Pro Football Focus released their preseason quarterback rankings prediction on Monday and Matthew Stafford found himself within the top 10. The rankings are based on what the PFF staff believes each quarterback’s final grade will be at the end of the year. The Detroit Lions quarterback was predicted to be the tenth-best quarterback in the upcoming season, but in their write up, PFF mentions his incredible potential:
“At his best, Stafford looks the part of top-three quarterback, making special throws both inside and outside of structure, however it’s his week-to-week consistency that keeps him from the top echelon of quarterbacks.”
Their analysis seems fair. Stafford definitely has the arm talent and playmaking ability to hang with the best of quarterbacks. When he is at his best he is an elite talent that can make plays that not many other players can make. He is prone to going on cold stretches throughout games and often takes until the fourth quarter to heat up, though.
While a 10th-place ranking seems fair based on his past work, there is reason to believe that this season may be Stafford’s best. The quarterback was in the MVP conversation for much of the 2016 season until a late-season finger injury derailed the Lions in the last month of the season. He may have been even better in 2017. Despite getting sacked on 7.7 percent of his drop backs last year, he still led the NFC in passing yards and had his most efficient season as a passer with an average net yards per attempt of 7.01. He is also entering his 10th season in the NFL and is now 30 years old. This is the point in many quarterbacks’ careers where they play their best football.
A few of the quarterbacks ranked above Stafford are interesting inclusions. Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, who recently threw a football for the first time in over a year, was ranked seventh. It’s realistic to imagine that the quarterback will be rusty in his first NFL action since 2016 and may struggle in the opening couple of games next season. Indianapolis also has a weaker offensive line and receiving corps than Detroit, so he won’t have the support on offense that Stafford does.
Ranked right above Stafford is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Carson Wentz, at No. 9. While he did have an MVP caliber season in 2017, his season ended early when he tore his ACL last December. Wentz has been limited in Eagles training camp so far and there is a legitimate chance that he sits out the entirety of the preseason. It may take him some time to get back to his former self and a slow start may be in the cards for a player experiencing live-game action for the first time in nine months by Week 1.
It’s nice to see Stafford finally get some of the respect that he deserves from the national media but there is a very real chance he surprises many and plays better than ever this season.