- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- When it comes to ranking quarterbacks, the debates can be endless and sometimes pointless, but Mike Sando took the question to people inside the NFL with his latest ESPN Insider piece.
It might surprise some of you that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo finished tied for eighth in the tier-rankings of 26 general managers, former GMs, pro personnel people, coordinators, head coaches, position coaches and an executive.
Four players tied for the top spot in Sando’s rankings, using a 1 for the best at the position and a 5 for the worst. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees shared the top spot. Andrew Luck was fifth.
Here’s what Sando wrote and the insiders had to say about Romo:
T-8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (2.23 average rating)
A few evaluators questioned whether Romo had the mind-set to play at the highest level consistently. It's a familiar refrain in league circles, a feeling that Romo is an undisciplined QB playing for an undisciplined organization with a poorly constructed roster.
"People want to knock him," one GM responded, "but the guy has talent and is one of the top 10 starters in the league."
Romo is 34 years old and coming off back surgery, but he still could be in line for a "monster" season, one evaluator said. "But I absolutely believe they will not win big with him. As soon as he decides it's a clutch moment, his brain goes elsewhere. He loses focus and tries to create something."
What’s funny is that the GM and evaluator have the same thoughts of those who love Romo or loathe Romo who are not on the inside. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports went so far as to call Romo “underrated” in his yearly rankings, which drew the ire of some.
The “clutch” talk has been a big thing around Romo since the bobbled snap in 2006 against the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs. That talk is always followed up with Romo having the best fourth-quarter passer rating in NFL history (102.4) and his 20 come-from-behind wins.
Those numbers aren’t hollow, although with one playoff win to his credit that’s what his detractors will say.
That’s why this debate is a good one. Both sides can declare victory with their points. If Romo were to ever win a Super Bowl -- or perhaps just get to one -- then the perception would change entirely.