"People want to knock him," one GM responded, "but the guy has talent and is one of the top 10 starters in the league."
Romo is 34 years old and coming off back surgery, but he still could be in line for a "monster" season, one evaluator said. "But I absolutely believe they will not win big with him. As soon as he decides it's a clutch moment, his brain goes elsewhere. He loses focus and tries to create something."
Everyone likes Wilson. But not everyone loves him, especially when it comes to projecting how a 5-foot-10 QB would fare without a dominant defense and running game on his side. Still, Wilson came in ahead of Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, three other young, mobile QBs.
"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."
Evaluators across the board lauded Wilson for his decision-making, both with the football and in avoiding big hits when scrambling.
Still, some said they wanted to see more from Wilson in terms of decision-making and downfield accuracy from within the pocket. "He has a curl-flat wide open and cannot see it, so he spins out and rips it 40 yards downfield to make an amazing big play," one evaluator said.
A head coach said he'd rather have Sam Bradford than Wilson purely from a talent standpoint.
As noted previously, the numbers from Wilson and Kaepernick from within the pocket are solid, but that doesn't mean people in the league perceive them as effective pocket passers. One head coach said teams with good game plans have taken away escape routes and made Wilson struggle. Injuries at receiver and along the offensive line have not helped. "I want them to win games from the pocket at some point," one GM said of shorter QBs. "That is what will separate Russell Wilson -- besides a great 'D' -- from the Doug Fluties of the world. Eventually, you made them beat you from the pocket and they could not do it. Maybe he ascends to the bottom of that one tier, but I see him probably more top of the second."
Quite a few voters paused and feigned anguish when asked to make sense of Manning following a brutal 2013 season. Seventeen of them placed Manning in the second tier.
"He is really a two when you supply him with the right weapons," a head coach said. "He is a guy that has the ultimate trust in a big wide receiver."
Some thought Manning would benefit from a scheme change this offseason, but most of the voters placing him in the second tier sounded a little apprehensive. "I see Eli having a hard time generating things on his own," one GM said. "I don't see a great decision-maker. He has never struck me as a take-charge, carry-the-team type of guy." That GM put Manning in the third tier. Another drew comparisons between Manning and the Kurt Warner who became gun-shy at times later in his career.
"Eli can go from a championship quarterback to throwing five interceptions in one game," an offensive coordinator said.