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Final Rankings & Statistical Breakdown of the 2019 Quarterback Class

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@blakemurphy7’s criteria for QB grading is out. How does Kyler Murray stack up with the competition against their toughest opponents?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 Draft Process is almost over and I didn’t expect to finish my grading and breakdown this year with the Cardinals potentially selecting a quarterback this year but hey, life comes at your fast.

For those who are new, the last 3 years I’ve applied a similar grading metric to the last few quarterback classes based off of a simplistic scouting breakdown that I learned from my time working for a pro Arena Football team, which was based off of how NFL teams scouted quarterbacks.

The key thing to look for were overall stats such as completion % thresholds, height, weight and arm velocity thresholds.

Interestingly enough, these were metrics NOT to isolate “good quarterbacks” specifically but rather with a different approach.

With SO many quarterbacks out there to evaluate and scout, these thresholds essentially took the arenas that led to the most success over the years to rule out quarterbacks who essentially had “no shot” unless they were an outlier. A good example: Logan Thomas having the size & arm but NOT the accuracy meant he was a developmental guy. Arizona drafted him and he ended up moving to tight end.

There are three filters that I run prospects through. One of them for fun or to pull a few interesting points from in the Parcells Rules (which I have updated with my own version) the other with the Combine results.

And finally, the MOST important metric I have seen so far in 3 years for quarterback success which is the “Toughest Opponent Breakdown”.

Part 1: (Updated) Parcells Rules

Most fans know the infamous “Parcells Rules” which NFL Head Coach Bill Parcells used for scouting quarterbacks.

Rules which he himself, of course, broke.

Last year I created a new set of them that adjusted for the new CBA in which Senior quarterbacks are a rarity and the focus is on two year, not three year, starters.

My updated personal “guidelines” are below:

  1. Starter for 2 years or 23 games, starting at least 60% of games eligible to play in
  2. Won 60% of their games (Parcells’ rule of winning 23 games of 30 started)
  3. Number of starts replaced by the metric “Starting Percentage” or SP% with a baseline of 70%.
  4. 3:1 TD/INT ratio (Parcells had 2:1)
  5. Complete 63% or more of passes thrown (number climbs up from 60%)

The quarterbacks this year have some interesting notes on them...

  • The top 2 quarterbacks on most boards this year in Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins had NEITHER hit the 70% Starting % metric that I utilize in the number of games started divided by number of games they had the OPPORTUNITY to start regardless of injury, backing up a quarterback, redshirting, etc. Good players play. (Kyler sat for 23 of a season and then sat out as a transfer and sat out a SECOND year behind Baker Mayfield, starting percentage at 42% while Haskins had it as 51% SP%). Essentially, there was a large number of starts that these quarterbacks COULD have started, but ultimately did not as they were beat out by other quarterbacks, couldn’t develop in time, transferred to different schools or declared for the draft without 2 seasons under their belts and experience MATTERS.
  • Will Grier also had a lower starting % after transferring and including his suspension, making him another check in the “risk?” box.
  • Drew Lock has the most starts and experience of any of the top starting quarterbacks this year as a 4 year starter and set multiple SEC passing records.
  • Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray both have under 20 starts under their belt, a risk similar to Trubisky last year. However, both were behind top starters at big programs for a long while so while the lack of experience is concerning, it isn’t like they were late bloomers who struggled and had one magical year.
  • Most of this year’s QB crop after Lock don’t hit the 60% Starting % goal that I have had set, another metric that shows that this class is unproven or had issues (see: Kyler and Grier transferring, Haskins one year starting, etc) and it’s interesting how NFL teams seem to be overlooking experience even MORE than last year’s class which had 4 quarterbacks who essentially qualified for my New Parcells Rules
  • Daniel Jones comes in essentially as a 3 year starter after being a redshirt freshman, giving him more experience than most other quarterbacks.

All in all, this year’s class seems to be a step lower than last year’s, despite a Heisman winner, and it’s no surprise given the overall lack of experience.

As far as the physical measurables go, there were really only a few potential yellow or red flags of note...

Part 2: Combine Flags & Athleticism

Here’s a quick summary of what we learned from the combine.

  • Kyler Murray’s height and weight are obviously outliers at the position
  • For those who like the 55 MPH velocity metric at the combine, Murray didn’t throw and Haskins, Jones, Lock all came in under the 55 MPH threshold. Grier and Rypien were the highest with Ryan Finley hitting the mark as well.
  • Tyree Jackson’s 4.59 40 at his 6’7 size was tremendous, along with a 34.5” vertical (with Will Grier and Daniel Jones right behind him at 34 and 33+ inches). Those three are your top quarterbacks athletically in their testing considering that, you know, Kyler Murray didn’t test. Athleticism is mattering more than ever now at the quarterback position given the infusion of Air Raid, spread concepts and better pass rushers.

All in all, outside of Haskins not being the most athletic guy, this year’s QB class checked a lot LESS boxes than the 2018 class.

But how would they stack up in the most important aspect of grading that I’ve found?

Let’s see below. How did these quarterbacks do against the 5 most difficult teams they played during the 2018 season?

Part 3: Toughest Opponent Breakdown

Here’s how it works. I list the 5 games a prospect played, aiming for a high level of difficulty be it the stakes/pressure or defensive rankings, always pushing a top 25 ranked team ahead of the others if possible.

This means that not only must a quarterback face a tougher defense, but also a more difficult offense as well. Last year had 3 quarterbacks “pass” the metrics: Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold. The one that was intriguing was Lamar Jackson, who’s passing numbers didn’t increase but he still averaged over 100 yards rushing against some of the more difficult opponents in college football that he played, putting him up there in a “total yardage” mark with the other quarterbacks but not as high in the “wins” column.

More on that later.

For now, let’s take a look at this year’s QB crop in their Toughest Opponent Faced Metrics, with an example last year in Sam Darnold:

Sam Darnold:

Conference:

Pac-12

Games vs:

2016: 5 Penn State, 13 Notre Dame 2017: 4 Washington, 5 Ohio State, 12 Stanford

Completions/Attempts:

115/179

Completion %

66%

Yards:

1586

TD’s:

12

INT’s:

3

W/L:

3-2

Avg. Yards/TD/INT per game:

23/35 for 314 Yards, 2.5 TD’s, .5 INT’s, Win

Here’s the top 5 quarterbacks for the 2018 class, as measured:

Kyler Murray

Conference: Big 12

Games vs: 2018—#19 Texas, #12 WVU, #9 Texas, Iowa State, #1 Alabama

Completions/Attempts: 104/153

Completion %: 67%

Yards: 1,670

TD’s: 15

INT’s: 2

TD/INT Ratio: 7.5

W/L: 3 wins, 2 losses

Average Game:

20/30 for 340 yards, 3 TD’s and .4 INT’s, Win

Analysis:

Kyler’s a freak with a lightning arm and honestly, his numbers matched similarly into the Patrick Mahomes/Deshaun Watson arena for me, higher than most all the 2018 QB’s except for Baker Mayfield. However, even Baker Mayfield in my metrics saw his overall TD numbers decrease and INT numbers increase when he played tougher defenses and had to make tighter window throws.

Maybe it isn’t surprising, then, that Baker threw 3 INT’s and had his worst games against the Ravens defenses last year despite breaking the touchdown record. NOT a negative on Mayfield, just interesting. And it might mean that Kyler, if he had returned to OU, might have surpassed him with another season. It’s a risk but Murray as a passer passes with flying colors. His rushing ability adds in a second crazy dynamic as well, and, yes, he did test out at a higher level of production than Josh Rosen did last year.

Note when looking at rushing stats, Murray averaged 86 rushing yards a game versus these 5 teams as well and 2 additional rushing TD’s, bringing his OVERALL yardage total up quite a bit to 426 yards a game with 17 TD’s and 2 INT’s). That 86 rushing yards/game average is better than Michael Vick, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson’s OVERALL rushing yardage in college and only is beat by Lamar Jackson’s 102 yards per game that I calculated last year.

All in all, while some have compared him to Russell Wilson or Patrick Mahomes, I think his game is more like another quarterback who dominated against Alabama in the last few years.

Pro Comp: Deshaun Watson

Dwayne Haskins

Games vs: 2018-#15 TCU, #9 Penn State, #4 Michigan, #21 Northwestern, #9 Washington

Completions/Attempts: 125/186

Completion %: 67%

Yards: 1,760

TD’s: 16

INT’s: 3

W/L: 5-0

Avg. Yards/TD/INT per game: 25/37 for 352 yards, 3 TD’s .6 INT’s, Win

Analysis:

I thought about including Haskins loss against Purdue but given that Haskins threw the ball 73 times that day (seriously) it ended up being a bit of an outlier in terms of data so that’s why he ended up 5-0.

The one caution for me is that looking at Haskins’ lack of athleticism and OSU’s OL talent, the way the NFL is changing it might be a concern if he needs a better situation and elite OL to have the same type of success. Slow eyes and slow feet lead to a long, slow death like we saw from Josh Rosen last year.

Dwayne has pretty much also cemented himself into the Mahomes/Watson “elite” category for production against the top teams that they played, and being honest despite the one year of starting with how he is less of an outlier than Murray and essentially he and his team won each game they played. He would be my QB1 this year based on my metrics but Murray would be my personal preference, similar to 2017 in which my data told me Watson was QB1 but I preferred Mahomes.

Pro Comparison: Philip Rivers

Drew Lock

Conference: SEC

Games vs: 2017-#4 Georgia, 2018-#2 Georgia, #1 Bama, #13 Florida, Oklahoma State

Completions/Attempts: 98/169

Completion %: 57.9%

Yards: 1,404

TD’s: 11

INT’s: 4

TD/INT Ratio: 2.75

W/L: 1-4

Avg. Yards/TD/INT per game: 20/34, 248 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT

Analysis: Lock is a fascinating guy to watch because he’s essentially the very definition of what you’d expect a “gunslinger” to be with how he runs, extends plays and hurls the ball without touch at a high velocity. However, despite leading the SEC in touchdowns breaking a long-set record, he just didn’t produce or perform as highly and his accuracy and completion % is a concern. Accuracy is, to me, if the ball gets there where the receiver can catch it. Precision is putting it in the right spot for them to get it perfectly, and Lock can be inaccurate and miss wildly and then hit a guy pinpoint down the field.

A lot of NFL coaches will like that. However, as a result it’s REALLY hard to find a pro comp. for him given that he doesn’t turn it over like Josh Allen or Jay Cutler, so I’m going to go out on a limb with one even if I think he might end up a Derek Carr at the next level. He tested out higher than I thought he would and proved me somewhat wrong, however, I think that his accuracy problems might make it difficult to figure out over the long haul so I’ll go with a combination looking at stats and production coming out of college.

And I’ll say that I’m higher on him than I thought.

Pro Comparison: Floor is Joe Flacco, Ceiling is Carson Palmer (I lean low end)

Daniel Jones

Conference: ACC

Games vs: 2016-#7 Louisville, #15 North Carolina, 2017: #14 Miami, #13 Virginia Tech, 2018-#2 Clemson

Completions/Attempts: 105/171

Completion %: 61.2%

Yards: 978

TD’s: 6

INT’s: 3

TD/INT Ratio: 2:1

W/L: 2-3

Avg. Yards/TD/INT per game: 21/34, 196 yards, 1 TD, .6 INT, L

Note: Jones averaged 35 rushing yards a game and had 2 more rushing touchdowns.

Whoa. Some top 10 hype for THIS GUY? Strange but maybe....not too strange. Jones essentially fits the old school quarterback model and one Daniel Jones while at first seems confusing in this model, I can get some reasons why NFL teams like him. Jones’ yardage totals go up when adding in his rushing stats (35 yards a game ain’t shabby) plus his touchdown TD/INT ratio goes up to 2.66, which is below the 3:1 you’d like but is...acceptable.

Jones versus Lock is the REAL conversation here. I trust Daniel Jones on film and from my numbers to complete a pass on 3rd and 4 more than I would an more inaccurate Drew Lock. But when it comes to the deep ball? Lock is SO much better. So it’s a stylistic choice. I wouldn’t build around either guy if I had a choice but given Jones’ years of experience and development under a QB guru like David Cutcliff, I think he’ll be a guy a team takes a chance on in the 1st round of the draft.

I think that’s a mistake and he’s more likely a mid-rounder given the poor arm and mechanics and value deep and fact that his yardage totals are...pretty bad given that just to hit over 200 average yards I had to factor in his rushing totals, I think it’s gonna be tough to improve much in the NFL. Big body & athleticism that shows struggles with a weak arm makes this comp (and why I think he gets over drafted) so clear.

Pro Comparison: Blake Bortles

Will Grier

Conference: SEC, Big 12

Games vs: 2015: #3 Ole Miss, 2017 (with WVU): #9 TCU, #10 OK State, 2018-#6 Oklahoma, #17 Syracuse

Completions/Attempts: 129/207

Completion %: 62.3%

Yards: 1824

TD’s: 16

INT’s: 5

TD/INT Ratio: 3.2

W/L: 2-3

Avg. Yards/TD/INT per game: 26/41, 62.3, 364 yards for 3 TD’s 1 INT.

Analysis: Aha, we’ve found it. The one guy after Haskins and Murray who I believe has a chance to be a longer-term starter in the league. Grier was impressive and the Florida team he led without a loss before his NCAA suspension for PED’s and transferred to West Virginia passes a lot of the statistical measures in a high-flying Mountaineers offense. He performed against the toughest teams just as well, and even in games where he needed to step up and throw to keep up with high-flying offenses, he did that

Why no first round love? Couple reasons: first being the PED suspension & character concerns. Another is the fact that on tape, his arm & mechanics seem to have issues connecting to the rest of his body. He has great arm strength but doesn’t drive the ball and the float/flutter that I see might put him at a backup level. BUT with the right coaching, is it possible that he’s a hidden gem? Sure, I could see it.

The one other question that I would have however when looking at him is this thought: what if he’s Geno Smith? It’s possible that a guy w/out a lot of arm in a scheme that helps make & shape him ends up putting up stats but the context means that I think he goes top or mid 2nd round and in the right spot, he’s the one guy I am confident could long-term end up a starting QB in the league over the long-run. But it wouldn’t shock me if he’s a permanent backup either.

Pro Comparison: Nick Foles

Jarrett Stidham

Conference: SEC, Big 12

Games vs: 2015: #3 Ole Miss, 2017 (with WVU): #9 TCU, #10 OK State, 2018-#6 Oklahoma, #17 Syracuse

Completions/Attempts: 129/207

Completion %: 62.3%

Yards: 1824

TD’s: 16

INT’s: 5

TD/INT Ratio: 3.2

W/L: 2-3

Avg. Yards/TD/INT per game: 26/41, 62.3, 364 yards for 3 TD’s 1 INT.

Brett Rypien

Conference: Mountain West

Games vs: 2017-#19 San Diego State, #25 Fresno State, 2018-#24 Oklahoma State, #16 Fresno State, #14 Utah State

Completions/Attempts: 113/166

Completion %: 68%

Yards: 1277

TD’s: 6

INT’s: 1

TD/INT Ratio: 6:1

W/L: 4-1

Avg. Yards/TD/INT per game: 23/33, 255 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT

No clue if Rypien ends up viewed as a guy with an NFL arm or as a product of Boise State similar to Kellen Moore but man, the man certainly has great accuracy numbers despite having a low amount of attempts compared to the other teams...and not much touchdown production.

I could see a bit of Garoppolo in his game and think the Patriots will like him a lot given the quick release, accuracy and fact that I’m not sure if he needs a strong run game to support him or not. But I’ll say this: when he had to throw the ball a TON he went off for 39/56, 380 yards, 3 TD’s and 0 INT’s against Oklahoma State. Big 12 defenses, sure, but it gives me some hope for him at the next level and I’d draft him if I needed backup. However, the fact he only throws 1 TD a game on average against tougher teams and lower yardage total is a concern and I can’t put him much higher as a result. Still an intriguing option and I liked him more than I thought I would.

Pro Comparison: Low end Chase Daniel or Kellen Moore, high end Jimmy Garoppolo (I lean lower end)

Final Thoughts:

So what do I think about this when it comes to Kyler Murray?

Essentially, in my own rankings while there’s certainly flaws or cracks that you could point out, the fact that good quarterbacks produce and bad quarterbacks struggle against their toughest opponents in college to me has the best indication of NFL success.

QB’s who’ve “passed” or had high end statistical comparisons include Watson, Mahomes, Mayfield and “noped” on guys like Deshone Kizer when they got extended periods of time to start. This year it has Haskins and Murray up in those categories, even ahead of guys like Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold last year.

And in that sense, to me, this is what changed my mind a bit about Kyler Murray and if Arizona should take him with the #1 pick or stick with Rosen.

If Murray tested out as a HIGH END level quarterback from the way that me and the NFL look at quarterbacks, and Rosen “passed” but didn’t seem to excel, maybe that’s a good enough reason to say that the Cardinals might be making the right move if they take him at one. Especially when adding in his rushing totals...the production, accuracy and “clutch” ability all indicate that he’s probably better than Josh Rosen.

Not to say that Rosen is BAD (he was last year) but it’s notable that Rosen’s stats when he played tougher competition dipped, while Murray’s matched up with other young stud quarterbacks in staying consistent, even against one of the toughest defenses in college football.

It’s a strange process, but I can endorse taking Murray at 1 for the Arizona Cardinals.

For the rest of the class, I think we end up with two clear starters with Pro Bowl potential (jury is out on if Haskins’ lack of athleticism will hurt him but I lean toward his accuracy and production even in one year) a guy I think could be good in Grier, an inconsistent starter in Lock and a good backup in Rypien. Along with one “mistake” in Daniel Jones per my metrics.

Final QB rankings:

  1. Dwayne Haskins (top 5)
  2. Kyler Murray (lower floor, higher ceiling and I lean toward mitigating risk) (top 5)
  3. Will Grier (Late 1st)
  4. Drew Lock (Late 1st)
  5. Brett Rypien (Mid-2nd)
  6. Daniel Jones (3rd round)