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2015 ESPN QB Rankings: NFL Coaches, Execs Rank Nick Foles Above Sam Bradford

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ESPN's Mike Sando had 35 league insiders rank the QBs across the NFL for 2015.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, Mike Sando's poll of NFL insiders had us asking where Sam Bradford should land. Coming in at 21st wasn't as compelling as the idea that he was a third-tier QB. And bear in mind, that was after a 2014 half-season truncated by injury. A year later having re-injured the same ACL and being traded to Philadelphia, Bradford remains in the low 20s.

Whither new St. Louis Rams QB Nick Foles?

Sando has his 2015 results up (insider sub required because boo) from 35 NFL insiders (eight personnel directors, six GMs, four head coaches, five offensive coordinators, five defensive coordinators, three salary-cap managers, two ex-GMs, two ex-head coaches, and one offensive assistant coach), and Foles dropped from 15th in 2014 to 22nd this year...one spot ahead of Bradford.

The voting process has the insiders place each QB into a tier, and the cumulative tier ranking defines their overall ranking:

  • Tier 1 quarterbacks can carry their teams week after week and contend for championships without as much help.
  • Tier 2 QBs are less consistent and need more help, but good enough to figure prominently into a championship equation.
  • Tier 3 are quarterbacks who are good enough to start but need lots of support, making it tougher to contend at the highest level.
  • Tier 4 is typically reserved for unproven starters or those who might not be expected to last in the lineup all season. Voters used the fifth tier sparingly.

Here's what they had to say on Foles:

Voters gave Foles the benefit of the doubt heading into 2014, but not after a down season. His average ranking fell 25 percent from 2.56 to 3.2, the fourth-largest percentage dip among the 27 returning starters. Some evaluators are interested to see how he fares away from Chip Kelly's offense.

"Truthfully, I think Foles is a 4," a personnel director said. "I think in that Chip Kelly system, once he figured it out, he operated it and did a great job early on. But I do not think he is talented [enough] where he will be that way year in and year out, or week in and week out. He is a little stiff in the pocket. I don't think he has great arm strength. He has pretty good accuracy. I don't know that he sees everything."

One coach lauded Foles for his toughness, good passing ability and functional mobility, but when he studied Foles against Jacksonville last season, he saw a quarterback who had trouble seeing wide-open receivers down the field.

"You wish he was your backup because he could go win some games for you, but I wouldn't want him to be my starter," a head coach said.

A personnel director called Foles a "solid 3" who should upgrade the situation in St. Louis.

Part of this obviously has to do with system bias, fair or otherwise. By simply going from the Eagles to the Rams, Foles was going to dip in the rankings. Thems the nuts. Consider Foles' half-season in 2014. Now consider Bradford has missed the last season and a half and in doing so (along with heading to Philly) only dropped two spots in the rankings.

Again, thems the nuts.

Bradford fell a bit in the rankings based on his inability to stay healthy in recent seasons, making just seven of 32 potential starts since 2013.

"I thought he was a 2 coming out because I did not see the big arm," a head coach said. "No one could tell from his pro day because [agent] Tom Condon wouldn't let him throw any deep comebacks. He has the intangibles, but you have to give him a 3 or 4 just because he is always hurt. Frankly, you probably want him to be your backup, just for his availability."

A defensive coordinator said he thought Bradford could flourish playing in Philadelphia because the Eagles' play-action game could buy him time he did not have in St. Louis. This coordinator added that Bradford would be an upgrade from Foles and Sanchez in terms of accuracy, but with the injury concerns, he placed Bradford only in the third tier.

"There is no quarterback I loved more than him coming out," a different head coach said. "I am pulling for him. If he can stay healthy, he can be so accurate. Keep him as a 3 but only because of the injury factor."

Other surprises:

  • Five insiders didn't place Andrew Luck in the top tier. GTFOH.
  • I was a bit surprised to see Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr over Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater, albeit by a slim margin. Carr was tied for 20th with a 3.11 average compared to Bridgewater tied at 23rd (with Bradford) averaged at 3.23.
  • Both top 2015 NFL Draft QB selections, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston and Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota, made the fourth tier. Mariota actually averaged a higher ranking than Winston, but just barely. Just. (Shout out to Just Todd Gurley)
  • RGIII fell off a cliff. The evaluators took note dropping him from 19th to 28th.
  • Geno Smith ranked last in 2014. Geno Smith ranks last in 2015. Feel the excitement, Jets fans!
  • The Jay Cutler reactions were hilarious. One respondent who actually worked for the Bears while Cutler was there said, "I do not think he is the monster everyone has made him out to be." But you felt it necessary to say that, bruh...