Every year, The Athletic’s Mike Sando polls 50 NFL coaches and executives rank and share their opinions on a given number of NFL’s quarterbacks. He asks his panel to categorize a set list of quarterbacks into five different tiers. This year, his panel categorized 35 veteran quarterbacks, including current Seattle Seahawks Drew Lock and Geno Smith.
Russell Wilson had been the Seahawks representative in previous iterations of this survey. However, Lock and Smith take over after Seattle traded Wilson to the Denver Broncos. The decision was not popular in March. Mike Sando’s panel echoed that sentiment. The survey featured the two quarterbacks at the very bottom of the rankings.
The three-year veteran appeared on Sando’s as the 34th quarterback overall with an 4.24 average tier score. As a result, he was the final quarterback in the Tier 4 category.
“A Tier 4 quarterback could be an unproven player (not enough information for voters to classify) or a veteran who ideally would not start all 17 games.”
It’s an accurate description for Lock, who has started 21 of the 24 games he’s played in over his three-year career. Some of his missed time is due to injuries, but also, he just hasn’t earned the playing time. For example, he failed to beat journeyman Teddy Bridgewater in starting QB battle last season. Lock’s struggles with inconsistency and decision-making have been well-documented over his career despite his physical talent. The comments from panelists shared similar thoughts about the first-year Seahawks QB.
“He is not a good decision maker, and he doesn’t play smart,” an offensive coordinator said. “It’s not just bad decisions. He does crazy stuff on top of it. Maybe they (Seahawks) can help him with that.”
“All kinds of talent. I don’t know how he is wired…” a head coach said. “I want to like him and I’m pulling him, but there is something missing there.”
Maybe, Drew Lock can realize his untapped potential with the Seahawks. However, the prospect of that happening is slim. He will be given every opportunity to prove it though. He just has to win the starting job this fall first. Speaking of which…
The eight-year NFL veteran ended up last, (35th out of 35) in Sando’s QB Tier list. He had a voting average of 4.62. It unfortunately made him the only quarterback to have a Tier 5 grade, which means he “is best suited as a backup.”
This evaluation isn’t anything new. The New York Jets gave Geno Smith the opportunity to start in 2013 and 2014. They went 11-18 with him as the starter, and he posted 5,571 passing yards with a 25-34 TD-INT ratio. As a result, he was quickly relegated to a backup; a role he’s had with three other teams including the Seahawks. NFL personnel feel very comfortable with him in that role
“Everybody who has ever coached him loved this guy,” a head coach said. “You love him as your backup. If he has to start more than four or five games, I don’t see him going to do the whole thing.”
“He does a good job when he comes off the bench of maintaining things and managing the game well,” quarterbacks coach said. “He’s not going to elevate the team at this point. I think he’s good to come out of the bullpen and pitch four or five good innings, then give it back to the ace to close things out.”
Unfortunately, this is not a situation where Smith can step in for four or five games. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are giving him the chance to start all 17 games if he beats Lock.
The franchise went 1-2 last season while averaging 18.0 points per game when he replaced Russell Wilson. He had decent stats in those three starts with 571 passing yards and a 5-1 TD-INT ratio. Still, that’s not good enough to think he’ll deliver enough wins as a full-time starter.
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