For the fifth straight year, ESPN NFL insider Mike Sando has polled a group of NFL executives and coaches in order to rank all 32 expected starting quarterbacks heading into the season. The quarterbacks are ranked individually from 1 to 32 and are also placed in one of five tiers. And while Cleveland Browns’ starter Tyrod Taylor has avoided the dreaded Tier 5, he still isn’t thought of as one of the more elite-level passers around the league.
Sando consulted “10 general managers, five head coaches, 10 coordinators, 10 senior personnel executives, five QB coaches and 10 others with job titles ranging from assistant coach to salary-cap manager to analytics director,” in compiling his rankings.
Tier 1 quarterbacks “can carry his team each week. The team wins because of him.” Tier 2 passers, “can carry his team sometimes, but not as consistently... He has a hole or two in his game.” At Tier 3, where Taylor resides, the quarterback “is a legitimate starter, but needs a heavier running game and/or defense to win.” Tier 4 “could be an unproven player with some upside, or a veteran who is ultimately best suited as a backup,” while Tier 5 was not represented by any currently projected 2018 starter.
Taylor’s average score between the 50 voters was a 3.2. And though he ranked 26th in the 2017 iteration of the poll, Sando noted that Taylor had “seven additional Tier 3 votes and seven fewer Tier 4 votes compared to last year.” One coach Sando spoke to said that, “The receivers [Taylor] had in Buffalo were terrible,” implying his production could be far better with an improved group of skill players around him. Another offensive coach agreed.
A knock against him, though, according to an offensive coordinator, was that “he thought Taylor was so focused on avoiding interceptions that it limited the plays he made, noting that there were ‘NFL throws that needed to be made’ when receivers were open, but Taylor did not make them.” However, according to one defensive coordinator polled, Taylor “was a ‘nightmare’ because of the running and scrambling ability.”
All in all, the ranking says nothing new about Taylor. He’s adept at protecting the football—he threw only 16 interceptions in his three years with the Buffalo Bills, giving him an interception rate of just 1.3 precent. He can run and throw, with 283 rushes to his name for 1,575 yards and 14 scores since 2015. And he didn’t have a lot of help, talent-wise, when it came to his passing targets.
Taylor is who we thought he was; now, it’s time to see if he can take his game to the next level on a Browns offense that is in many ways an upgrade over what he worked with in Buffalo.