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Russell Wilson elevates to Tier 1 quarterback in survey of NFL coaches and executives

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s up for another listicle?

This one is Mike Sando’s “Quarterback Tiers” column, which he formerly wrote for ESPN before being one of a cast of thousands to join subscription publication The Athletic. Sando surveyed 55 unidentified NFL coaches and executives and had them place “all veteran starting quarterbacks into one of five tiers and then offering insights into their thinking.”

Tier 1 is for the best of the best, while Tier 5 is for the trash heap. There is no Tier-5 this year, so Tier 4 represents a mixture of the likes of Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen.

Aaron Rodgers topped the Tier 1 rankings with 53 Tier 1 votes out of a possible 55. Tom Brady finished runner-up with 52, while Drew Brees came in 3rd with 51.

Where does Russell Wilson fit? This year he’s 8th, with 29 Tier 1 votes and 26 Tier 2 votes. It’s the first time that the majority of voters placed him in the top tier, and thus it’s his debut as a Tier 1 quarterback.

Here are a couple of snippets:

“I remember seeing Wilson coming out of college and thinking, ‘Man, this guy is not going to be able to drop back from under center,’” an offensive coach said. “I was a young coach not realizing, ‘Hey, dumbass, you get to construct your offense around your players’ strengths.’”


“I just think he keeps growing as a passer,” a veteran coach said. “He is playing with his hands tied a little bit, but I think he is going to find a way to win. He did that against us. He just kept making throws. He was the difference in the game, really.”


“You give him a run game and a good defense, they have a great chance to win the Super Bowl, but he can win with whatever he’s got,” a former GM said. “I could see putting him as a 2, but to say he needs a run game is not fair. He does lift that bunch up where they are always in the hunt no matter what they do.”

By the way, the other QBs who received Tier 1 votes but were placed in Tier 2 are Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, and Jared Goff.

Wilson ranked 6th last year out of all QBs but he was in Tier 2. This year he drops to 8th as Tier 1 expands, with Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck (get your pitchforks out), Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger (get your other pitchforks out). Hey, at least Russ is getting more and more recognition as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, right? It’s about damn time.