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ACL injury leaves evaluators questioning Carson Palmer this season

TEMPE, Ariz. -- If he was healthy and coming off a playoff run, the rankings would've certainly been different.

They would've reflected a general shift in perception toward Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. If he was healthy, Palmer would be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

But he's 35 and coming off the second ACL injury of his career, and coaches and evaluators around the NFL cited that as a major reason for ranking Palmer as a Tier 3 quarterback in a rating of all 32 quarterbacks, according to ESPN NFL Insider Mike SandoInsider.

Sando polled 35 league insiders and Palmer ranked as the top quarterback in Tier 3, despite going 6-0 last season and 11-2 in his last 13 starts.

But Palmer's knee injury cost the veteran from being ranked among the league's top signal-callers.

"He plays well as a stationary dropback QB," a personnel director told Sando. "He can find his receivers. If he is comfortable in the system, he can make all the throws, finding his first, second and maybe his third read. He is a system guy now."

According to Sando, one head coach pegged Palmer as a backup -- an extreme opinion compared to the majority. Of the 35, 13 voted Palmer in Tier 2.

"At one point, I'd have told you he is a 3," another director said. "I am saying he is a high 2. Coming out of Oakland I thought his arm was dying. I give Arizona credit. They saw something I did not. His arm has more life to it than I thought."