Because the sample sizes are larger and there’s a lot of data, it’s a lot easier to analyze quarterbacks in comparison to other positions. There are only a few data points to look at when it comes to the offensive line, but we sometimes get 1,000 pass attempts to evaluate at quarterback.
While these aren’t my actual quarterback rankings, this column does rank these quarterbacks based on their analytical profile. Without composite big board and NFL Combine data, this project is far from complete, but this column is a good primer as we begin digging deeper into #DraftSZN.
1. Kyler Murray - Oklahoma - Junior - Not 5’10/190
AYPA: 13.0 (1st) ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?
TD/INT: 6.0 (2nd)
TD%: 11.1% (1st)
Marginal Efficiency: 14.7% (1st)
Marginal Explosion: 0.59 (1st)
Sack%: 4.6 (6th)
Rushing Rank: 1st
Kyler Murray is the wild card of the group because of his baseball career. It’s a concern for teams debating a top-10 selection, but the upside is clearly here. Murray blew everyone out of the water in all of the yards per attempt stats listed above, especially on the road where he was actually better than at home (small sample size warning obviously). Murray also shredded in all of the touchdown metrics, finishing first in TD% and second in TD/INT ratio. The 21-year-old also finished first in Marginal Efficiency and Marginal Explosion as a passer, all while leading the group in rushing yards, YPC, and rushing touchdowns. The only on-field production/efficiency concern is the average to below average INT%. The debate over his size will be the big one (more on this in a future column), but his on-field production/efficiency is the very best of the class, and I’d be willing to roll the dice at No. 1 overall if I needed a quarterback *and* I knew he was 100% committed to the NFL. If he’s still considering baseball, his draft value becomes a whole lot trickier.
— Sports Info Solutions (@SportsInfo_SIS) February 7, 2019
2. Dwayne Haskins - Ohio State - Sophomore - 6’3/220
AYPA: 10.3 (3rd)
TD/INT: 6.3 (1st)
TD%: 9.4% (2nd)
Marginal Efficiency: 12.8% (2nd)
Marginal Explosion: 0.28 (6th)
Sack %: 3.6% (4th)
Rushing Rank: 10th
Dwayne Haskins was able to take care of the football (4th lowest INT%) while leading the group in touchdowns per game (3.1), which resulted in the best TD/INT ratio (6.3) in the class. Haskins was able to have an efficient season (2nd in Marginal Efficiency and 3rd in Adj. YPA) because he took what was given to him (70% completions) and kept himself in positive situations (4th in Sack%). But he wasn’t afraid to take shots when needed -- Haskins was fifth in percentage of passes that went for 8+ yards. Haskins was also able to have this success in his first season as the starter, and he did it as a 21-year-old. Haskins is arguably the quarterback with the least concerns, but his upside doesn’t touch Murray’s. Still, Haskins could make trips to the Pro Bowl in the near future, and he’s deserving of the No. 1 overall pick for quarterback-needy teams based on skill and positional value.
QB Dwayne Haskins has the impressive ability to make difficult throws look easy. The arm talent is special.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) December 2, 2018
3. Drew Lock - Missouri - Junior - 6’4/225
AYPA: 8.5 (6th)
TD/INT: 3.5 (8th)
TD%: 6.4% (7th)
Marginal Efficiency: 5.0% (10th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.28 (6th)
Sack%: 2.9% (3rd)
Rushing Rank: 5th
Drew Lock can be a little wild (57% career completion percentage), but he improved in that category as a senior (63% completion percentage) in part to keeping himself in good spots to pick up first downs (3rd in Sack%). Lock does make up for inconsistencies as a passer by being explosive. He finished with the second most passes that went for 20+ yards (21%) in the class and was sixth in Marginal Explosion. On top of that, Lock has those traditional things that NFL evaluators love -- size and arm strength. One of these two stats is meaningless, while one has been pretty important, but that’s for Monday’s column. While there are some things that make him intriguing, Lock is still a boom-or-bust prospect. The completion and interception percentages are average to below average, and he’s just slightly above average as a runner, all while having noticeable Power 5/non-Power 5 and home/road splits. It is not nice that Lock had a 6.9 YPA against the Power 5. Overall, Lock could be an NFL starter if he’s in the right spot, but he’s by no means an elite quarterback prospect. However, I'd still draft him inside the top-10 because of positional value.
Also this from November:
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) November 24, 2018
4. Jordan Ta’amu - Ole Miss - Junior - 6’2/210
AYPA: 9.4 (4th)
TD/INT: 2.4 (11th)
TD%: 4.5% (14th)
Marginal Efficiency: 7.8% (6th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.34 (4th)
Sack%: 6.5 (12th)
Rushing Rank: 4th
Jordan Ta’amu is being overlooked. He’s the fourth-rated rusher in the class, and he checks some boxes as a passer. Ta’amu is above average in all of the YPA stats shown above, and he was fourth in the class in AYPA, which has been quite correlated to early NFL success (column coming next week!). He also finished with average completion percentages despite finishing with the third highest percentage of 20+ yard passes (20%). Now, I know what you’re thinking, and it’s true. Ta’amu did get the privilege working with D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, DeMarkus Lodge, and Dawson Knox, but he was still going up against SEC defenses (4th toughest strength of schedule in the class), so it somewhat cancels out. What is concerning about Ta’amu’s profile is his lack of touchdowns. He only has 19 passing touchdowns against the Power 5, and his 4.5 TD% is third worst in this sample. Overall, Ta’amu isn’t a great prospect, but he’s been undervalued early on in the process, especially since he just turned 21 last December. He’s my favorite value quarterback of the bunch and is an ideal fit to be a backup behind a running quarterback.
I've been deep into this quarterback class, and there's one QB that keeps appearing in the top-5 in a ton of stats and models... #OleMiss Jordan Ta'amu... Apparently, there's *some* optimism from his tape too. https://t.co/TCYvEe4Su2
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) January 25, 2019
5. Will Grier - West Virginia - Senior - 6’2/223
AYPA: 10.7 (2nd)
TD/INT: 4.6 (3rd)
TD%: 9.3% (3rd)
Marginal Efficiency: 12.4% (3rd)
Marginal Explosion: 0.35 (3rd)
Sack%: 5.7% (9th)
Rushing Rank: 15th
Will Grier threw 71 touchdowns over the last two seasons, and he finished with the third best TD% (9.3%) in the class. All of those touchdowns resulted in Grier having the 2nd best AYPA (10.7) as well. Grier set up those touchdowns by being both efficient and explosive. He had the 2nd-best YPA (9.7), 3rd-best marks in Marginal Efficiency and Explosion, and had the 6th-best completion percentage (67%) in the class. Quite an impressive resume, but it’s not nearly perfect. Grier is already almost 24 years old, offers nothing as a runner, was below average at avoiding sacks, and his interception ratio was just so-so. Film grinders have their concerns about his arm strength, but there’s at least a path to starts in the NFL, even if that’s low probability. There’s a little more upside than just a career-long backup.
QB Will Grier is an outstanding rhythm passer. If the TT defense is going to get a stop, they need to put pressure on the QB. Once Grier gets in rhythm, he can be surgical.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 29, 2018
6. Jarrett Stidham - Auburn - Junior - 6’3/215
AYPA: 7.9 (10th)
TD/INT: 3.6 (7th)
TD%: 4.9% (13th)
Marginal Efficiency: 0.6% (13th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.26 (9th)
Sack%: 5.9% (10th)
Rushing Rank: 14th
Jarrett Stidham had a poor 2018 season, but his career numbers paint a brighter picture. His career numbers against the Power 5 include a low 1.2 INT% (2nd), a 4.5 TD/INT ratio (3rd), and an 8.4 YPA (4th). That’s pretty impressive considering a majority of those passes came against the SEC. However, there are some concerns here. Stidham offers nothing as a runner, finished below average in YPA and AYPA, and only completed 61% of his passes in 2018. Some analysts contribute these struggles to a poor Auburn offense, but an elite quarterback prospect would elevate his surroundings. Overall, Stidham looks more like a backup than starter, but I’m not counting him out from making NFL starts.
Another season in Auburn's offense wasn't going to benefit Stidham IMO. Plenty of optimism about him around the league. Senior Bowl week will be a HUGE part of his draft eval. https://t.co/r0e18EkJn4
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) December 5, 2018
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 26, 2019
7. Gardner Minshew - Washington State - Senior - 6’2/220
AYPA: 7.8 (12th)
TD/INT: 4.2 (5th)
TD%: 5.7% (9th)
Marginal Efficiency: 6.3% (7th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.13 (14th)
Sack%: 1.9% (1st)
Rushing Rank: 9th
Gardner Minshew shined under HC Mike Leach, completing 71% of his passes for 4,776 yards while keeping his INT% below 1.5. One reason he had all this success was by avoiding sacks (1.9% was the best of the sample) and by checking down to the open man. While that helped a ton at Washington State, Minshew didn’t show a lot of explosion (14th) and his per attempt metrics were so-so. However, Minshew threw the most pass attempts in the FBS, so it’s not fair to hold him to the same standards on a per-attempt-basis as quarterbacks who threw 200 fewer passes in 2018. While I wouldn’t put Minshew on Ta’amu’s level when it comes to being a sleeper, he does have a unique enough profile to at least be intrigued in the mid-to-late rounds.
8. Ryan Finley - NC State - Senior - 6’4/212
AYPA: 8.1 (9th)
TD/INT: 2.3 (13th)
TD%: 5.2% (11th)
Marginal Efficiency: 9.2% (4th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.17 (12th)
Sack%: 2.2% (2nd)
Rushing Rank: 12th
Ryan Finley has a moderately praised by film grinders, and I’m willing to listen to them despite the low ranking here. Finley was dinged here because of his touchdown numbers and rushing production, but there’s some promise in his non-touchdown passing metrics. Finley averaged a respectable 8.1 YPA (8th), was fourth in Marginal Efficiency, completed 67% of his passes (4th), and finished with the 2nd-best sack rate. Finley also has a lot of experience and career counting numbers, so I’d rank Finley higher than 12th in my actual rankings. Overall, Finley looks like a decent backup quarterback, one that has a chance at making NFL starts.
To recap the first page, here are the top-8 quarterbacks: 1) Kyler Murray, 2) Dwayne Haskins, 3) Drew Lock, 4) Jordan Ta'amu, 5) Will Grier, 6) Jarrett Stidham, 7) Gardner Minshew, and 8) Ryan Finley. The next eight quarterbacks all have pretty low chances of making 10+ NFL starts, but this next guy probably will because of his expected draft position.
9. Daniel Jones - Duke - Junior - 6’5/220
AYPA: 6.9 (15th) Kyler Murray was at 13.0 in case you forgot.
TD/INT: 2.4 (11th) Dwayne Haskins was at 6.3 in case you forgot.
TD%: 5.6% (10th) Kyler Murray was at 11.1 in case you forgot.
Marginal Efficiency: 0.4% (14th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.16 (13th)
Sack%: 6.7% (13th) Drew Lock was at 2.9% in case you forgot.
Rushing Rank: 7th
I really hate to do this, but can someone please explain all of this love over Daniel Jones? Just look at these numbers, folks. As you’ll see in detail in a future column, Jones would be a complete outlier if he was able to have success in the NFL. Legit quarterback prospects don’t have a 6.8 YPA average (look at the Tweet below), especially in their third season as the starter. Also, what’s all this talk about QB whisperer David Cutcliffe coaching Jones and that being nothing but a positive for Jones? If Cutcliffe is as good as everyone says and Jones did what he did in 2018, what does that say about Jones’ abilities? Anyways, for as bad as his 2018 stats were, Jones’ career stats against the Power 5 are worse. Jones was dead last in TD% (3.4%), third worst in TD/INT ratio, and averaged 6.1 yards per attempt! Look at that second Tweet below!!! These concerns go beyond just simple box-score stats too. Jones was 14th in Marginal Efficiency, 13th in Marginal Explosion, and 13th in sack percentage. Luckily, Jones is a sneaky runner and checked in as the 7th-best rusher in the sample, or he might have even been lower on the list. Overall, I’m more than willing to bet against Jones returning value as a first-round pick, if that’s where he goes. There’s a lot of issues here, and we shouldn’t be betting on outlier performers.
YPA in last CFB season:
Murray 11.9 🏈
Grier 9.7 🏈
Haskins 9.2 🏈
Lock 7.8 🏈
Jones 6.8 🏈
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) December 28, 2018
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) January 15, 2019
10. Taylor Cornelius - Oklahoma State - Senior - 6’6/232
AYPA: 8.3 (7th)
TD/INT: 2.5 (10th)
TD%: 6.6% (6th)
Marginal Efficiency: 5.6% (8th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.28 (6th)
Sack%: 6.2% (11th)
Rushing Rank: 3rd
Taylor Cornelius had a few really big games in this explosive Oklahoma State offense, which inflated his one-year stats. Here’s the good news: Cornelius is a capable runner (3rd in the class) despite a huge frame, and he’s willing to take chances as a thrower. Cornelius was explosive when things were falling. His Marginal Explosion was 6th in the class and his 9.3 AYPA was 7th. However, Cornelius was super boom-or-bust as a passer because he took a lot of sacks (11th), threw a lot of interceptions (2.7%), and only completed 59% of his passes. Not good, and those issues tend to get worse in the pros. Not better. All in all, Cornelius has more theoretical upside than other late-round or UDFA quarterback prospects, but it looks there are too many things to overcome for that to come to fruition.
11. Brett Rypien - Boise State - Senior - 6’2/202
AYPA: 8.9 (5th)
TD/INT: 4.3 (4th)
TD%: 6.7% (5th)
Marginal Efficiency: 9.0% (5th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.12 (15th)
Sack%: 6.7% (13th)
Rushing Rank: 12th
Brett Rypien has all the career passing yards numbers you could ask for, but only 2,243 of them came against the Power 5. When facing lower level opponents, Rypien averaged 8.4 yards per attempt with a 3.1 TD/INT ratio, but those numbers crashed down to 7.5 YPA and a 1.4 TD/INT ratio against the Power 5. That’s obviously concerning, but he at least averaged the 5th-best 2018 AYPA (8.9) of all the quarterbacks in the sample. Without any promise as a runner either, Rypien is just a backup quarterback prospect.
12. Kyle Shurmur - Vanderbilt - Senior - 6’4/225
AYPA: 8.2 (8th)
TD/INT: 4.0 (6th)
TD%: 5.9% (8th)
Marginal Efficiency: 3.7% (11th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.22 (10th)
Sack%: 4.9% (7th)
Rushing Rank: 16th
Kyle Shurmur had a long record-breaking career at Vanderbilt, but there’s nothing here to get too excited about, outside of a really low 1.5 INT% (3rd). Shurmur finished at the bottom of all the rushing stats, has a 57% career completion percentage, and is 13th out of 16 in career YPA against Power 5 teams. Perhaps we can point to his late career improvement; he brought his completion percentage above 60%, had an above average TD/INT ratio, and was at least average in TD% during his 2018 season. Overall, Shurmur is just a backup quarterback with a lot of college experience.
13. Trace McSorley - Penn State - Senior - 6’0/201
AYPA: 7.1 (14th)
TD/INT: 2.6 (9th)
TD%: 5.0% (12th)
Marginal Efficiency: -1.4% (16th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.29 (5th)
Sack%: 7.0% (16th)
Rushing Rank: 2nd
Trace McSorley was really bad as a passer in 2018, but he at least brings some rushing ability to the table. My philosophy at quarterback: If you’re going to be bad, you should at least be able to run. Only Kyler Murray finished with a better rushing rank, but that’s a very large drop between first and second. When throwing, McSorley was near the very bottom in all efficiency stats, including YPA, AYPA, Marginal Efficiency, and TD%. He was also dead last in completion percentage in 2018 (53%). But what’s crazy is that even Trace McSorley had a better YPA than potential first-rounder Daniel Jones! Overall, McSorley will get rave reviews because of his leadership and personality (that’s great), but he doesn’t profile as an NFL starter otherwise. Perhaps there’s a run-first specialized quarterback role an offense can create for him.
14. Tyree Jackson - Buffalo - Junior - 6’7/245
AYPA: 7.7 (13th)
TD/INT: 2.3 (13th)
TD%: 6.9% (4th)
Marginal Efficiency: 1.1% (12th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.43 (2nd)
Sack%: 3.6% (4th)
Rushing Rank: 6th
Tyree Jackson entered the draft early, and he arguably isn’t ready (but I will never fault someone for securing a bag). Jackson struggled in basically every category except for TD% and Marginal Explosion. If I were to dig deeper into the stats, I presume that those numbers would be tied to receiving prospect Anthony Johnson, but take that with a grain of salt because I don’t have those numbers in front of me. Anyways, Jackson only had a few opportunities to play against Power 5 opponents, and he struggled in them, finishing with a 5.7 YPA while completing just 49% of his passes against the elevated competition. Jackson does have some Big Ben-esque rushing ability and can score near the goal line, but overall, I just don’t see it with Jackson unless he can really, really develop under a quality NFL coaching staff. Also, I’m giving absolutely zero bonus points for being as big as he is. If anything, it’s a bad thing.
15. Jake Browning - Washington - Senior - 6’2/210
AYPA: 7.9 (10th)
TD/INT: 1.6 (15th)
TD%: 4.1% (15th)
Marginal Efficiency: 5.6% (8th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.20 (11th)
Sack%: 5.6% (8th)
Rushing Rank: 7th
Jake Browning spiraled downward after an insane beginning of his career. As a senior, Browning finished second to last in TD% (4.1%) and TD/INT ratio (1.6). Browning also threw an interception at a below average rate (2.6%), so his passing ability is certainly questionable. Advanced metrics like Marginal Efficiency and Marginal Explosion paint a slightly brighter picture, but even those were average to below average. Where Browning does get a little credit is his career numbers against the Power 5, where he was average to above average all across the board. Unfortunately, Browning doesn’t bring much rushing ability to the table either, so he’s just a backup prospect if he can even pull that off.
16. Clayton Thorson - Northwestern - Senior - 6’4/226
AYPA: 5.8 (16th)
TD/INT: 1.1 (16th)
TD%: 3.5% (16th)
Marginal Efficiency: -0.4% (15th)
Marginal Explosion: 0.01 (16th)
Sack%: 6.7% (13th)
Rushing Rank: 11th
Clayton Thorson was terrible, in comparison, all across the board, except for a ridiculous rushing touchdown rate. How is it even possible to score nine rushing touchdowns and finish with -110 rushing yards? What the hell is that all about? Anyways, I don’t see anything here worth getting excited about with Thorson.