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2021 Preseason Tier One NFL Individual Player Passing Grades and Rankings

We are getting closer and closer to real football again and that means that it is time to start the player rankings conversations. Today we begin by examining the QB position using our new individual player grade system that we developed in recent months.

Go to Player Grade Dashboard (Coming Soon)

How the Grade System Works

The Football Scout 365 process and philosophy are predicated on the connection between advanced metrics and on-field play. The numbers can sometimes tell a different story than the film and that is where our situational analysis plays a pivotal role in how we interpret individual and team performance.

Individual Player Grades For Current NFL Players

Below you will see a list of color-coded tiers followed by a descending grade scale. The grading scale is a 1-10 model with 10 being elite, and <3 as poor to very poor. The grading scale uses variables based on each player's positional focus and uses particularly advanced metrics such as pressure rate and sacks for pass rushers. Each tier carries an average value based on various data points, including the previous season's data. Our rankings are not an indictment of one's career and are more of a projection-based tier system used to identify current players' potential ceilings or floors.

Tier 1

Elite Level, MVP Potential 1 = 10 (A+)

Good Level 2, All Pro Level = 9 (A-)

Above Average Level 3, Pro Bowl Caliber = 8 (B+)

Tier 2

Average Starter Level 1, Starter, Role Player = 7 (B-)

Below Average, Can be Boom Or Bust = 6 (C+)

Developmental Player = 5 (C-)

Tier 3

Poor= 4 (D+)

Very Poor = <3 D- Depth or Replacements Needed

2021 Preseason Tier One Level NFL QB Rankings

Tier One, Level One, Elite Level, All-Pro, MVP Level Talent

TIER 1 Elite = 10 (A+) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers?

Aaron Rodgers had arguably his best season in 2020. He posted a tier-one elite level grade as QB throwing for 4300 yds, 48 TD's to only 5 INT's. His on-target throw rate was tops in the NFL at 81% among QB's with at least 200 dropbacks.

TIER 1 Elite = 10 (A+) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes continues to wow everyone; in 2020, we found out he just learned to read a defense (scary). He earned an elite level tier one grade while training on the job in 2020. Mahomes threw for 4700+ yards, 38 TD's to only 6 INT. Folks, he is only going to get better.

TIER 1 Elite = 10 (A+) Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Bucs

Tampa Tom did Tom Brady things in 2020. He led a team of believers who never sniffed the playoffs in recent years to a Super Bowl title. There is currently a waiting list for those who wish to play in Tampa with Tom before he walks away from the game. I won't mention age because it still does not matter. Tom posted 4600 yards in 2020 while throwing for 40 TD's and 12 INT's.

TIER 1 Elite = 10 (A+) Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans?

Deshaun Watson continued to play at an elite level in 2020 on a bad team. He graded out at an elite level earning a high tier one grade. Watson threw for a league-leading 4800 yards while tossing 33 TD's to only 7 INT's.

TIER 1 Elite = 10 (A+) Josh Allen, Buffalo BIlls

Josh Allen experienced tremendous year-over-year growth. He posted an elite level tier one grade in 2020 while throwing for 4500+ yds, 37 TD's to 10 INT's. He improved his accuracy posting a 69% completion rate (5th) in 2020.

Tier One, Level Two, All-Pro Level Talent, High Upside

TIER 1 Good =9 (A-) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson earned a grade just a hair below the elite level tier one grade in 2020 while posting 4200 yards, 40 TD's and 13 INT's. Wilson began the 2020 season on a scorched earth NFL pace before falling back to earth. Wilson has the potential to crack into the elite conversation in 2021. (Wilson is on the cusp of entering back into the top level of tier one).

TIER 1 Good =9 (A-) Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Ryan Tannehill has been a model of consistency since arriving in Tennessee. He is arguably one of the better decision-makers in the league over the last few seasons; he is also one of the best QB's off of play-action pass, if not the best. According to the data, Tannehill ranked 7th in QBR off of play-action in 2020. He does have Derrick Henry to thank for part of his success.

Tier One, Level Three, Above Average Level 3, Pro Bowl Caliber

TIER 1 Above Average = 8 (B+) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Dak is our number one candidate for comeback player of the year in 2021. He was on pace for 6 million yards in 2020 before the injury happened. in 2020, we projected the Cowboys to be a Super Bowl Caliber team, but without Dak the drop-off was drastic. That alone is proof enough of his value. Before the injury, Dak led the league in yards per dropback (7.7). With his current surrounding cast in place, Dak has a real chance to finish 2021 with an elite level tier one grade.

TIER 1 Above Average = 8 (B+) Matthew Stafford, LA Rams

The Rams have themselves a QB with elite-level potential. Stafford graded out as a tier-one above-average player for the lions in 2020. He threw for 4000 yards, 26 TD's and 10 INT's. Sean McVay will undoubtedly find ways to scheme large windows for Stafford to throw. That leads us to believe he has the opportunity to climb into the higher level of tier one QB's in 2021.

TIER 1 Above Average = 8 (B+) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Captain Kirk, Mr. "You like that" falls into the tier one category with an average B+ grade. Some analysts and fans believe Kirk has underachieved, and there is an argument for that. But the numbers have been solid. In 2020, Cousins posted an elite level yard per drop back (7.5), with 4200 yards passing and a 35 TD to 13 INT ratio. Kirk was also 7th in on target throw rate. So why is he not considered level 1 or level 2 elite? It has to do with consistency. He started the strong season throwing just 3 INT's the first 8 weeks before throwing 10 INT's in the second half of 2020.

TIER 1 Above Average = 8 (B+) Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Derek Carr is arguably the most underappreciated QB in the NFL. I am guilty of believing he is not the answer for the Raiders, but the data and his onfield play say otherwise. According to our standards, Carr ranks among the top 10 best QB's in the game. He is considered a tier-one, level three above-average player. He threw for 4100 yards, 27 TD's and 9 INT's with a TE as his number one receiver in 2020.

TIER 1 Above Average = 8 (B+) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan might not have an offensive line in 2021, but he has one heck of a group of receivers. Ryan threw for 4600 yards, 26 TD's and 11 INT's in 2020. At the very least, Ryan should be able to replicate his 2020 numbers.

TIER 1 Above Average = 8 (B+) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield, like Derek Carr, is very underappreciated. There is some argument to support the reasoning, but the one factor that is definitive in his grade is that he is a winner and a player who ascended as the year progressed in 2020. He played efficiently behind a strong run game posting 3500+ yards, 26 TD's to only 8 INT's. He was also very effective at throwing on the move. Mayfield should be able to replicate the same level of performance in 2021.

TIER 1 Above Average = 8 (B+) Justin Herbert, LA Chargers

Herbert took everyone by surprise in 2020, posting a near rookie record of 4300 yards. He did break the rookie pass TD record with 31, and he threw 10 INT's; 12 of his pass TD's came on explosive 20+ yard or longer plays in 2020 (4th). Herbert will have higher expectations in 2021.

TIER 1 Above Average = 8 (B+) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson has been amazing since arriving in the NFL, and he continues to wow with his ability as a runner, which is one of the reasons he is an above-average passer. Lamar's ability to stress a defense with his legs is currently unrivaled and every bit on par with Michael Vick. He is a highly graded rusher; he is also a top graded thrower posting a tier-one above average grade. Lamar threw for 2700 yards, with 26 TD's to 9 INT's. The Ravens added some fantastic WR's in this year's draft that I believe will help Lamar improve. Lamar ranked 26th in on target passer rate in 2020, right behind Tom Brady.


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