Roethlisberger. "I am looking at this and saying if you put it on his shoulders every time, I think he can consistently win," this defensive coordinator said. "If you said, 'All right, Ben, we need you to throw it 55 times this game, as a defensive coordinator, I'm thinking, 'F---.'"

    That might have been what the Broncos were thinking in Week 15 of the 2015 season, which was the last time Roethlisberger attempted that many passes. Denver owned one of the greatest defenses in recent NFL history that season. Roethlisberger completed 40 of 55 attempts for 380 yards and three scores as Pittsburgh overcame a 27-13 halftime deficit to win the game. It was a Tier 1 performance, for sure.

    Still, a defensive-minded head coach said he thought Roethlisberger was much better when asked to throw the ball 25-30 times in a more balanced offense, whereas Brady could be effective more consistently without keeping defenses guessing. A defensive coordinator who placed Roethlisberger in the second tier said Roethlisberger and Cam Newton are freelancers for better and worse, and that Roethlisberger is simply better than Newton at it.

    "He still carries that team when he is in there," an offensive coordinator said, "but I would have to say he is a [Tier] 2. Some weeks he is a 1, some weeks he is a 2. For me, that kind of qualifies him as a 2. I think when he has got extremely talented people around him, he is a good player, but he doesn't lift the level of the team all the time."
    Drew Brees
    The Saints finished 2016 ranked among the NFL's top three in total yards, passing yards, first downs, third-down conversion rate and offensive points scored. They rank first or second in all those categories -- and second in Total QBR -- since acquiring Brees before the 2006 season. There was still debate over whether Brees belonged in the top tier.

    "Look at third down," a secondary coach who placed Brees in the top tier said. "New Orleans has been No. 1 or close to it every year, and that is when you have to throw people open, tight windows, defense coming to get you."

    Four teams since 2006 have won at least seven games in a season while allowing more than 28 points per game: the 2013 Bears (8-8) and the Saints' teams from 2012, 2015 and 2016, who all finished 7-9. The pressure on Brees has been enormous.

    "The guy is dominant," an offensive coordinator said. "He is a 1. He can throw to win. If they had any defense for the last five years, we wouldn't even be questioning his '1-ness.' He'd have won another Super Bowl."

    Dissenters said they thought Brees was declining physically to the point that he'd be in trouble if not for having spent so much time in the same offensive system. One offensive coordinator said Brees' arm is betraying him when the 38-year-old quarterback is forced to throw without anticipation. An evaluator said he thought Brees appeared less comfortable in the pocket and was in "panic mode" more frequently.

    "I think some of it is that the line has tailed off a little bit," another evaluator said. "And then I think his ability to extend plays is down a little bit. He wasn't known for it, but he was pretty good at it, in and outside the pocket. But I think he is still a really high 2."
    Matt Ryan
    The first 48 voters were split 24-24 as to whether Ryan belonged in the first or second tier. The final two ballots -- one from a secondary coach and another from an offensive coordinator, both of whom have extensive experience against Ryan -- pushed him into the bottom of the top tier for the first time.

    "Until last year, I probably would have put him in the 2s, but I think you can put him in the 1 category," the secondary coach said. "I think he stays there. He is not a young guy anymore, but I think he is still getting better experience-wise and seeing things and being that much more comfortable running the show."

    Cam Newton narrowly missed the top tier last summer while coming off his 2015 MVP season. Ryan had a better shot at clearing the hurdle, if only narrowly, because he has been the more consistent passer. It is true, however, that Ryan has generally needed an effective running game to perform at a high level consistently.

    "I feel like he is a little more scheme-protected," an exec who placed Ryan in the second tier said. "I'm tougher [on QBs] to get into the 1s."

    The standard that Rodgers and especially Brady sets for the top tier made it tough for some to include Ryan in the same grouping.

    "I don't see Ryan being that guy consistently," a personnel director said. "He is talented and he can wing it. Last year was a good year for him. He got the ball out. His receivers played big and they had a big-play, explosive offense. But you can start putting hits on him. Brady can take a few hits and he will start to get you, and if you hit him, you may think you've got him, but those guys strike back and get you. My experience with Ryan, if you hit him enough -- like if you look at the Philadelphia tape -- it is not as pretty."

    Ryan tossed only seven interceptions last season, about half as many as he typically throws in a season. He attempted 33.4 passes per game, his lowest average since the first two years of his career, when efforts were made to shelter him from risk. An offensive coordinator said he thought Ryan got away with risky throws last season. Voters also thought Kyle Shanahan called plays as if he were clairvoyant. Will the production fall off with Steve Sarkisian taking over for Shanahan?

    "I don't think Ryan will fall off," a head coach said. "He has good talent around him. Those backs help. Some of the stuff in the play-action game, he did that well. They had a good chemistry going. Ryan is old enough where he kind of knows now. He has had a taste of it. I'm sure the head coach and Sark will make sure they work within his wheelhouse there."

    A Tier 2 quarterback can carry his team sometimes, but not as consistently. Can handle pure-pass situations in doses or possesses other dimensions that are special enough to elevate him above Tier 3. Has a hole or two in his game.

    Andrew Luck
    Luck set career highs in 2016 for completion percentage, yards per pass attempt and Total QBR, but he's been injured over the past couple of seasons, affecting how voters viewed him. A high interception rate during an injury-shortened 2015 season fortified Luck's reputation as a player who takes too many chances. With shoulder surgery sidelining Luck in camp this year, the negatives are overshadowing an excellent individual 2016 season.

    "I can see where people would vote him as a 2, because he still has not grown out of forcing some things and making some plays worse at times," a personnel director said, "but without him, that was a bad football team. He is never out of a game. He is one of those guys, you leave too much time in the clock, you are in trouble."

    Voters have previously leaned toward including Luck in the top tier for the way he carried Indianapolis to the playoffs in his first three seasons despite little help from the Colts' defense or a conventional ground game. Luck is only 10-12 as a starter during the past two seasons, however. How much of that is related to injuries and roster deterioration?

    "I like Andrew, but I think he is so overrated," a quarterbacks coach said. "People talk about him like he is a 1 and I don't see that at all. I see him like as a middle-of-the-road 2, or maybe in the top third of the 2s. People say he is just trying to make a play and that is why he puts the ball in harm's way. Well, good quarterbacks know that you can't get it all back in one play."

    Peyton Manning needed a few years to get his interceptions under control. The Buccaneers hope Jameis Winston can do the same. Nineteen quarterbacks were better than Luck in interception rate last season. That sounds bad, but Roethlisberger ranked 21st in that category. Only six were better than Luck in touchdown rate.

    "I think Luck is a special talent," a personnel director said. "He is a 2 that can be a 1. He can win games for you. He can score in two-minute. You just can't ask him to do it week in week out while getting the crap beat out of him."
    Derek Carr
    Carr is pushing Luck as the NFL's next big thing at quarterback, despite having appeared in zero playoff games thanks to an injury late last season.

    "I think he can carry the team," a former GM said. "I think he has proven last year, one, how valuable he was to them when he got hurt, because I think they were going to be a contender, and I think he has shown the ability to carry the team just throwing the football. You can put it in his hands and he can win the game."

    Carr finished last season with seven fourth-quarter comeback victories, one reason Oakland finished 5-0 in games decided by three or fewer points. The Raiders obviously aren't going to win all the close games, but those seven fourth-quarter comebacks were notable. Only one quarterback -- Matthew Stafford, also in 2016 -- has had more in a single season since 1960, according to Pro Football Reference.

    Why, then, did three voters place Carr way down in the third tier? These skeptics credited much of Carr's success to a strong supporting cast on offense while noting that Carr struggled against Denver and Kansas City, the teams Oakland has to get past within the AFC West. Carr went 1-2 against those teams in 2016, tossing one touchdown and one interception, while averaging 5.0 yards per pass attempt. He was 1-3 against those teams, and threw five picks, in 2015.

    "I understand he has a strong arm," one of the skeptics said. "I think he has superb protection, has had good running attack and really had some good receivers to throw it to. You think about those 1s, they take the game and put it on their back and win it themselves. I don't know if I would say that about Derek Carr right now."

    A defensive coordinator brought up pre-draft concerns over Carr's willingness to stand tough in the pocket, noting that he'd seen some evidence in the NFL of a "chuck-and-duck" mentality. An offensive coordinator had concerns about Carr throwing too many perimeter passes out of bounds. A personnel director thought Carr would ascend unless he "decides to take chances at the wrong time, which I think he can do."

    These voters all placed Carr in the second tier regardless.

    "They have to win [for Carr to reach the top tier]," an exec said. "I think he is kind of like Stafford in the sense that I think he can carry a team, but his defense has not been good enough yet and he is early in his career, so he certainly has an opportunity to become a 1, but he is not a 1 yet."
    Philip Rivers
    The top nine quarterbacks in the survey are the ones voters saw as best equipped to handle a high-volume passing offense. Some were also nimble athletes, but the feeling was that all nine could succeed as passers without relying on their own running ability or especially strong team running games. That is what quarterbacks must be able to do when stripped of the situational, scheme and personnel crutches that make life easier for them.

    Rivers ranks lowest among the nine because he has too frequently risked turnovers. He leads the NFL in interceptions during the past three seasons, having thrown one more than Blake Bortles. However, Rivers does get some benefit of the doubt for playing on a team that has had a poor offensive line, an especially injured receiving corps and a defense that struggled until last season. That explains how Rivers received eight votes in the first tier and six in the third. He looks different from different angles.

    "Both he and Carr will give you one [interception] every once in a while, and they will do it at crucial times," a head coach said. "But Rivers just knows how to play the game. You get him around good people and he is the same [productive] guy. They have taken everything from him and I just love the fact that he does it without anything."

    An exec described Rivers as an older version of Stafford and a younger version of Carson Palmer -- a player who has peaked but is still a solid 2 because he's asked to do so much with so little support. Others are less understanding.

    "I don't know how you can put Rivers in there [as a 2] because he threw 21 interceptions as an 11-year player," a defensive coordinator said. "People love his competitiveness and how he plays and they don't look at how he actually plays."

    A defensive assistant said Rivers is good enough for his teams to call plays as though he were a top-tier QB, but not consistent enough to make it work, especially with a substandard supporting cast.

    "To have a 1,000-yard receiver nobody has ever heard of, he plays at a high level," an offensive coordinator said, "but when you throw 21 interceptions and you don't win a lot of games, it is hard to say you are a 1."
    Matthew Stafford
    Two years ago, some voters thought Stafford was trending the way of Jay Cutleras a talented player unwilling to protect the football. But since Jim Bob Cooter took over as the Lions' offensive coordinator during the 2015 season, Stafford outranks Rodgers in completion percentage, yards per attempt, passer rating, Total QBR and won-lost record.

    "Matt Stafford is close to being a 1, really," a personnel evaluator from another NFC North team said. "He has limited some of the boneheaded stuff. If he does not hurt his finger last year, I don't know if Green Bay wins the division. He can spin the ball now. He has to guard against turning the ball over with some of the throws. I saw that in preseason a little bit this last game."

    Stafford's eight fourth-quarter comeback victories last season gave him one more than the three others with more than six in a season since 1960. Eli Manning (2011), Peyton Manning (2009) and Carr (2016) all have had seven in a season. Raiders legend and Hall of Famer Ken Stabler once had four in a season for Oakland (1976).

    "Stafford is a solid 2 and I love him," an offensive coordinator said. "I just wish he had more presence. Some guys, they don't light up the room when they walk in. It is all talent, and Stafford has as much talent as anybody, but you don't feel the control. There is not a Peyton Manning control that you feel. It is more Eli Manning. And it works, but as we have learned with Eli, you have to have a really good defense that is the heart and soul of the team. Stafford is similar that way but way more talented than Eli."

    A defensive assistant coach found it interesting that Stafford's improved efficiency coincided with Calvin Johnson's retirement, a possible indication Stafford feels less pressure to force the ball to a great player. A GM said he thought Stafford could easily throw the ball 45 times a game with sufficient supporting cast.

    "He flirts with being a 1, but then he just doesn't seem like he can sustain it or he makes some crazy throws," an offensive coordinator said. "I understand he had the finger, but he could still play or they wouldn't have had him in there. The really good ones -- the 1s -- they find a way to do it when they are banged up. Tom Brady seems to do that."
    Russell Wilson
    Many voters think Wilson needs a strong running game to function at a high level and cover for his short stature. Others give him more credit as a pocket passer and point to his late-game effectiveness as evidence he's not just another dual-threat player who wilts when forced to become one-dimensional.

    "To me, with a Cam Newton or Marcus Mariota, when the offense is running and they have the play-action game, then now we have to respect both aspects and they are effective," a defensive coordinator said. "When you make them one-dimensional and you can bring pressure and mix coverages, they become less effective. Wilson is different. He can drop back in the pocket, he can read coverages, he knows where to go with the ball, and that is what separates him from them, in my mind."

    The job got tougher for Wilson last season with no productive running back, a drop-off along the offensive line and multiple leg injuries suffered early in the season. An analytics director said Wilson regressed because the offense around him regressed, and because the Seahawks asked him to do more, leading to more chances for negative plays.

    "I'm not sure he is going to sit in the pocket and sling the ball to beat you," a defensive coordinator said, "but he is scary when he has the ball in his hands. It is hard to separate him from the run game, the defense and Marshawn [Lynch] and all that."

    A GM who placed Wilson in Tier 3 wasn't surprised to learn that Seattle allowed 17 or fewer points in 54 of Wilson's 92 career starts, counting playoffs. That is 59 percent of his games, the highest rate for any of the 30 quarterbacks with at least 30 starts since 2012, Wilson's rookie season. The rate is less than 33 percent for the other 29 quarterbacks on that list. Wilson's efficiency played a role in the opponents' low scores, but those are games Tier 3-4 quarterbacks win at roughly the same 80 to 90 percent rate as their Tier 1-2 counterparts win them. At the other extreme, Washington allowed 17 or fewer points only six times in Kirk Cousins' 42 starts (14 percent).

    "Russell is between a 2 and a 3 for me," a pro personnel director said. "He got a little bit exposed last year, but he also got beat up early in the year, which I think kept him from advancing like you have seen him advance as the season went on. I think what we are going to see is Russell in the pocket more, just because he is getting the crap beat out of him. He can throw from the pocket. It is a matter of giving him throwing lanes. It is not like he has an elite group of receivers, either."
    Eli Manning
    Manning leads the NFL in fourth-quarter comeback victories and game-winning drives since entering the league in 2004. He has also won two Super Bowls. He also ranks third behind Rivers and Bortles in most interceptions during the past three seasons and is No. 1 by a wide margin in that category since 2010 (Brady is 19th and Rodgers 20th in that seven-season period).

    "Eli is very tough for me [to evaluate]," a head coach said. "Some days he is a 1, some days he is a 4. He is all over the place. He has to have a guy [he trusts as a receiver], and when he has a guy, he is really good. The guy has to have a good wingspan, a catching radius. That doesn't mean he has to be big. He just has to be very, very sure-handed because the accuracy is a little off."

    Brandon Marshall could be just such a guy for Manning this season, and with tight end Evan Engram joining the offense as a first-round pick, there should be ample weaponry.

    "I watched every pass he threw two years ago when I studied their offense, and when I watched it, I thought the finer details were outstanding," a quarterbacks coach said. "His pocket presence is phenomenal. Watch him step up, watch him slide, watch his eyes. His command at the line of scrimmage, you can see he gets them in the right plays. I just thought, 'Man, he is really good.'"

    Manning's production and efficiency slipped in 2016. He would certainly benefit from a viable running game, which could again elude the Giants.

    "It is fair for him to be a 2, but I have some concerns that he is slipping out of that category," an offensive coordinator said.
    Cam Newton
    Newton plummeted from fourth in polling last offseason to 12th this year, but opinions on him have not changed substantially. Evaluators have always seen him as a dual-threat player who needs a strong running game and defense to play the style of ball that suits his unique physical makeup and skill set. The production was so outstanding in 2015 that voters had to give him his due as a high 2. But now?

    "I say Cam Newton is a 2," a former GM said. "If you go by the strict definition, he might be a 3 because he does need the defense and running game to be effective. But he is so talented in my estimation that he is just better than those normal 3s. I think he will play better this year, and they will be better."

    Quarterbacks who are not consistent passers tend to live and die with their defenses. Carolina has had two winning seasons out of six since drafting Newton. Those were the two seasons the Panthers fielded dominant defenses, in 2013 and 2015.

    "He is still a 2, but it is not a solid 2 because he can't throw to win," an offensive coordinator said. "It was great when the defense was in the top 10 and when the rushing attack was in the mid-single digits and everything was easy. But he's got no feel for the passing game, and they don't have [many] good guys to throw at. They went out and got some guys, so it should be a lot better this year, but man, he got found out."

    Newton has carried the Panthers in his own way all the while, absorbing punishment that has raised questions about how long he can last.

    "If you got up on them, would you be worried?" a secondary coach who played defensive back in the NFL said. "No, but as long as the game is close and they can keep you off-balance and they can go play-pass and make simple throws off play-action and throw shots up the field to speed guys, then yeah. But when the game is one-dimensional, I don't think he can consistently just drop back and beat you and make the right decisions play in and play out."

    A quarterbacks coach said he'd love to work with Newton, but that it could be challenging because, in this coach's estimation, Newton has become a star doing things his own way. But making some changes could be essential for Newton to enjoy the career longevity that other talented quarterbacks have enjoyed, because once he is no longer a dominant runner, his passing will have to sustain him.

    "He is a 2 -- he can definitely beat you -- but as soon as Father Time catches him, he is going to go down quickly," the QB coach said. "The guys that stand the test of time have to be right [mechanically] so they can keep their accuracy and keep that lower half working for them."
    Kirk Cousins
    Cousins is widely seen as a third-tier quarterback who has played like a 2 during the past couple of seasons. Can he sustain it for another year after losing offensive coordinator Sean McVay, two of his best receivers and any realistic shot at signing a long-term contract to remain with the organization?

    "He is a 2, and he has no conscience -- he just fires," an offensive coordinator said admiringly. "I think Sean did a really good job keeping it in certain families of reads and footworks. The details were well done with him to give him a chance. If not, I think we would see what we saw from him earlier in his career where the confidence is up and down. But he got through all that, and he did it with no defense."

    Washington has ranked 21st in points allowed and 27th in defensive expected points added (EPA) during the past two seasons. The Redskins are 17-14-1 in that span largely because Cousins trails only Tom Brady and Matt Ryan in Total QBR among players with more than 16 starts since then.

    But what about those Cousins-friendly details referenced by the offensive coordinator?

    "They do a lot of nakeds, quick game and downfield play-actions that really help," the coordinator explained. "Things where there are no hots to worry about or you don't worry about blitzes. There are quick answers or there are enough blockers. And then when they do [put more up to him], they spread it out really well, and the personnel that they have had has been exceptional, with Jordan Reed in particular."

    Whatever the case, Cousins has gone from solid backup to solid starter, clawing his way into the second tier against expectation. Sometimes it takes a while for players to convince evaluators that pre-draft scouting reports need updating.

    "I think that it happens and you see it with a guy like Trevor Siemian, as well," an exec said. "I'd put Cousins as a very low 2 because he hasn't done it in the key games, but I do think he is being asked to carry the team quite a bit, and to me, that is a huge factor in getting out of the third tier and into the second."

    A Tier 3 quarterback is a legitimate starter, but needs a heavier run game and/or defense to win. A lower-volume pass offense makes his job easier.

    Dak Prescott
    Prescott straddled the line between the second and third tiers through most of the voting process. As a rookie, he proved that he was much more accurate as a passer than most evaluators thought he was going to be. He also fared well at times when asked to carry his team, but those opportunities were too infrequent for many voters to vault him into the second tier right away.

    "I feel like he is a high-Tier 3, possibly low-Tier 2 guy, but I feel like a lot of the reason he was so good is because of everything around him -- the line, the running back, the weapons, the coordinator," a defensive coach said. Twenty-four of the 50 voters knew this and still put Prescott in the second tier.

    "I thought his year was brilliant," an offensive coordinator said. "He played like he was a veteran. He played within himself. He did not do stupid stuff. He used his legs, he was accurate as all get out. Then with the press, how he handled things, the team, showing up at Mississippi State women's basketball games -- I just liked everything he did this year. Way beyond the normal."

    Citing Prescott's poise, a defensive coach from the NFC East placed Prescott in the second tier even though he said the Giants made him appear "ordinary" at times.

    "What can you knock him for?" a GM who placed Prescott in the second tier said. "He really did everything. Every time you said, 'Well, maybe he is not going to be able to do this' or, 'Wait 'til he gets to the regular season or postseason,' he played well."

    An exec called Prescott the opposite of Stafford or Brees, whom he referenced as unfairly blamed for their teams' struggles while being asked to do too much. That is not to say Prescott could not carry a team, the exec said. It's more than Prescott has not been asked to carry a team. If he shines in 2017 with Ezekiel Elliott suspended and a little more on his shoulders, welcome to Tier 2.
    Joe Flacco
    The Ravens are first in defensive EPA and second in points allowed since Flacco joined them in 2008. They are 12th in points scored and 13th in Total QBR in that period, which lines up pretty closely with where Flacco ranks in this survey as a Super Bowl winner who has usually had an excellent defense on his side.

    "I don't know what to think on him," a GM said. "I've never been impressed with the way he reads the field and the decisions he makes. He can throw the deep ball well. He is too inconsistent. He is certainly not a 1. He is either a 2 or a 3. I say 3."

    An offensive coordinator who conducted a study on the Ravens' offense placed Flacco in the second tier, while saying the quarterback is sometimes criticized unfairly. (Aren't they all?)

    "He had a bad year [in 2016], but he is a function of who he has around him," this coordinator said. "If the line is OK and they can run it a little bit, he can be a 2. But if they are going to put it on him just to throw, then they are going to struggle. He doesn't process or read defenses very well, but he is physically gifted and he can throw the deep ball."
    Carson Palmer
    Most voters respect Palmer but think he is declining physically, increasingly vulnerable in a deeper passing scheme behind a questionable offensive line and prone to putting the ball in harm's way at critical moments.

    "They are still a high-powered offense," a defensive coordinator who placed Palmer in the second tier said. "They are in playoff contention every year. He can still put points on the board within that system. He is right at the edge, and probably has a year or two left. I understand saying he is a 3, but when I look at those 2s, to me it is guys who are still winning games and playing on playoff-caliber teams -- guys that if you didn't have a quarterback and you could trade for him, you would take him."

    Palmer fell from first in Total QBR in 2015 to 18th last season, one spot above Flacco. He has 30 touchdowns with 20 interceptions since the 2015 regular season ended, a span that has seen Arizona post a 7-9-1 record for reasons that also include a series of inexplicable fiascos on special teams. The grizzled, old-school coach who placed Palmer in the top tier was a very lonely man in that area.

    "He has played behind a fairly s----- offensive line, he is tough, he is smart, he is accurate, he really has only one possession receiver in [Larry] Fitzgerald to make the tough catch intermediately," this coach said. "He has every throw in his arm. When he has lost, last year the defense and special teams were terrible at times, and they were turning the ball over -- not just on interceptions. I have a soft spot in my heart for him because they don't protect him and he just gets the s--- knocked out of him."
    Marcus Mariota
    Concerns with injuries and uncertainty over how good Mariota will become as a pure passer kept him from escaping the third tier despite general optimism.

    "I think you need to see a little more, but to me, he is in that Cam Newton category because he is a system guy," a defensive coordinator said. "If you can get him to drop back 30-plus times a game, I don't think he can beat you. But if you mix in some of the run game, then I think, system-wise, he can be a solid 2 and win games for you."

    Expectations are surging for Tennessee, which drafted Mariota second overall in 2015, and Tampa Bay, which selected Jameis Winston first overall that year. Both polled higher in 2017 than they did last offseason, but they remain about the same in the overall order, having been passed over by Cousins and Dak Prescott.

    "Tennessee has to open up the offense a little bit," an exec said. "They have created a sense of conservatism with him that is not healthy. You just gotta go out there and fricking play. Open up the offense, throw on first down, use play-action, try to get the ball downfield, let the guy really be aggressive. It is the opposite of how Tampa is dealing with Jameis Winston, and to me, Winston is climbing and right on the verge of becoming a 2 at this point."
    Jameis Winston
    Winston was shredding the Jaguars' defense during the preseason, and generally looking like everything the Buccaneers hoped he would be, when the inexplicable happened. Winston, under fire from the Jaguars' pass rush and falling over backward, threw a desperation heave into a crowd in the end zone for an interception.

    "The hardest thing to teach young quarterbacks is that the ball does not belong to them," a defensive coach said. "It is the organization's ball. It is the owner's ball. It is all 90 guys in camp's ball. On Sunday, you are responsible for the 44th guy on your roster who is laying it on the line covering a punt. He is straining to down the ball inside the 20 and getting his chin guard bloody so you can have field position, not so you can f--- it up. And when I say f--- it up, that play in Jacksonville the other night is one."

    Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has been driving home this point to Winston, as seen repeatedly during the team's appearances on HBO's "Hard Knocks". But overall, there is much reason for optimism in Tampa, especially with DeSean Jacksonand O.J. Howard joining the offense.

    "I'll tell you, once [Winston] got into Tampa and in that facility, this guy was nothing -- nothing! -- what I expected based on all the off-field stuff you heard about," a former Bucs coach said. "He just lit everybody up -- everybody, even in the city. His leadership, his toughness, his smarts. All of those things, I'm really high on this guy. For sure, I have him in the 2s, and I don't think there is any doubt he could become a 1. I'd be shocked if he doesn't."

    It is possible, however, that the competitive drive that makes Winston so appealing will always lead him to risk the football unnecessarily. Peyton Manning learned to reduce interceptions after forcing the ball early in his career. Winston's ability to follow that path could determine whether he ascends past Tier 2 ultimately.

    "I would put him as a 2 right now, and I'm a little hesitant because I'm not sure of it, but I think I'd give him the benefit of the doubt," a GM said. "I think he and Mariota both have high ceilings. If I were taking one of the three, I would take Carson Wentz, and then I would have a hard time choosing between Mariota and Winston."
    Andy Dalton
    Dalton brought up the bottom of Tier 2 last year, when he was coming off a breakout performance in 2015 as the Bengals were loaded on offense. Voters see him as a quarterback who bounces between the second and third tiers, a "win-with" quarterback more frequently than he is a "win-because-of" quarterback.

    "He will have some big games, and then he will still be all over the place," an offensive coordinator said. "The thing that is going to really hurt them is losing the left tackle and the right guard. When Andy has to scramble and move sometimes, he gets jittery and he is not accurate. I still think he is a 2."

    Dalton has been a winning quarterback without a dominant rushing attack, usually when Cincy was strong on defense. His failures in the postseason aren't helping his standing even though some of his struggles trace to having many of his top receiving targets unavailable because of injuries.

    "Andy is a great decision-maker who is accurate and can see the field very well," a GM said. "But if the thing starts collapsing, he can't throw over the top of people effectively all the time. I think he's at his best getting the ball out quicker with a lot of clearance in front of him."
    Alex Smith
    The Chiefs traded up in the first round of the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes II because they wanted a dynamic talent at quarterback. Voters did not think the Chiefs would be in a hurry to play Mahomes as long as Smith continued to play the way he has played recently, but is Kansas City good enough to win big with Smith in the lineup? The answer in a top-heavy AFC has been no, so far.

    "I think Alex is a 3 -- and a **** good 3," a quarterbacks coach said. "If he wasn't playing for Andy Reid or another really good coach like Jim Harbaugh, he wouldn't be very good. Andy does such a great job of understanding him and what he is, and being able to keep that offense going by giving Alex so many answers in the passing game. Because Alex, by himself, there is nothing that really impresses you."

    A personnel director who studied Smith's 2016 season called him Mr. Checkdown -- a guy who manages the game well and makes some good downfield throws on occasion but not consistently. Others thought Smith deserved more credit.

    "He has earned a 2, and I have a hard time giving it to him, but he just wins," an offensive coordinator said. "Andy is really good, and they have got Brad Childress there, who people don't really understand is the real deal. They do so much research to keep themselves diversified now that they got that little dude, Tyreek Hill, and getting all that rinky-dink stuff really helps spread the field. They are doing such a good job offensively. I can see someone thinking Alex Smith is a 3 like Ryan Tannehill, but I think he has been a little better than that."
    Carson Wentz
    Wentz is the lowest-ranked player considered by voters to have an especially bright future, which is why he has nearly as many Tier 2 votes (11) as all the lower-ranked players combined (14) -- despite a rough finish to the 2017 season. Multiple voters thought he could threaten Tier 1 down the line.

    "Wentz, I think, is a 2 and has a chance being a 1 this year," a GM said. "What I saw last year, he is exactly what you are looking for. Toughness, movement, arm, quickness, decisiveness, accuracy. I think he is, of all the young quarterbacks in the league, the pick of the litter."

    An assistant coach from the NFC East also placed Wentz in the second tier.

    "I know he was up and down in the second half of the season, but I think he has a chance to be really good -- really good," a defensive coordinator who faced Wentz as a rookie said. "He can run the ball, he can get himself out of trouble, he is agile. I thought he was pretty smart and pretty poised. He did a couple things against us where he got them in and out of some plays that hurt us a little bit. I respect a guy like that, and that is as a rookie. I think it's all in front of him."

    A personnel director said he thought Wentz, like Winston, would take off once surrounded with a strong supporting cast. A former GM said he'd take Wentz over Prescott if given the choice, even though Prescott had much better numbers.

    "I think he is capable of carrying a team more consistently than Dak is because the pocket is for him," this former GM said. "The pocket isn't for all these guys, and I like Dak Prescott. You have to respect what he did."
    Ryan Tannehill
    Knee surgery will force Tannehill to miss the season, and if his athleticism suffers in the future, that could hurt his standing further.

    "He can be Alex Smith, he is Alex Smith, he has to be Alex Smith," an offensive coordinator said.

    Jim Harbaugh was Smith's biggest cheerleader in San Francisco, calling him "elite" and more. Adam Gase had built up Tannehill to some degree in Miami before the knee injury sent him to the sideline. Outside analyses are not as kind.

    "His head coach [Gase] is probably as good as anyone with managing quarterbacks that are Tier 3 or Tier 4, just by not giving them as much of a load or expecting them to do as much," a defensive coach from the NFC North said. "I was always impressed with him with [Jay] Cutler, and think he probably does that with this kid [Tannehill], but I don't think Tannehill is any more than that."

    Last year, a tiers voter said Tannehill needed to play an important role in a signature victory to gain credibility. That voter gave Tannehill credit for beating Pittsburgh and doing nearly enough to beat Seattle on the road, with a dropped deep ball possibly being the difference in the game for Miami.

    "Before the injury, I'd move him to a 2 with Gase," a head coach said. "They seem to do a lot of things with him. That relationship looked like it was going to work."
    Sam Bradford
    There is no more mystery with Bradford. He's seen as a good passer from a clean pocket, but not the difference-maker evaluators once thought he could be. He could look much better than he did in Minnesota last season if the Vikings' pass protection and running game approached even average levels. The team's struggles in those areas could explain why Bradford deteriorated as the season progressed.

    "He gave them a chance, and I thought he was tough and stood in there, took some hits and I thought he had a good year," a personnel director from one of the Vikings' 2016 opponents said. "The ball comes out fast. No problems with the release. I think he needs a running game. You know where he is going to be in terms of planning your rush, taking away some stuff, so I think in his best year with a lot of weapons around him, he can probably play to the 2 level, but on average he is probably kind of a 3 guy that if he had a strong team, you can certainly win with him."

    An offensive coordinator defended Bradford by saying he couldn't name any of the Vikings' receivers. A personnel director said he'd be looking for the Vikings' next starter if he were in charge there. A secondary coach said Bradford is a good passer when he can throw from max protection with two- and three-man routes off play-action, but that he gets "jittery" and can look like "just a guy" under pressure.

    "I'd put him in the 4s," the personnel director said. "He is a statue in the pocket, he is always hurt -- just not somebody that I would want to put back there and give to my team and say, 'Hey, this is your franchise quarterback, he is going to take you to the Super Bowl.' You are setting yourself up to fail."
    Jay Cutler
    Cutler was a late addition to the ballot after Tannehill's injury led Miami to pull the former Bears starter out of the broadcast booth. Voters remembered him as a 3 when he played under Gase with the Bears, and that is where most placed him now.

    "I would put him closer to the bottom of the 3s at this point, whereas I'd have Tannehill closer to the top," an exec said. There are shades within each tier, but if you've got a 3 in your lineup, the supporting cast is going to determine which way the arrow points. Cutler was 27-13 (.675) as a starter from 2010-12, when the Bears had a top-five defense. He has a 17-29 starting record since then, despite posting slightly better numbers. The results can be manipulated to fit various narratives, but Tier 3 is Tier 3.

    A GM said he thought Cutler would play well with none of the pressure that followed him in Chicago, reasoning that if Cutler bombs, so what? He was retired anyway. Not everyone was buying that thinking.

    "I don't think you can put him next to Dalton and Flacco and other guys like that who are in Tier 3 and go, 'Yeah, he is the same,'" an analytics director said. "People talk about the great year with Gase, and the completion percentage did rise, but the overall level of team and individual performance moving the offense was not [great]."
    Tyrod Taylor
    Taylor's average tier rating fell from last year, as a higher percentage of voters placed him in the fourth tear instead of the third, but most voters were not down on him. They thought he was difficult to defend in the offense Greg Roman brought to Buffalo, but they didn't think Taylor projected well to more pass-oriented systems.

    "He was actually a little better when we played him than I thought, so I give him some respect for the way he played," an offensive assistant coach said. "He was a little more accurate and a little bit better of an athlete than I thought. He was hard for our defense. Now, he is average as grits accuracy-wise overall, but he is a guy if you help him, I think he deserves to be in the 3s."

    An offensive coordinator said LeSean McCoy's presence in the Buffalo offense as a special running back was critical for Taylor.

    "Taylor gets the most out of what he's got," this coordinator said. "The offense is limited because of it, but he doesn't give it to them [via turnovers], and he runs around and makes enough plays. Just very fortunate McCoy is there. If they couldn't run it like that and be the No. 1 rush offense in the NFL, then he might fall into the 4s."

    An exec cautioned against analyzing Taylor or any quarterback too critically when the quarterback has played for a team that has been dysfunctional. An analytics director compared Taylor to Alex Smith because neither is likely to lose games with turnovers, but neither is necessarily going to carry his team, either. Several voters said they liked Taylor but wanted to see more consistency.

    "He is hard for me because I don't know how he is going to do in Rick Dennison's offense," a head coach said. "I thought he was hard to defend in Greg Roman's and Anthony Lynn's offense, but he misses a lot of s---. His ability to see receivers open is terrible. He misses guys either with the throw or in the progression, but if you use him right, I think he is a 3."

    A Tier 4 quarterback could be an unproven player with some upside, or a veteran that is ultimately best suited as a backup. Teams might not want these guys starting all 16 games.

    Trevor Siemian
    There is some hope for Siemian among coaches and evaluators who have studied him closely, and Denver has named him its starter this season.

    "I see him having really good upside," an offensive coordinator said. "I go back to their first game of the year, against Carolina. The first or second play, somebody comes clean off the left edge and he is throwing a little wide receiver screen. For him to shape the ball around that guy and understand that he couldn't throw it over the top, I was like, 'Whoa, that is a big-time play for a guy that is just starting out.'"

    That level of nuance separates Siemian from first-round pick Paxton Lynch, who has more raw talent - with emphasis on raw. But Siemian struggled to hold up physically behind the Broncos' line and became a different quarterback, according to a personnel director. A QB coach whose team faced Denver thought Siemian lacked defining traits.

    "I would love to play him every week," this coach said.

    Those views are about as disparate as could be, which could just mean there's not enough information to make a full analysis. Siemian started 14 games last season, tossing 18 touchdown passes with 10 interceptions.

    "If they are smart, they will play Siemian and let [coordinator Mike] McCoy run the offense the way it should be -- getting the ball out quick and not letting that kid stand back there and get blasted like he did last year," an offensive coach said.
    Mike Glennon
    Glennon tossed 28 touchdown passes with 15 interceptions as a starter for dysfunctional Buccaneers teams in 2013-14. He had a 5-13 record in those starts and has attempted only 11 regular-season passes during the past two seasons, completing 10 of them for 75 yards and a touchdown.

    "I like Glennon," a GM said. "I've never seen him do it. I've seen him play good games in isolation, so I'm going to put him in the 3 category and I think that might be a little generous, but we will see. I do like what his potential is. He is 28 years old and I think he has developed and he never really got a full, full chance, in my opinion."

    Some thought Glennon's lack of mobility would be a limiting factor in the absence of notable passing skills. One offensive coordinator thought Glennon was a quick decision-maker with good accuracy. A head coach said he thought Glennon had a good feel for the passing game. A coach who was with Glennon in Tampa said Glennon showed good leadership, toughness and poise.

    "Seeing his preseason tape, he is a manager," a personnel director said. "His preseason tape is average. It was like he was resurrected and talked up to a multimillion-dollar deal. If he is the guy you envision him to be, you wouldn't trade up to get another guy [Mitchell Trubisky]."
    Colin Kaepernick
    Kaepernick outranks eight potential starters from seven teams and remains unsigned nearly four months after opting out of his contract with the 49ers. Controversy over his anthem protests and social activism led the Ravens and Giants to publicly equivocate over whether signing Kaepernick would contribute to fan revolt.

    All the while, there has been no change in how voters see Kaepernick as a player. He was 29th in the 2016 survey with a 3.83 average. He was 28th with a 3.88 average this summer. Last summer, before Kaepernick's anthem protests, an offensive coordinator said "something is missing with him" and speculated as to what it could be.

    "Maybe it is the desire to play," this coordinator said last offseason. "That is the feeling that I get from watching him and when he talks about football and all you hear."

    And now? Some voters thought Kaepernick could help himself by publicly affirming his desire to play and fit into a team structure. Voters, like the public at large, had differing opinions as to whether Kaepernick would be worth signing or too much of a distraction. Nearly all agreed that Kaepernick could be a Tier 3 player in an offense like the one he ran under former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Many thought Kaepernick would be a poor fit as a backup on a team with a traditional offense.

    "This guy takes his team to [play in] the f---ing world championship ... now, all of a sudden, he has gotten himself into problems with social issues and this other s---, but I felt like he was on the cusp of being a really good quarterback," a veteran defensive coach said. "He did a great job when Harbaugh was there of formatting the run game with motions, with calling the tackle over to create an unbalanced [line], getting the timing and the mesh points of the runs to confuse defenses and then he could extend the down and get out on the perimeter with the boots and the nakeds."
    Blake Bortles
    Bortles dropped from a 3.0 balloting average last summer to a 4.0 average this summer, with most of those votes coming in before the Jaguars said Chad Henne was in the mix to compete for the job. There was at least some thought that the Jaguars' defense and renewed commitment to the run game could take enough pressure off Bortles for him to become more efficient.

    "He can't do it, in my opinion," a GM said. "He is too slow with the ball, too inaccurate, too indecisive."

    An offensive coordinator said he thought there was a mental disconnect between Bortles' training and on-field performance. How else could Bortles' mechanics deteriorate so much? A weak offensive line and so-so talent at running back has not helped. Voters still struggled to explain why Bortles had fallen off so much. It's possible Bortles was basically the same guy all along. He was 28th in Total QBR, one spot below Blaine Gabbert, over the final eight games of his alleged breakout 2015 season.

    "If you take away all that two-minute production where he is playing against Cover 2, getting a bunch of yards at the end of the game, he is not very good," a QB coach said. "I was hoping they would take [Deshaun] Watson or somebody higher. What they are banking on is if Bortles doesn't get it, if he is not any good this year, they are going to have a loaded roster and pick one of those quarterbacks next year."
    Paxton Lynch
    Balloting closed before the Broncos announced Siemian would start heading into the regular season. The news would not have surprised voters, who thought Lynch would need time to learn the nuances of the pro game.

    "If he figures it out, that kid with his arm talent is kind of similar to [Patrick] Mahomes," a QB coach said. "I'm not sure he will get it, and I think that is why he is not already the starter. He just has a long ways to go. Spending time with him at the combine, he has as long of a way as Mahomes does."

    A GM pointed to Lynch's extreme inconsistency as a problem in the short term. Multiple voters compared Lynch to Osweiler, another tall quarterback whose personality some find to be less than dynamic. Height was another concern. Osweiler and Lynch are both 6-foot-7, which led one personnel director to question whether their throwing motions would always be a little longer than is ideal.

    While there is not enough information to make a judgment, initial impressions are underwhelming.
    Brian Hoyer
    Voters see Hoyer as a good backup who should be in position to play decently under new head coach Kyle Shanahan, although the talent around Hoyer will be a limiting factor. Hoyer is 16-15 as a regular-season starter, having collected 12 of those 16 victories with teams that finished the season ranked among the NFL's top 10 in scoring defense and defensive EPA. The 49ers have not had that type of defense since the Harbaugh era.

    "He is better than McCown and better or close to Glennon," an offensive coordinator said. "I think he is tough. He can handle it. He has been competing his whole life for scraps. He is just not that talented, but he is a leader. He can lead those guys."
    Jared Goff
    Goff went 0-7 as a rookie starter last season under circumstances one offensive coordinator likened to a "perfect storm" of badness, from a weak supporting cast to organizational turmoil to a flawed scheme to appearing on "Hard Knocks" in a new city that happened to be one of the world's entertainment capitals. One personnel director did say he saw Goff make a couple impressive throws per game, a reminder that there was physical talent with which to work.

    "We did a lot of work on him when he and [Carson] Wentz came out, and I thought he had a chance," a different offensive coordinator said. "I just knew that it was going to take a while. It was a little bit unfair throwing him in there like they did, especially when everything was in turmoil with that organization last year. I think he has a chance, yeah. He maybe can get to a 2. Maybe he can move toward a 3 this year with the idea of becoming a 2 one day."

    The biggest question in voters' minds seemed to center around what one voter called a meek personality. Voters didn't like the look in Goff's eyes or the demeanor he projected as a rookie. They thought guys like Trubisky, Watson, Mahomes and especially Wentz had the grit needed to weather tough times.

    "Man, he did not look the part when he played last year," a former GM said of Goff. "I don't know if it is coming from the spread [in college] and all that, but the anticipation, the instincts, they just weren't there. Maybe the situation was just really bad, and with this new coach, it will get better."
    Tom Savage
    There was disagreement over how Savage would fare in Houston. Most thought Watson would be in the lineup as early as the second game, either through performance or injury, which is a concern for Savage. One personnel director thought Savage was a sneaky good fit for Bill O'Brien's offense and could surprise.

    "He is a great kid and he has a huge arm," an offensive coordinator said. "His was one of the most impressive college workouts I have ever seen. He can sling it all over the field, but he cannot process fast enough and he is not sure of himself yet. If he can get those things, then he can jump up to a 3, but not until then."

    A longtime personnel evaluator gave Savage a 5, noting that he had failed a couple of times in college and again in the NFL.

    "What has changed?" this evaluator asked.

    The biggest change was Houston trading up for Watson, which means Savage will have to play exceedingly well for an extended period to keep the job. An exec said the Texans have mostly needed their quarterbacks to avoid turnovers, and that Savage could check that box for Houston.

    "Every time he has gotten an opportunity to play, he gets nicked and disappears," a personnel director said. "If that happens with him, then Watson gets the same sort of pass that Prescott got because Romo got hurt. This will open the door for Watson to walk and take over. It is just a matter of whether Watson will be ready at that time."
    Josh McCown
    McCown has shown he can play efficiently with a decent team around him. He does not have a decent team around him this season.

    "I like McCown and think he is a good player, but he plays dumb from the standpoint of running with the ball and trying to be Mr. Physical and getting himself knocked out," an offensive coordinator said. "But I'd give him a 3. He just won't last."

    A defensive coordinator gave an almost identical appraisal, suggesting a team could win with McCown starting -- if the defense were good enough.
    Brock Osweiler
    Osweiler became so toxic following his tenure in Houston that the Texans gave the Browns a second-round pick to take on Osweiler and his salary. The Browns then tried to trade him, but they found no suitors. In one calendar year, they have gone from starting one toxic quarterback (Robert Griffin III) to another (Osweiler).

    "He is another one of those guys who kind of got full of himself and needs to come back down to earth," a personnel director said. "If he is just humble and goes and listens and tries to execute within the offense, then you have a chance to be successful. If he believes he is the reason the offense is functioning, then he is in trouble."

    Three voters placed Osweiler in the third tier.

    "He did a nice job against Oakland of understanding pressure, seeing the pressure, knowing his answers, getting the ball out," a quarterbacks coach said. "He has a big arm. He can put it out there. He is not garbage. I kind of wonder what he is like as a [person] and I wonder if that had as much to do with it as anything."
    Cody Kessler
    Kessler started eight games as a rookie in 2016 and finished with six touchdown passes. It was the first time since Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy in 2010 that a quarterback started so many games and threw so few touchdown passes. It was a tough situation in that the Browns weren't good enough to support him.

    "He is smart, he is instinctive, and if they get enough around him, I think 8-8 is about the ceiling," an offensive coordinator said. "He was accurate. I think he has a chance to be a 3, but I'd have to say he is a 4 right now."

    2017 NFL QB Tiers Voting Breakdown
    PLAYER AVG TIER 1 2 3 4 5
    T-1. Tom Brady 1.00 1 50 0 0 0 0
    T-1. Aaron Rodgers 1.00 1 50 0 0 0 0
    3. Ben Roethlisberger 1.40 1 30 20 0 0 0
    4. Drew Brees 1.42 1 29 21 0 0 0
    5. Matt Ryan 1.48 1 26 24 0 0 0
    *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
    6. Andrew Luck 1.72 2 16 32 2 0 0
    7. Derek Carr 1.90 2 8 39 3 0 0
    T-8. Philip Rivers 1.96 2 8 36 6 0 0
    T-8. Matthew Stafford 1.96 2 5 42 3 0 0
    10. Russell Wilson 2.08 2 3 40 7 0 0
    11. Eli Manning 2.18 2 5 31 14 0 0
    12. Cam Newton 2.30 2 0 35 15 0 0
    13. Kirk Cousins 2.48 2 0 26 24 0 0
    *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
    14. Dak Prescott 2.52 3 0 24 26 0 0
    15. Joe Flacco 2.54 3 0 23 27 0 0
    T-16. Carson Palmer 2.56 3 1 20 29 0 0
    T-16. Marcus Mariota 2.56 3 0 22 28 0 0
    18. Jameis Winston 2.58 3 0 21 29 0 0
    19. Andy Dalton 2.66 3 0 17 33 0 0
    20. Alex Smith 2.82 3 0 11 37 2 0
    21. Carson Wentz 2.92 3 0 11 32 7 0
    22. Ryan Tannehill 3.02 3 0 4 41 5 0
    23. Sam Bradford 3.14 3 0 3 38 8 1
    24. Jay Cutler 3.16 3 0 2 39 8 1
    25. Tyrod Taylor 3.40 3 0 1 30 17 2
    *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
    26. Trevor Siemian 3.78 4 0 0 15 31 4
    27. Mike Glennon 3.86 4 0 1 8 38 3
    28. Colin Kaepernick 3.88 4 0 1 13 27 9
    T-29. Blake Bortles 3.98 4 0 1 9 30 10
    T-29. Paxton Lynch 3.98 4 0 1 5 38 6
    31. Brian Hoyer 4.00 4 0 0 9 32 9
    32. Jared Goff 4.06 4 0 0 2 43 5
    33. Tom Savage 4.08 4 0 0 6 34 10
    34. Josh McCown 4.12 4 0 0 10 24 16
    35. Brock Osweiler 4.20 4 0 0 3 34 13
    36. Cody Kessler 4.42 4 0 0 1 27 22
    Last edited by H2O4me; 3 weeks ago.