Mike Sando, formerly of ESPN and now writing for The Athletic, is back with his annual NFL quarterback tier rankings based on voting from a large number of coaches and executives from around the league. You can read the entire column if you have a subscription.
Of note to Philadelphia Eagles fans is that Carson Wentz finished 10th in the rankings. That’s one spot lower than he was ranked at this time last year. Wentz is still in the “Tier 2” category, though he did receive five “Tier 1” votes.
There was a mixture of positive and negative feedback on Wentz.
A good chunk of voters think Wentz would be a 1 if knee and back injuries hadn’t forced his career to take a detour. “He’s a 1,” an offensive coordinator said. “We played them; he made four to five throws I really did not think he could make. He has great confidence, great stature. Big arm. Competitive. He gets hit more than he should, but he played young and should grow out of that.” [...] “We have played him, and our head coach thinks the world of him, and I think he is a great player and a strong athlete,” a defensive coordinator said. “I just don’t know his ability to read it and have touch passes. He can throw hard balls in there, and he has a super-strong arm. I do not yet know if he has the touch and the feel to ascend.” [...] “He is damn good and he can run, but he does not play with a calm to him yet,” a coach who studied the Eagles this offseason said. “He overreacts to things and is not smooth and poised like a guy who has done it a long time. He will get there.” A personnel director used the term “Andrew Luck-ish” to describe a healthy Wentz.
Overall, not an unfair assessment.
Wentz has special talent and potential that leads some evaluators believe he belongs in an elite tier. All one needs to do is go back and re-watch his near-MVP 2017 season. And for having a “down year” last season, Wentz wasn’t even that bad in 2018. For context, Wentz still had a better passer rating than the likes of Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff, Aaron Rodgers, and Andrew Luck.
With that said, Wentz does provide ammo for his detractors. Wentz’s injury history is an obvious concern; he needs to find a way to stay healthy. He could also afford to have better touch and poise at times.
But even Wentz’s critics acknowledge these are things that can improve over time. Just look at Nick Foles. He really matured from the time he first played for the Eagles to when he eventually returned to Philly. Who’s to say a 26-year-old Wentz can’t experience similar growth?
NFL insiders ranked Carson Wentz as the 10th best quarterback. Too high, too low, just right?
This poll is closed
Speaking of Foles, the 2018 Super Bowl MVP checks in at No. 18. He’s a “Tier 3” quarterback.
“Foles was actually better at basketball than football, and there is almost a basketball mentality to how he plays,” an exec said. “He is real smart, but he is a little bit like Favre, where it’s just: Don’t make it too complicated. Let him play. Don’t give him a ton of things to think about. I think Foles can carry a team in the right situation, but he might be the ultimate relief pitcher.” Two defensive coaches who faced the Eagles last season thought Foles was Philly’s best quarterback at the time. “I respect the s— out of Foles,” one of these coaches said. “I would have rather played Carson Wentz last year. I just felt like Foles didn’t make the mistakes that Wentz made on film. I do not know if that was just Wentz coming off the ACL, but Foles is just confident, and I also thought he spread the ball around better.”
Ah, some fuel for the Foles > Wentz crowd!
Still, Foles didn’t receive a single “Tier 1” vote and he logged 18 “Tier 2” votes to Wentz’s 34. So Foles > Wentz is very much a minority opinion among league evaluators. Personally, I’ll be very interested to see how Foles does with his starting opportunity in Jacksonville.
Checking in at one spot above Foles is another NFC East quarterback: Dak Prescott. Like Foles, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback received zero “Tier 1” votes.
“I just think when it comes down to it, his accuracy is going to limit him because those three to four throws a game you miss, they get you in the long run,” an offensive coordinator said. Prescott, who had 13 touchdown passes against three interceptions when Cooper was on the field in 2018, polled almost exactly the same this summer compared to last, with about one-third of voters placing him in the second tier. “I think he is the classic 3, a high 3, where he really needs people around him,” a GM said. “When they got the receiver, he was better. When the runner is rolling, he is better. Play-action is very important for him.”
Prescott is clearly a “win with” quarterback for the Cowboys. Dallas can win with him starting. But they don’t win because of him. And Dallas will soon be paying him a ton of money.
Elsewhere in the division, Eli Manning ranks 24th while Case Keenum is 31st. It’s possible Manning and/or Keenum get replaced by rookie quarterbacks this season. Appropriately, expectations are not high for the New York Giants and Washington.
Here’s a look at the Eagles’ 2019 schedule based on the starting quarterbacks they’ll face.
Week 1 - Washington - Case Keenum (?) - 31st overall (Tier 4)
Week 2 - Atlanta Falcons - Matt Ryan - 9th overall (Tier 2)
Week 3 - Detroit Lions - Matthew Stafford - 11th overall (Tier 2)
Week 4 - Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers - 1st overall (Tier 1)
Week 5 - New York Jets - Sam Darnold - 27th overall (Tier 3)
Week 6 - Minnesota Vikings - Kirk Cousins - 16th overall (Tier 3)
Week 7 - Dallas Cowboys - Dak Prescott - 17th overall (Tier 3)
Week 8 - Buffalo Bills - Josh Allen - 29th overall - (Tier 4)
Week 9 - Chicago Bears - Mitchell Trubisky - 25th overall (Tier 3)
Week 10 - BYE
Week 11 - New England Patriots - Tom Brady - 2nd overall (Tier 1)
Week 12 - Seattle Seahawks - Russell Wilson - 8th overall (Tier 1)
Week 13 - Miami Dolphins - Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen - 30th or 32nd (Tier 4)
Week 14 - New York Giants - Eli Manning - 24th - (Tier 3)
Week 15 - Washington - Case Keenum (?) - 31st overall (Tier 4)
Week 16 - Dallas Cowboys - Dak Prescott - 17th overall (Tier 3)
Week 17 - New York Giants - Eli Manning - 24th - (Tier 3)
Tier 1 quarterback opponents: 3
Tier 2 quarterback opponents: 2
Tier 3 quarterback opponents: 7
Tier 4 quarterback opponents: 4