Is Blake Bortles a top-10 quarterback?

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Oct 11, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) looks to throw during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Bortles enters Week 6 as the ninth highest graded quarterback according to Pro Football Focus. It’s a jump that many of us never would have anticipated in our wildest dreams just months after finishing the 2014 season as the worst-graded quarterback by PFF.

But when the same site compiled its list of the top-10 quarterbacks heading into Week 6, Bortles was left off of it. His two peers, Derek Carr (eight) and Teddy Bridgewater (10) both made an appearance on that list despite being graded overall at 12th and 13th on the positional grades.

This is a great example of reminding everyone that PFF’s grades are simply a tool to measuring players and are not the definitive ranking of a player.

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Still, it’s worth wondering why a player like Bortles, who is having a heck of a season, is being passed over in the top-10 discussion. Other names like Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Matt Ryan are expected.

So far this season, the top quarterbacks have seen a bit of a shift. While Palmer, Rodgers, and Brady continue to reign supreme, we’ve seen a fall from grace for Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning has somehow become a glorified game manager. In their places we’ve seen the rise of Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan’s return to form.

Palmer, Rodgers, Brady, Dalton, and Ryan are all definitively worthy of being called the best in the business right now. A healthy Ben Roethlisberger should be in the conversation, too (still not quite ready to see the field, though).

Sep 13, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) throws in the first quarter of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Young guys like Tyrod Taylor, Carr, and Bridgewater are vying to be considered with the other, slightly older players like Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. Blake Bortles and journeyman Josh McCown should be a part of that conversation as well. I think there’s no question you put Wilson in with the other five mentioned above, leaving four more spots available.

Of those left in consideration for the final four spots, Blake Bortles and Cam Newton have the lowest completion percentages at 57.1 percent and 55.4 percent, respectively. McCown leads the contending group at 67.8 percent, followed closely by Bridgewater (67 percent).

If we look at overall quarterback rating, Tyrod Taylor takes the lead with a 103.6 (seventh best in the NFL), following closely by McCown at 102.8 (eighth). The only other player in our group of contenders with a rating over 90 is Derek Carr at 93.9 (16th in the NFL). Newton and Bortles are our next highest.

Looking at yards per attempt, only McCown and Taylor are in the top 10 of the NFL (at eight and 10, respectively) and have more than eight yards per attempt. Among our contenders, Derek Carr and Blake Bortles are next highest at 7.1 and 6.9, respectively (19th and 21st in the NFL).

Based on my subjectively chosen criteria statistics above, it’s clear that both Taylor and McCown are holding up compared to both this group of contenders and the NFL as a whole. I would certainly add them to my top 10 at this time, leaving just two spots left.

Next: Can one of the other four slip into the top 10?