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2020 QB Tiers

Mollywhopper

Facilitator
Staff member
2020 Quarterback Tiers: 50 coaches and evaluators rank the NFL starters

Fifty NFL coaches and evaluators rated 35 veteran quarterbacks this year while providing candid evaluations that appear in the analysis below. The process was simple. Coaches and evaluators placed each quarterback in one of five tiers, from best (Tier 1) to worst (Tier 5). Once ballots were collected, results were averaged to create a ranking. Our unanimous Tier 1 choices averaged 1.00, while the lowest-rated player averaged 4.30. Quarterbacks fell into the tiers in which they received the most votes.

TIER 1

A Tier 1 quarterback can carry his team each week. The team wins because of him. He expertly handles pure passing situations. He has no real holes in his game.

1. Patrick Mahomes
2. Russell Wilson
3. Aaron Rodgers
4. Drew Brees
5. Deshaun Watson

Tier 1 votes: 28 | Tier 2 votes: 22 | 2019 Tier: 2


The average tier vote for Watson improved from 2.27 last year to 1.44 this year, the second-largest improvement in the survey. Only the Ravens’ Jackson made a larger jump. Voters thought Watson lagged behind the other Tier 1 quarterbacks in the finer points of the dropback passing game, but their respect for his ability to drive success with relatively little perceived support proved compelling, amid fears Watson could suffer from DeAndre Hopkins’ departure.

"The Buffalo game won me over,” an exec said of the Texans’ comeback from a 16-0 deficit to beat the Bills in the playoffs. “Watson gets everyone to believe in the face of certain peril. He makes the plays he needs to. This year will be a good test for him with a new cast.”

Led by Watson, the 2019 Texans were the only team to finish .500 or better while ranking 20th or lower in defensive EPA. Houston was 10-6.

“I look at the way the team wins,” a personnel director said. “Is it true complementary ball? Is it heavy run game? Does the quarterback rely on play-action? Is it stingy defense that allows them to have additional possessions? And then look at their supporting cast. When I think of the ones, I can put you into any roster and I know you are going to have a high level of success. I think with Deshaun Watson, there is a lot of, he wins in spite of his cast.”

A defensive coach who had questions about Watson came away impressed after watching hundreds of Houston plays on video this offseason. This coach cited a Tier 1 decision against Baltimore where Watson recognized the coverage, dropped down and threw under an oncoming rusher instead of throwing over the top, which would have risked a pick-six interception. The throw from Watson missed its target, but Watson knew exactly what to do.

“Smart by Watson because he knows it’s zone coverage,” the coach said. “The Tier 1 guy does the same thing but drops down and throws it accurately under the defender’s arm, all wrist.”

Multiple coaches wanted to see Houston add more wrinkles to its offense as Watson develops.

“Playing him, you fear him running, but you don’t fear him as a passer, and his running was not like Lamar Jackson,” a defensive coordinator said. “It was drop back, not there, take off and run. We never thought he was going to dice us up for 300 yards. I look at ones as guys that you feel like, ‘We better have some **** for this guy, we’d better manipulate our coverages, we’d better do this, we’d better do that.”

Other voters overruled these objections.

"He shredded New England on that Sunday night game,” a GM said. “In the playoffs, Buffalo’s defense was playing lights out with a great game plan, but really talented players at some point figure some things out along the way, and Watson started finding some things. I don’t think there are a lot of other quarterbacks down 16-0 the way Buffalo’s defense was playing that would have brought that team back.”

TIER 2

A Tier 2 quarterback can carry his team sometimes but not as consistently. He can handle pure passing situations in doses and/or possesses other dimensions that are special enough to elevate him above Tier 3. He has a hole or two in his game.

6. Tom Brady
7. Lamar Jackson
8. Ben Roethlisberger
9. Matt Stafford
10. Matt Ryan
11. Carson Wentz
12. Dak Prescott
13. Philip Rivers

TIER 3

A Tier 3 quarterback is a legitimate starter but needs a heavier running game and/or defensive component to win. A lower-volume dropback passing offense suits him best.

14. Kyler Murray
15. Kirk Cousins
16. Jared Goff
17. Jimmy Garoppolo
18. Ryan Tannehill
19. Cam Newton
20. Derek Carr
21. Baker Mayfield
22. Josh Allen
23. Teddy Bridgewater
24. Sam Darnold
25. Daniel Jones
26. Nick Foles

TIER 4

A Tier 4 quarterback could be an unproven player with some upside or a veteran who is ultimately best suited as a backup.

27. Marcus Mariota
28. Ryan Fitzpatrick
29. Tyrod Taylor
30. Drew Lock
31. Gardner Minshew
32. Mitch Trubisky
33. Dwayne Haskins
34. Jarrett Stidham
35. Kyle Allen
Pretty fun annual exercise.

I'm inclined, based on the tier definitions, to rank Deshaun, at the moment, at the highest end of tier 2. It fits him almost too a T in my opinion. Hope he can really solidify himself as a lock solid tier 1 this season.
 

Corrosion

Idealist
Staff member
2020 Quarterback Tiers: 50 coaches and evaluators rank the NFL starters



Pretty fun annual exercise.

I'm inclined, based on the tier definitions, to rank Deshaun, at the moment, at the highest end of tier 2. It fits him almost too a T in my opinion. Hope he can really solidify himself as a lock solid tier 1 this season.

Missed this post first time thru the thread .... I'm in agreement with that assessment.

He's got work to do to be put in that #1 tier.

He's yet to lead a top 10 offense.

The offense is boom or bust , sustained drives are few and far between , like it or not he's the trigger man.

Playoffs ? Anemic 21-7 loss at home to the Colts and the shellacking the Chiefs put on them where the offense accounted for 14 points. When the lights are bright , he's got to come up big. More Buffalo and less of the above.

Not in my top 5 for one game or one season.

Patrick Mahomes
Russell Wilson
Aaron Rodgers
Tom Brady
Drew Brees
Matt Ryan

But definitely in my top 5 for the long haul , top 3 in that list.

Mahomes
Watson
Jackson

Ugh the three best young QB's all in the AFC. Odds are you face at least one of them and maybe two in the coming years ...

This team has worse problems than its QB .... but he does have to step it up to move into that first tier.
 

OptimisticTexan

Hall of Fame
Corrosion:
The offense is boom or bust , sustained drives are few and far between , like it or not he's the trigger man.


I liked you post but had issue as to where the desired blame was to be placed. Watson may be the trigger man but this is OB's offense and as the OC he was the one calling the plays. Sustained drives for the most part had to do with the predictable play calling and the holes the offense dug for themselves with ill-timed penalties.

In all honesty, I hope it goes in a different direction but I think Kelly will be nothing more than OB's parrot. If Kelly deviates from OB's set plan.....OB will replace him with himself. I just don't think OB had any idea as to how bad his play calling strategy is until he allowed himself to stand and let another OC run the show.....he hated the results and quickly re-instated himself as the OC....and essentially ran the same thing.

What is OB's fear in hiring a highly qualified OC? It's his fear that there could be another coach on the staff that could replace him or make him expendable.
 

Corrosion

Idealist
Staff member
Corrosion:
The offense is boom or bust , sustained drives are few and far between , like it or not he's the trigger man.


I liked you post but had issue as to where the desired blame was to be placed.
It's only natural that the trigger man shoulders at least some of the blame which is why I qualified that part .... Yes , OB has to take some of that blame , whoever the OC gets some of that blame and the OL also gets its share , the route runners as well ..... but ultimately , the QB is the guy making the decisions between the lines .... "like it or not".

I think everyone here knows what I think of OB (He sucks) and that I'd like to see Watson with another HC / OC combo in a different system that took advantage of his strengths.
 

Lucky

Moderator
Staff member
He's yet to lead a top 10 offense.
After the initial 7 games of the 2017 season, the Texans were averaging 367 yards per game. Watson missed the remainder of the season. Had the Texans continued to average 367 yards per game on offense, they would have finished the season 6th in the league.

The Texans averaged 283 yards per game in the 9 games without Watson. That was less than the 0-16 Browns averaged over the course of the season.
 
OB may call plays (if you recall last year Watson was changing plays) and some are not always great. However, it's still Watson if it is a pass or him running that make the ship sail. Watson is not a captain of said ship just yet, he is a step below...as the article states teir 2. And has a fair amount to do to make it to teir 1.
 

Double Barrel

Moderator / Admin
Staff member
Contributor's Club
2020 Quarterback Tiers: 50 coaches and evaluators rank the NFL starters

Pretty fun annual exercise.

I'm inclined, based on the tier definitions, to rank Deshaun, at the moment, at the highest end of tier 2. It fits him almost too a T in my opinion. Hope he can really solidify himself as a lock solid tier 1 this season.
This is a very interesting exercise. Like you, as much as I like Watson, I'd probably put him on the cusp of tier 2, almost ready for tier 1, based on the provided criteria. The last line - "He has no real holes in his game" - makes me just pause because I think he's got unbelievable potential that he has yet to truly fulfill.

The inherent difficulty in analyzing him (for me) is that it's tough to separate a single player from the team and coaching around him. The other QBs in tier 1 either have a body of work to see a bigger picture or it's Patrick Mahomes (who is clearly the best player in football right now, imo).

I'm kinda' surprised that Drew Brees is so high at this point in his career. Clearly a first ballot HoFer, but he had some trouble throwing deep last year, especially toward the end of the season, iirc.
 

Corrosion

Idealist
Staff member
This is a very interesting exercise. Like you, as much as I like Watson, I'd probably put him on the cusp of tier 2, almost ready for tier 1, based on the provided criteria. The last line - "He has no real holes in his game" - makes me just pause because I think he's got unbelievable potential that he has yet to truly fulfill.
The biggest hole in his game is in decision making. He will hold the ball , looking for a big play believing in his ability to escape rather than taking a gimmie.
It's great that he has that confidence but he has to dial that back some and take the easy yards - There's a time to take risks and there's a time to play it safe. Once he figures that out .... He'll move into tier one for me.

The inherent difficulty in analyzing him (for me) is that it's tough to separate a single player from the team and coaching around him. The other QBs in tier 1 either have a body of work to see a bigger picture or it's Patrick Mahomes (who is clearly the best player in football right now, imo).
Yeah .... Sure would like to see him in a QB friendly system instead of this clustercoitus.

A better Center and a quality RB would help too ... We're seeing the same thing at RB as we did at QB prior to Watson - retreads.

I'm kinda' surprised that Drew Brees is so high at this point in his career. Clearly a first ballot HoFer, but he had some trouble throwing deep last year, especially toward the end of the season, iirc.
What keeps Brees and Brady so high on that list is their decision making ... the same thing that keeps Watson out of that top tier puts them there. Neither are as physically gifted as any of the others in that tier and many below them .... but experience and good decisions separate them from everyone else.
 

Decim8

Noob
The biggest hole in his game is in decision making. He will hold the ball , looking for a big play believing in his ability to escape rather than taking a gimmie.
It's great that he has that confidence but he has to dial that back some and take the easy yards - There's a time to take risks and there's a time to play it safe. Once he figures that out .... He'll move into tier one for me.
Absolutely how I view watson. Like others I too have watson in the tier 2 list of Q.Bs, which is no knock on him, its just the others are a little if not more better imo
 

DocBar

Hall of Fame
Contributor's Club
The biggest hole in his game is in decision making. He will hold the ball , looking for a big play believing in his ability to escape rather than taking a gimmie.
It's great that he has that confidence but he has to dial that back some and take the easy yards - There's a time to take risks and there's a time to play it safe. Once he figures that out .... He'll move into tier one for me.



Yeah .... Sure would like to see him in a QB friendly system instead of this clustercoitus.

A better Center and a quality RB would help too ... We're seeing the same thing at RB as we did at QB prior to Watson - retreads.



What keeps Brees and Brady so high on that list is their decision making ... the same thing that keeps Watson out of that top tier puts them there. Neither are as physically gifted as any of the others in that tier and many below them .... but experience and good decisions separate them from everyone else.
I put the bolded on OB trying to make Watson a pocket passer. In his rookie (IE: record setting season) Watson still holding onto the ball too long, but he was making plays outside the pocket and they were explosive plays. OB has drilled the importance of staying between the tackles into Watson's head and we have all seen the regression since.
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
He’s a tweener between tier 1 and 2 for me and I have no problem with him where he is. That last line about having no holes in his game is sort of a misnomer for me b/c even the guys in tier 1 have holes in their games and at least 2 of the 4 above DW4 do the same things he does; it just comes down to how often they get away with it vs him...
 

Texansballer74

Hall of Fame
What is the difference between Watson holding onto the ball for 2.8 seconds to Mahomas holding it for the same amount of time?

To become a good pocket passer don’t these quarterbacks need pretty good protection? And should receivers be open as well as run the correct routes?
 

Corrosion

Idealist
Staff member
I put the bolded on OB trying to make Watson a pocket passer. In his rookie (IE: record setting season) Watson still holding onto the ball too long, but he was making plays outside the pocket and they were explosive plays. OB has drilled the importance of staying between the tackles into Watson's head and we have all seen the regression since.

If I were drawing up an offense for Watson , about half the passing plays would have him getting outside the pocket.
His ability to take off would put so much pressure on the defense that they'd have to change how they play him.
This stand in the pocket until fit hits the shan .... is stupid.
 

JB

Old Curmudgeon
Contributor's Club
If I were drawing up an offense for Watson , about half the passing plays would have him getting outside the pocket.
His ability to take off would put so much pressure on the defense that they'd have to change how they play him.
This stand in the pocket until fit hits the shan .... is stupid.
What makes it worse is that the OLmen have no clue in which direction he will try to escape... he runs into sacks where the OL is just getting in his way as well as the DL. Give things a set direction from the get go
 

Corrosion

Idealist
Staff member
What makes it worse is that the OLmen have no clue in which direction he will try to escape... he runs into sacks where the OL is just getting in his way as well as the DL. Give things a set direction from the get go

We saw how successful those types of plays were with a noodle armed statue of a QB running them .... Watson is more often than not the most gifted athlete on the field , just so much wasted potential in this "Scheme."
I can't count the times the play action faked out the camera man and everyone else in the building .... leading to #80 having no one within 10 yards of him when three dudes were responsible for him.

And to your comment - Yeah , it gives the OL a direction .... not just helter skelter run for your life.

Cal should make OB hire me to run the offense.
 

austins23

Hall of Fame
“I look at the way the team wins,” a personnel director said. “Is it true complementary ball? Is it heavy run game? Does the quarterback rely on play-action? Is it stingy defense that allows them to have additional possessions? And then look at their supporting cast. When I think of the ones, I can put you into any roster and I know you are going to have a high level of success. I think with Deshaun Watson, there is a lot of, he wins in spite of his cast.”

^^^THIS^^^
 

steelbtexan

King of the W. B. Club
Contributor's Club
“I look at the way the team wins,” a personnel director said. “Is it true complementary ball? Is it heavy run game? Does the quarterback rely on play-action? Is it stingy defense that allows them to have additional possessions? And then look at their supporting cast. When I think of the ones, I can put you into any roster and I know you are going to have a high level of success. I think with Deshaun Watson, there is a lot of, he wins in spite of his cast.”

^^^THIS^^^
The cast has been upgraded this season.

So there should be no more excuses.

DW4's as of right now a 2nd tier QB. This article is correct.

Everybody knows the rest of my thoughts on DW4.
 

dream_team

Hall of Fame
The cast has been upgraded this season.

So there should be no more excuses.

DW4's as of right now a 2nd tier QB. This article is correct.

Everybody knows the rest of my thoughts on DW4.
You keep saying this, but I don't quite understand it. Alot of people in here believe the offensive woes are due to BOB, not the lack of talent. BOB is still here, so the excuses will continue.
 

austins23

Hall of Fame
The cast has been upgraded this season.
I tend to agree with this in the sense that Watson will have more people to throw to. But, BUT OB needs to keep his hands out of the OC's cookie jar and let him do his thing. OB needs to concentrate on being a HC. Let's let Kelly be the OC and let the "upgraded" cast look upgraded.
 

Earl34

Veteran
You keep saying this, but I don't quite understand it. Alot of people in here believe the offensive woes are due to BOB, not the lack of talent. BOB is still here, so the excuses will continue.
I guess the upgraded cast means fewer A gap runs, more diverse offensive sets, more motion, more rollouts, play action, more combination routes, TEs will not be ignored for weeks at a time, and Martin will stop back pedaling into the passing lanes.
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
I liken how fans feel about BoB to how they felt about JVG for the rockets when he was here. Fans absolutely hated his defense 1st attitude & struggle offenses while he was here. They wanted to see more "modern" & "exciting" free flowing basketball where you score all kinds of points. Then they got it........................ and the defense fell off. & Now, after years with struggle defenses with McHale/Adelman & D'antoni, they're back to bitching about the inconsistent defense.

Fans say BoB's offense is outdated. complain about running it so much up the middle. Complain about him not being very "creative". They want to see it being aired out like KC and all other "modern" offenses. They want DW4 "turned loose". When BoB's fired and we get a coach in here whose all about that, watch folks start complaining about us not running it enough.

Just can't win with fans.
 


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