Ranking NFL Quarterback (Trent Dilfer-written article)

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 6 years ago '05        #1
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dahabi 90 heat pts90
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Ranking NFL Quarterback (Trent Dilfer-written article)
 

 
ESPN.com: NFL Playoffs 2011

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Ranking the NFL quarterbacks
By Trent Dilfer
ESPN Insider

The public should now agree on this much: Tom Brady and Eli Manning are both elite QBs.
The No. 1 thing I learned during 14 years in the NFL is that while there's a great difference between perception and reality, perception drives reality. It's true. Owners, general managers and even scouts aren't immune to building a profile of a player that's at least partly driven by perception; and they make decisions in part based on those perceptions. Perception becomes belief. It's not laziness, or really wrong, just a part of the culture of football. Perception is created through a combination of things -- the inherent small sample sizes of football, the emotion of the game, the size of the event and also the moment. How you perform on one big stage can stick with you forever, even in the evaluations of people who should know better. (Imagine the league perception of Joe Flacco today if Lee Evans holds on to that ball. How much more "clutch" is he? How much better of a leader? All for the same read, the same accurate pass.)

Now think of the week Eli Manning faces. This is a week that, based on the way perception drives the league, could determine whether he's a Hall of Fame-level player. And this is a player who will almost surely finish his career with 50,000-plus yards and well over 300 touchdown passes. But a second Super Bowl ring -- this time driven by the storyline that Manning led this charge, perhaps more than he did in 2007 -- will secure a Canton bust.

If Manning wins this week, I see him as climbing onto the mantle of the other great quarterbacks in this league. And it won't be because of something he said on "The Michael Kay Show", and how we need to see him through the debate of "elite" or not. It'll be because he's both improved as a player, and will have totally shifted the perception of where he stands in the game. He'll be there with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and even his big brother. And he'll have more rings than three of those guys.

Make no mistake about it: Manning is playing for almost instant "Hall of Famer" recognition this week. It's simply how the sport works.

Parameters: When I was asked to break down the top 40 quarterbacks in the NFL, I studied a lot of different factors. I used the tape, for starters, and the backroom words from evaluators and other QBs, the guys seeing it up close. I looked at the numbers, like QBR and passer rating, and win totals. I considered trajectory, and which way the play is trending. But I also took into account perception, because it absolutely plays a role in the way a player is valued around the league, and that matters. Labels stick.

You are also welcome to read into the order in which guys are placed within each section -- that's not declarative, but it's not an accident.

Hall of Fame Level

This category is reserved for guys who are considered the current Mount Rushmore among NFL quarterbacks -- they have legacies secured through things already accomplished. The numbers, status among peers, Super Bowl rings and franchise-leader status are all there. Plus, you'll see in each case, losing is a rarity even in a league built for parity. Trajectory is not an issue.

Peyton Manning (Colts): May not be back in 2012, but his legacy is entirely secure. From pure performance -- i.e., discounting number of Super Bowls discussion -- may be considered the best QB of his generation by his peers across the league.

Tom Brady (Patriots): New weapons have staved off decline questions, and a fourth Super Bowl win would put him in the best-ever discussion if he's not already there. Brilliant player.

Aaron Rodgers (Packers): Currently the most complete player in the NFL. Capable of becoming one of the handful of all-time greats.

Drew Brees (Saints): Record numbers, a ring and an impeccable reputation across the league as a leader. Quietly on pace for 60,000-plus yards.

Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers): This might turn heads, but Big Ben has reached this level. Two Super Bowls, an 80-33 regular-season record, and now putting up big numbers, too. And he's still on the right end of 30.



The Eli Zone

Eli Manning (Giants): Gets his own category because a second Super Bowl would really shift league perception. Minus that, he's probably more set in the next category.



A Ring Away

This category reflects quarterbacks who have the shown the ability play at an elite level or are winning at an elite level and need a Super Bowl win to validate the perception of them. They don't have job-security questions and have proven vital within their offenses. Most display a solid career trajectory and have proven themselves as winners, if not title winners.

Philip Rivers (Chargers): Struggled behind a bad O-line in 2011, but there's nothing he can't do as a passer. With four straight 4,000-yard seasons and respect around the league, he just needs to get to that next level as a winner.


Tony Romo (Cowboys): Wildly underrated, mostly based on overblown "clutch" questions, Romo just finished a season with 31 TD passes against 10 INTs. He was behind only Rodgers, Brees and Brady from a statistical standpoint, while playing dinged up. Want to know where Romo stands, just ask fellow quarterbacks.

Matt Ryan (Falcons): Faces trajectory questions after another bad playoff performance, but very highly regarded among evaluators. I don't put a ton of stock in "QB wins" but Ryan has a 43-19 record as a starter and is only 26. He adapted quickly to the NFL, now must take the next step.

Joe Flacco (Ravens): Enigmatic, but quietly pretty good, too, and with elite arm strength. I put Flacco here because I think his trajectory could continue to get better with more help, and also a different offensive philosophy. He played well enough to get his team to the Super Bowl this year.

Matthew Stafford (Lions): He won't be 24 until next week, but Stafford showed off just how wildly talented he is this season. He just had the best age-23 season since Dan Marino, and now is showing he can lead a winner. Only this low because putting it together for two straight seasons (including health) matters. He's got a Hall of Fame trajectory if he can stay healthy.

Jay Cutler (Bears): Rose in my perception this year from lower group based on how he carried the Bears' offense. Like Stafford, an extremely talented player who I think still has tremendous upside if the Bears get him some help. I don't think there's any reason at this point to say Cutler isn't capable of leading a Super Bowl team. Improved trajectory.

Matt Schaub (Texans): It's not unfair to say that the Texans would be a good bet to reach the Super Bowl had Schaub been healthy. He has limitations, but might be the best deep passer in the game. Good trajectory.



Mostly Good

This is the group currently hurt by the fact that 2010-2020 will almost surely give us the best quarterbacking the game has ever seen in terms of depth across the league. For instance, I went to a Pro Bowl in 1997. That year, Alex Smith very well may have been the fifth-best QB in the league. But the standards have gotten higher, the players better. This group has guys who have elite ability, but aren't quite there yet based on age, health or recent issues.

Cam Newton (Panthers): He has the talent and trajectory of a Hall of Fame player. Amazing arm talent, size, speed and an advanced ability to learn and make adjustments. It's just a matter of how he adjusts as the league adjusts to him.

Michael Vick (Eagles): It feels wrong to have Vick here, because the guy is an MVP-caliber player, but he's down a little right now as we wonder if he can stay healthy. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if he was dominant in 2012.

Andy Dalton (Bengals): Much more than a scrappy gamer, Dalton was ahead of all rookies entering the league when it came to reading the game, and his physical skills aren't far behind. He could become a star, and his supporting cast will only improve.

Josh Freeman (Bucs): At the outset of 2011, I said he had a higher ceiling than any QB in the league under 27. Perhaps Newton and Stafford have surpassed him, but he is still extremely talented with exceptional physical traits and ability. I expect him to become elite.

Carson Palmer (Raiders): He takes heat, but this is a guy other quarterbacks consider the definition of what you want in quarterback in terms of physical ability and even in the way he sees the game. The perception tops the recent performance. He struggled in coming back late in 2011 but should be better in 2012.

Matt Hasselbeck (Titans): Proved that, when healthy, he can still lead a winning NFL team. That's the league perception of him and I think it's fair.

Alex Smith (49ers): I may be more bullish than some, but I see development here. If he can become more aggressive while still limiting mistakes, San Fran can win. Gets points for an improved trajectory.



Could Go Either Way

This is a group of quarterbacks who have shown talent and even results, but are facing major questions regarding the future trajectory of their careers. Most have pretty decent job security, but each is in a situation now in which his league perception is filled with questions. There is also a wonder in each case whether the environment is the best one to succeed in.


Mark Sanchez (Jets): Still has a high ceiling in my opinion because of the way he's carried himself and won some huge games, but if the Jets want a ground-and-pound scheme under Tony Sparano, will we ever see if Sanchez develops into an upper-tier passer? Hard to say.

Sam Bradford (Rams): Lacks surrounding talent and now about to team with his third offensive coordinator in his first three years, a "plan" that didn't do much for Alex Smith in the same division. Bradford has elite arm talent and smarts, but 2012 is a big year for him, and he's in a division that is becoming pretty tough for passers.

Kevin Kolb (Cardinals): League perception says there's a lot of talent, as did Arizona's commitment. But we really don't know anything yet.

Matt Cassel (Chiefs): A really good quarterback in both 2008 and 2010, but obviously faces big questions regarding his trajectory.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bills): Can be very good, and very accurate, but will turn 30 in 2012 and still faces big questions about decision-making. Plus, this is an organization that desperately needs a winning season.

Kyle Orton (Chiefs): There's no question Orton can spin it, but he really needs the right environment, and we don't know where that is.

Matt Moore (Dolphins): Moore was quietly pretty effective in 2011, to the extent that the Dolphins could at least think twice if they feel the price of an acquisition (Matt Flynn?) is too high. Not a high-ceiling guy, but maybe a late bloomer.



Short Leash

Guys who may begin 2012 as starters, but have no guarantee to last without improved performance.

Tim Tebow (Broncos): A nice storyline, but was frankly pretty bad as a passer in terms of accuracy. He has to show significant development, hopefully starting with some mechanics issues. No doubt he'll be working hard.

Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars): He needs more weapons around him, but looked overmatched as a rookie. Might have been a mistake to start him.

Colt McCoy (Browns): You get the sense the Browns could have another quarterback in mind (Robert Griffin III?) even as McCoy currently sits at No. 1 on the depth chart. I believe in McCoy, but not sure he has a great chance to succeed there.

Christian Ponder (Vikings): He will be the Week 1 starter, but will need to show he's on an upward trajectory for 2012.

Rex Grossman (Redskins): May be relegated to a future as a backup.

Tarvaris Jackson (Seahawks): The Seahawks might believe in his future, but league perception is that they could probably do better. He has to show more, because the Seahawks aren't devoid of weapons.

Curtis Painter (Colts): Almost certainly a backup to enter 2012.

John Beck (Redskins): See: Grossman, Rex.



Intriguing Wild Cards

Guys who don't have the reps, but could have high ceilings as starters.

Matt Flynn (Packers): After Andrew Luck and Griffin III are gone, the bidding war could be for Flynn's services. He'll be 27 by Week 1, but has been very good in the brief playing time he's had. Guess here is he begins 2012 as a starter.

Jake Locker (Titans): Great skill set, but accuracy questions remain. Can he beat out Hasselbeck if the Titans feel they can be a playoff team?

T.J. Yates (Texans): Got great experience, and is now clearly a prospect in terms of league perception.

John Skelton (Cardinals): He had his own Tebow stretch, going 5-2 as a starter, minus any of the publicity. Probably still on the backup path in terms of trajectory, but answered some questions about whether he belongs.

Brian Hoyer (Patriots): A guy I've liked since he went undrafted in 2009. Has the upside to start, but with only 43 career passes while serving the ultimate apprenticeship. Could get a shot in 2012 if a team offers him enough, given he's a restricted free agent.


Last edited by dahabi; 01-31-2012 at 06:25 PM..

102 comments for "Ranking NFL Quarterback (Trent Dilfer-written article)"

 6 years ago '07        #2
Pistol Peter 33 heat pts33
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dilfer huh
 01-31-2012, 06:07 PM         #3
Ca$h Out 
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It's not bad though...

list seems about right.
 6 years ago '10        #4
#JewLife 111 heat pts111
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2 Points doesn't belong in the "a ring away" category ... More of a "mostly good"
 6 years ago '09        #5
BrooklynStiles 82 heat pts82
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dumbass doesn't know what true talent is...
 6 years ago '05        #6
dahabi 90 heat pts90 OP
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didnt have the character length to highlight the rest of the names in orange...fu*k it
 01-31-2012, 06:33 PM         #7
Flacco Da Gawd 
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this n*gga just learn the word "trajectory"?
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 6 years ago '11        #8
DRAGONFLY JONES 131 heat pts131
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 MY_name said:
this n*gga just learn the word "trajectory"?
im sitting here like why the fu*k he keep sayin"trajectory"
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 6 years ago '11        #9
wjcorner 3 heat pts
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 Thee Yung Star said:
2 Points doesn't belong in the "a ring away" category ... More of a "mostly good"
thanks for letting me know to dismiss any football rhetoric you drop

Anyways, cool list, pretty much how I see it...although I think staff needs his own zone also
 6 years ago '05        #10
dahabi 90 heat pts90 OP
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 wjcorner said:
thanks for letting me know to dismiss any football rhetoric you drop

Anyways, cool list, pretty much how I see it...although I think staff needs his own zone also
i agree. he does not belong in the same category as a qb like flacco. also, call me a homer but vick and freeman do not belong in the same category either...come on now
 01-31-2012, 07:44 PM         #11
Flacco Da Gawd 
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 dahabi said:
i agree. he does not belong in the same category as a qb like flacco. also, call me a homer but vick and freeman do not belong in the same category either...come on now
Flacco > Ryan > Vick > Freeman
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 6 years ago '11        #12
wjcorner 3 heat pts
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 MY_name said:
Flacco > Ryan > Vick > Freeman
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 6 years ago '07        #13
Pistol Peter 33 heat pts33
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notice all the black qb's are in one section
 6 years ago '05        #14
Stupendamatic 117 heat pts117
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Elisha the God on his own level
 02-01-2012, 12:45 AM         #15
Cheeze 
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 Pistol Peter said:
notice all the black qb's are in one section
you're right.

Freeman should be put in the "Could Go Either Way" category after last season.....
 6 years ago '07        #16
Ham Rove 3511 heat pts3511
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surprised he didn't sh*t on Jay. And I actually agree with him.

Phil Emery better not fu*k us.
 6 years ago '09        #17
jerryballa 
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expected the list to be much worse
 02-01-2012, 02:13 AM         #18
KingoBling 
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only one i really disagree with is t-jack. homie throws a real nice ball, but he needs some recivers to help him out.

and this coming from someone who thinks dilfer is a contendr for biggest douche in the universe
 6 years ago '10        #19
kingjab7542 22 heat pts22
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 MY_name said:
Flacco > Ryan > Vick > Freeman
Lurker gave props
 
 6 years ago '05        #20
Bea5T 137 heat pts137
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 WalterWhite said:
Dilfer wouldn't know talent if it smacked him in the face.
and you do?

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