There’s little argument that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are the top two quarterbacks in the NFL, but what about the next tier? Where does Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions fit in? ESPN’s NFC North reporters weigh in.
Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Packers reporter: How many playoff wins does Stafford have? That’s right, zero. Zip. Zilch. He’s 0-3 in playoff starts. Now, that’s not the only measure of a quarterback. After all, Mark Sanchez has four playoff wins. But for Stafford to make that jump into the next category with quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton, he’s going to need to do something in the postseason. He might never be in the category of Rodgers or Brady, or even Drew Brees or Eli Manning, but some playoff success would elevate his status.
Jeff Dickerson, Chicago Bears reporter: I think Stafford sneaks into the top 10. My past issues with him were based solely on turnovers. To me, Stafford looked like an out-of-control gunslinger with all those crazy arm angles. But he has become a more efficient and smarter quarterback. Stafford had a career-low 10 interceptions in 2016. That’s a great sign for Lions fans. And Stafford is only 29. It feels like he has been in the league forever, but the best might be yet to come. So, right now, I’d rank Stafford ninth or 10th among NFL QBs.
Ben Goessling, Minnesota Vikings reporter: He looked like one of the best in the league before he was injured late last season. But until he does more to help the Lions get out of the first round of the playoffs, it’s tough to put him in the top group of QBs. In the parlance of Mike Sando’s annual quarterback survey of talent evaluators around the league, I’d put Stafford as a Tier 2 QB: good enough to reach the playoffs, but maybe not the Super Bowl. He’s certainly not in the league of a Brady, Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger. I’d put Russell Wilson, Ryan and Newton (and maybe Derek Carr) above him. Brees might still be ahead of him, too, though Brees’ rising turnover numbers are concerning. Stafford is probably in a realm with Kirk Cousins, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Alex Smith.