TDN Scouting: Breaking Down NFL's Middle-Tier QBs

Photo: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like the 2020 NFL Draft just happened, but we move fast here at The Draft Network.

Currently going through summer evaluations for the 2021 NFL Draft class, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts. New to TDN is a daily scouting roundtable where we go through and identify the most important points of conversation from that day’s meeting.

Recently, our staff began to go through their NFL assessments. On Friday, they discussed some of the middle-tier quarterbacks, a group that has often been labeled as “game managers” and “system” players.

Jared Goff

After leading a Super Bowl run (or at least playing a big part in it) during the 2018 season, everything came crashing down for Jared Goff in 2019. Labeled everything from MVP to franchise QB to system player to bust during his four-year career, Harris and Crabbs offered some of their thoughts on the Rams’ signal-caller and his disappointing 2019 campaign.

“I think about what Jared Goff has done since he’s been in the league. Of course, he was drafted (first overall) in 2016 and had a horrible rookie year, but came on strong in 2017 once (Los Angeles) hired Sean McVay. He played well again the following year and was actually in the MVP conversation too. Then in the past year (the Rams) offensive line lost both guards, their aging left tackle (Andrew Whitworth) regressed, Todd Gurley fell off of a cliff, and all of those things contributed to a not so good 2019 season for Goff. I think you can’t discredit the things he did in 2017 and 2018, though. (And) even when he didn’t play well in 2019 and was largely inconsistent, he still threw for (4,638) yards, too.” - Harris

“Jared is kind of that popular internet punching bag nowadays because everyone likes to bag on him, but I think a lot of that is unjustified. There will be those on the internet who tell you this is a bottom-five starter in the NFL and those people are out of their mind. Just because you poked fun of him in the pre-draft process and poked fun of him when he was terrible with Jeff Fisher, doesn’t mean he hasn’t been able to (turn it) around with a coordinator (McVay) who gave him some structure. My concern with Jared is that they didn’t address the offensive line with anything I’m super excited about and it was terrible last year, but I definitely think that (13-15 range) is suitable for him.” - Crabbs

Kirk Cousins

The thing that always comes up in Kirk Cousins conversations is his performances against winning teams. It’s undeniably pretty horrid, but if you want a quarterback who can simply keep your team afloat, Reid believes that Cousins is your go-to guy.

“I think Kirk should go in the same tier as (Goff), largely because both are pretty much the same type of QB. (Each) are guys that rely heavily on play-action and need their surroundings to be adequate. The (problem) with Kirk is pressure moments and that’s something that’s always been his biggest weakness, but he’s going to be the best regular-season QB ever as long as everything is afloat. The Vikings were driving a Ferrari last year as far as their supporting cast (went), and he was just asked to keep everything between the lines on the highway and that’s exactly what he did. He’s just not a guy who can create consistently out of structure and/or with a weak supporting cast.”

Jimmy Garoppolo

Like Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo is often criticized on a national stage given his average athletic traits, winning pedigree, and a creative coordinator that schemes easy play designs. Still, Harris wanted to give Garoppolo the respect he deserves, even mentioning that he preferred Garoppolo in 2019 to rookie sensation Kyler Murray.

“I’m going to go with Jimmy Garroppolo (over) Kyler (Murray) for now. Kyler definitely has more upside and I don’t even think that’s a question, but when you think about Jimmy and what he’s done, he’s sort of had a down year in 2019, but he (also) wasn’t necessarily fully healthy coming off of that knee injury. All things considered, I’d put Garoppolo (higher than Murray) just because he's (won consistently, been to the Super Bowl) and done it.” - Harris

Ryan Tannehill

Shocking the football world after taking over Tennessee’s starting role last season, Ryan Tannehill played his way into a huge contract and a spot as the Titans’ unquestionable starter. Crabbs offered a bit of context as to why his surprising breakout took place in 2019, primarily placing the blame on the Miami Dolphins’ dysfunctional organization.

“Say what you will about (Ryan) Tannehill’s tenure in Miami, but he played half the time with his hand tied behind his back because they had no running game and no offensive line at his disposal. When he (actually) got a cast that was able to provide those things, he was a spark plug for the offense.” - Crabbs