One of the more prominent offseason analyses done is the ranking and evaluation of players at each position. While analysts utilize most of the tools at their disposal (standard statistics, advanced metrics, tape study) there is still some level of subjectivity to said analyses.
Matt Miller over at Bleacher Report has done positional rankings on an annual basis for quite a while now and he recently released his post on the top 50 quarterbacks from 2015. These rankings are released with the disclaimer they only take into account performance in 2015 – not projections or prior career accomplishments. Blake Bortles came in at 16.
Miller mentioned accuracy being an issue, but Bortles showing some improvement in 2015 over his rookie campaign…
"Overall, he showed marked improvement over his rookie season in terms of ball placement and anticipation, which should only improve as he continues to build a rapport with his talented young receiving corps."
Miller also credited Bortles with having a very strong arm, one that improved with more refined mechanics in 2015.
"He has the ability to challenge opposing defenses with the deep ball and keep them away from the deep outs with plenty of zip to the sideline…He’s effective in the play-action game, sets his base properly and tops it off with a quick, strong release. When combined with his arm strength, he’s capable of being one of the most sound throwers in the league when he puts it all together."
Unsurprisingly, Miller knocked Bortles a bit for his decision-making, something that was evident given his league-leading 18 interceptions in 2015.
"His 35 touchdowns were a huge accomplishment, but they were accompanied by a league-leading 18 interceptions. He still doesn’t seem completely certain about what he’s seeing, and opposing defenses were effective this season at disguising coverages pre-snap and baiting him into bad decisions."
I don’t take much issue with Bortles being ranked at 16 just at face value. Given how badly he played as a rookie, to see Bortles even ranked as a league-average quarterback is extremely encouraging.
Still, if you look at who is ranked ahead of Bortles, the case can be made for the second year QB to move up a few spots. Miller thinks Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, and Derek Carr played better in 2015. Miller is a Teddy-stan and will fight for him to the death, so I’m not too surprised he thinks Bridgewater had a better year, as comical as it seems.
I’ve made the case about Carr and Bortles basically being 1a and 1b in terms of second year quarterbacks. Carr had an outstanding first 8 games, but his last half of the year was unremarkable and was no better statistically than Bortles.
Putting Cutler ahead of Bortles is an interesting move, one I think most people would disagree with.
I’d probably move Bortles ahead to 12 (in front of Mariota, Bridgewater, and Cutler) just in terms of performance last year.