• North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye: The redshirt freshman is both the highest-graded quarterback and the most valuable player, showing he might be the most deserving candidate to win the Heisman.
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We’re three-quarters of the way through the 2022 college football regular season, and there are still multiple players with a legitimate case to win the Heisman Trophy.
PFF grades are a great way to sift through the candidates. Using BetMGM’s latest Heisman odds, here’s how the top 10 candidates have graded this season.
1. QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State Buckeyes (+145)
Stroud may be the betting favorite to win the Heisman, but his PFF grade would indicate that his raw numbers are more a product of his environment than his own doing. The junior has still been very good, but he just hasn’t had to shoulder the weight of the offense like other top quarterbacks have.
He’s currently in a tie as the 12th-most valuable Power Five quarterback, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. He’s also throwing to the Power Five’s two most valuable receivers in Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. Not to mention, Ohio State employs one of the most quarterback-friendly schemes in the country.
Top Heisman Candidate QBs and Their Environments
|Name||School||Team Receiving Grade||Team Pass-Blocking Grade||% of Throws to First Read||% of Throws to Receiver With Step+ of Separation|
|C.J. Stroud||Ohio State||86.5 (1st)||78.3 (16th)||70.3%||85.9%|
|Hendon Hooker||Tennessee||74.7 (36th)||57.9 (93rd)||78.3%||87.0%|
|Caleb Williams||USC||76.8 (27th)||78.9 (T-14th)||45.9%||67.6%|
|Bo Nix||Oregon||70.7 (T-59th)||89.0 (2nd)||64.0%||82.4%|
|Drake Maye||North Carolina||80.2 (9th)||65.4 (58th)||63.0%||70.1%|
Stroud has excellent base stats and leads a likely playoff team in No. 2 Ohio State. That alone will make him a top Heisman candidate in most voters’ eyes. However, his advanced statistics show that others are more deserving of the coveted stiff-arm trophy.
2. QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee Volunteers (+300)
As the above table shows, Hooker also benefits from playing in a quarterback-friendly scheme run by head coach Josh Heupel. Hooker rarely moves off his first read and consistently throws to open receivers, namely Jalin Hyatt.
Unlike Stroud, though, Hooker's supporting cast isn’t great, especially along the offensive line. The Volunteers sport just a 57.9 pass-blocking grade in 2022 — the 13th-worst figure in the Power Five.
So in that regard, Hooker does elevate the talent around him. He’s currently the third-most valuable quarterback in college football, according to PFF’s wins above average metric.
3. RB Blake Corum, Michigan Wolverines (+600)
If the Heisman Trophy is truly for “the most outstanding player in college football,” then Blake Corum has as good of a case as anyone.
His 93.4 grade not only ranks first among running backs, but it tops all players in the country, as well. Per PFF’s wins above average metric, the junior has also been the second-most valuable non-quarterback in college football. His 77 rushing first downs tops the charts, too.
T-4. QB Caleb Williams, USC Trojans (+800)
Caleb Williams has dominated since his true freshman season at Oklahoma last year.
The sophomore’s 92.5 grade since 2021 trails only Bryce Young among FBS quarterbacks. This season, he’s been the second-most valuable Power Five quarterback, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. He leads an efficient USC offense that paces the country in EPA per play.
T-4. QB Bo Nix, Oregon Ducks (+800)
Oregon fields the nation’s second-most efficient offense, thanks to quarterback Bo Nix taking a massive leap.
He’s finally shown why he was a five-star quarterback recruit back in 2019. In his first three years at Auburn, he earned just a 74.5 grade. This season, he sits at an 89.5 mark, seventh among Power Five quarterbacks. His uncatchable pass rate is just 12.5%, which is the second-lowest mark among the same group.
6. QB Drake Maye, North Carolina Tar Heels (+1200)
Despite having the sixth-best Heisman odds, Drake Maye is the most deserving of the award at this point.
The redshirt freshman is both the highest-graded quarterback in college football and the most valuable player, per PFF’s wins above average metric. His 28 big-time throws are three more than any other quarterback in the country, while his 370 rushing yards after contact rank second-most.
North Carolina hasn’t produced a Heisman winner in the award’s 87-year history. Maye looks poised to end the drought.
7. QB Stetson Bennett, Georgia Bulldogs (+1600)
Last season, Georgia won a national championship thanks to a historic defense.
This year, the top-ranked Bulldogs look like the favorite to repeat because the offense has matched the defense’s elite play. Right now, Georgia has the third highest-graded offense in the Power Five. Leading that offense is “The Mailman,” Stetson Bennett.
The sixth-year senior is one of only five Power Five quarterbacks grading out among the top 15 in both passing grade and rushing grade. He’s looking to become the first quarterback to win two national championships since Alabama’s A.J. McCarron did so 10 years ago.
8. QB Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide (+3300)
Speaking of Crimson Tide quarterbacks, Bryce Young’s chances of becoming the second player to win multiple Heismans seem to be dwindling, through little fault of his own.
The junior still has the third-best passing grade (90.1) among Power Five quarterbacks this season. However, since Alabama is seemingly out of the playoff picture with two losses, Young’s chances of being invited to New York seem slim, despite his elite play.
9. QB Max Duggan, TCU Horned Frogs (+4000)
The Horned Frogs weren’t one of the 47 teams who received a vote in the preseason AP poll. Now, TCU stands with Georgia, Ohio State and Michigan as the only undefeated teams remaining in college football.
Max Duggan’s play this season is propelling that success. His 85.0 grade is the highest among Big 12 quarterbacks.
10. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA Bruins (+6600)
Despite UCLA’s success, Thompson-Robinson has endured his fair share of struggles this season.
The redshirt senior's 2.3% big-time throw rate sits just 118th among FBS quarterbacks this season, while his 71.8 passing grade ranks 66th. He’s still a dangerous runner, as he owns the 11th-most rushing yards among Power Five quarterbacks (493). His limits as a passer preclude him from making a serious run at the Heisman, though.
The real Heisman candidate for the Bruins is Zach Charbonnet, whose 90.2 grade ranks third among all running backs in college football.