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Joe Burrow
AP
QB KlassRoom

Quantifying Quarterbacks: LSU QB Joe Burrow

by Derrik Klassen
Updated On: January 29, 2020, 2:14 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


Joe Burrow Charting Profile
Distance (Usage Rate) Left Outside Left Middle Right Middle Right Outside Total 
20+ (15.93%) 18/34 (6 TD) 7/11 (4 TD) 4/10 (2 TD) 27/46 (12 TD, 2 INT) 56/101 (24 TD, 2 INT)
16-20 (5.99%) 1/2 12/13 (2 TD) 10/13 (1 TD) 7/10 (1 TD) 30/38 (4 TD)
11-15 (12.14%) 8/13 (1 TD) 17/22 (2 TD, 1 INT) 19/27 (2 TD, 1 INT) 7/15 (2 TD, 1 INT) 51/77 (7 TD, 3 INT)
6-10 (16.88%) 13/18 (1 TD) 18/27 (6 TD, 1 INT) 31/35 (6 TD) 21/27 (1 TD, 1 INT) 83/107 (14 TD, 2 INT)
1-5 (36.08%) 28/31 (2 TD) 59/72 (4 TD) 69/84 (2 TD) 33/36 189/223 (8 TD)
0 (11.36%) 7/7 30/34 (1 TD) 22/25 6/6 65/72 (1 TD)
Total (634 plays) 75/105 (10 TD) 143/179 (19 TD, 2 INT) 155/194 (13 TD, 1 INT) 101/140 (16 TD, 4 INT) 474/618 (58 TD, 7 INT)

Games Sampled: Miami (2018), Auburn (2018), Georgia (2018), Alabama (2018), entire 2019 season

CHARTING EXTRAS

Blatant Drops: 15

Forced Adjustments: 27 (4.26%)

Contested Drops: 36

Passes Defended: 49

Explosive Plays (25+ yards or a touchdown): 96 (15.53% of plays)

Throwaways: 16

There isn’t a whole lot to take away from the extra tidbits from Burrow’s charting. He didn’t throw the ball away or force adjustments at an abnormal rate, and this is the first year I’ve added Contested Drops and Passes Defended to the public profiles, so it’s tough to tell where that stacks up with previous classes.

In terms of explosive plays, Burrow would have had a higher mark than all but Kyler Murray in the 2019 class, which is quite impressive. Me telling you that LSU’s offense produced a ton of big plays isn’t exactly an eye-opener, though, is it?

ACCURACY AND ENVIRONMENT

Adjusted Accuracy: 78.43% 

Pass Plays Outside the Pocket Percentage: 11.99%

Adjusted Accuracy Outside the Pocket: 62.50%

Pass Plays Under Pressure Percentage: 17.67%

Adjusted Accuracy Under Pressure: 63.93%

Most Common Personnel Package: 11 personnel [1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR] (47.00%)*

Shotgun Percentage: 96.88%

Empty Formations Frequency: 16.72%

Play-Action Percentage: 26.18%

Play-Action Adjusted Accuracy: 79.22%

Designed Rollout Frequency: 1.10%

*Personnel is charted by alignment, not each player's depth chart designation.

It’s no secret that Burrow is accurate. If there is one thing any uninformed spectator could identify in Burrow’s game, it’s that he just doesn’t miss throws. My charting data confirms what we all know to be true about Burrow. 

To give a Sparknotes summary of my adjusted accuracy score, all it does is slightly increase the weight of completions based on depth of target to reward quarterbacks who are accurate beyond 10 yards and punish those who throw an ungodly amount of screen passes. Slight penalties are also given for throws that force a receiver to adjust to the ball in the air (see: Forced Adjustments). 

Since I began charting quarterbacks in 2016, no player has scored a higher adjusted accuracy than Burrow’s 78.43%. Dwayne Haskins (77.17%), Baker Mayfield (76.53%), and Kyler Murray (74.68%) make up the top three from non-2020 quarterbacks, and two of them went first overall in their respective draft class. Haskins, the only non-first overall pick of the bunch, was still a first-round pick. The caveat to crowning Burrow my charting accuracy king is that I have not finished charting the 2020 class, so it’s possible that someone else in this class one-ups him, but I feel comfortable assuming that will not be the case. 


Burrow is accurate everywhere (duh), but two factors allowed him to rise to the top of my database. For one, Burrow hardly ever threw behind the line of scrimmage. Only 11.36% of Burrow’s charted attempts were thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage, which gives him the second-lowest mark behind Lamar Jackson since at least 2017 (did not calculate target area rates in 2016). Second, Burrow has an adjusted accuracy score of 80.09% between the 11-20 yard area, which feels like an unthinkable mark. Being so deadly accurate over the intermediate area — the toughest and most valuable portion of the field — boosts Burrow’s overall adjusted accuracy score quite a bit. 

To take it a step further, Burrow’s accuracy under pressure is excellent. Realistically, anything over about 50 percent is passable, anything over 55 percent is good, and anything over 60 percent is stellar. Burrow cleared the 60 percent benchmark by a healthy margin. 


As far as accuracy outside the pocket goes, Burrow is in good-not-great territory. Over 60 percent is a plenty respectable mark, and certainly gives no reason for concern, but it doesn’t put him in the elite tier of mobile passers. One small factor for Burrow perhaps not reaching elite territory is that he only executed seven designed rollouts all season, so only a very small portion of his throws outside the pocket were by design. Designed rollouts just weren’t part of LSU’s game plan for Burrow at all, especially not in 2019.

 

PASS RUSH

Avg. Number of Pass Rushers: 4.23

Three or Fewer Pass Rushers Frequency: 15.46%

Four Pass Rushers Frequency: 53.31%

Five Pass Rushers Frequency: 23.97%

Six or More Pass Rushers Frequency: 7.26%

To be honest, the 2020 class will be the first class in which I’ve properly calculated pass rush frequencies. My 2020 preview sample of charting was the first time I dabbled with using that information, so I’ve decided to fully dive into it now that the 2020 class is actually here. 

That being said, Burrow’s opposing pass rush numbers come in a bit low. Through my summer charting sample, quarterbacks faced an average of 4.32 pass rushers per attempt and saw at least five pass rushers an average of 33.26% of the time. Burrow comes in at 4.23 and 31.23%, respectively, which indicates defenses were not as willing to throw a bunch of pressure packages and blitzes at him. Instead, defenses were opting to flood eight players into coverage. Considering the prowess of LSU’s passing game, it’s not too shocking that teams were trying to keep the Tigers’ aerial attack down before worrying about their run game.

Anecdotally speaking, Burrow is also excellent at identifying blitzes and beating them with the ball before the extra rushers can arrive. After a certain point in the season, one has to imagine defensive coordinators came to believe bringing extra bodies against Burrow was futile.

SITUATIONAL

3rd/4th Down Adjusted Accuracy: 66.33%

3rd/4th Down Conversion Rate: 44.53%

4th Quarter/Overtime Adjusted Accuracy: 70.64%

Red Zone Adjusted Accuracy: 68.09%

Not being able to convert on third and fourth downs may be the only glaring blemish on Burrow’s charting profile. At 44.53%, Burrow would have ranked 8th among the quarterbacks I charted for the 2019 quarterback class. Non-premium draft picks or UDFAs Tyree Jackson, Brett Rypien, and Will Grier all finished with higher marks. 

However, there may be a sliver of solace to be found in Burrow’s third and fourth down numbers. Though 44.53% is unimpressive, Drew Lock and Jarrett Stidham, both SEC quarterbacks, finished with lower marks on their profiles. Of course, Burrow is a considerably better prospect than both and should be expected to have a better percentage, but there may be some degree of leeway that can be thrown Burrow’s way for playing in the toughest conference. None of the seven 2019 quarterbacks with better marks than Burrow played in the SEC, and two of them didn’t even play in the Power Five. 


Still, it’s curious that Burrow didn’t fare well considering his skill set suggests he should be good on third and fourth downs. Though he does not have the raw arm strength many coaches desire for these situations, Burrow is a plus athlete with a great sense for how to avoid pressure and scan for open targets while on the move. Burrow is also a plenty confident quarterback who isn’t scared of trying to fit in a tough throw if he has to. And, as is true in every facet of his game, Burrow is lethally accurate. 

If anything, the 20-plus percent gap between Burrow’s accuracy rate and his conversion rate hints that he targets receivers short of the sticks too often. On third-and-long or in situations where you plan on going for it on fourth down anyway, that can be fine, but as a general principal, throwing short of the sticks too often can put a quarterback in Alex Smith territory. Burrow will need to be a tick more aggressive toward the sticks once he hits the NFL. 

The good news is that Burrow’s accuracy in the red zone and in fourth quarter (or overtime) situations holds up. Both numbers are a tad lower than his standard adjusted accuracy score, but considering the leverage of the situation, that is to be expected. Very few players actually hold better accuracy scores in those situations than they do in their standard accuracy score.