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Updated: July 3rd, 2014 10:26am
ESPN project polls GMs, coaches and scouts, who rank Matt Cassel 28th

ESPN project polls GMs, coaches and scouts, who rank Matt Cassel 28th

by Andrew Krammer
1500ESPN.com
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Mike Zimmer says he doesn't know yet who he'll start at quarterback, but it's clear some other coaches, general managers and scouts don't like one of his options. 

An ESPN project by Mike Sando polled 26 league officials, which also included other talent evaluators and coordinators, and had them rank "every projected starting quarterback on a 1-5 scale, with 'one' reserved for the best and 'five' for the worst." 

Sando separated those quarterbacks into tiers based on the average rank, and Minnesota's Matt Cassel is near the bottom.

Tier 1 ('1' votes)

1. Tom Brady (25)
2. Peyton Manning (25)
3. Aaron Rodgers (25)
4. Drew Brees (25)
5. Andrew Luck (14)

Tier 2 (1, 2 votes)

6. Philip Rivers (7, 18)
7. Ben Roethlisberger (6, 18)
8. Matt Ryan (0, 20) 
9. Russell Wilson (3, 14)
10. Eli Manning (2, 17)
11. Tony Romo (1, 18)
12. Joe Flacco (2, 14) 
13. Matthew Stafford (0, 17) 
14. Colin Kaepernick (0, 14) 
15. Nick Foles (1, 12)

Tier 3 (2, 3 votes)

16. Cam Newton (12, 13)
17. Jay Cutler (10, 16)
18. Alex Smith (4, 19) 
19. Andy Dalton (3, 20) 
20. Robert Griffin III (5, 15) 
21. Carson Palmer (3, 17) 
22. Sam Bradford (2, 20) 
23. Ryan Tannehill (1, 15) 
24. Josh McCown (0, 14) 

Tier 4

25. Matt Schaub
26. Chad Henne
27. E.J. Manuel
28. Matt Cassel
29. Brian Hoyer
30. Ryan Fitzpatrick
31. Jake Locker
32. Geno Smith

No quarterback qualified in the bottom tier, but the 15 personnel people and 11 coaches clearly had a consensus top four quarterbacks followed by a steep dropoff in '5' votes. The memory of Andrew Luck's comeback win over Kansas City in the playoffs certainly stayed with many decision makers in the NFL as he surpasses multiple Super Bowl winners to move into the top tier.

There was little debate with Matt Cassel, who had a 3-3 record as a starter for the Vikings last season, not counting a Dec. 1 win over Chicago in which he entered after halftime for Christian Ponder. Voters placed Jacksonville's Chad Henne and Buffalo's E.J. Manuel above Cassel, who has proven to be a successful journeyman, but inconsistent nonetheless. Cassel hasn't played more than nine games in a season since 2010 and will be challenged by rookie Teddy Bridgewater when the Vikings open training camp on July 24. 

A pair of polarizing quarterbacks in the Vikings' own division landed at No. 13 and No. 17 on the list in Detroit's Matthew Stafford and Chicago's Jay Cutler. 

"There's a lot of love and hate for Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford, talent wise, Stafford can really make the jump and be a '1'," Sando said. "They want to see if it's going to happen with [coach Jim] Caldwell. Obviously he hasn't been consistent enough and his mechanics really bothered people. And with Cutler, I think people are just intrigued now to see that he has a good offensive line and good receivers, can he become more consistent. Some people aren't so sure." 

One of the more surprising ranks is that of Colin Kaepernick, who just signed a six-year, $126 million contract in San Francisco. Kaepernick is 4-2 in the playoffs and has made two straight NFC Championships, yet lands behind the likes of Romo, Stafford and Matt Ryan in the rankings. 

Voters were split on Robert Griffin III, with one giving him a '1,' five for '2,' fifteen voted him as a '3' and another five thought him a '4'. Another surprise was the rise in Philadelphia's Nick Foles, who led all quarterbacks in passer rating last season. At No. 15, Foles is ranked above Cam Newton and Griffin. 

Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for 1500ESPN.com. He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer
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