Every single year ESPN puts out a QB tiers list, and every single year I have fun offering my rebuttal and my own specific list. This year is no different. You can find their list on ESPN insider if you’re a subscriber, otherwise you might not care.
Let’s talk about my rules and regulations for this list:
- A+ or Greater – This QB can regularly be called upon to elevate their team and will do it whether the situation requires it. Can singlehandedly decide the outcome of a game in their team’s favor. MVP caliber play on a consistent basis.
- A- to A – QB who can put his team on his shoulders and more often than not does do this. Hasn’t quite elevated to that next level, or just does not do this anymore.
- B- to B+ – Solid QB who has a far better positive impact than negative. Suffers from inconsistencies from time to time or still has room to grow. May not consistently elevate his team week in and week out, but the team rarely loses because of him.
- C- to C+ – Average QB, can be elevated with proper talent or proper scheme, not bad, but not great. Literal definition of average as of right now
- D – Bad QB that typically needs everything else functioning around them to be successful in order to not bring the team down.
- F- a QB who cannot bring his team to the level needed to be successful, team often wins despite him.
Please note that all 32 starters as well as a few backups who have a shot to start and some free agents (coughKaepernick). Rookies are not being evaluated or placed yet as we have not seen enough of them to consider. So no Kizer, Trubisky, Watson, etc.
Part 1 will consist of QBs graded F through C+. Let’s get started.
This list is pretty short, as there aren’t too many outright TERRIBLE quarterbacks in the league, just a lot of below to above average ones. This should be obvious though.
- Blake Bortles – His mechanics are God-awful and he got benched as a “lesson” in favor of Henne in the dress rehearsal preseason game. In short, there’s a lot wrong with Bortles, and that ceiling we saw when he threw for 35 TDs has collapsed. Largely because those were garbage time scores, but also because patience has worn thin with his fellow teammates. He won’t last long this season, and Henne might not either.
- Bryce Petty – He hasn’t looked terrible, and the game against the Giants was the best he’s looked in any action whatsoever. He got a little playing time last year and stunk it up, but then again, the Jets have a terrible roster. I’m sure he’ll elevate, but I couldn’t justify putting him anywhere else.
- Ryan Mallett – Got sassy with his coaching staff when he got benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick and has virtually nothing to back it up with. Ravens fans are praying he doesn’t take a snap.
- Tom Savage – He’s just bad. Has very little pocket presence and awareness, lacks touch, misfires on routes. I don’t know if it’s nerves or what, but he NEVER looks comfortable out there.
Only three gentlemen in this category, simply because these are two guys where we KNOW who they are now. It’s not changing.
- Jared Goff – I literally forgot about this guy until I started actually typing this. Life, I left him OUT OF MY NOTES. I think that says a lot. But from an analytical standpoint, Goff looked absolutely lost last season and I know the Rams aren’t a great team overall, but Goff was even worse. There are a few out there who think this year is the year Goff “figures it out”, and for those who think it can’t get worse in LA….it can, Sean freaking Mannion is his backup.
- Mike Glennon – Has looked absolutely awful this preseason and has had a few shining moments in his career. The Bucs thought he would one day be their guy, but when his mediocrity became obvious and Winston fell in their lap…well. Bears handed him what they thought would be market value, and that’s cool, but with the way Trubisky performed this preseason, I would expect him to be the guy sooner rather than later.
- Chad Henne – Ten years in the league and not much to show for it, Henne is the definition of a great backup, but a bad starter. Jags fans are clamoring for him now until he gets in there and reminds you why he’s been a career backup since leaving Miami. Still, he’s better than Bortles.
Alright, this is where we get our first set of splits.
- Carson Wentz – This is not a reflection of where he WILL be, moreso a reflection of where he is RIGHT NOW. Wentz showed us his trajectory at the beginning of last season when the Eagles started off undefeated. To me, that’s not even the extent of his true talent, just his best rookie self. He certainly hit a wall midway through the season and took a little while to get out of it. He’ll have some shaky performances this season, but I think this is the year that he shows what he’s made of. He only goes up from here.
- Josh McCown – There’s a rule of NFL Quarterbacking that I like to call the Josh McCown rule. It’s very simple. If you want to know whether or not your QB is above or below average, ask yourself in the most serious and non-biased way possible: would my team be better or worse off with peak Josh McCown? If you’re not sure, and I mean REALLY not sure, then your QB is average. This rule also applies to teams who need a journeyman QB for playoff hopes, only to see McCown crush it before getting crushed and never recovering.
- Trevor Siemian – He’s just average. I mean, that’s really it. He won’t hurt the Broncos too badly, they’ve got a great enough defense to be successful. I do feel for Broncos fans though, because if Lynch can’t beat THIS guy out. Oh man.
- Sam Bradford – Now, you want to talk about average. Hey guys, look at him! All jokes about his build aside, Bradford is a high completion percentage QB who will not consistently move your team down the field. You need big playmakers who can create YAC for him to be successful, you don’t give him large, slow, possession receivers. You won’t win.
- Brian Hoyer – Hear me out, cause y’all are going to laugh, but I expect Hoyer to do a little something this year even with a bad cast in SF. He was SOLID last year for the Bears in his appearances, 6 TDs, 0 INTs, and had led the Browns to a 7-3 record before completely falling apart in 2014. The potential is seriously there and he’s now under center for the guy who gave him his best season in Kyle Shannahan. I’m not saying Hoyer is going to go out and become Matt Stafford or hell, even Tyrod Taylor, I am saying that the QB situation in SF is BETTER than people thought it would be.
- Carson Palmer – He went from being a Top 3 QB in the mid 2000s to back in the limelight during his time in Arizona. Last year he just….fell off. I think age is starting to catch him, and Arizona does not have an effective contingency plan if his decline continues. They could be in trouble.
- Jay Cutler – I was prepared to put him higher, but honestly, Ron talked me out of it. Through his whole career Cutler has been average. Yes, average. He has never really lived up to the hype and the talent and has simply not given two shakes about getting better. Miami plugged in a guy who could keep the status quo, not elevate them. He’ll do no better or worse than Tannehill would have done this season.
- Colin Kaepernick – I know y’all are tired of hearing me sing Kaep’s praises from last season, but he really WAS better than people realize. He wasn’t GREAT, but he was above average on a BAD team, which is why a lot of people feel like he should be signed. With Khan’s interview earlier this week, it’s possible that Kaepernick ends up a Jag by midseason if Henne and Bortles haven’t completely tanked the team….which is highly likely.
QBs leftover: Brady, T. Taylor, Luck, Mariotta, Smith, Rivers, Carr, Roethlisberger, Dalton, Flacco, Rodgers, Stafford, Prescott, Cousins, Eli, entire NFC South, Wilson