Ranking 32 NFL QBs by tier

Flacco came in just ahead of Matthew Stafford, thanks to a couple of Tier 1 votes from evaluators honoring the dominant form Flacco showed during the Ravens' Super Bowl run.

"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.

One defensive coordinator said he thought Flacco played with a grittiness that was appealing. Another saw shortcomings from a football standpoint. "He has a big arm, but he misses so many plays because he doesn't read defenses well," this second defensive coordinator said. "On film, you see guys open, but he doesn't throw it to the right guy."

13. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (2.38 average rating)

There's a feeling among evaluators that Stafford, more than any other QB outside the top five, has the talent to ascend into the first tier. He is arguably the most intriguing starter in the league.

"I've watched Stafford a lot and some of the decision-making is questionable," a defensive coordinator said. "[But] as a talent, I would have drafted the kid No. 1 when he was coming out of Georgia."

A head coach said it's critical for Stafford to work on his mechanics the way Brady and Peyton Manning have done over the years.

14. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (2.50 average rating)

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."

15. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (2.56 average rating)

Foles just made the bottom of the second tier, even though three evaluators put him in the fourth tier, including one GM who called him "a four who played like a two" last season.

Another GM boldly placed Foles in the first tier based on what he saw last season. He kept Foles there upon additional reflection, but his was an outlying view.

Most wanted to see more. We've seen Matt Cassel and other QBs flash for a season or two before fading away. Still, the evaluators most familiar with Foles liked his future. When asked about the Cassel comparison, they thought Foles had a much better arm. But others wondered if part of one season wasn't enough to go on. "Foles could be like a Kerry Collins or Jake Delhomme, a three who plays like a two or four," one evaluator said.

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