Wednesday morning, ESPN's Mike Sando decided to take a deep dive into the always controversial topic of quarterback rankings. Sando spoke with 26 anonymous "league insiders" to get their thoughts on the different tiers of quarterbacks. Sando spoke with 8 GMs, 2 former GMs, 4 pro personnel evaluators, 7 coordinators, 2 head coaches, 2 position coaches, and 1 "top executive". They were asked to give each projected starting quarterback a 1-5 ranking, with 1 representing the top tier, and 5 representing the bottom tier.
I'll remove the suspense. Colin Kaepernick ranked No. 14 on the list, finishing at the bottom of Tier 2 with an average rating of 2.50. The top tier consisted of five quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck. The first four were tied with a 1.04 average rating, while Luck was a bit back at 1.50.
The second tier included ten quarterbacks, ranked as follows:
6. Philip Rivers - 1.77
7. Ben Roethlisberger - 1.85
t-8. Matt Ryan - 2.23
t-8. Tony Romo - 2.23
t-8. Russell Wilson - 2.23
t-8. Eli Manning - 2.23
12. Joe Flacco - 2.31
13. Matthew Stafford - 2.38
14. Colin Kaepernick - 2.50
15. Nick Foles - 2.56
This is far from a scientific approach, but it is an interesting perspective on how team officials view the quarterbacks. I'm not exactly shocked that Russell Wilson gets the higher rating than Colin Kaepernick. He does plenty of things really well, but I also think the Super Bowl victory influences this kind of voting. There are still people who view "quarterback wins" as some kind of end-all, be-all of quarterback performance. Sure I want a guy who can make big plays late, but football is a team game. But I understand that the quarterback is frequently going to get too much credit and too much blame.
Here is what Sando's insiders had to say about why they graded Kap the way they did:
Evaluators want to see more from Kaepernick as a reader of defenses, playing within the pocket. They acknowledge his strong arm and dynamic running ability: Kaepernick, like Wilson, has good passing stats from within the pocket, with or without play-action. But there's still a perception around the league that neither is proven in that area.
"Kaepernick can affect the game on so many levels," a defensive coordinator said. "He's been to a Super Bowl, been in a championship game. He has kind of revolutionized some stuff. He is a different kind of 'two' than most of them, more multidimensional."
Kaepernick, like Wilson, has benefited from a dominant defense and running game, and his team hasn't asked him to carry the offense week after week.
But he's been resilient. "Last year, there were a number of people injured and he still kept finding ways to win," a different defensive coordinator said. "Those kind of guys who show that moxie at quarterback, as a defensive coach, that does factor [in] to me. It is not necessarily all based on their stats."
That seems to hit on most of the topics we've discussed and heard discussed for much of Kap's starting career. My favorite comment regarding Kap had to be this one in the Russell Wilson explainer:
"I love Russell Wilson," one GM said. "I like him for the intangibles, which Kaepernick has not displayed. I have Wilson as a three and think he might ascend to a two. I don't think he will ever be a one. Kaepernick has a chance to be a one, but he also has a chance to be a three or a four."
Intangibles Kap has not displayed? Riiiiiiiiiight. I don't think we need to diminish Wilson's work to raise up Kap, but this is just a ridiculous statement.
Sando also put together a companion piece that looked at players that coaches and execs clearly disagreed on. Kap showed up on this list. 10 of 15 personnel people voted Kap into Tier 2, while only 4 of 11 coaches did so. These are not big sample sizes, but given that coaches are playing for now, and executives often are thinking long term, it's not surprising execs might vote up a big potential guy.
The rankings are interesting for discussion, but there is also some amusing stuff that made snicker a little bit:
A head coach said he'd rather have Sam Bradford than Wilson purely from a talent standpoint.
I mean, I guess Bradford in a bubble might have more talent in certain ways than Wilson, but I'm just not buying this. Wilson has a lot of areas he can improve, but he's got a lot of talent. This just makes me shake my head.
"Flacco would be a guy that you probably either love him or hate him because he's a big guy, probably not the most mobile guy, and he's kind of got the droopy face, kind of like the Jay Cutler face, where it always looks like things are bad," an offensive coordinator said.
This is far and away my favorite comment from the article. Anytime you can poke fun at Jay Cutler's Droopy Dog face, you have to, right?
As far as the remaining rankings are concerned, Cam Newton ranked No. 16, Robert Griffin III tied for No. 19, and Alex Smith ranked No. 18. Cue some kind of raging.