I just read a NFL quarterback ranking from Jason Smith at NFL.com. First of all, I don't agree with his rankings. As I was discussing it with a freind, we found ourselves talking in tiers not rankings. It is very difficult to rank players so specifically when they play for different teams, in different divisions, against different foes, and with different talent around them. Even their defense can affect their success, just ask Dan Marino and Trent Dilfer.
When using a tier system, you can use stats and all the other aforementioned conditions, but you can even use the eye test. By this I mean , you don't have to be a NFL insider or a statistician to put QB's in tiers.
I like to use four tiers. Here is how I break them down.
Tier One are the GREAT players, the QB's who could step into any system and will succeed. Their success is not because of one dimension to their game. They are good in all aspects of the game. They have natural talent (strong arms, football intelligence, generally cool as a cucumber) and also have the drive to be the best. They are clutch guys. When the opponent has the lead and their is one last drive, you feel confident the Tier One QB will have a last minute drive to win the game. They put in the work to succeed and make the players around them better. Tier one guys can "carry their team" to great success. Example: Tom Brady
Tier Two are QB's who can also make a team better, but you may not expect them to carry the team. They can be successful QB's, but they don't achieve consistent "greatness". They may be missing one or more of the attributes of Tier One guys. They may be smart and work hard but are limited physically, or the opposite, they may be talented as hell but don't go above and beyond in film study or preparation. It just may be they don't have the "clutch" gene. When watching these QB's at the end of the game, you know they are capable of that winning drive but you aren't confident it will happen. Example: Tony Romo
Tier Three QB's are players who have less attributes than Tier One and Two. When building a franchise you are not looking for Tier Three QB's. These QB's can have long term careers in the NFL but their GM's are probably always looking for an upgrade. They can win games, win playoff games, even super bowls, but you will still call them game managers. Example: Mark Sanchez
Tier Four Qb's for what ever reason don't have success at the starting position. They flip flop from starter to back up. They are good enough in pre-season that, if they are backing up a tier three guy, the fans want him to get a chance and he may even win the spot temporarily. Example: Derek Anderson
Any QB not in the top four tier is a career back up and will probably not see a regular season game.
With this system in mind, put last years starters into tiers. You can also pick out guys who may not have started last year but you may feel is in the top four tiers. A good example of that would be Shawn Hill.
For a list of QB's and easy reference, right click this link and open in new tab or page http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?archive=false&conference=null&statisticCategory=PASSING&season=2011&seasonType=REG&experience=null&tabSeq=0&qualified=true&Submit=Gofor
I am curious to see your tier results. I will leave mine in the comment section.