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QB KlassRoom

Quantifying Quarterbacks: Encouraging Data

by Derrik Klassen
Updated On: April 1, 2020, 1:10 am ET

Quantifying Quarterbacks is an NFL Draft focused quarterback charting project geared toward providing as much information about as much of a quarterback's recent career as possible. Over 20 data points are recorded for any given pass attempt, ranging from down-and-distance, personnel grouping, play-action, depth of target, accuracy, and much more. Quantifying Quarterbacks charts the entirety of a quarterback's final college season, as well as a smaller sample (four games) from their previous season. All of this charting is done manually by me during and after the college football season. For a more in-depth look at what exactly Quantifying Quarterbacks is, here is a link to last year's final product: 2019 Quantifying Quarterbacks.

This year's official charts / spreadsheet will be available by the end of the week. 

Joe Burrow: 78.43% Adjusted Accuracy (best ever)

Choosing a single stat to support Joe Burrow’s brilliance is simply unfair to him, so we’ll just keep it as simple as possible. There is no way to do him proper justice as a prospect no matter how unique a stat I pull up for this. 

Burrow scored a 78.43% adjusted accuracy rating.

Not only is that the best mark in this class, it is also the best mark I have ever recorded (since 2016 draft class), beating out previous record-holder Dwayne Haskins’ 77.17%. Burrow’s fantastic score is not only from the 2019 season either. For those not familiar with the charting process, all prospects have four games from their previous season (2018, for Burrow) tacked onto their profile as a sort of anchor/stabilizer for whatever happens in their final season. The four 2018 games selected for Burrow were Miami (FL), Auburn, Georgia, and Alabama — pretty darn close to a murderer’s row of defenses against an LSU offense that was bland and mediocre at the time. 

Jacob Eason: 79.82% Adjusted Accuracy on Play-Action

Whether deserved or not, Jacob Eason is going to be billed as one of the most NFL-like passers in this class thanks to then-HC Chris Petersen's offense at Washington. In reality, the offense was RPO, screen, and quick-game heavy, and took a lot of responsibility out of Eason's hands. However, it is true that Washington's play-action game was likely the most NFL-like among this year's quarterbacks and Eason put up the numbers to suggest he can make it work in a play-action offense of that ilk. 

Eason's 79.82% adjusted accuracy on play-action was best for second in the class, just barely falling short of Anthony Gordon across the state. Furthermore, roughly 34% of Eason's pass attempts were listed as play-action (RPOs are counted as play-action), which is relatively close to what he can expect in the NFL. 34% is maybe a tad high, but not as much as some of the other passers with 40%-or-higher play-action rates in this class. 

Many of Eason's play-action attempts were seven-step drops from under-center as well, which is about as NFL-like as it gets at the college level. Three-level Flood, in particular, was a key concept for the Huskies in their under-center play-action package and Eason often executed on it quite well. 

Jake Fromm: Red Zone Stat Line

Jake Fromm is not a stud quarterback on the whole, but he has the mental side down. Fromm is arguably the best processor and decision maker in the class aside from Joe Burrow, and even Burrow does not have him beat by much. The issue, of course, is Fromm is a middling athlete with arm talent that likely falls below the NFL threshold. 

The good news for Fromm is that the nature of football makes certain traits conducive to success in certain areas of the field or aspects of the game. In the case of Fromm, who is an exceptional processor with a rapid-fire throwing motion, the red zone is where Fromm gets the best chance to showcase his strengths while not being as exposed to his weaknesses. The condensed field takes away some of the need for arm strength while accentuating the value of a quick processor and trigger. 

As such, Fromm was one of just two quarterbacks to come in above-average in all three red zone categories: adjusted accuracy (65.96%), touchdown rate (28.13%), and interception rate (0.00%).The only other quarterback to make the red zone triple crown? Joe Burrow, of course. 

Anthony Gordon: 56.45% Adjusted Accuracy Under Pressure 

Anthony Gordon is a lot of things — inexperienced, incomplete, reckless — but he sure is not scared to make a play. Be it inside or outside the pocket, Gordon flashed exceptional confidence versus pressure as well as the flexible arm talent to throw from congested platforms. 

On throws under pressure, Gordon scored a 56.45% adjusted accuracy, which is good for third in the class behind only Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert.

Sure, Gordon does not have a standout lead in his category the way plenty of the other players on this list do for their category, but Gordon still fared very well in a difficult area and only fell short of the best passers in the class. For a player with only one year of starting experience at the FBS level, that is one heck of an accomplishment. 

Justin Herbert: 66.51% Accuracy Outside the Pocket

If a quarterback prospect is going to be lauded for their mobility, they had better be capable passers outside of the pocket to take advantage of that mobility. Justin Herbert certainly clears that bar. 

Herbert’s 66.51% adjusted accuracy outside the pocket is the best in the class, just edging out Tua Tagovailoa’s 66.00%.

While in some cases it may be possible for a player to “fake” their numbers to do a limited sample size, that is not an issue for Herbert. Herbert played outside the pocket on 12.99% of his attempts, which is a hair over the class-average. Whether by design or his own volition, Herbert regularly found ways to work outside of the pocket and hit his targets. 

Between Herbert’s athletic ability, incredible arm strength, and baseline for confident and aggressive plays, it is no wonder Herbert takes the cake in accuracy outside the pocket in this class. 

Jalen Hurts: 77.33% Accuracy Between 11-15 Yards

Jalen Hurts’ vision and trigger over the intermediate area of the field are a bit questionable, but when he does pull the trigger, he does not miss. 

Hurts was accurate on 77.33% of his pass attempts between 11-15 yards, which is about 11 percentage points higher than any other quarterback in the class. 

In some fairness to the others, the massive discrepancy between Hurts and the rest of the class to this area likely has to do with Oklahoma HC Lincoln Riley’s offense abusing the middle of the field, but Hurts did not arrive here by accident. Hurts’ accuracy improved each year he was in college. While his “peak” ball placement of fitting absurdly tight windows and making basket-drop throws is not up to par with the rest of the class, Hurts hit the mark on open receivers and almost never botched open opportunities. 

Hurts will not get that many open looks in the NFL, but that he could take advantage of them in college, especially over the most valuable yard range of the field, is quite impressive. 

Jordan Love: 85.71% Accuracy 1-5 Yards

On the whole, Jordan Love’s charting profile is significantly worse than I was hoping it would be. Before all the data gets lumped together, it can be tough to sort out how good or bad an individual’s numbers are, but now that I’ve compiled all the data from all nine players, it looks bleak for Love. 

That said, Love still looked good in the one area he should have been expected to: accuracy in the 1-5 yard area. Love’s 85.71% accuracy between 1-5 yards is the best in the class. 

The quicker Love gets the ball out, the better. Love has a swift throwing motion and appears to be the most comfortable with his decision when he can throw off the top of his drop back. Hitches, one-step slants, crossers, etc. — Love can handle the underneath area exceptionally, even though the rest of his game is far from complete. 

Nate Stanley: 45.87% 3rd/4th Down Conversion

Look, I’m going to be honest. Nate Stanley’s charting profile is the worst in the class. By a lot. In more areas than not, it is Stanley pulling down the average numbers for the rest of the class. Finding an area which is a clear strength for him, at least relative to the “top” prospects in this class, is no easy task, so Stanley’s encouraging trait is a bit tongue-in-cheek. 

Despite an atrocious 62.39% adjusted accuracy on 3rd/4th down, Stanley somehow managed a 45.87% conversion rate over his sample, which is good for third in the class.

Granted, Stanley’s mark is only a smidgen better than the class-median (thanks to Tua Tagovailoa pulling it up so high), but third place is third place and he deserves some degree of credit for showing the veteran savvy to pull through on those many 3rd/4th down situations. 

Tua Tagovailoa: CRUSHED 3rd/4th Down

Tua Tagovailoa did not fare quite as well as I expected him to overall, but he certainly still put up a good showing with some incredible peaks. The most impressive of those peaks was Tagovailoa’s dominance on 3rd/4th downs. 

Tagovailoa’s 74.46% adjusted accuracy and 58.46% conversion rate were each the best marks in the class by over 5% and over 12%, respectively. 

Tagovailoa absolutely shredded on 3rd/4th downs thanks to his confident trigger, quality accuracy, and the luxury of having three elite WRs who could get open versus anyone. While Tagovailoa’s numbers are inflated a tad due to Alabama’s talent at WR, it would be unfair to say Tagovailoa put up these numbers by complete accident when they are so clearly above the rest of the class.