LIONS INSIDER

Where does Matthew Stafford rank among the NFL's starting quarterbacks?

Posted Jul 7, 2014

ESPN Insider Mike Sando asked 26 league insiders to grade every projected starting quarterback in the NFL on a scale from 1-5.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has put up some gaudy statistics over his first five seasons in the NFL. He owns just about every single-season passing record in team history.

But where does he rank among the game’s 32 starting quarterbacks?

ESPN Insider Mike Sando asked 26 league insiders -- eight general managers, two former general managers, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive -- to grade every projected starting quarterback in the NFL on a scale from 1-5, with one reserved for the best and five for the worst.

Sando then averaged out the scores and ranked the quarterbacks based on their “final” number.

Stafford fell in line at No. 13 (2.38 average rating) behind Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and ahead of San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick. Sando broke the results down into four tiers, with Stafford slotting into the second tier of signal callers.

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: Gavin Smith)

“There's a feeling among evaluators that Stafford, more than any other QB outside the top five, has the talent to ascend into the first tier,” the article wrote of Stafford. “He is arguably the most intriguing starter in the league.”

One defensive coordinator surveyed in the story raved about Stafford’s talent, but questioned his decision-making.

Stafford averaged 4,885 yards passing and 30 touchdowns with a 60 percent completion percentage over the last three seasons, but he also averaged 17 interceptions.

The Lions hired head coach Jim Caldwell this offseason, and both he and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi have spoken publicly about improving that portion of Stafford’s game.

The additions of receiver Golden Tate and tight end Eric Ebron should also have a positive effect on Stafford.

Stafford’s slot in the rankings is appropriate if you consider he hasn’t done a lot of winning, which is the one thing quarterbacks are evaluated on most heavily.

Only four of the 12 players listed ahead of Stafford have not won a Super Bowl – Andrew Luck (5), Philip Rivers (6), Matt Ryan (T8) and Tony Romo (T8) -- but all have guided their respective teams to multiple playoff appearances.

Stafford has just one playoff appearance on his resume.

Statistics aside, the number that holds the most clout when it comes to Stafford and his place in the rankings is 24-38, which is his win-loss record. That mark isn't on Stafford alone, obviously, he's just one part of the equation, but he plays the leading role and he’ll ultimately be measured on that number.

Like Sando said, Stafford has all the talent to be in the top tier alongside Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Luck. He just needs to take the reins of this revamped Lions team and run with it.