The Athletic’s Mike Sando recently released his NFL Quarterback Tiers for 2022, his annual survey of coaches and executives to rank the quarterbacks around the league. According to the article, this year’s survey included “six general managers, eight head coaches, 10 evaluators, 12 coordinators, six quarterback coaches and seven execs whose specialties include analytics, game management, and the salary cap;” the 50th ballot was submitted by four members of one team’s personnel department.
The survey included 35 veteran quarterbacks, reflecting some of the question marks at starter for some of the teams. Rookies were excluded from the survey because they have no NFL experience yet.
The top tier of the survey, representing the quarterback who can carry his team every week and the team wins because of him, includes the usual suspects: Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Josh Allen along with Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. Burrow was the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, while Herbert was the sixth pick that year. With both of them listed as tier one quarterbacks, it is the player selected between them that is of interest for Miami Dolphins fans.
And to find the 2020 fifth-overall pick, Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins fans have to scroll down - then keep going.
Tagovailoa comes in as the 26th-ranked quarterback, landing in the fourth tier of the survey. The tier is described as a quarterback who is either “an unproven player (not enough information for voters to classify) or a veteran who ideally would not start all 17 games.”
Also ranked in the fourth tier last year, Tagovalioa was ranked here, according to Sando, because “Skepticism continues to engulf Tagovailoa.”
He continues to explain, “Last offseason, voters placed him in Tier 4 partly because they didn’t have enough information to place him elsewhere. This offseason, voters placed him there because they’ve seen enough to say he does not belong higher.”
Sando explained that voters seem to question Tagovailoa’s ability to read defensive coverages and the protections. The example used was when Tagovailoa was injured against the Buffalo Bills early last year because “he failed to account for a pass-rusher.”
Tagovailoa was also compared to other Alabama quarterbacks in the league, Mac Jones (18th, Tier 3) and Jalen Hurts (20th, Tier 3), by one evaluator who said Tagovailoa is more accurate than either of them, but that they are “much fiercer competitors” and that will assist them getting through any struggles they have.
The Dolphins are betting on Tagovailoa moving up in next year’s tier ratings. They have added wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Cedric Wilson, Jr., along with running backs Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Sony Michel this offseason, all to add speed and options to the offense. Along with wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki, the offense appears set to explode if Tagovailoa is able to prove some of these evaluators wrong.
Sando does explain that it is not all negative when it comes to evaluations of Tagovailoa. An offensive coordinator told him, “I’m excited to see what he does with this supporting cast. I’m a big fan of the offense they are installing, getting the quarterback to make quick and easy decisions. I don’t think Tua is moving into a consistent 2, but I could see some people next year saying when he has a good year, that he has some 2 attributes. I like what they’re building around him down there.”
Will the 2023 edition of the tiers be a little kinder to Tagovailoa? Or will he find himself again being questioned and doubted?