As the NFL's schedule enters what we refer to here as the 'desert' (the month of July), this time of year is ripe for rankings and lists as we prepare for the starting of training camp in just under a month.
Last week, ESPN Insider Mike Sando compiled a list of his own, using anonymous league sources to rank every presumed starting quarterback in the National Football League. What made Sando's list interesting is the manner in which he separated the signal callers, using a tier system to evaluate higher standing among the group. I'll let Sando explain.
*"I asked 26 league insiders to grade every projected starting quarterback on a 1-5 scale, with "one" reserved for the best and "five" for the worst. Eight general managers, two former GMs, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive participated, attacking the project with gusto almost across the board."
*The results were interesting, both for Texans fans and for league followers as a whole.
While using anonymous sources isn't ideal, having names omitted does allow for the evaluators to be honest, giving a level of truth that you normally wouldn't get from league personnel.
Four tiers were used to separate the quarterbacks, with the usual suspects (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers) listed. Of note for Texans fans was the inclusion of Indianapolis Colts signal caller Andrew Luck in tier one. Sando's remarks on Luck are below.
"Luck doesn't have the track record of the other Tier 1 QBs, and there was a clear gap in the voting between him and the top four. But people in the league love him almost unconditionally, and 14 of the 26 voters insisted upon putting him in the top tier (each of the top four received 25 of 26 Tier 1 votes)."
Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was recently named the team's starter by head coach Bill O'Brien, fell into tier four, ranking 30th overall (out of 32). Fitzpatrick was lauded for his mobility and his solid QBR (quarterback rating) from last season.
"Fitzpatrick ranked a respectable 16th in Total QBR last season (55.4). That was better than the figures for Roethlisberger (54.3) or Stafford (52.5), but the reviews from evaluators were almost universally negative -- overly so, in my opinion."
Fitzpatrick ranked ahead of fellow AFC South quarterback Jake Locker and New York Jets presumed starter Geno Smith. Also of note is former Texan Matt Schaub, now with the Oakland Raiders, checked in at number 25.
While the rankings are far from conclusive, it gives you a decent idea as to how Fitzpatrick's talent in perceived in NFL circles. However, as mentioned in his write-up, Sando feels evaluators were overly harsh on the Harvard alum, commenting that despite the perceived gap in his talent and higher tiers, his production (QBR) was consistent with several players ranked ahead of him.
What do you think? Where would you rank Fitzpatrick among the league's QBs? Share your thoughts in the comments below.