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ESPN 2018 NFL QB Tier Rankings

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NFL insiders rank all 32 starting quarterbacks.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Every offseason, ESPN writer Mike Sando gathers a group of “league insiders” to create tiered rankings of all 32 NFL starting quarterbacks (In$ider).

This year’s panel was made up of 50 insiders, including: general managers, head coaches, coordinators, quarterback coaches, personnel executives, analytics directors, and others. These insiders assigned each quarterback a grade from 1 (best) to 5 (worst). The grades were then compiled into an average and the quarterbacks were divided into four different tiers.

Last year, Carson Wentz was graded as a Tier 3 quarterback at No. 21 overall. A number of insiders were optimistic about his future outlook, though, and rightfully so. Wentz was obviously fantastic in 2017; he easily could’ve been the NFL MVP if he didn’t suffer an ACL tear in Week 14.

In any case, Wentz’s success has vaulted him into Tier 2. He ranks at No. 9 overall. Only Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Matthews Stafford, and Philip Rivers finished higher.

Only Goff enjoyed a larger gain from last offseason among returning quarterbacks. Wentz’s 1.1-point improvement from a 2.9 average vote to a 1.8 likely would have been even greater if he had been the Eagles’ quarterback during their Super Bowl-winning playoff run.

”I think he is a 2 that will be a 1, and then once he is a 1, it looks like he has a lot of the traits like Brady,” a Super Bowl-winning coordinator said. “You’d just like to see him do it more.”

A personnel director was one of 12 voters to place Wentz in the top tier already.

”Obviously, he had the knee, but if healthy and all that stuff, he’s a 1,” this director said. “He has a little backyard in him, but he is a very poised passer, a really gifted runner and he has the arm to make all the throws. He is confident, doesn’t get rattled, does all the things that you want, and his team -- the players -- they gravitate to him.”

A quarterbacks coach who placed Wentz in the second tier noted that most teams would be in trouble if they lost a Tier 1 quarterback. The Eagles flourished.

”He was slightly above average as a rookie,” another voter placing Wentz in the third tier said. “He played 12 games and part of a 13th game last year. With all these guys, we should ask what they would be with an average supporting cast, average coaching, an average defense and an average kicking game. Remember how excited people were about Derek Carr a year ago? These young guys should be slow to ascend. What’s the rush?”

I don’t love the Brady comp for Wentz. I’d like to think that Carson wouldn’t drop the ball in the Super Bowl. Or fumble the game away.

Jokes aside, that’s very high praise for the Eagles’ franchise quarterback. The hope is that Wentz continues to ascend after such a spectacular sophomore season. It’s hard not to be encouraged after he showed he can potentially be the best player in the entire league.

Whoever placed Wentz in the third tier can shove it. ESPN’s definition of a Tier 3 quarterback is “a legitimate starter, but needs a heavier running game and/or defense to win. A lower-volume passing offense makes his job easier.” That sounds a lot more like Dak Prescott than it does Carson Wentz.

Speaking of quarterbacks who are better than Dak, let’s check in on Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. He didn’t make this list outright since he’s not projected to be a full-time starter but Sando did include a note on him.

Eagles backup Nick Foles doesn’t have his own entry here because he’s not the projected starter, but I did include him in the survey. He landed solidly in the third tier between Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor, pulling five votes in the second tier, 34 in the third and 11 in the fourth.

”He is a 3 and I could rationalize putting him as a 2 because he is a better thrower than anybody gives him credit for,” an offensive coach said of Foles.

Flacco comes in at No. 23 so Foles would be ranked around No. 24 in this activity if he was included in it.

Elsewhere in the NFC East, Washington has the second highest ranked quarterback at No. 15 overall. Funny enough, Alex Smith is actually tied with WASTEAM’s former starter, Kirk Cousins. It’s a fair ranking for Smith, who is capable of raising a team’s floor but ultimately lowering a team’s ceiling. The other two starters in the division, Eli Manning and Prescott, are tied at No. 17. Manning dropped six spots from last year while Prescott moved down three.


Here’s a look at the Eagles’ 2018 schedule based on the starting quarterbacks they’ll face. 10 of their games are against Tier 3 quarterbacks while four come against Tier 2 signal callers. Then there’s one unranked quarterback (due to Jameis Winston’s suspension) and one Tier 1 challenge.

Week 1 - Matt Ryan - 5th overall (Tier 2)

Week 2 - Ryan Fitzpatrick - unranked

Week 3 - Andrew Luck (?) - 10th overall (Tier 2)

Week 4 - Marcus Mariota - 21st overall (Tier 3)

Week 5 - Kirk Cousins - t-15th overall (Tier 3)

Week 6 - Eli Manning - t-17th overall (Tier 3)

Week 7 - Cam Newton - 11th overall (Tier 2)

Week 8 - Blake Bortles - 26th overall (Tier 3)

Week 9 - BYE

Week 10 - Dak Prescott - t-17th overall (Tier 3)

Week 11 - Drew Brees - 3rd overall (Tier 1)

Week 12 - Eli Manning - t-17th overall (Tier 3)

Week 13 - Alex Smith - t-15th overall (Tier 3)

Week 14 - Dak Prescott - t-17th overall (Tier 3)

Week 15 - Jared Goff - 19th overall (Tier 3)

Week 16 - Deshaun Watson - 14th overall (Tier 2)

Week 17 - Alex Smith - t-15th overall (Tier 3)

Poll

NFL insiders ranked Carson Wentz as the 9th best quarterback. Too high, too low, just right?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Too high
    (182 votes)
  • 63%
    Too low
    (1940 votes)
  • 30%
    Just right
    (917 votes)
3039 votes total Vote Now