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Quantifying Quarterbacks: Discouraging Data

Updated On: April 2, 2020, 1:01 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: 66.43% Adjusted Accuracy on 3rd/4th Down

Poking holes in Joe Burrow’s game feels like a helpless exercise. While his arm talent is not special and he only had the one season of elite production, most everything Burrow showed on film was top-notch and my charting data says as much. Burrow’s “discouraging” piece of data is more along the lines of “this is why he is not literally perfect” rather than “this is a reason to be worried.” 

Burrow’s adjusted accuracy on 3rd/4th down came in at 66.43%, which was just a touch below the class average and median. Lackluster as it may be, 66.43% is not an awful mark and should not do much to damage Burrow’s overall profile. If anything, the subpar accuracy on critical downs suggests Burrow’s middling arm strength becomes a bit more of an issue when defenses know the pass is coming, but even so, Burrow was serviceable. 

Being serviceable in his worst area isn’t too shabby a profile for Burrow. 

Jacob Eason: 36.07% Adjusted Accuracy Under Pressure

There is being bad under pressure ... and then there is Jacob Eason

Eason put up a grotesque 36.07% adjusted accuracy score under pressure, which was about five percentage points worse than any other player in the class. 

Eason’s struggles under pressure are rooted in a number of things. For one, Eason is not the sharpest or most consistent processor as is. Anytime a wrench gets thrown into Eason’s process and timing, he does not usually have a great answer for it. Likewise, Eason is not a particularly creative or effective quarterback when forced to outside the pocket, which is often a byproduct of being pressured. Eason may have the physical tools to be a quality quarterback under pressure, but the poise and mental processing are not there. 

Jake Fromm: 8.57% of Passes Defended

A common criticism of Jake Fromm is that his poor arm strength leads to many passes being batted down because they did not have the velocity to fit the window. That criticism holds up through my charting data. 

8.57% of Fromm's passes were outright defended, meaning nobody other than the defender had a reasonable chance at the ball. Fromm's mark is the highest in the class by about 0.35%, just edging out over Jordan Love's 8.22% rate of passes defended. 

In terms of process, there is not really a whole lot Fromm can do differently to fix this issue. Fromm already backs down from riskier windows as is, so it's not as though he can rein himself in to avoid these kinds of throws. Fromm simply needs to add arm strength, which is far from a certainty even with NFL strength and conditioning programs. 

Anthony Gordon: 44.63% Adjusted Accuracy Outside the Pocket

Many of Anthony Gordon’s highlight throws come from outside the pocket. His blend of arm flexibility, ample mobility, and “peak” ball placement are such that he has the potential to make absurd throws from awkward platforms outside the pocket. The issue, however, is Gordon is far from being consistent in making those highlight throws. 

In fact, Gordon’s adjusted accuracy outside the pocket was just 44.63%, which is the worst mark in the class. Jake Fromm, who is unanimously viewed as an atrocious passer outside the pocket, is the only other passer per my data with a sub-50% adjusted accuracy rate outside the pocket. 

Perhaps some of Gordon’s struggles could be solved with experience. Gordon started just one season at the FBS level. It can be difficult to get a feel for the flow of the game in just one season, unless you are a stud five-star prospect, which Gordon clearly was not. 

Justin Herbert: 69.01% Accuracy Between 6-10 Yards

Justin Herbert's overall adjusted accuracy score turned out fine, but not because of his work in the 6-10 yard area. 

Only 69.01% of Herbert's passes between 6-10 yards were accurate, which puts him third-lowest in the class to that area. Only Jordan Love and Nathan Stanley, who also had the two worst overall adjusted accuracy scores, fared worse in that range. 

The good news is that struggling to this area alone is not necessarily damning. It does suggest Herbert whiffs on more of the easy throws than he should and that the quick game may not be his strong suit, but Herbert's profile is strong enough elsewhere that this serves as more of a template for how to craft an offense around Herbert, not as a means to say he cannot play the position. Hopefully Herbert's NFL team hones in on play-action and throws beyond the 15-yard mark to unlock him. 

Jalen Hurts: 27.18% Pressure Rate

Jalen Hurts' discouraging piece of data does not really fit the theme of the others. For all eight other quarterbacks, their piece of bad data is an end-product -- i.e. accuracy, conversion rate, passes defended, etc. For Hurts, however, it is one of the factors that leads to his end-product that gives reason to worry. 

Hurts was pressured on 27.18% of his attempts, which is over 8% higher than any other player in the class. For some players, this may be an issue of an atrocious supporting cast, but with Hurts, it is the exact opposite, hence the concern. 

At both Alabama and Oklahoma, Hurts played behind quality offensive lines. Neither were necessarily the stud offensive lines that, say, 2018 Oklahoma or 2017 Notre Dame were, but Hurts was not playing behind a collection of traffic cones at either school. Rather, Hurts' propensity to freeze in the pocket and hold onto the ball for an unusual amount of time naturally led to an increased amount of pressures. 

In the NFL, Hurts will absolutely be punished for that more than he was in college. A handful of elite players such as Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray can get away with that slow, chaotic play style, but Hurts is nowhere near as capable a passer as either of those two. 

Jordan Love: Accuracy From 6-10 Yards and 11-15 Yards

There is no way to build a consistent offense if a quarterback cannot accurately throw between 6-15 yards. Almost every single passing concept has a key route that flows through that area of the field, so not being able to execute in that range is a major hindrance. That is bad news for Jordan Love

Love was accurate on 67.07% of passes between 6-10 yards and accurate on 60.00% of throws between 11-15 yards. Those two figures landed Love at last and third-to-last, respectively, in each category. 

Had only one of those areas been an issue for Love, similar to the case with Justin Herbert above, then maybe he could get a pass, but there is no excusing poor production in both areas. Considering just over 28% of Love's passes were in that 6-15 yard range, it makes sense that Love's overall adjusted accuracy score is second-lowest in the class due to his struggles in this particular area of the field. 

Nathan Stanley: 66.03% Adjusted Accuracy

Worst in class by over 3%.

That’s it.

I'm not interested in wasting any more of your time or mine on Nate Stanley. 

Tua Tagovailoa: 58.70% Accuracy 11-15 Yards

Alabama's offense lived through deep slants, "glance" routes, and posts. Almost all of Alabama's RPOs and play-action concepts targeted that area of the field, or at least had that option available to Tua Tagovailoa. One may believe that throw to that area of the field as often as Tua did (third-most often in the class, in fact) that he may be comfortable with his ball placement there. 

Think again.

Tagovailoa was accurate on 58.70% of his throws between the 11-15 yard range. Only Jacob Eason came in with a lower accuracy score in that range and no quarterback aside from those two came in below 60%. 

For Tagovailoa to post such poor numbers in an area of the field that many felt was a strength on film is troubling. Perhaps it is a case of analysts, myself included, more fondly remembering Tua's successes in that area considering many of Alabama's touchdowns came from Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs catching those passes and scooting another 40 yards for a touchdown. Or perhaps we glossed over it because Tagovailoa is generally accurate enough in most other areas of the field that we assume the same is true here.

Who knows exactly what the disconnect is, but it is interesting that my numbers produced a far worse result here than I would have guessed based on the eye test. 

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