ESPN has conducted a survey of NFL coaches, general managers, and other scouts for three years in a row with the goal of ranking quarterbacks against their peers.
Quarterbacks are placed into five tiers. Tier one quarterbacks “can carry his team each week”, tier two quarterbacks “can carry team sometimes but not as consistently”, and tier three quarterbacks are considered “legit starters, but needs heavy run game/defense to win.”
The last two tiers are less positive as the evaluators consider the quarterbacks in tier four are merely temporary starters, and tier five quarterbacks “should not be starting.”
The survey reaches out to “42 league insiders -- 10 general managers, five head coaches, seven offensive coordinators, five defensive coordinators, eight personnel evaluators and seven other position coaches/executives.”
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is tied as the highest ranking quarterback with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the second straight season. Every single evaluator placed these quarterbacks in the top tier. The only only quarterback to be considered tier one was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who received 33 of a possible 42 tier one votes.
"Yeah, he is pretty old, but does he look old to you when he plays?" one GM asked. "He is in complete and utter control of everything, and that is a 1 to me. And he can still throw the hell out of the ball. When he starts throwing like Peyton Manning threw last season, then I'll say, 'Well, he should be lower.'"
"Any defensive coordinator who says they want to see Brady, they're lying," a defensive coordinator said. "He is just as good as he has always been, in my opinion."
Of course, there are some people that are predicting a slight decline in the near future, even if they don’t think it will be immediate.
"He is going to be a 2 probably this year, but I'd say right now he is a 1," an offensive coordinator said. "I see him starting to slide a little bit physically. The thing that stands out to me is, the accuracy of his throws has really decreased. [Rob] Gronkowski and his receivers are making these unbelievable catches, ones that are low, that are outside, to make these plays."
But until Brady fully deteriorates, he will be regarded as the top quarterback in the league. May that happen later, rather than sooner.