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Former NFL general manager rates quarterbacks, Foles ranked 12th

Feb 11, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT


Would you rather have Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and highest-rated passer in the NFL Nick Foles under center, or Seattle Seahawks signal-caller and world champion Russell Wilson?

There’s been an ongoing debate in Philadelphia as to how good Foles really is, whether mobile quarterbacks are better than pocket passers and, specifically in our comment section, where Foles ranks compared to today’s field generals such as Wilson. Thanks to The Sideline View, now we have a former NFL executive’s opinion on the matter.

Jerry Angelo spent over 30 years as a scout and executive at the pro level, including 11 years as general manager of the Chicago Bears from 2001-11. He rated every quarterback based on their performance in 2013 and broke them up into eight tiers.

The “upper class” or elite quarterbacks consist mostly of household names—Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck. No real arguments there.

Foles landed on tier two. The players in this grouping fell under the following description:

Played at a high level. Was one of the reasons – but not the reason – for his team’s success… not elite.

Ben Roethlisberger, Wilson, Colin Kapernick and Alex Smith(?!) were all just ahead of Foles. Here’s what Angelo had to say specifically about the Birds’ QB:

Put up top numbers and achieved the best QB rating in football. Once they made the change to him, they won. He knows how to protect the ball and get them in the end zone. Oakland got a dose of how good he is doing it.

Again, Angelo’s rankings appear to be based specifically on 2013. Matt Ryan and Matt Stafford were listed on the next tier down summarized as “Talented… but had a subpar year,” indicating those players could move up. Two tiers lower finds Robert Griffin III with “strong traits but hasn’t done it,” with a career trajectory that could go either way.

For what it’s worth, Michael Vick falls on the second-to-last tier, “temporary relief, but not a long term solution.” Matt Barkley did not play enough to be graded.

It’s a much more clinical look than just your conventional list. Putting the passers in defined tiers makes more sense, as you can get a better feel for whom the elites are, and who has room to grow and move up.

I don’t agree with every rating 100 percent. In my mind, Alex Smith is more of a tier-four quarterback—“solid traits but limited.” I’d also bump Joe Flacco out of that fourth group and move him up to “talented… but had a subpar year.”

Overall, it’s a strong list from a scouting perspective and good fodder for our debates. Foles appears to be pretty much right where he belongs based on his 2013. Where he goes from there will be determined by his much-anticipated follow-up campaign.

>> Jerry Angelo rates every QB from the 2013 NFL season [Sideline View]

  1. willh888 - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    I don’t understand the love for Cam. Maybe he’s a lot better than I realize. Sure he’s good but ‘upper class’ with Rodgers and Manning is a head scratcher. He doesn’t put up any big numbers. Not passing, not rushing, not anything. He has 42 int’s in 3 seasons to go with 18 lost fumbles. I’m no stephen hawking but 60 turnovers in 3 seasons isn’t very elite. The blurb about him says he got his team playing well, despite having the 26th ranked offense and averaging as many points as the Titans. Maybe he gives great advice to Sean McDermott.

    As for Alex Smith being above almost every QB but 8 of them sounds kinda nuts. I guess he’s mobile, but so are trailer homes, and how great are they? Smith didn’t exactly dazzle this year, or any year for that matter so i’m not getting the high rating by Angelo.

    The one that makes me the most irritated is Tom Brady. Nothing against Brady but the explanation said he had one of his finest seasons. I’m not even sure how to argue with that.

    • Dan - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      “I guess he’s mobile, but so are trailer homes, and how great are they?”

      You are cracking me up! That has been my sentiment of the mobile QB from the beginning. Even when we had McNabb. A QB should run enough to keep a defense honest. There has never been a consist, high octane offense that was led by a mobile QB that won games on offense. The top 3 teams in the NFC this year, Carolina, San Fransisco, and Seattle, all had mobile QBs, and the were all defensively driven. The Eagles in the early 2000s were defensively driven. Yes, these teams are explosive and can score a lot of points, but their game plan is “let’s make sure they don’t score as many points as we do,” not the Denver “Let’s make sure we score more than they do.”

      • bigdong28 - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Hit the nail right on the head with that one.

        The big question is when this season have Wilson, Kaepernick, or Newton been asked to throw 30+ times in a game because their team was behind or they were in a shootout? They’ve all shown big upside but if you put this years Eagles defense on all three of those teams I’d say they are 7-9 teams at absolute best.

      • Beardy - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        Cam was asked to throw 30 times a game in his first 2 seasons and put up the biggest numbers ever for a QB in his first 2 seasons. Better than anyone else to ever play the game. Ever. The defense in those seasons didn’t live up to the standard of this year, and they didn’t win games. You give him the talent at receiver that Foles has, and Carolina probably wins next year’s Super Bowl.

      • ochospantalones - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        Yeah, Fran Tarkenton, John Elway, Steve Young, and Aaron Rodgers were all statues. Can’t win with a mobile QB! Also, it seems weird for a Philadelphia fan to forget Randall Cunningham. The ’98 Vikings choked in the playoffs, but they went 15-1 in the regular season with the highest scoring offense of the decade.

      • willh888 - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        The only big number he put up is yards. Just the year before last, Cam threw 57% and 17 TD’s. If that’s part of the biggest numbers ever, slap me silly. And he only had that Steve Smith guy to throw to, someone who is comparable to Jackson only better in 2011 and 2012. Did Foles have Rice/Taylor combo we didn’t know about?

    • Andrew Kulp - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      The thing about Cam Newton is he has such incredible tools, and he has improved in many ways while the offense around him really hasn’t. 61.7 completion percentage is pretty good when you take into account his rushing ability and the fact that he doesn’t have a great No. 1 receiver or even any high-end weapons at all. I think when Carolina finally puts him with a dominant pass-catcher, we’ll see right away why he’s been rated where he is.

      • willh888 - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:25 PM

        well if receivers matter, Donovan is a 1st ballot hall of famer who deserves a parade with a thousand trumpets and free zj’s for life

      • Andrew Kulp - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        We’re not talking about Hall of Fame though, we’re talking about who the elite quarterbacks are right now, and for most of his time with the Eagles, McNabb would’ve been on that tier. Actually, now that you mention it, you can definitely see some Donovan in Cam Newton.

      • ochospantalones - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        When has Russell Wilson been asked to throw 30+ times to come from behind?

        Week 12 2012 at Chicago.

        Week 1 2013 at Carolina.

        Week 6 2013 vs. Tennessee.

        There are multiple games where he threw 30+ times and put his team ahead in the 4th quarter, but the defense lost the lead. Such as Week 1 2012 at Arizona and Week 5 2013 at Indianapolis.

        The strangest to me is that everyone has forgotten the 2012 Divisional Round game between the Seahawks and Falcons. Wilson was 24 of 36 for 385 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (on a Hail Mary as time expired), 60 yards rushing, 1 rushing TD, on 7 carries. He led his team from being down 27-7 with two minutes left in the third quarter of a playoff game to take a 28-27 lead with 34 seconds left.

        It must have been Russell Wilson’s fault the Falcons moved the ball 41 yards in 18 seconds and kicked a 49 yard field goal to win. Maybe if he was taller or slower that wouldn’t have happened.

        (Note: I know bigdong28 said “this season”, but I really don’t know why we should throw out a post-season game from one year ago, I am pretty sure people still give Tom Brady credit for things he did 12 years ago)

      • bigdong28 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:05 PM


        I wasn’t saying Wilson never threw for 30+…I should have said he’s not in the position where they ask him to do so more than a few times a year. Do you really think Wilson leads his team to the playoffs let alone to a Super Bowl victory with the 31st ranked defense of the Eagles? That’s really my whole point for why he can’t be considered Elite yet. I feel like to be elite, you must be THE MAIN REASON your team has success & without you, they wouldn’t have nearly as much(Packers w/o Rodgers). I think he helps tremendously but right now the LOB is why his team had all that success. We’ll see where he goes from here. No one is discrediting any of his great performances BUT the Seahawks won the SB with Wilson throwing 2 TDs all post season. That’s not Elite but his performance this season was certainly great. IMO

    • Ben - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      Totally agree on Newton. A mediocre receiving crew doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t have good arc on his deep throws and even in what’s considered a breakout season he struggled with consistency. The Panthers aren’t a playoff team this year without that defense bailing out some pretty average performances from Cam. I get not ranking Foles too high given the limited experience, but a guy like Russell Wilson beats out Cam in most categories (or barely trails) and won in the playoffs. He may not be a freak athlete, but I’ll take his performance over Newton’s any day.

    • duffman - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      cam newton is elite because 14 INT and 6 Fumbles per year is excellent for his first three years in the league when you consider all the other factors. this is the time to expect the most turnovers because the learning curve is steepest, he has improved his passing accuracy each year, and has diminishing talent around him on offense.

      over the same period he averages 30 TD’s (passing and rushing), which is damn good for a 3rd year QB.

      plus at 6-5 250 he’s not an injury risk, and is adept at avoiding the sack due to raw strength alone.

      do i personally think he’s in the elite tier? probably not, but you could easily make a case for him based on his body of work and potential should his team ever add a solid WR corps around him.

      • ochospantalones - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:30 AM


        “Do you really think Wilson leads his team to the playoffs let alone to a Super Bowl victory with the 31st ranked defense of the Eagles?”

        I am not sure exactly how to take this question. If you mean do I think the Eagles make the playoffs last year if you swap Russell Wilson in for Nick Foles? Absolutely. Does anyone seriously doubt that? Do they win the Super Bowl? No, the rest of the team, especially the defense, wasn’t good enough. But that’s true of any player you can name. I don’t think last year’s Eagles win the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers either. I think this hypothetical tells us more that the QB position is somewhat overvalued than it tells us Russell Wilson is uniquely overvalued.

        I do think if Russell Wilson starts and finishes 16 games for the Eagles last year, we win more than 10 games. But that may well be true of Foles as well. We played a game with Matt Barkley taking the majority of snaps! Does Russell Wilson lead us to victory over the Saints? Hard to say. Probably not, as the real problems in that game were defense and special teams.

        I am not sure what to say about the whole “elite” vs merely “great” thing. I think if I were trying to win a Super Bowl next season, with the Eagles, the first four QB’s I would take in order are: Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson. The next group, in no particular order, would be Rivers, Brady, Newton, Kaepernick, and Luck. Foles would be in the group after that with guys like Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger. So top 10 to 15, which isn’t bad at all for a guy who has won 9 games total as an NFL starter.

        And before the Luck fans freak out: If we’re talking the next 10 years, I would take Andrew Luck over Wilson, he has the cannon arm and I think he will continue to develop in a way some of the other big-armed QBs like Stafford, Flacco, and Cutler seem unlikely to. But at the moment Luck is still a bit erratic.

    • GenPatton43 - Feb 12, 2014 at 6:48 PM

      ” I guess he’s mobile, but so are trailer homes, and how great are they? ”

      OK, that’s some funny shiite right der!
      I agree with just about everything you said however, Cam and Brady share one thing in common and that’s the fact that neither of them had much to work with. Carolina’s offense is a joke and Steve Smith can’t carry it anymore. And Brady? Yeah, his stats were pretty “Ho-hum” compared to manning, Brees or even Foles. But he took that team to the AFC Championship with Danny Amendola as his #1 WR. Everyone else was either a rookie or a retread. Their running was mediocre at best, especially when they weren’t fumbling it away. The only thing that separates Cam from the RGIII’s is that he’s way bigger, stronger and faster then maybe any QB at this point in their career. But he still has yet to show that he’s smart enough.

  2. bigdong28 - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Some of the list makes a lot of sense but some of those rankings are head-scratchers. I think the Elites rank as follows Peyton Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Brees…reason being they consistently perform at a high level & they are the main reason for their team’s success year in & year out. They all have SB wins.

    Next level down would be the greats, meaning they’ve had success & seem to show it more consistently than not. They rank as follows…Roethlisberger, Rivers, Wilson, Kaepernick, Newton

    My next level down is good, meaning they’ve shown some success, show upside. NOTE: some of these dropped from great cause they’ve shown critical mistakes in big situations. (Foles hasn’t shown big mistakes IMO, he will move to great if he performs in 2014 anywhere near where he did in 2013.) They rank as follows…Luck, Foles, Smith, Dalton

    Obviously this is just my opinion. Tell me what you think. NOTE: Names like Flacco, Ryan, Stafford, RG3, Cutler, Eli Manning, etc. rank below these guys based on 2013 but could be inserted in good or great with an exceptional 2014 season. IMO putting Newton & Luck in ELITE is ridiculous….they both so big upside but they’ve had critical mistakes this past year & clearly have things to work out to become ELITE. Putting Smith in front of Foles in any rank is laughable. Smith had big mistakes all season. & the big question is where would he rank in 2013 without that defense & that early season schedule.

    • willh888 - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Eli needs to be put out back and tied to an old rusty car frame. He has to be one of the worst starting QB’s in all of football right now. And if Andrew Luck didn’t sound like the giant from Happy GiImore we might not even talk about him as one of the modern ‘elite’ qb’s. Not sure which credential or skill puts him in a class with three, maybe four Hall of Famers, 6 superbowl rings and 2 of the greatest QB’s ever. The top tier needs to be exclusive.

      • bigdong28 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:09 PM

        Completely agree.

        Couldn’t believe Luck was put in the top tier. LOL…Just cause he brings his team from behind a lot? Why are they behind in the first place? I saw interceptions as the reason, I dunno about you.

        Eli Manning was garbage this year & I hate him as much as any other Eagle fan but he does have two rings so IMO you never know what he’s gonna do.

    • Andrew Kulp - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      Forget Foles, any ranking that would put Wilson above Luck is ludicrous. Wilson has shown consistent success in an offense that does not ask a ton of its quarterback thanks in large part to a historically-great defense. Luck has been carrying the Colts since the moment he arrived in Indianapolis. As the tiers are defined, Luck “elevates the play of his team” (playoffs in each of his first two seasons with minimal talent on offense and defense) and “has an extraordinary make-up physically and has intangibles.” And I’d say based on what they did in 2013, Rivers and Newton belong in that category as well. Wilson “played at a high level” however was “not the reason for his team’s success.” Seems accurate to me.

      • tim - Feb 11, 2014 at 7:33 PM

        Russel Wilson is a fantastic quarterback. Give the second year qb super bowl champion credit. He tied peyton manning for most passing tds in a rookie season. So everyone needs to hop off the whole hes just “consistent” or just a game manager talk. You cant blame a guy for having a damn good defense. Hes won the most games of any qb through their first two seasons. You can also add the fact that his career passer rating is 100.6 which is top 3 all time (I know only two seasons but he hasn’t reached his prime.) TD-int ratio: 52-19. 8.09 y/att also not too shabby for a so called game manager. A 63.6 completion percentage is also great. Additionally, you can toss in his fantastic postseason numbers which I don’t feel like looking up but you recently witnessed the play. Whatever more you could possibly want you can expect to see in his 3rd year and beyond as he further fulfills his potential.

      • Andrew Kulp - Feb 11, 2014 at 8:05 PM

        “TD-int ratio: 52-19. 8.09 y/att also not too shabby for a so called game manager.”

        What makes him a game manager is the fact that Seattle finished 31st in passing attempts this year. Yes, Russell Wilson has fantastic numbers. You’re right, you can’t blame him for having a good defense. It’s just the reality of his situation is he’s not asked to go out and win games for the Seahawks every week like a bunch of other passers, therefore making it reasonable to question how he would perform were he in another player’s shoes. It’s a silly debate, because most of Wilson’s “detractors” aren’t trying to attack the guy, just saying that the numbers and the wins are in part a reflection of being in a great situation.

      • Ben - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:42 PM

        I don’t seem to be able to reply to your most recent comment but I also think Wilson deserves a bit more credit than you’re giving. The Seahawks Super Bowl performance kinda summed up their season. It’s not that Wilson isn’t as capable as other QB’s, it’s that whether your QB is Joe Montana or Rex Grossman, you don’t put more on their shoulders than you have to when everything is going well. Wilson made plenty of great throws and ended up completing 72% of his passes in that game, but you’re not going to throw 40 times for 400 yards in a game like that. Obviously that game is an extreme example, but mostly the guy plays with the lead and when he doesn’t. he’s proven he can carry the team.

  3. red2gold - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Hypothetical question: If the Eagles traded Foles today, what would he be worth in terms of draft picks?

    (I am not suggesting we trade him. Just curious.)

    • Andrew Kulp - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      Depends on the team trading. Maybe as high as a mid-to-late first-round pick, no less than a high No. 2. Probably another mid-round pick, possibly two, at least one of them conditional on a Pro Bowl, playoffs or a contract extension.

      Best example of a similar deal I can think of right now is the Matt Cassel-Chiefs trade years ago. Cassel had one good year, questionable pedigree. Patriots received the No. 34 pick in return. I believe Foles would have more value than that as a player who has higher upside and wasn’t as much a product of great players around him as Cassel was, but it would be a reasonable starting point for negotiations.

  4. usg1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    He lost credibility when he listed Cam Newton in the Upper Class. Honestly, Luck doesn’t belong there just yet either. Luck is riding alot of hype right now. Based purely on stats, he is middle of the pack. I don’t understand what some writers/”experts” obsession is with Cam Newton. He hasn’t done anything to warrant some of the praise he gets by some. I think it is some what the Mike Vick effect with him. Dangerous athlete so they overrate him as a QB.

    • George - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:54 AM

      If Cam Newton was white, I doubt you’d have the same opinion.

      • willh888 - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        everyone is fair game here, even andrew luck who the usg1 outlined as middle of the pack, overhyped. Or did you skip that and head right to race street

      • usg1 - Feb 12, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        Moron…….. Yup I am racist. I just happen to think Luck was overrated too. He must be black also. The reason I didn’t elaborate on Luck is because Newton has been in the league longer and still hasn’t shown anything. Luck has improved a lot and has done just as much, if not more than Cam with less. Still overrated though.

  5. usg1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    I also want to add about Newton (and I know this isn’t a great measure by any standard, but still)…… In the Pro Bowl, with stud WRs, he still didn’t do good. Sometimes it is the QB that makes a WR look good, and sometimes it is the QB that can make a WR look bad. I believe that Cam doesn’t throw a catchable ball enough. He has no touch. Like Vick.

  6. Philly Keith - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    I would put Big Ben in the top 5. He is extremely under rated in this stats driven era. The Steelers would have been 1-15 without him last season. The other guys like Newton, P. Manning, Rivers etc will deliver fantasy titles. Roethlisberger will give a good team a serious shot at winning a Super Bowl. To me that defines elite, not passing for 5,000 yards and getting bumped early in the playoffs.

  7. David Wolf - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    The debate over mobile quarterbacks verses “less mobile”(pocket passers) usually revolves around short term (1 to 2 or 3 seasons) comparisons between specific players–Wilson vs. Foles, Cam vs. Big Ben, etc. These types of debates miss the point. Although mobile quarterbacks are exciting, they have a much greater chance of serious injury caused by violent collision. Pocket passers get injured as well, but their injuries tend not to be as serious (if they stay in the pocket and make quick decisions).


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