For another year, ESPN polled 50 different NFL insiders (Insider required) and asked them to place all NFL QBs into one of five “tiers.”
Here are the definitions of the tiers:
Tier 1: Can carry his team each week. Team wins because of him.
Tier 2: Can carry team sometimes but not as consistently.
Tier 3: Legit starter but needs heavy run game/defense to win.
Tier 4: Might not want this guy starting all 16 games.
Tier 5: Do not think this guy should be starting.
Last year, Brees was the 5th QB ranked, and the second QB in the second tier. This year, Brees has found his way back to Tier 1 status.
"Look at third down," a secondary coach who placed Brees in the top tier said. "New Orleans has been No. 1 or close to it every year, and that is when you have to throw people open, tight windows, defense coming to get you."
"The guy is dominant," an offensive coordinator said. "He is a 1. He can throw to win. If they had any defense for the last five years, we wouldn't even be questioning his '1-ness.' He'd have won another Super Bowl."
For those keeping score, of the four QBs ranked ahead of Brees last year, three remain with Brees bumping up one spot after Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers fell all the way from 4th to 12th. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger are all still ahead of Brees 1-3 respectively. In Tier 1, only one QB remains, another NFC South gunslinger, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons. The remaining NFC South QB, Jameis Winston of Tampa Bay, comes all the way down at 18th, in Tier 3.
Also of note, Colin Kaepernick, the free agent QB who is still stealing headlines, comes in above the projected starting QB for 8 different teams. And he’s still a free agent... But that’s a story for another time.