2019 NFL Draft: Ranking the top 16 quarterbacks available based on our unique formula
It's Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and then everybody else in the 2019 draft
Quarterbacks are getting better, or at least the offenses they play in are. If you pay attention to college football, I don't think this comes as a shock to you, but it's true, and it's caused me to revamp the way I rank quarterbacks.
For the last two years here at CBS Sports, I have released my rankings of the QBs in their current draft classes using a statistical formula of my creation -- a formula that evaluates the QBs as a passer in situations that I believe most closely resemble the kind of defenses and talents they'll be facing at the NFL level. While I've only published my rankings here the last two years, I've been doing the rankings on my own since 2012, and each year I noticed a trend.
Their scores kept improving.
What was a top-five score in 2012 and 2013 was suddenly barely high enough to get you in the top half of the 2018 QBs. Just look at how the average score of the QBs I've rated in each of the last eight draft classes have increased.
|QB class||Average score|
In 2012, the average score was 902.240. In the current Class of 2019, it's 919.204. That's nearly a 2 percent increase in the average score, which may seem insignificant, but more importantly, the scores are increasing at a greater rate in recent years, which becomes a bit clearer in this chart.
So I decided that, this year, I had to make an adjustment to how I score the quarterbacks. Instead of using their raw scores, I score each QB in relation to their draft class. More specifically, how well above or below the average score of their class is. I think this is a useful change because it provides more context in comparing QBs from different classes.
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For example, if I were rating all the QBs I've ranked since 2012 by their total score, the No. 1 QB of all time would be in this class. It's Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins. If I adjust scores to their respective draft classes, however, the highest score is Stanford's Andrew Luck, who ranked 9.75 percent above average in 2012 but who's raw score of 990.209 ranks third all time.
Anyway, before I bore you with any more math, here are the results for the 2019 NFL Draft QB class based on their career numbers in college.
|Rank||Quarterback||School||Fornelli rating||2018 passing stats|
4,831 yards, 50 TD, 8 INT
4,361 yards, 42 D, 7 INT
3,864 yards, 37 TD, 8 INT
4,779 yards, 38 TD, 9 INT
3,928 yards, 25 TD, 11 INT
2,794 yards, 18 TD, 5 INT
3,705 yards, 30 TD, 7 INT
2,530 yards, 18 TD, 7 INT
3,192 yards, 16 TD, 10 INT
3,130 yards, 24 TD, 6 INT
3,918 yards, 19 TD, 8 INT
3,183 yards, 17 TD, 15 INT
2,674 yards, 22 TD, 9 INT
3,498 yards, 28 TD, 8 INT
1,767 yards, 16 TD, 9 INT
3,131 yards, 28 TD, 12 INT
Thoughts on Haskins and Murray
Haskins and Murray finish with the two highest raw scores of all time, and they rank second and third, respectively, in percentile scores behind Luck. Now, there's a caveat here, and one that should be mentioned. They both only enjoyed one full season as a starter, so it's a smaller sample size than other QBs in this class, as well as other QBs I've rated in the past. That means while their scores are terrific, they aren't as reliable an indicator as somebody who started multiple seasons and threw 1,000 passes.
Also, this formula is designed to judge the QBs as passers. Murray is roughly 10 billion percent more mobile than Haskins, and that's something NFL teams are considering. There's a reason Murray seems pegged to go No. 1 in most mock drafts, while nobody is all that sure where Haskins (or any of the other QBs) will go.
Grier is my favorite QB in this class who isn't Haskins or Murray, and I was glad to see the results of this formula were in line with what my eyes saw. Now, that said, even if Grier finishes third in these rankings, there's a significant gap between him and Murray. Murray finishes with a score that's 5.71 percentile points higher than Grier. The difference between Grier and No. 10 QB Kyle Shurmur is 4.7 percentile points. It's not a gap as much as it's a chasm.
Still, even with that gap, Grier's score is a top-20 score among all QBs I've rated since 2012. Here's the top 20 in its entirety.
Robert Griffin III
Before I go any further, I want to remind you that I do not include FCS quarterbacks in my rankings because I don't have access to the same breadth of stats and data I do with FBS quarterbacks. So maybe somebody like Carson Wentz would have cracked this top 20 if I had access to that information.
As for the QBs I have ranked, we see that -- as is typically the case when it comes to rating QBs -- this top 20 is hit-or-miss. I think Luck at No. 1 is a win and Baker Mayfield seems promising, and then we see Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson further down the list. Of course, we also see Johnny Football, RG3, Blake Bortles and Nathan Peterman.
Still, I think the top scorers have fared well for the most part. Even Bortles started 77 games before Jacksonville moved on from him for Nick Foles (who ranks No. 29 all-time on the list). Where I begin to see quite a bit of "success" as far as the predictive powers are concerned is at the bottom of the list.
Which brings me to my next topic of conversation about the current rankings.
Drew Lock and Daniel Jones
We've seen Lock and Jones going in the first round of a lot of mocks, and based on what I've found in my rankings, teams may want to seriously reconsider the idea. Lock checks in at No. 14 on this list, just behind Jones at No. 13. While neither compares well to their classmates, it's when we look at them compared to QBs in previous classes that the concern becomes all the more glaring.
Look at the list of the 10 lowest-scoring QBs I've ever ranked.
I'm sure you noticed that both Tyree Jackson and Nick Fitzgerald have the lowest scores I've recorded. It's somewhat fitting they appear in the same class as two of the top three scores. Neither is being considered in the first round, however. Lock is, and his score currently ranks as the sixth-worst all time, and he's not exactly surrounded by NFL success stories. San Francisco's C.J. Beathard ranks ninth, and he's started 10 games for the 49ers, going 1-9 with a QB rating of 74.6. He's also thrown more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12). Jones fared better, but he's still at No. 13 overall. Jones' percentile score is -3.86 percent. Remember Christian Hackenberg? He scored -3.65 percent, so he was slightly better than Jones.
The main factor for Lock and Jones scoring so poorly was their accuracy -- more specifically, their lack of it. While Jones performed close to average in the red zone compared to the rest of this class, the same can't be said of his performances against top defenses and in third-and-long (7 yards or more) situations.
Lock was just plain weak across the board. On third-and-long, Lock completed only 47.43 percent of his passes. Only Fitzgerald fared worse in that department in this class. Now, Lock's 7.77 yards per attempt on those throws was basically average, which implies he took a lot of deep shots on third-and-long, and that's going to hurt your completion percentage. Still, Grier averaged 8.88 yards per attempt in the same situations while completing 55.28 percent of his passes. Haskins, Murray and Ole Miss' Jordan Ta'amu all averaged more yards per attempt while completing at least 60 percent of their passes.
Furthermore, the real downside of Lock's third-down performance was that he had a first-down conversion rate of only 28.46 percent. The class average was 34.20 percent, while Murray was at a ridiculous 49.15 percent. Gaining yards is essential, but staying on the field is too, and Lock didn't keep his offense on the field often enough. And it contributed to his score being so low.
So, maybe teams should reconsider Lock. I've often joked that Lock is this year's Josh Allen, but that's not fair to Allen as he's far more mobile. And while he didn't have a great score, Allen's -1.65 percentile score is much better than Lock's -5.37.
I don't believe this is a great QB class. I think Murray has the highest ceiling of any QB in the class for the obvious reasons, but he also has a lower floor than others due to his size. We're seeing more and more that size doesn't matter as much as previously believed, but I think too many people take it to mean that it doesn't matter at all. As for Haskins, I believe he has a higher floor but a much lower ceiling due to his limited mobility.
As for the class as a whole, I do like Grier and believe he has a chance to develop into a solid NFL starter, though likely not a top-tier guy. I also like Auburn's Jarrett Stidham as a prospect, but I think he needs some time to develop, and I feel similarly about Boise State's Brett Rypien. That said, Rypien's arm strength limits his ceiling, which is why I'm higher on Stidham overall. Neither had fantastic scores in these rankings, but both are above average. That's a good sign.
After that? I think we're looking at a bunch of backup QBs -- at best. I definitely wouldn't invest a first-round pick in either Lock or Jones -- or, honestly, any QB that isn't Murray or Haskins -- but we know that won't be the case. The QB position is too important and too valuable for teams not to take risks on them in the first round. I'm expecting at least three to go in the top 10 on Thursday, and maybe as many as five in the first round total. While my ratings haven't struck the secret formula to judging QBs (if it ever does, I assure you I won't be publishing it publicly for free), I do think I've logged enough of a sample size to believe there's some predictive qualities to it, particularly on the lower end of things.
So, because of that, I offer condolences to the fans of whichever team takes Drew Lock in the first round.
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