PHILADELPHIA ( — If you really want to wring your hands, put away the Madden ratings and pay attention to Mike Sando's annual quarterback tiers.

Sando, a long-time ESPN columnist who now calls The Athletic home, is plugged in with NFL decision-makers and spoke to 55 different coaches and executives for this year's edition so it carries weight with the people that count, not the people who wish they counted.

In no surprise to anyone who has ever spoken to an NFL power player Aaron Rodgers tops the list for a sixth consecutive year, something which always reminds me of the now-former league executive who told that "when [Rodgers is] at his best, no one has ever played the position at a higher level."

The Green Bay star tops a Tier 1 list that also includes the following: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson.

Tier 2 is where Eagles QB Carson Wentz resides, behind Matt Ryan at No. 10 overall. Other members of the tier are Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, who was picked No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft when Wentz went second, and Baker Mayfield.

There were some divergent views, however, with five of those asked believing Wentz already belongs in Tier 1 despite his shaky injury history.

“He’s a 1,” one offensive coordinator surmised when talking to The Athletic. “We played them; he made four to five throws I really did not think he could make. He has great confidence, great stature. Big arm. Competitive. He gets hit more than he should, but he played young and should grow out of that.”

Some, however, took the injury issues a little more seriously and also questioned Wentz's touch as a passer, dropping him down to Tier 3, a group which includes former MVP Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott and his former backup Nick Foles, because of it.

“We have played him, and our head coach thinks the world of him, and I think he is a great player and a strong athlete,” a defensive coordinator said. “I just don’t know his ability to read it and have touch passes. He can throw hard balls in there, and he has a super-strong arm. I do not yet know if he has the touch and the feel to ascend.”

Another coach questioned Wentz's "calmness," an attribute our own source also brought up.

"He is damn good and he can run, but he does not play with a calm to him yet,” the coach assessed. “He overreacts to things and is not smooth and poised like a guy who has done it a long time. He will get there."

"That resonates with me," a former NFL exec told when shown the quotes. "He still speeds up a little too much when he doesn't have to. That can come with experience but not everyone gets there so that would be my biggest concern after the injury situation."

Foles, now the starter in Jacksonville, needs to prove he is a real starter and not just a closer.

“Foles was actually better at basketball than football, and there is almost a basketball mentality to how he plays,” an executive told Sando. “He is real smart, but he is a little bit like [Brett] Favre, where it’s just: Don’t make it too complicated. Let him play. Don’t give him a ton of things to think about. I think Foles can carry a team in the right situation, but he might be the ultimate relief pitcher.”

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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