Mase's Quarterback Tiers

 

TIER 1: ELITE

  • Tom Brady
  • Drew Brees
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Russell Wilson

Mase's notes: With the first four names in this category, you can start carving their busts for Canton. Wilson now has to carry the Seahawks in a way he hasn't before, but his consistent success despite Seattle's chronic offensive-line issues -- six seasons in which his lowest season-long passer rating is 92.6 -- places him here. Being elite is no guarantee of team success; Brees and Roethlisberger have each endured seasons of .500 or worse in the last few years, so Wilson won't drop from the elite class if the Seahawks struggle to reach break-even this year unless his individual form sees an unexpected decline.

TIER 2: CAN CLEARLY WIN A TITLE

  • SUB-GROUP A: PROVEN SUCCESS
    • Philip Rivers
    • Matt Ryan
    • Cam Newton
    • Carson Wentz
  • SUB-GROUP B: NUMBERS AND/OR TOOLS, BUT NOT BIG PLAYOFF SUCCESS
    • Kirk Cousins
    • Alex Smith
    • Matthew Stafford
  • SUB-GROUP I: HAS IT ALL, BUT INJURY CONCERN
    • Andrew Luck

Mase's notes: Although Wentz was not the quarterback during the Eagles' postseason run, his MVP-caliber work as the season-long quarterback of record puts him here. Another MVP-level season would move him up to Tier 1. Ryan and Newton would move up to Tier 1 by returning to their 2016 and 2015 levels, respectively, and taking their teams on deep playoff runs. Rivers' potential ascension is tied entirely to team success at this point.

TIER 3: YOUNG AND ASCENDANT; QUESTIONS, BUT CLEAR STARTERS

  • SUB-GROUP A: HAVE TAKEN A TEAM TO SUCCESS
    • Blake Bortles
    • Derek Carr
    • Nick Foles
    • Jared Goff
    • Case Keenum
    • Marcus Mariota
    • Dak Prescott
  • SUB-GROUP B: NO TEAM SUCCESS
    • Jimmy Garoppolo
    • Ryan Tannehill
    • Mitchell Trubisky
    • Deshaun Watson
    • Jameis Winston
  • SUB-GROUP I: LONG-TERM INJURY CONCERN
    • Teddy Bridgewater

Mase's notes: Tier 3 is the most fascinating group in the league, as it offers the most potential mobility. All of these guys could move easily up to Tier 2 in the 2018 season -- whether it's 2A or 2B depends on what their team accomplishes.

Denver free-agent signee Case Keenum falls here because he has just one full, successful season as a starter who was in the top 10 of the league in most metrics. If Keenum sustains his Minnesota form with the Broncos, he puts himself into Tier 2 -- which is filled with quarterbacks around whom teams build their efforts. This is part of why he is going to be one of the most fascinating players to watch league-wide this season. Can he sustain his success?

TIER 4: SOLID, YOU CAN GET BY

  • SUB-GROUP A: PAST SUCCESS, BUT STATIC
    • Andy Dalton
    • Joe Flacco
    • Eli Manning
  • SUB-GROUP B: BRIDGE QB
    • Jay Cutler
    • Ryan Fitzpatrick
    • Brian Hoyer
    • Josh McCown
    • Tyrod Taylor
  • SUB-GROUP I: LONG-TERM INJURY CONCERN
    • Sam Bradford

Mase's notes: All of these passers would skip Tier 3 and go right to Tier 2 if they moved up. Hoyer, a backup with the Patriots, probably has more value to them than any other team, but his success under former Pats assistant Bill O'Brien (until the playoff meltdown in January 2016) gives New England reason to believe that if pressed into service, he can successfully guide the team for a significant chunk of the season. Hoyer probably has more value in New England than anywhere else.

TIER 5: WE'RE STILL LEARNING

  • C.J. Beathard
  • Jacoby Brissett
  • Paxton Lynch
  • Patrick Mahomes II
  • AJ McCarron
  • Nathan Peterman

Mase's notes: If this was a college-grading system, all of these quarterbacks would receive "I" for "incomplete." Because of youth and a relative lack of starts and/or opportunities, they can't fall into other categories right now. McCarron and Mahomes could easily hit Tier 3 by midseason or sooner. Brissett could, as well, if Luck's injury woes continue -- remember, Brissett was such a late arrival to the Colts and got forced into the lineup so fast that he was in a poor situation all year. (Compare that to Garoppolo in San Francisco, who was traded and then had multiple weeks to settle in and learn the playbook before he got pushed into action.)

TIER 6: BACKUPS

  • SUB-GROUP A: HAVE STARTED MULTIPLE GAMES, COULD SOMEDAY RETURN
    • Brett Hundley
    • Landry Jones
    • Cody Kessler
    • DeShone Kizer
    • Brock Osweiler
    • Bryce Petty
    • Tom Savage
    • Trevor Siemian
  • SUB-GROUP B: YOUNG AND DEVELOPING, COULD BECOME LONG-TERM BACKUPS WITH AN OUTSIDE CHANCE TO SOMEDAY START IF THINGS BREAK RIGHT (A.K.A. THE KIND OF QB THAT USED TO COME OF AGE IN NFL EUROPE)
    • Brandon Allen
    • Connor Cook
    • Jeff Driskel
    • David Fales
    • Garret Gilbert
    • Christian Hackenberg
    • Taylor Heinicke
    • Taysom Hill
    • Chad Kelly
    • Sean Mannion
    • Jake Rudock
    • Cooper Rush
    • Kyle Sloter
    • Nate Sudfeld
    • Davis Webb
  • SUB-GROUP C: TRUSTWORTHY BACKUPS
    • Derek Anderson
    • Matt Cassel
    • Kellen Clemens
    • Chase Daniel
    • Blaine Gabbert
    • Mike Glennon
    • Chad Henne
    • E.J. Manuel
    • Colt McCoy
    • Matt Moore
    • Matt Schaub
    • Drew Stanton
    • T.J. Yates
  • SUB-GROUP D: ON THE FRINGE
    • Tyler Bray
    • Joe Callahan
    • Austin Davis
    • Ryan Griffin
    • Kevin Hogan
    • Josh Johnson
    • Cardale Jones
    • Ryan Mallett
    • Mark Sanchez
    • Alex Tanney
    • Scott Tolzien
    • Joe Webb
    • Brandon Weeden
    • Josh Woodrum

Mase's notes: It was important to break this group into four sub-groups, as the quarterbacks in Tier 6A are capable of having career trajectories like Fitzpatrick and McCown if circumstances break right for them. Siemian is the perfect example of this, and it would not be a surprise if his chance to hit the reset button pays off handsomely.

TIER 7: QUESTIONING BASIC SCIENCE

  • Geno Smith

Mase's notes: The moment you start treating flat-earth junk-science nonsense as a concept worthy of legitimate questioning and discussion at the intellectual table of ideas, you find yourself here.

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