National Football League 2014: Some Friends And I Ranked All 32 NFL Quarterbacks, The Results Were Interesting

Joe Flacco and Ben Roesthlisberger both own Super Bowl rings, but didn't get much top-10 love in the rankings

Joe Flacco (average rank: 12.5) and Ben Roesthlisberger (average rank: 11.3) both own Super Bowl rings, but didn’t get much top-10 love in the rankings

I thought it would be fun to ask a few of my friends to rank all 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL as they saw fit. As you can expect, once some of them (myself included) got into the process they realized that ranking them was more difficult than first thought. Especially once you get outside of the top-10 and into the 15-23 range.

A few things surprised me once I got the rankings back, the first being lightening rod Colin Kaepernick (average rank: 9.8) cracking the top-10 in all but one of the lists; and Philip Rivers (average rank: 11.8) was ranked behind some names that I thought he shouldn’t have been (Nick Foles?).

Ranking, no matter the subject, is a difficult thing to do. We look at things a lot differently when we are forced to crunch the numbers and understand the talent/ability of each individual that is being ranked. Football is even more difficult because it is the one sport you can very rarely draw on past results and assume future success.

The rules for the rankings were simple: each team has an assumed starting quarterback on their roster. Based on your evaluation rank each from 1 to 32. Here are some of my thoughts on the six rankings lists submitted:

Brady, Brees, Manning, and Rodgers dominated the top-4; but where should each land?:

The top-4 quarterbacks in the NFL aren’t up for debate, but who fits where most certainly is. In all but one list Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers made up the top of the rankings. Manning was listed as the number one quarterback four times, with Brady and Rodgers getting the top spot in the other two.

I plugged Manning into the number one spot on my list but really it could have gone to Brady. I understand the logic behind putting Rodgers in that spot but I couldn’t bring myself to put him there… yet. Brees averaged out to about number three in the rankings which I found to be interesting. A look at the numbers show he is the number two or three quarterback in the league but I would have put money on him landing in the fourth spot.

I think the most confusing call was made by Baden, who didn’t have Brady in his top-5 yet included Luck. He was pretty adamant about dissolving all teams and doing a pure draft, but to do that you would still need to go on current rosters for your overall evaluation. So why Luck and Wilson over Brady? A Podcast will determine that answer so stay tuned.

Russell Wilson Is Entering “Top-5” Territory, And The Numbers Bear It: 

As a guy who likes to study the quarterback position, it warms my heart that Russell Wilson’s incredible play is being appreciated. Again, these lists weren’t discussed beforehand, so each person (myself included) didn’t have the chance to influence another’s list. So when I saw that Wilson’s average position when calculated among the six lists was about number six (including a top-4 inclusion), that says that what he’s doing isn’t going unnoticed.

How could it be? The numbers show a player who has played at a very high level in a division that shouldn’t warrant it:

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 4.05.56 PM

(via Pro-Football-Reference.com)

His resumé also, should, speak for itself:

  • Super Bowl XLVIII Champion
  • 2-time Pro Bowler
  • Top-10 passer rating in 2012 (100.0) and 2013 (101.3)
  • 63.6% career completion percentage
  • 24-8 career regular season record (4-1 in the playoffs)

I tried to come up with a reason why he shouldn’t be ranked in the top-5 despite those numbers. I even remember saying “Luck is top-5, not Wilson.” Then I looked at his numbers against the NFC West and it sealed the deal for me: he’s (7-5) against the division with 1,999 passing yards and 16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. That is against three of the top ten defenses. He’s just outside of the top-5 overall, but the trends show he is coming.

No One Is (Really) Sold On Andy Dalton or Alex Smith, And They Shouldn’t Be:

Andy Dalton was a top-10 statistical quarterback in 2013. Here is a guy who threw for 33 touchdowns and almost 4,500 yards. Yet in the rankings that were submitted his average position among the 32 teams was 21st. Why? Well I have to assume that his 20 interceptions played a part in it; as did his 15th ranked passer rating and completion percentage.

Dalton is a good quarterback, he just isn’t a guy you want to trust long-term because he’s done nothing to distinguish himself from the 15-20 range of quarterbacks in the league. Sure the numbers on the surface look nice, but the sum of the parts as a whole don’t do it. And in the playoffs it gets even murkier:

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 4.48.13 PM

(via Pro-Football-Reference.com)

Someone in the same boat as Andy Dalton is Alex Smith. On the surface,the numbers show a quarterback who should be considered “elite.” He has 30 wins in the last three years, almost 8,500 yards and 53 touchdowns. He lost his job to Colin Kaepernick during the 2012 season in a controversial move by head coach Jim Harbaugh but I contend it was the right move.

The reason is when you look at Alex Smith his numbers, while good, they show a quarterback who isn’t going to take over a game. Last season under  the tutelage of Andy Reid, Alex Smith reached 20+ touchdowns for the first time in his career. Now some will argue that the offense in San Francisco is a “run first” offense, but with that same West Coast offense Kaepernick was able to achieve that statistic in his first full season as a starter while keeping the interceptions down as well.

Among the rankings provided Smith came in at an average ranking of 17 (nine spots behind the average of the guy who replaced him in San Francisco). There are serious deficiencies in Smith’s game that merit the ranking, and for both the Chiefs and Bengals considering extensions after this season they have tough decisions to make if they have real Super Bowl aspirations.

If You’re Not First You’re… Geno?:

Geno Smith (average ranking: 31) appears to be a guy everyone is low on as starting quarterbacks go. It is one thing to have a quarterback situation in flux (Houston’s average ranking was 29), or guys filling in until recent draft picks take over (Minnesota (26) and Cleveland (27)), but to come in as “the guy” and be ranked so low has to be troubling as far as perception goes.

Geno had very few highlights in 2013, and part of the problem was that the offense in New York isn’t run by personnel who know what they’re doing. It also doesn’t help that Smith isn’t surrounded by quality weapons on offense. Despite all of that, he finished his rookie season (8-8) and closed the year (3-1) with 790 yards, four touchdowns (to two picks) and completed almost 60% of his passes.

So why the bad rap?

Well, when Geno was bad, he was really, really bad; and when he was good he didn’t really inspire the way other rookie quarterbacks have in the past. It wouldn’t make sense to try and sugar coat it, but it also doesn’t make sense to rank him consistently low (although I did have him right at 31st in my own ranking). He’s going to have to show more growth year two or risk being dubbed the next guy out of town.

The Eli Manning Theory: 

I’m going to get flack for ranking Eli Manning 12th, which was the highest ranking of the six lists and four spots higher than his average ranking (16). Listen, people can look at the 27 interceptions and his struggles from last year and say “well that’s who he is.” But that isn’t who he is, he’s (usually) a top-10 quarterback playing for a team that has no business being in the conversations he has put them in. Very few people noticed that after that dreadful start (0-6) he helped the Giants finish the season (7-3) and completed over 60% of his passes. He did all that with his top three running backs non-existent and, essentially, one weapon healthy (Victor Cruz).

This isn’t a situation like the Jets, Eli has (dare I say it) better physical tools than his brother with a quarter of the personnel Peyton has had in his career. We are going to discuss this more during our Podcasts but I expect Eli to get right back to it in 2014.

The Rankings:

Adam Cubbage, Marketing Professional/Blogger The Locker/Host Locker Talk:

  1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
  2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  3.  Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  5.  Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  7. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
  8. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
  9. Ben Roesthlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  11. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
  12. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  13. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
  14. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  15. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  16. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
  17. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
  18. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
  19. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
  20. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
  21. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
  22. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  23. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
  24. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
  25. Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders
  26. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
  27. Matt Cassell, Minnesota Vikings
  28. Bobby Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
  29. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
  30. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
  31. Geno Smith, New York Jets
  32. Case Keenum, Houston Texans

Baden Bagley, Student/Co-Host Locker Talk:

  1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
  4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  6. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  8. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
  9. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
  10. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  11. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
  12. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
  13. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  14. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
  15. Ben Roesthliesberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
  16. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  17. Robert Griffin, III, Washington Redskins
  18. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
  19. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
  20. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
  21. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
  22. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
  23. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  24. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
  25. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
  26. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
  27. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
  28. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
  29. Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders
  30. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
  31. Geno Smith, New York Jets
  32. Case Keenum, Houston Texans

Tyler Farr, Writer/Director:

  1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
  2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  6. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
  7. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
  8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  9. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  10. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  11. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
  12. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
  13. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
  14. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
  15. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
  16. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  17. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
  18. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
  19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
  20. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  21. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
  22. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
  23. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
  24. Matt Schuab, Houston Texans
  25. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
  26. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans
  27. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
  28. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
  29. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  30. Geno Smith, New York Jets
  31. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
  32. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars

David Burke, Retail Manager/Locker Talk Guest Host:

  1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
  2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  6. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  7. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
  8. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  10. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
  11. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  12. Robert Griffin, Washington Redskins
  13. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
  14. Ben Rothlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
  15. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
  16. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  17. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
  18. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
  19. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
  20. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
  21. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  22. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
  23. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
  24. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
  25. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
  26. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
  27. Geno Smith, New York Jets
  28. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
  29. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans
  30. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
  31. Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders
  32. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans

Chris Jones, Teacher/Coach/Mentor:

  1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
  4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  7. Ben Roeslithberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
  8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  9. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
  10. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
  11. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  12. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions
  13. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  14. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
  15. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
  16. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
  17. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
  18. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
  19. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  20. Robert Griffin, III, Washington Redskins
  21. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
  22. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
  23. Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders
  24. Matt Cassell, Minnesota Vikings
  25. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
  26. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
  27. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans
  28. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
  29. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
  30. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
  31. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  32. Geno Smith, New York Jets

Kody Chacon, Hotel Management/Hospitality/Thorn In Side:

  1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
  2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  6. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
  7. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
  8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  9. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  10. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
  11. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
  12. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  13. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  14. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
  15. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
  16. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
  17. Colin Kapernick, San Francisco 49ers
  18. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
  19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
  20. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  21. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
  22. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
  23. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
  24. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
  25. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
  26. Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders
  27. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
  28. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
  29. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans
  30. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  31. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
  32. Geno Smith, New York Jets

What are your thoughts? Stay tuned because in the coming weeks we will be having podcast discussions to hash out the reasons behind some of the rankings

 

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2 comments

  1. Interesting piece. I like the rankings for the most part as a franchise piece, but have you created a fantasy ranking for quarterbacks? I’d be interested to see if your top 10 remains the same.

    Like

    1. We are actually working on that ranking and rolling it out within the next two weeks. We will be ranking wide receivers, running backs, tight ends and D/ST for fantasy as well so please look out for those. Thanks for checking out the site.

      Like

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