Darren Page, DLD Lead Scout
Endless hours of charting passes and accumulating statistics have culminated in a barrage of information regarding this year’s class of quarterbacks. I will take you through the findings, statistic by statistic, while ranking the quarterbacks effectiveness in specific categories.
The specifics of this passing chart project can be found here:
That’s where you can find 214 individual passing game charts and 24 cumulative season passing charts on 18 prospects. The games which were charted and totaled for each prospect are listed there. You can also find a table of the total statistics and how the quarterbacks compare statistitically. I will take you through the specifics of that totals table right here.
To come up with a holistic ranking based on the statistics, I averaged out how each quarterback ranked in 15 individual categories. Those categories including adjusted completion percentage and yards per attempt in the areas of total, beyond the line of scrimmage total, 0-9 yards downfield, 10-19 yards downfield, 20+ yards downfield, outside the hashes, and inside the hashes. Touchdown percentage, interception percentage, and touchdown/interception ratio are the final three.
In ranking how each quarterback landing in those 15 categories, I used a percentage instead of a 1-18 ranking. For example, if the highest yards per attempt in one category as 10.0 and the lowest was 6.0, a quarterback who scored at 7.0 would be credited with 25% and a quarterback who scored at 9.0 would be credited with 75% regardless of where either landed in a 1-18 ranking.
This is how the quarterbacks graded out in comparison with each other:
- 69.4% – Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
- 66.6% – Blake Bortles, Central Florida
- 62.8% – Zach Mettenberger, LSU
- 59.2% – A.J. McCarron, Alabama
- 57.8% – Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- 57.8% – Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
- 51.2% – Derek Carr, Fresno State
- 47.8% – Tajh Boyd, Clemson
- 43.5% – Keith Price, Washington
- 43.4% – David Fales
- 41.0% – Brett Smith, Wyoming
- 39.5% – Aaron Murray, Georgia
- 39.4% – Jeff Mathews, Cornell
- 39.2% – Connor Shaw, South Carolina
- 37.8% – Keith Wenning, Ball State
- 25.3% – Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
- 25.1% – Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
- 24.3% – Stephen Morris, Miami
Remember that everything you see here is simply statistical and not a final ranking of quarterbacks. Certain players’ statistics are lifted by their situation and others have statistics which are deflated. As we go through the categories, I will note situations where I feel the number that came out is not wholly indicative of the quarterback’s ability.
As far as reading this information, look for simultaneously high completion percentages and high yards per attempt. In a vacuum, as completion percentage goes up yards per attempt should go down and vice versa. Being statistically efficient in both is telling.
My notes are just that, notes. The statistics should tell the story.
The percentages of where each quarterback throws the ball will provide commentary on their completion percentages, especially in categories that span multiple distances downfield.
Overall totals are highly affected by offenses that throw the ball behind the line of scrimmage at a high rate. That’s where you look at guys like Derek Carr, Keith Price, and Tajh Boyd having their completion percentages lifted and their yards per attempt deflated. Totals on throws beyond the line of scrimmage may be more telling. That’s where you can see how offensive scheme affects the numbers of these three guys.
Beyond the line of scrimmage
Carr, Price, and Boyd each took a drop in adjusted completion percentage when you eliminate throws behind the line of scrimmage. The three most impressive quarterbacks in this category are Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, and Zach Mettenberger. Keith Wenning, Brett Smith, and Jimmy Garoppolo benefit from a lot of throws underneath, which bring down yards per attempt.
0-9 yards downfield
In my opinion, this category is a good measure for pure accuracy and ball placement on throws that quarterbacks must make more than any other. When quarterbacks struggle to complete passes underneath ten yards, they are likely plagued by accuracy and anticipation issues. Those will show up in all other areas of their game.
Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger are two quarterbacks I found most disappointing in this category. On the other hand, Bridgewater’s dominance in this category says a lot to me about his consistency.
10-19 yards downfield
The most notable outcomes in this category include Teddy Bridgewater and Logan Thomas. These numbers say something about the way each of those two quarterbacks should be used when you compare to their numbers in every other category.
20+ yards downfield
In my opinion, the yards per attempt number is much less important in this category than it is in others. It is too sensitive to blown coverages or wide open receivers who can pick up big yardage on a single throw. When a QB completes a deep ball, the yards after are mostly reliant on the receiver and the amount of space he is in.
A few notables include the impressive percentages from Jeff Mathews and Connor Shaw. Bridgewater is in the top half despite concerns for his deep ball.
Outside the hashes
*throws behind the line of scrimmage omitted
Again, the inside of and outside of the hashes statistics are sensitive to where QB are throwing the ball. That said, this statistic is especially sensitive to pure accuracy and ball placement in my opinion. Throws outside the hashes spend more time in the air and requires proper trajectory.
Neither Aaron Murray nor Derek Carr comes out well in this category, despite a high number of throws underneath ten yards. Both struggle with trajectory and delivering the ball at an optimal height to be caught on these types of throws, from what I have seen.
Between the hashes
*throws behind the line of scrimmage omitted
For me this category is a tell on a quarterback’s ability to throw with anticipation, throw into spaces instead of to receivers, and fit balls into tight windows with velocity. I don’t disagree with many of the outcomes.
Throwing touchdown passes is not the most important statistic you will see here, but can be interesting to look at. For quarterbacks who play in pass-heavy offenses and throw the ball a lot, throwing touchdown passes at a high percentage is very impressive.
Passes where the ball hits a defenders hands before every getting touched by a receiver were charted as interceptions. That lifted the interception totals of guys like Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.
Quarterbacks who play a smaller role in their offense (like Keith Price and Connor Shaw) tend to come in lower on the interception percentage. Quarterbacks who throw the ball downfield at a high rate are more likely to throw interceptions, though that may not totally excuse it.
As a whole though, this measure says something about the decision making and ball placement of quarterbacks. Those who keep their interception percentage down are more likely to be skilled at seeing the movements of coverage, anticipating throws, and making proper decisions as the bullets fly.
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Brett Smith, Connor Shaw, David Fales, Derek Carr, Jeff Mathews, Jimmy Garoppolo, Johnny Manziel, Keith Price, Keith Wenning, Logan Thomas, Passing Charts, Stephen Morris, Tajh Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater, Tom Savage, Zach Mettenberger