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Lions' Matthew Stafford ranks 10th among ESPN's top quarterbacks for 2020

The Detroit News

Matthew Stafford missed half of last season with a back injury, dousing what had the makings of one of the quarterback's better seasons with the Detroit Lions.

At 32, Stafford remains one of the NFL's top signal callers, with ESPN listing him at No. 10 in its top 10 quarterbacks for the 2020 season, posted Wednesday.

Matthew Stafford

The rankings were based on voting and feedback from a panel of 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players. Stafford just squeezed in, just ahead of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Stafford was ranked anywhere from No. 4 to No. 14 among the panelists.

"Maybe the tightest race of the position was Stafford vs. Matt Ryan at 10," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler writes. "Ryan had slightly more top-10 votes, but Stafford's average overall was higher. Expanding the voting to Ryan vs. Stafford exclusively gave Stafford the edge as well. He scares opposing teams more, can score from anywhere on the field, and where he plays counts."

Fowler quotes an unnamed NFC executive, saying "It's the Stafford syndrome — he plays in Detroit, so he's not in a position to maximize his ability. He's a major talent who'd probably be a top-five quarterback with an established franchise. He can score from anywhere on the field."

Through eight games last season, Stafford had racked up 2,499 yards passing, to go along with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. He had completed 64.3% of his passes, before a back injury ended his season, and a 136-game starting streak that spanned eight seasons.

Without Stafford, the Lions lost their final eight games, finishing 3-12-1.

In May, Stafford said his back injury was fully healed, and that he'll be "ready to go" for 2020.

"Most everyone agrees Stafford's arm is top-five level," Fowler writes. "... He was phenomenal from inside the pocket (last season), with a league-leading 82.7 QBR, 66.2 completion percentage, 8.8 yards per attempt, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions.

"The core issue with Stafford is simple," Fowler continued, saying "multiple" front-office executives asked, "What has he really done?" in reference to his 0-3 record in the playoffs. 

Former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady is No. 7 as he enters his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at age 42.

"Brady posted one 300-yard game after Week 6 last season," Fowler writes, "prompting speculation about whether the New England breakup wasn't one-sided. But Brady's pre-snap wizardry is still good enough to spark a Peyton Manning late-career arc."

Patrick Mahomes, who just signed a massive 10-year, $503 million extension with the Kansas City Chiefs, leads ESPN's rankings.