Every time Chris Simms puts out a quarterback ranking, all hell breaks loose.
Which is why these rankings are so much fun. They give us plenty to talk about during a quiet time in the middle of the offseason.
Full disclosure: Simms is a recurring guest on the Eagle Eye podcast and a friend of the show, as they say. We have a lot of respect for him as an analyst, and he always puts a lot of thought into everything he does.
That said, Simms is out of his mind.
Ranking Hurts 25th in his QB rankings this year is just as ridiculous as not ranking him at all last year.
As he does every offseason, Simms is releasing his NFL quarterback rankings in installments, five at a time. He’s put out everything up through No. 20 so far, and he’s got Hurts No. 25… ranked lower than Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence.
Here’s the problem: Simms writes that the rankings are “not about career potential” but where a quarterback is right now.
But without seeing the top 20 yet, here are my initial questions:
• How do you rank Jones ahead of Hurts? Jones is 13-25 in three years as a starting quarterback, he’s two years older than Hurts, he’s never won more than five games in a season and he’s averaged 16 ½ touchdowns per season.
• How do you rank Wilson ahead of Hurts? While Hurts was leading the Eagles to the playoffs in his first year as a starter, Wilson was 3-10 with more interceptions than touchdowns and a much lower completion percentage (56%) or passer rating (69.7) than Hurts.
• How do you rank Fields ahead of Hurts? He went 2-8 as a rookie last year, also had more INTs than TDs (10-7) and a lower completion percentage than Hurts (59%) and had 9 combined rushing and passing TDs – just about a third of Hurts’ total of 26.
• How do you rank Trevor Lawrence ahead of Hurts? He went 3-14 as a rookie, had a lower completion percentage than Hurts, FIVE more interceptions than touchdowns (an NFL-high 17 to 12) and a passer rating 15 points lower than Hurts (87 to 72).
Four guys who were a combined 12-39 last year.
Just a quick refresher on Hurts’ 2021 season:
Yeah, he had periods of inconsistency. Yeah, he missed some open guys. Yeah, he didn’t play well in the playoff loss to the Bucs.
But he improved from 52% to 61% accuracy, he ran or threw for 26 touchdowns to just 11 turnovers, he rushed for nearly 800 yards, and he became the youngest quarterback ever to take the Eagles to the playoffs.
And he did all that with a mediocre group of wide receivers in his first year playing in a new system with a rookie head coach.
The problem with Simms’ rankings is that even though he says he’s not, he really is evaluating guys like Fields, Lawrence, Jones and Wilson based on their potential. Because it’s pretty obvious that based simply on current production, Hurts is significantly ahead of all of them.
And maybe those four QBs will all improve. Fields, Lawrence, Jones and Wilson were all top-11 picks in the first round for a reason.
But the flaw in Simms’ list is that he’s essentially judging other young quarterbacks coming off their first year as starters by their potential but judging Hurts on what he was last year.
How else can you explain putting Hurts behind those guys?
But here’s the thing: Why are we assuming those other young QBs will improve but assuming Hurts won’t?
Why wouldn’t he? If you look at how far he came from his four starts in 2020 to his 15 starts in 2021, he improved dramatically in terms of accuracy, decision making and ball security.
You can’t question the kid’s work ethic and desire, and just with upgraded wide receivers and a second season under the same coach – something he hasn’t had since high school – it’s hard to imagine he won’t get at least somewhat better .
So where should Hurts be ranked if we’re being honest?
The top group has to include – in some order – Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Matt Stafford, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray and Derek Carr. That’s 13 guys who have to be ahead of Hurts.
The bottom group, including projected or possible starters, has to include – in whatever order – Kenny Pickett, Davis Mills, Tua Tagovailoa, Mitchell Trubisky, Marcus Mariota, Drew Lock, Taylor Heinicke, Trey Lance, Sam Darnold, Trey Lance and Jared Goff as well as Fields, Jones, Lawrence and Wilson. That’s 15 guys who have to be below Hurts.
That leaves Hurts, Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, Mac Jones, Jimmy Garoppolo, Baker Mayfield and Carson Wentz for spots 14 through 22.
Personally, I’d put Ryan, Cousins, Mac Jones and probably Tannehill ahead of Hurts, and Winston, Garoppolo, Mayfield and Wentz below him.
That puts him at No. 18.
Seems about right.
Hurts was 16th in the NFL last year in wins, 14th in combined rushing and passing touchdowns, 13th in combined first downs.
Maybe he’ll never get any better. Maybe he’ll be a superstar. Who knows? But any way you measure it, as it stands today, he’s a heck of a lot better than 25th.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast
Apple Podcasts Google Play Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube