Pro Football Focus’ latest tiering of quarterbacks shows the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson is ready to move into the category of elite signal-callers.
There aren’t many who need to be educated on just how prolific Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is, particularly after the 23 year old took home league MVP, first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors following his breakout 2020 campaign.
And while Baltimore’s campaign to secure another Super Bowl fell short in the playoffs last season, Jackson was more than just a pleasure to watch. He was electrifying, defining himself as one of the numerous young quarterbacks who’ll be ambassadors of the game for years to come.
It’s always fun to look at the numbers, which are there and could even stand to get better. But it’s also important to tier quarterbacks into certain categories. There are the top-tier elite ones who can carry a team regardless of supporting casts. There are proven winners, too, who usually perform at high levels regardless of the situation. Game managers are fine, especially if they have a solid roster built around them.
And there are the place holders, of course. There’s a role for those quarterbacks in this league, too.
Thankfully, Jackson is in the upper echelon here, and the folks over at Pro Football Focus think as much.
Pro Football Focus’ tiering of Lamar Jackson
PFF’s Steve Palazzolo recently put together his tiering of the league’s starting signal-callers heading into 2020, and it shouldn’t be too surprising to see where Jackson ranks.
To set the context, Palazzolo created the following four tiers:
- Tier 1: High-end quarterbacks who can carry a team
- Tier 2: Quarterbacks who are more likely to elevate teammates and achieve top-end production, even with lesser supporting casts
- Tier 3: Volatile or conservative quarterbacks who will rely even more heavily on supporting cast and playcalling
- Tier 4: Quarterbacks with more question marks, either due to a lack of experience/seeing them perform at a high level in the NFL
Any guesses where Jackson ranks?
Actually, Palazzolo put Jackson into the second tier, which might seem a bit odd for a league MVP. But it does make some sense.
For reference, the only two QBs who made Tier 1 were the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson. Mahomes’ records and Super Bowl comeback victory cemented him in that tier, while Wilson has shown on a yearly basis (at times, with a less-than-stellar supporting cast) he can carry his team into the playoffs.
Jackson, meanwhile, still has a stock value on the rise. Palazzolo admitted this:
It may be difficult for Jackson to duplicate his incredible statistics from a year ago, as a touchdown rate of 9.0% is not sustainable, but he’ll still be one of the league’s most dangerous quarterbacks. His improved accuracy puts defenses in a bind, and the next step in his development will be finding success with passing in come-from-behind situations where conditions are less favorable. Jackson’s rushing ability gives him a high floor in any game, as he can make up for bad days as a passer with chunk plays on the ground, and that gives the Baltimore offense a strong baseline from which to work.
The touchdown-rate point is pretty valid, as it led the league last season while the average mean for good quarterbacks is between 4.5 and 5.0 percent.
And it isn’t as if Jackson is in poor company. Other quarterbacks who fell into Tier 2 include the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady and the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees.
For many other tiering analysts, all of those names would fall into the top category.
If Jackson backs up his 2019 campaign with yet another stellar effort this year, even if it fails to result in another MVP or All-Pro nod, it’ll be hard to keep the young quarterback out of that top tier.