Ranking 32 NFL QBs by tier

Not many people seemed to notice. Twenty-three of 26 voters placed Palmer in the third or fourth tier. The eight players who gave Griffin a 4.1 grade on average combined to rate Palmer at 3.1, something I found interesting and somewhat surprising. "I really like Palmer," a veteran safety said. "He is a tough guy. I respect his game and his work ethic. I like the way he plays."

T-21. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (3.12 average rating)

Just about everyone placed Bradford in the third tier, almost as a hedge. They thought he had the talent to be a solid two, if only he could stay on the field.

The harshest criticism painted Bradford as a player who struggles at handling pressure and throwing accurately on his second or third reads. "There are some guys like Cam Newton where you go, 'Oh boy,'" a defensive coordinator said. "You would never say that going against Bradford. We were just like, 'OK, let's go play football.'"

One of the head coaches thought Bradford had gotten a bad rap. "I don't think offensively they have done a very good job with him," this coach said. "Talentwise, I think Bradford has it all, but I'd have to say he is a three. He can stay in the pocket, he can make all the throws, he can check things."

23. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (3.32 average rating)

A pro personnel director put Tannehill in the second tier, but a defensive coordinator whose team faced the Dolphins was not convinced.

Either way, Tannehill needs better blocking. "To me, he is a manager of the game, a guy where if everything is right, he is OK," the defensive coordinator said. "We didn't fear him. I don't think he has the strongest arm, the best release. When you ask me about guys, I think about how I have to game plan against them. Am I afraid of them?"

One pro personnel evaluator placed Tannehill in the second tier, predicting good things for the third-year pro behind an upgraded line and within an uptempo offense.

24. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3.52 average rating)

Teams will be watching to see how McCown's 2013 season in Marc Trestman's system translates to Tampa Bay. Some see a 34-year-old QB with no résumé before last season, when McCown arguably provided an upgrade from Cutler with 13 touchdown passes and one interception.

"We got ready for him last year and boy, did he have a good season," a defensive coordinator said. "I would have to put him in the three group because you have to factor age in there and it might have just been that perfect storm, but he played well last year. It could have been the system. Maybe it was right with the reads and what they did. Good for him."

A head coach called McCown "a four who played like a three" or better at times last season.

Tier 4 (8)

Jump to:  Tier 1 |  Tier 2 |  Tier 3

25. Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders (3.58 average rating)

Questions persist about whether Schaub can right his career after a brutal 2013 season. He is seen as a system QB. Ten of the voters put him in the third tier, but 15 had him lower than that.

"That will be interesting confidencewise coming off last year," a defensive coordinator said. "He is accurate, but I put him in that three category because the passes were underneath, boot type and then, here and there, they took shots."

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