NFL quarterback rankings: Carson Palmer considered third tier, ranked 21

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Where do league insiders put Palmer?

With the offseason comes the inevitable ranking of starting quarterbacks. ESPN's Mike Sando spoke to 26 league insiders -- current and former GMs, head coaches, coordinators, pro personnel evaluators, position coaches and a top executive.

Rather than a random ranking from Sando, he had these insiders rate each projected QB 1-5. Sando averaged the results and ranked them based on the average score, placing them in one of four different tiers. His results and insights are published in his ESPN Insider piece.

Carson Palmer was considered a Tier 3 quarterback and was ranked 21st overall, tied with Sam Bradford. He was ahead of Ryan Tannehill and Josh McCown and just behind Robert Griffin, Andy Dalton and Alex Smith.

Sando wrote this of his Palmer results:

Palmer is an interesting study because his production went from being pretty brutal through eight games last season (10 TDs, 14 INTs, 35.1 QBR score) to ranking among the NFL's best from that point forward (14 TDs, 8 INTs, 68.9 QBR).

Not many people seemed to notice. Twenty-three of 26 voters placed Palmer in the third or fourth tier. The eight players who gave Griffin a 4.1 grade on average combined to rate Palmer at 3.1, something I found interesting and somewhat surprising. "I really like Palmer," a veteran safety said. "He is a tough guy. I respect his game and his work ethic. I like the way he plays."

The third tier is not terrible guys. It includes Griffin, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Alex Smith, all of whom have taken their teams to the postseason. That's not bad company.

Is it a fair ranking?  Probably. If you look at Palmer's career, you have a guy with Tier 2 talent, but he hasn't won anything, his teams have been mostly bad and he has a reputation for turning the ball over and making head-scratching throws.

As evidenced by the players he is ranked around, he is a quarterback you can win with, but he won't necessarily elevate average talent or below average talent to another level.

Where would you rate Palmer? Should he be higher? Explain your thoughts in the comments below.

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