Bucs QB Tom Brady didn’t fare so well in last year’s ESPN survey of more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to rank the top 10 players in the NFL at each position. The 7-time Super Bowl champion slotted in at No. 7, drawing strong criticism from several league sources.
“I wasn’t prepared for what I saw last year,” one NFC exec said (before the 2020 season). “It’s all anticipation and pre-snap ability now.”
Brady responded by doing what he always does: playing out of his mind while leading the Bucs to their second Super Bowl in franchise history. His performance earned him a significant bump in this year’s version of the same NFC survey, jumping up to No. 3 on the list. Only Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers finished ahead of Brady in voting. No ballot had Brady lower than sixth place.
It should be noted that Texans QB Deshaun Watson was not included in these rankings. I included him in my QB rankings a few weeks ago.
“What he did last year at age 43 is ridiculous,” a veteran NFL quarterback said. “They know they can win when they have Tom.”
“He was not throwing the ball as well [in 2019], but his arm looked stronger,” an AFC scout said. “The dude is an anomaly.”
There’s not much more to be said about Brady at this point. His 2020 season was one of the more remarkable we’ve ever seen, especially when the full context of his situation is considered. Brady set single-season records with touchdowns (40) and completions (401) while throwing just 12 interceptions and taking only 21 sacks. It was a far cry from the careless style of quarterbacking Bucs fans had witnessed for years under a variety of passers.
Brady and the Bucs will enter 2021 as one of just a few true contenders in the NFC. A chance to rise up the rankings will be on the table for Brady again, even at age 44 soon. Brady is under contract in Tampa Bay through the 2022 season.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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