ESPN Insider: Arizona Cardinals’ Carson Palmer is a ‘Tier 3’ QB

Jul 21, 2015, 8:46 AM | Updated: 9:06 am
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The great quarterback debate rages on.

ESPN.com’s Mike Sando is the latest to tackle the challenge of ranking the National Football League’s 32 starting quarterbacks.

The writer enlisted the help of others, though. In an ESPN Insider piece, Sando used a panel of 35 league insiders who were asked to put each quarterback into one of five tiers. Tier 1 included the league’s best, while Tier 5 was for the bottom-feeders.

Here’s Sando’s criteria for each tier:

• 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.

With that criteria in place, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer landed in Tier 3, ranked 15th overall and the top-ranked passer in that 10-player tier.

Palmer ranked ahead of Kansas City’s Alex Smith, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and San Francisco’s Colin Kapernick, among others.

A head coach said he thought Palmer was more of a backup at this point based on an inability to move. That was an outlier view, however. Thirteen voters placed Palmer into the second tier. Those placing Palmer lower pointed to injury problems.

Sando also pointed out one league personnel director who lauded the Cardinals for recognizing that Palmer had gas left in the tank.

“At one point, I’d have told you he is a 3,” another director said. “I am saying he is a high 2. Coming out of Oakland I thought his arm was dying. I give Arizona credit. They saw something I did not. His arm has more life to it than I thought.”

Six quarterbacks landed in Tier 1 — Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, Denver’s Peyton Manning and Drew Brees of New Orleans.

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ESPN Insider: Arizona Cardinals’ Carson Palmer is a ‘Tier 3’ QB