We here at PFF believe in the importance of grading every player, of every team, on every play. However, often times, it is long-since forgotten or not understood how we grade players at each level. Thus, our new series: Beyond the Grade will look at certain position groups in each conference to ascertain and convey to our readers how certain players performed in order to garner their respective season grade.
[Editor's note: The stats mentioned in each player's particular mention are meant to showcase how or why a player received a high grade but are in no means the only reasons why or how each grade was earned. For that, our team of analysts watches and dissects every play from a given season.]
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma – 94.6 Overall Grade
Murray was not only the most electric player on the field at the quarterback position last season but arguably the most talented as well. He led FBS quarterbacks in clean passer rating at 144.4 and had an overall adjusted completion percentage of 78.9%, which ranked tied for fourth at the FBS level (min. 175 dropbacks). Where Murray truly thrived was avoiding pressure and getting outside the pocket where he totaled a 128.3 passer rating, 10.6 yards per attempt and only one turnover-worthy play, all of which led the Big 12 (min. 50 att). On the ground, Murray was equally as impressive, averaging 7.9 yards per carry and forcing 30 missed tackles with 41 runs of 10 or more yards. His Heisman Trophy was well deserved.
Charlie Brewer, Baylor – 91.3 Overall Grade
Brewer quietly put together a very sound season for the Bears in the Big 12 and did it the hard way. Brewer was under pressure 38.5% of the time, the most in the Big 12, and had 40 passes dropped, 10 more than any other QB in the conference. When kept upright, Brewer tallied a 101.5 passer rating and an adjusted completion percentage of 81.1%, second in the conference. Where he really made hay was on third and fourth down as his adjusted completion percentage of 80.7% ranked first in the Big 12, and he totaled six big-time throws, good enough for third in the Big 12.
Will Grier, West Virginia – 91.2 Overall Grade
A premier talent in the Big 12, Grier let it loose in his two years in Morgantown. Extremely efficient when clean, Grier was just behind Murray with a 132.2 rating with 34 touchdowns. Where Grier showed the touch was on deep shots as he led the Big 12 with 28 big-time throws on deep attempts (20-plus yards) to only two turnover-worthy plays and had a 119.8 passer rating on those attempts, ranking second in the conference. His ability to pinpoint the receiver and put enough air under the ball set him apart from others when driving the ball down the field.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State – 88.3 Overall Grade
Purdy stepped in this season as a true freshman and immediately became a star when given the starting signal-caller role in Ames. A gunslinger by mentality, Purdy led the Big 12 with a 63.5% adjusted completion percentage on deep passes. He had 16 big-time throws on only 52 attempts against a mere four turnover-worthy plays on passes targeted 20-plus yards downfield. Under pressure for parts of the season, Purdy thrived, leading the Big 12 with a 108.5 passer rating and a 6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 72.7 % adjusted completion percentage, which was second in the conference. Purdy will be one to watch in the coming years.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas – 86.5 Overall Grade
Many quarterbacks made strides this season, and Ehlinger registered one of the biggest. He ranked third in the conference in clean passer rating at 112.3 with only three turnover-worthy plays. Ehlinger was especially effective on the move and making plays with his legs. He had the most rushing attempts of any non-running back in the Big 12 and registered 29 missed tackles forced, second in the conference. He also gained 369 of his 656 yards on the ground after contact and led all non-running backs with 16 touchdowns rushing. All in all, Ehlinger had a spectacular season and will lead the Longhorns on the field again in the fall.