Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins both missed the playoffs, but they came in on opposite ends of the spectrum in an anonymous survey of 85 defensive players from 25 different teams conducted by The Athletic.
Newton received the most votes as the league's most underrated quarterback, while Cousins topped the list of the most overrated ones.
Eli Manning was the runner-up as the most overrated signal-caller, although Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston and Sam Bradford all received multiple votes.
"Most quarterbacks are overrated," one defender said. "People think they're great if they win even if there are a lot of other factors."
One Houston Texans defensive back provided an amusing answer when asked which QB was the most overrated. Per Aaron Reiss of The Athletic, when he was reminded the survey was anonymous, the DB responded: "Man, I don't give a s--t. Blake Bortles."
It is interesting that many players see Newton as the most underrated given his long list of accolades. He has been in the public eye since he won a Heisman Trophy and national title at Auburn in 2010 and parlayed his collegiate career into becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Since then, he's won Offensive Rookie of the Year and a league MVP award, appeared in a Super Bowl, made three Pro Bowls and been the face of multiple commercials. While those accomplishments aren't typically associated with someone who's underrated, it is a testament to his talent that so many defensive players saw him as such.
It is perhaps a nod to the fact that he often isn't discussed in the same manner as Brady, Brees and Aaron Rodgers among the best signal-callers in the league. As well, defenders who have to tackle him at 6'5" and 245 pounds likely respect his ability to make plays while keeping Carolina's passing attack afloat.
As for Cousins, he has appeared in only two playoff games—both losses when he was in Washington—and has one Pro Bowl nod.
He took over a Vikings team that was on the doorstep of the Super Bowl last season in the NFC Championship Game with Case Keenum at the helm. The Vikings didn't even make the playoffs in 2018 despite still having receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs on the outside and a strong defense that returned many of its key players.
The Michigan State product's contract likely played a factor in his being named the league's most overrated quarterback. The Vikings gave him a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal.
That was a lot of money to pay someone who went 3-4 down the stretch and put up a measly 10 points in must-win Week 17 game against the Chicago Bears.