All season long, we’ve taken a stab at ranking the college football starting quarterbacks at the FBS level. After debuting them with our preseason rankings, we reset the books with a look after six weeks of action and after 12 weeks of action. Now, with the season’s worth of data from grading every player on every play of every game in the books, we take a look back at those rankings and give an even more accurate look at how every team's starting quarterback fared through the 2019 season.
This list is largely based upon the starting quarterback's success — or lack thereof — in 2019, but it is also affected by the situation around him with other quarterbacks on the roster who may have received snaps or sustained injuries. No list is ever 100% accurate, but with our wealth of data at our fingertips, we get as close as anyone can.
[Editor's note: These rankings are based heavily on the individual player's PFF grades for the season. The avoidance of negatively graded plays, the propensity for positively graded plays, the strength of competition and value towards a team victory are all heavily factored, as well. A player's effect on their team's offense, their expected points added per dropback (or rushing attempt) and overall accuracy from our advanced ball-charting data are also considered among other factors.]
130. Johnny Langan, Artur Sitkowski, McLane Carter – Rutgers
Preseason Rank: 130; Week 6 Rank: 127; Week 12 Rank: 129
Look, it wasn’t pretty no matter who was under center at Rutgers this year, and the class of quarterbacks under Greg Schiano in 2020 has nowhere to go but up. Langan had the nation’s lowest overall grade at the position, but still, the university got better play than the 2018 iteration with Sitkowski as the leading man. Langan’s best game, when he put forth an 87.8 overall grade against Liberty in Week 9, is the highest-graded game we’ve seen from a Rutgers quarterback in five years.
129. Josh Jackson, Tyrell Pigrome – Maryland
Preseason Rank: 39; Week 6 Rank: 112; Week 12 Rank: 127
Long forgotten is the terrific start to the season for Maryland, and Jackson was certainly a reason for that. He finished with his three highest-graded games in the first five outings, all equaling over 69.0. The trouble was that in his other games, he didn’t grade higher than 56.7 in a single one and had multiple game grades below 40.0. For an athletic guy like Jackson, it came as a big surprise this season to see that he completed just 40.5% of his throws outside the pocket and had just a 59.6 passer rating on such throws. Pigrome didn’t add much more in his outings, completing just 57.1% of his passes despite averaging a depth of target of just 9.1 yards downfield.
128. Jack Zergiotis, Mike Beaudry – UConn
Preseason Rank: 127; Week 6 Rank: 123; Week 12 Rank: 130
The Huskies' quarterback situation was bleak, to say the least, this year seeing both Zergiotis and Beaudry drop back at least 100 times. They struggled to get the ball down the field, and despite averaging a depth of target of 18.3 yards on throws past the first-down markers, Zergiotis only averaged 9.2 yards per attempt and fielded the nation’s 20th-lowest adjusted completion percentage. Eleven of his 15 turnover-worthy passes came from throws past the sticks, as they just couldn’t seem to find a big play in the passing game when they needed to in 2019.
127. Cephus Johnson, Desmond Trotter – South Alabama
Preseason Rank: 129; Week 6 Rank: 113; Week 12 Rank: 126
Perhaps the most untapped potential among quarterbacks at the bottom of these rankings belongs to the Jaguars, as each quarterback had moments that made fans go ‘wow’ but also equally as bad moments that made it hard to watch. Johnson uncorked several deep passes that were among some of the best in the Sun Belt. However, his down-to-down accuracy was among some of the worst in the country. Trotter had a great game against Arkansas State to close out the year but also had three game grades in the 50.0 or below category, showing wild inconsistency. We do like this duo to rise in 2020, though.
126. Andrew Brito, Randall West, Michael Curtis – UMass
Preseason Rank: 119; Week 6 Rank: 128; Week 12 Rank: 128
It’s important to note that the Minutemen had six in-game quarterback substitutions this year, so the position clearly lacked any fluency. There were three quarterbacks who attempted at least 60 passes in West, Brito and Curtis, and neither of them fielded a grade in the top 100 overall among qualified signal-callers. The trio combined to throw for eight interceptions and just three touchdowns without the aid of play-action, a highly stable metric for quarterback success, proving that fan’s eyes didn’t lie when watching their lack of success on true passes.
125. Hunter Johnson, Aidan Smith – Northwestern
Preseason Rank: 48; Week 6 Rank: 97; Week 12 Rank: 123
The Johnson hype was one thing, while his actual play on the field has been a completely different story. The former 5-star recruit has looked nothing like his high pedigree from high school in his time at Northwestern, as he played just six games and finished with the country’s 11th-lowest overall grade among quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks. Smith didn’t fare much better as he ranked just 14th among that same group while all Northwestern quarterbacks combined to throw just six touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per attempt through the air this year. That’s not the recipe for winning football games nowadays.
124. James Graham, Tobias Oliver, Lucas Johnson – Georgia Tech
Preseason Rank: 103; Week 6 Rank: 126; Week 12 Rank: 120
It was certainly a rebuilding year for the Yellow Jackets, and the position(s) that saw the most growing pains were certainly on the offensive side of the ball. While their offensive line was the lowest-graded unit in football, their quarterback play didn’t help matters out either. The job is anyone’s to obtain in 2020, as neither quarterback saw much success and Johnson has entered the transfer portal. Graham’s 49.0 passing grade ranked as the seventh-lowest, so the odds are this group goes up during the second season with head coach Geoff Collins at the helm.
123. Tom Stewart, Wiley Green – Rice
Preseason Rank: 124; Week 6 Rank: 125; Week 12 Rank: 112
The Ivy League transfer in Stewart had his moments and was clearly the highest-graded quarterback for the Owls this season, but he still ranked just 26th in passing grade among qualified quarterbacks. Green didn’t fare much better in his action, and the duo combined for a lowly 9-19 big-time throw to turnover-worthy pass margin in 2019.
122. Lowell Narcisse, Frank Harris, Jordan Weeks – UTSA
Preseason Rank: 101; Week 6 Rank: 110; Week 12 Rank: 121
Narcisse has all the talent in the world but hasn’t seemed to put it together for the Roadrunners, so much so that they turned to Harris for three games (115 dropbacks) and Weeks for three games (71 dropbacks). Both of the latter players played significantly better than the former LSU-signee, who had the nation’s 23rd-lowest grade on non-screens as he just couldn’t seem to find much success downfield.
121. Riley Neal, Deuce Wallace – Vanderbilt
Preseason Rank: 85; Week 6 Rank: 92; Week 12 Rank: 124
Neal wasn’t quite what Commodores fans thought he could have been as he transferred over after several successful years at Ball State, but Wallace was perhaps even a bigger disappointment in 2019. Neal was a step below average in all facets in SEC play this season, but Wallace finds himself at the absolute bottom when it comes to overall and passing grade among the 177 quarterbacks who dropped back to pass at least 100 times. It didn’t matter the situation or the scenario in which Wallace was in the game either as he struggled to complete passes from a clean pocket just the same as if he was pressured. Neal’s final year of eligibility didn’t go quite as planned himself, but Wallace’s redshirt-junior season was a disaster.
120. Stone Smartt, Hayden Wolff, Messiah DeWeaver – Old Dominion
Preseason Rank: 115; Week 6 Rank: 129; Week 12 Rank: 125
Yet another team who couldn’t quite figure out the quarterback position this season as Wolff started three games, Smartt another handful more with DeWeaver thrown into the mix. The trio each threw at least 67 attempts and combined to throw 11 interceptions versus just four touchdowns. Smartt, the leader in dropbacks, was the lowest graded of the trio as well, finishing 22nd-lowest among qualified quarterbacks. He also led the country’s quarterback with the highest scramble percentage on clean dropbacks, taking off to scramble on 15 of his 120 (12.5%) dropbacks that he was kept clean from pressure.
119. Devin Leary, Matthew McKay, Bailey Hockman – NC State
Preseason Rank: 98; Week 6 Rank: 95; Week 12 Rank: 119
A year removed from Ryan Finley was a hard watch for Wolfpack fans as things seemed to be going just fine with McKay at the helm before a sudden shift to Hockman then Leary. McKay still ranks as the highest-graded of the trio, but he ranks just 144th among quarterbacks in grade. With our 21st-ranked offensive line this season, it’s a shock to see no member of this trio of quarterbacks crack the rankings of the top 150 quarterbacks in terms of clean-pocket grade.
118. Grant Loy, Darius Wade – Bowling Green
Preseason Rank: 116; Week 6 Rank: 120; Week 12 Rank: 118
Speaking to play from a clean pocket, neither Loy nor Wade had much success when given time to diagnose defenses in the pocket away from pressure. Wade finished with the 22nd-lowest passing grade and Loy the 25th-lowest passing grade from a clean pocket as they couldn’t seem to get things rolling even when their offensive line protected well. Overall, however, Wade was certainly the better of the two quarterbacks in terms of throwing the ball downfield, but he had his own issues with fumbles this season.
117. Ben Hicks, Nick Starkel – Arkansas
Preseason Rank: 102; Week 6 Rank: 78; Week 12 Rank: 111
What could have been for Arkansas this season was completely undone when former quarterback Ty Storey ventured into Fayetteville with his new team and outdueled the Razorbacks in a game that ultimately saw head coach Chad Morris fired. Still, neither Hicks nor Starkel was the answer at quarterback for the Razorbacks in 2019, and even with John Stephen Jones (28 dropbacks), K.J. Jefferson (38 dropbacks) and Jack Lindsey (32 dropbacks) taking their turns in the backfield, this team couldn’t field a viable answer at the position. They all combined to average just 5.7 yards per attempt, and fewer than 50.0% of their passes were completed a year ago.
116. Kato Nelson, Zach Gibson – Akron
Preseason Rank: 55; Week 6 Rank: 109; Week 12 Rank: 117
One of the more dominant players over the past few years in the MAC seemed to be a shell of himself in 2019 as Nelson put forth career-low grades overall, passing and rushing as the Zips couldn’t win a game last year. Nelson did show up at times in the rushing attack and had some decent throws in his arsenal but what lacked that he showed in years past was a pocket presence as he completed just 60.2% of his passes from a clean pocket and took off to scramble on 18 dropbacks in which he was kept clean, the 15th-most in the country.
115. Jordan McCloud, Blake Barnett – USF
Preseason Rank: 44; Week 6 Rank: 90; Week 12 Rank: 108
The year started with the promise of big things to come for Barnett as he seemingly had finally found his home after stints with Arizona State and Alabama before ultimately losing out on his final year of eligibility due to injury. McCloud wasn’t a viable replacement for former blue-chip recruit as he finished with just the 29th-ranked passing grade among quarterbacks. He invited too many sacks upon himself, five to be exact, and struggled to find open receivers from a clean pocket, completing just 57.5% of his attempts when kept clean from pressure and ranking as the seventh-worst percentage in the process.
114. Ross Bowers, Marcus Childers – Northern Illinois
Preseason Rank: 80; Week 6 Rank: 116; Week 12 Rank: 109
Bowers’ first year with the Huskies certainly had some high moments but also had some lows while Childers closed out the year with the team’s two lowest-graded games at the position this season. Bowers, like many quarterbacks, was significantly better from a clean pocket, but he truly struggled even more than the rest when he was pressured. He completed just 51.4% of his passes and was unable to get away from pressure more often than not, taking 18 sacks compared to just one scramble out of the pocket and a lowly 58.2 passer rating.
113. Adrian Martinez, Noah Vedral – Nebraska
Preseason Rank: 24; Week 6 Rank: 52; Week 12 Rank: 85
What could have been in 2019 for Martinez fell by the wayside as he finished the year as the country’s 14th lowest-graded quarterback under pressure and just the 19th lowest-graded quarterback from a clean pocket. He struggled to make the tight-window throws or, for that matter, really any throw downfield as he completed just 40-of-86 attempts of at least 10 yards downfield with 11 turnover-worthy passes to his credit on such attempts. He certainly was a threat with his legs as he carried for 733 yards, including 430 on designed carries and broke 29 tackles on the ground but nine fumbles and nine interceptions hurt many chances to rise here.
112. Quinten Dormady, David Moore – Central Michigan
Preseason Rank: 114; Week 6 Rank: 117; Week 12 Rank: 100
The former Tennessee quarterback seemed every bit of a top-notch quarterback in the MAC on paper as the season opened, but things didn’t ultimately pan out as such for Dormady and Co. Dormady threw for over 2,000 yards but really struggled with the game on the line as he was the country’s fifth-lowest graded quarterback on money downs (3rd & 4th). Moore brought an interesting style of play to the Chippewas this season but ultimately fell victim turnover-worthy passes just his like counterpart and the duo combined to throw 30 TWPs against just 11 big-time throws.
111. Carson Strong, Malik Henry, Christian Solano – Nevada
Preseason Rank: 109; Week 6 Rank: 119; Week 12 Rank: 106
The former Last Chance U star in Henry once again failed to live up to expectations that followed him since receiving a high billing as a high school quarterback. He left the program midway through the season after playing in three games and attempting 78 passes with a touchdown and four interceptions to his name. Strong played the majority of snaps for the program at quarterback and sometimes had spurts where it seemed as if he was turning the corner, but all too often, he followed up a good game with a dud of a performance. For the season, he ranked just inside the top 100 in passing grade but 126th in overall grade among quarterbacks.
110. Dennis Grosel, Anthony Brown – Boston College
Preseason Rank: 45; Week 6 Rank: 85; Week 12 Rank: 106
Brown was every bit of a top quarterback in the ACC entering the year, so it’s no surprise that the BC wheels fell off after his injury. Boston College was 3-2 entering their contest against Louisville, and the argument could be made that they would have won that game against Louisville had Brown finished the outing. Still, the team’s offensive philosophy had to change with Grosel’s entrance into the lineup, running the ball 60 or more times in three of Grosel’s first four starts. When he was tasked with passing the ball, he struggled to move it downfield and for the season, combined to secure just 53 first-down or touchdown conversions on pass plays. Putting that in context, Brown accumulated for 52 1D+TD conversions on his 145 dropbacks compared to Grosel’s 53 on 188 dropbacks. Making matters even worse, when they did pressure Grosel on pass attempts, he fielded the nation’s lowest completion percentage on pressured passes (25.0%).
109. Kenyon Oblad, Armani Rogers – UNLV
Preseason Rank: 105; Week 6 Rank: 118; Week 12 Rank: 102
In a tale of two differing quarterbacks, Rogers added value as a scrambler and designed runner while Oblad lacked a game-altering ability on the ground but had a much better passing arsenal. Oblad’s passing presence buoys this duo up the charts a bit as he ranked 102nd in overall grade and 84th in passing grade, but his struggles to avoid mistakes overall hurt their chances of cracking the top 100. Oblad put the ball in harm’s way on 12 attempts with another eight fumbles to boot.
108. Shai Werts – Georgia Southern
Preseason Rank: 41; Week 6 Rank: 104; Week 12 Rank: 93
With high hopes for Werts this season after some mistaken offseason troubles, things just didn’t seem to come together for him. Even though he threw nine touchdowns against just one pick, his real value to the Eagles offense certainly came in their hybrid rushing attack where he had 10 fumbles. He nearly totaled 1,000 yards on the ground, but his throw-for-throw accuracy was among some of the nation’s lowest percentages, thus creating a problem to raise him inside the top 100 of these rankings. Despite his high TD and low INT totals, his outside the box score numbers are a bit more telling and including four big-time throws against eight turnover-worthy passes.
107. Jarren Williams, N’Kosi Perry – Miami (Fl.)
Preseason Rank: 77; Week 6 Rank: 87; Week 12 Rank: 80
The Hurricanes really struggled to find their grip on the quarterback position all season long and even played all three of their quarterbacks (including Tate Martell) in their bowl game disappointment against Louisiana Tech. Williams was the highest-graded of the duo, ranking just 115th in passing grade compared to Perry’s 147th ranking in the same facet. With a pretty porous offensive line, it comes as no surprise to see that Williams logged 131 dropbacks with pressure in his face, but how he fared against pressure was just as bad as the protection in front of him. He had the nation’s third-lowest grade under pressure and completed 33.7% of his passes when under duress. Still, Williams had some strong positive moments and even set the ACC record for touchdown passes in a game, showing why it was so hard to choose between the duo seemingly every week.
106. Kai Locksley, Brandon Jones, Gavin Hardison – UTEP
Preseason Rank: 117; Week 6 Rank: 89; Week 12 Rank: 116
The Miners fielded three quarterbacks who attempted at least 60 passes in 2019, and no member of that trio produced a passing grade above 58.1. In fact, only Locksley — buoyed by his rushing prowess — finished with an overall grade above 57.6. Locksley’s best moments certainly came on the ground as he totaled a team-high 710 rushing yards including 597 on designed carries, but he did have eight fumbles to his credit. He struggled when pressured in the pocket, averaging just 5.6 yards per pass attempt and taking 24 sacks in the process.
105. Quentin Harris – Duke
Preseason Rank: 91; Week 6 Rank: 91; Week 12 Rank: 99
Much like their conference foes NC State, the Blue Devils had to replace a long-time starter and current NFLer with Daniel Jones. Also much like NC State, Duke had a tough time adjusting to life after their previous quarterback, as Harris completed just 57.9% of his passes and struggling mightily under pressure. Harris had the country’s fourth-lowest grade when pressured in the pocket, completing just 33-of-90 passes for 380 yards with just one big-time throw and eight turnover-worthy passes to his credit. He did have some moments when he was kept clean from pressure, but his woes when the pocket collapsed all too often ended drives.
104. Ryan Hilinski, Jake Bentley – South Carolina
Preseason Rank: 33; Week 6 Rank: 86; Week 12 Rank: 114
Bentley is now with Utah, but in his first (and only start) of the season, he did not look anything like what we had come to expect from the long-time starter. Hilinski stepped right in for the Gamecocks against a top opponent as his second game saw him take on Alabama. Hilinski made some dramatic throws in the game against the Crimson Tide even if it was out of reach, giving hope for the South Carolina team in 2019. However, that was false hope as the team rattled off just four victories all season long, and Hilinski finished with just the 120th-ranked passing grade among quarterbacks. There were some moments to give hope for a better year in 2020, but his 23rd-lowest grade when attempting passes at least 10 yards downfield give pause to that as he’ll certainly have to get better at those chain-moving throws.
103. Fred Payton, Bryce Carpenter – Coastal Carolina
Preseason Rank: 122; Week 6 Rank: 106; Week 12 Rank: 98
The Coastal Carolina quarterback arsenal saw Carpenter and Payton each throw for at least 140 attempts in 2019 as they each had their time to prove what they can do. Payton took home the yardage crown with 1,431 passing yards but also led the way with 14 turnover-worthy passes. Carpenter was certainly the better passing quarterback of the duo this season, completing a higher percentage of his passes but left some yards on the table with short-area passes that saw him record an average depth of target of just 9.4 yards. They each struggled with throws outside the pocket, so a key for their success in 2020 will certainly be pass protection and keeping them clean in the pocket.
102. Tommy Devito – Syracuse
Preseason Rank: 70; Week 6 Rank: 105; Week 12 Rank: 110
Throwing for 19 touchdowns against five interceptions is one way to look at the season for Devito, but anyone who watched the whole picture should be unsurprised by his 11 big-time throws to 11 turnover-worthy pass split in 2019. He had some bad luck with receivers dropping balls at times, but he also had some good luck with defensive backs dropping interceptions just the same.
His best throw of the season came on a dropped touchdown against Clemson that could have changed the game.
One of his worst throws of the season came on a dropped interception that would have certainly changed the game.
101. Bo Nix – Auburn
Preseason Rank: 96; Week 6 Rank: 88; Week 12 Rank: 96
The SEC Freshman of the Year was certainly not in the running to win such an award from us at PFF, as Nix continually didn’t grade well all season long, finishing with 18 turnover-worthy passes (T-28th) to just 17 big-time throws (T-47th). His highlight-reel plays were something, but he was far too often inaccurate with the ball, throwing an uncatchable, inaccurate pass on 26.5% of his throws. He finished as just the 105th-ranked quarterback in passing grade while his 63.0% completion percentage from a clean pocket ranked just 128th. He did some things well, however, as he was rather sharp on throws across the middle of the field, seeing an 81.5 passing grade and completing 93-of-133 passes for 1,036 yards and eight scores on throws targeted between the numbers last season.
100. Brett Gabbert – Miami (Oh.)
Preseason Rank: 120; Week 6 Rank: 107; Week 12 Rank: 91
The true freshman quarterback played hot and cold in his first season at Miami, ultimately leading the RedHawks to a MAC Championship in what could largely be considered a disappointing year for the entire conference. Still, Gabbert did enough to win the right games and has a ton of potential moving forward after finishing the season ranked just 119th in overall grade but 100th in passing grade. Improving his play from a clean pocket should prove crucial to his development as he ranked just 107th in grade when not under duress.
99. Jorge Reyna – Fresno State
Preseason Rank: 113; Week 6 Rank: 98; Week 12 Rank: 72
Reyna had the Bulldogs within six points of three additional victories this season as the chips just didn’t fall in place for Fresno State in 2019. In his final season with the team, Reyna completed 65.5% of his passes but averaged just 7.3 yards per attempt and saw an average depth of target of just 8.6 yards downfield. He was accurate with the football to the short area of the field even if he lacked some big-play potential but would have been better served to take care of the ball a bit better as he threw more turnover-worthy passes than he did big-time throws in 2019.
98. Clayton Tune, D’Eriq King – Houston
Preseason Rank: 4; Week 6 Rank: 102; Week 12 Rank: 115
King will be a Heisman dark horse once again in 2020 when he returns to action after sitting out the final eight games of the year and subsequently entering the transfer portal. King logged 133 dropbacks and threw six touchdowns despite averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt, while Tune had a bigger boom-or-bust nature to his game. He uncorked 13 big-time throws and another 13 turnover-worthy passes as he ranked outside of the top 50 in adjusted completion percentage despite a standard box score completion percentage much higher than King’s. King is a dynamic player with the ball in his hands, and he should return to the form we saw in 2018 when he's back healthy.
97. James Blackman, Alex Hornibrook – Florida State
Preseason Rank: 35; Week 6 Rank: 51; Week 12 Rank: 80
There was certainly a time that Blackman showcased an elite ability with his arm. However, he all too often struggled with down-for-down accuracy and had far too many passes just out of reach of his receivers. In fact, among the 19 ACC quarterbacks to attempt at least 100 passes in 2019, Blackman and Hornibrook finished second to and dead last in the number of passes targeted with perfect accuracy. Blackman limited himself to an uncatchable, inaccurate pass on just 20.7% of his passes but was accurate on just 56.6% of his other attempts, ranking near the bottom of ACC quarterbacks. For the season, Blackman’s 17 turnover-worthy passes were the 29th-most in the nation.
96. Josh Adkins – New Mexico State
Preseason Rank: 118; Week 6 Rank: 67; Week 12 Rank: 104
Adkins was a classic case of a good quarterback playing very well against inferior opponents and lacking some of those big-time moments against better opposition. Against Power-5 opponents, Adkins had just a 51.0 passing grade but saw his grade spike to an 81.3 passing grade against Group of 5, FCS or other Independent schools. Still, he was good enough to crack the top 100 overall among quarterbacks in grade, and if he can limit some of his turnover-worthy plays (both in the air and on the ground) moving forward, he has a big chance to rise in these rankings with the Aggies.
95. Isaiah Green – Marshall
Preseason Rank: 72; Week 6 Rank: 72; Week 12 Rank: 76
Green finished the season ranked in the top 100 overall in grade but finished just outside in passing grade, seeing his rushing ability push him to where he is now. He gained 330 on 81 designed carries and even broke 15 tackles on the ground this season while he was able to put forth some very impressive games both with his legs and through the air. However, he followed up his highest-graded games with two of his lowest-graded outings, struggling with consistency as the season waned on. He threw 15 touchdowns for the second straight season, but his adjusted completion percentage of just 68.3% ranked 106th in the nation. An improvement in down-for-down accuracy will certainly help his and the Thundering Herd’s case in 2020.
94. Sean Chambers, Tyler Vader Waal – Wyoming
Preseason Rank: 53; Week 6 Rank: 100; Week 12 Rank: 93
Chambers really struggled with some tough decisions in the short-area passing attack for the Cowboys, fielding the country’s second-lowest passing grade on all throws within nine yards of the line of scrimmage. Good thing for him and Wyoming fans, he had the country’s 50th-highest adjusted completion percentage on all throws at least 10 yards downfield, showing a marked improvement on deeper throws. It was a good thing for both Chambers’ and Vander Waal’s rushing ability. Otherwise, they’d not crack the top 100 here. Chambers led the team in rushing grade and totaled 335 yards on designed carries and another 266 on scrambles with 19 broken tackles to his credit.
93. Tommy Stevens, Garret Shrader – Mississippi State
Preseason Rank: 63; Week 6 Rank: 76; Week 12 Rank: 103
Famous from his helicopter flip on a failed fourth-down conversion attempt, Shrader gave the Bulldog faithful a brief moment of hope when he energized the Mississippi State offense.
A+ for effort pic.twitter.com/j2g57mHakB
— Cam Mellor (@PFF_Cam) September 14, 2019
However, as the season wore on, neither Shrader nor Stevens seemed to take control of the offense as a legitimate downfield passer. Both quarterbacks threw more turnover-worthy passes than they did big-time throws, but both also added a dimension with their rushing ability as well, just not enough to bring them into the top half of quarterbacks.
92. Jack Plummer, Aidan O’Connell, Elijah Sindelar – Purdue
Preseason Rank: 94; Week 6 Rank: 114; Week 12 Rank: 84
Sindelar’s early-season injury really hurt the Boilermakers’ chances this season, as did the loss of Rondale Moore. However, Plummer and O’Connell each had some success, albeit unsustainable, throughout the year. Perhaps their biggest undoing this season was their inability to generate positive plays from a clean pocket, as they all ranked outside the top 70 quarterbacks in terms of passing grade when kept free from pressure. O’Connell was the best from a clean pocket but still averaged just 6.9 yards per pass attempt when kept clean, not even cracking the top 150 among all qualified quarterbacks.
91. Max Duggan, Alex Delton – TCU
Preseason Rank: 87; Week 6 Rank: 103; Week 12 Rank: 92
While Duggan may be the future at the position for the Horned Frogs, that may cause some pause from the TCU faithful, as he certainly didn’t do much to impress this year. His upside is one thing, but he unleashed double the amount of turnover-worthy plays (12) than he did big-time throws (6) from a clean pocket in 2019, creating some concern for one of the most stable metrics for a quarterback from year to year. Still, a simplified passing attack may be the answer for Duggan moving forward, as he completed 131-of-177 passes for 925 yards and three scores on short-area passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Despite having 17 of his passes dropped on such attempts, Duggan did grade rather well on short-area passes and even had one of the country’s nine big-time throws on passes shorter than 10 yards downfield.
Putting the exclamation point on his dropped passes, his best throw to the short area of the field was dropped this season.
90. Davis Mills, K.J. Costello – Stanford
Preseason Rank: 7; Week 6 Rank: 69; Week 12 Rank: 58
The 2019 iteration of Cardinal football this season really struggled to meet even the floor that was the 2018 season for Stanford. Injuries caused a lot of problems, but quarterback play on a down-for-down basis really wasn’t what it could have been. Costello averaged just 6.2 yards per pass attempt, and Mills threw a conference-high four turnover-worthy passes on all throws shorter than 10 yards downfield. Still, when he did add a little something to his throws, targeting throws further than 10 yards downfield, he uncorked just six turnover-worthy throws compared to his 12 big-time throws for the season.
89. Carter Stanley – Kansas
Preseason Rank: 110; Week 6 Rank: 124; Week 12 Rank: 97
Stanley had his final season with the Jayhawks become a career year by all standards, even if the wins didn’t follow. He had multiple games of dominant play and only a few struggles, ultimately capping his year with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He averaged 7.2 yards per pass attempt despite an average depth of target of 10.4 yards downfield. One thing that could have ultimately played towards more wins and more success for Stanley in his final season at Kansas would have been to limit the turnover-worthy plays as he threw 24 such passes, or fifth-most in the country.
88. Tevaka Tuioti, Sheriron Jones – New Mexico
Preseason Rank: 125; Week 6 Rank: 59; Week 12 Rank: 88
A much better team with Tuioti in the lineup, he played just nine games this season and looked like a viable passer in the majority of those outings. Even in the games that he failed to complete 10 passes, Tuioti added value in the rushing attack as well. He averaged 7.3 yards per attempt on the ground and even had 13 of his 46 carries go for at least 10 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown on the ground, but 14 of his attempts did secure a first down. The combination of Jones, Brandt Hughes and Trae Hall at quarterback down the stretch and in Tuioti’s absence was the real downfall as their inconsistency to complete passes as well as their penchant for turnovers really cost the Lobos dearly.
87. Drew Plitt – Ball State
Preseason Rank: 82; Week 6 Rank: 81; Week 12 Rank: 83
A classic case of the box score not matching the true sense of his effect on the game, Plitt did finish the year with an impressive 24 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. However, he was subjected to quite of bit of interception luck as he threw 19 turnover-worthy passes compared to just 15 big-time throws. Over half of his yards came after the catch as well, but he did find open receivers extremely well this season, making use of the talented receiving corps for the Cardinals, even if six of his 24 touchdowns did come against Fordham. His final season at Ball State is certainly shaping up to be his best if he can rely on what made would have made him more successful in 2019, and that’s limiting turnover-worthy passes.
86. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Austin Burton – UCLA
Preseason Rank: 68; Week 6 Rank: 83; Week 12 Rank: 101
DTR struggled as a passer for the second consecutive year for the Bruins, completing under 60% of his passes in back-to-back years. He had issues with turnovers both in the passing game and on the ground, but he did have a great sign of positive play when he was kept clean from pressure, completing 66.9% of his attempts and accumulating 103 combined first downs and touchdowns. His best games saw him tote the rock extremely well on scrambles as he accumulated 403 of his 505 rushing yards on designed passes that he took off. He secured a first down or touchdown on 33 of his 87 attempts on the ground but did have 13 fumbles. Critical to winning games and having sustained success at the quarterback position, Thompson-Robinson will have to avoid turnovers in 2020.
85. Zach Smith – Tulsa
Preseason Rank: 57; Week 6 Rank: 79; Week 12 Rank: 90
Smith finished the season with an above-average passing grade and a 19-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio even despite seeing 9.1% of his catchable attempts dropped by his receivers. He had more dropped passes than anyone else this season at 39, with the next closest being just 36. His big arm got him out of trouble at times, averaging 10.4 yards per target downfield, but he still did throw 23 turnover-worthy attempts this year, the sixth-most in the country. There was good and there was bad with Smith this year, with fumbles landing firmly on the bad side, but when he was on and clicking, his deep balls were a treat to watch.
84. James Morgan – FIU
Preseason Rank: 38; Week 6 Rank: 60; Week 12 Rank: 89
Similar to the man above him, Morgan suffered through drops this season – actually having the nation’s highest drop rate on catchable throws among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts. For the season – 9.8% of the catchable passes he uncorked were dropped by his receivers, and that simple fact of upping his completion percentage by nearly 10 whole points makes it easier to swallow his 58.0% box-score completion percentage figure this year. He didn’t quite hit the touchdown total from an outstanding season in 2018, but he was nearly as efficient with the ball on a down-for-down basis that he had just a 1.5-point discrepancy in passing grade from last season. He was incredibly sharp when throwing over the middle of the field to the intermediate range, seeing one of the nation’s highest passing in between the numbers to the 10-19 yard bracket, finding his sweet spot in 2019.
83. Brandon Peters, Matt Robinson – Illinois
Preseason Rank: 107; Week 6 Rank: 84; Week 12 Rank: 79
Peters may have completed just 54.3% of his passes this season, but he seemed to gain success as the year progressed, much like the rest of the Illini team. His four highest-graded outings came in Week 8 or later and he was very strong when throwing to the deep area of the field, completing 15 of his 32 passes for 544 yards and six scores, he just didn’t get to uncork as many deep shots as he probably should this season. He was the nation’s 27th highest-graded quarterback on throws over the middle of the field, limiting turnover-worthy passes to just two this season, and that’s the area he should be sure to build on next season.
82. Tyler Vitt, Gresch Jensen – Texas State
Preseason Rank: 108; Week 6 Rank: 121; Week 12 Rank: 107
Had it just been Vitt to play the majority of snaps for the Bobcats, they’d find themselves much higher on these rankings. Jensen did not look like a viable starter this year, throwing 11 turnover-worthy passes on his 207 attempts compared to just his five big-time throws. Vitt threw 10 turnover-worthy passes this season but counteracted those with 12 big-time throws and a higher average depth of target. Vitt finished the season with a 73.9 passing grade compared to Jensen’s 58.1 as Vitt’s four highest-graded outings came in the team’s last four games, signaling perhaps a sign of good things to come in 2020.
81. Dan Ellington – Georgia State
Preseason Rank: 83; Week 6 Rank: 37; Week 12 Rank: 82
Playing several games with a torn ACL, Ellington wins the award for grittiest performance in 2019, and it’s not even close. He completed 63.5% of his passes for 2,449 yards and 22 scores but certainly got some interception luck, as he more than doubled his interception total (8) in turnover-worthy pass attempts (19) this season. Limiting those mistakes would have certainly led to more wins down the stretch of the season, but all things considered, Ellington’s 2019 season was one for the books when you consider his injury and subsequent rushing production as well.
80. Jarrett Guarantano, Brian Maurer – Tennessee
Preseason Rank: 21; Week 6 Rank: 115; Week 12 Rank: 87
Someone with all the talent in the world, Guarantano couldn’t quite get things rolling in a consistent fashion in 2019. He all too often followed up an amazing game with a dud, and not once this season did he have a repeat performance of the two game grades above 66.0. His highs were among the best in the country with two games above 90.0 overall, but some of his lows rivaled those among the worst in the nation, as he saw four single-game grades lower than 48.0. He’s a career 60.0% completion percentage kind of guy, and that was similar in 2019, but he’s yet to finish a season with a passing grade in our elite grade range despite teasing it in multiple games during his career. If he plays a full season at his highest capacity, Guarantano breaks the top 10 among all quarterbacks. Can that happen in 2020, please?
79. Brian Lewerke – Michigan State
Preseason Rank: 76; Week 6 Rank: 44; Week 12 Rank: 95
Having the best season of his career, Lewerke still completed just 59.7% of his passes and had 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. There were too many boneheaded decisions to warrant a much higher place here, even if he did have his highest passing grade during his four years in East Lansing. Unlike other years of his career, Lewerke was at his best when throwing downfield, and on passes targeted at least 10 yards downfield, he threw for 1,590 yards and 10 scores with 18 big-time throws compared to just eight turnover-worthy passes. His down-to-down accuracy wasn’t as sharp as you’d expect for a four-year starter, but he certainly did have his moments this year, even if a lot of his better passes were even dropped.
78. Kelly Bryant – Missouri
Preseason Rank: 29; Week 6 Rank: 29; Week 12 Rank: 67
Doing what was asked of him in the Missouri offense, Bryant actually targeted just 95 passes further than 10 yards downfield as the Tiger offense dictated him to keep things short and simple in 2019. The trouble with that was, of all quarterbacks to attempt at least 100 passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, Bryant’s adjusted completion percentage ranked just 69th out of 110. He wasn’t nearly as accurate with his passes as he was in 2017 with Clemson during the year he broke the PFF ACC record for adjusted completion percentage, but he was much better on downfield throws. His final season certainly didn’t amount to what he and the Missouri faithful thought it probably could or should have, but he did showcase an ability to find his receivers downfield that he hadn’t before.
77. Justin McMillian – Tulane
Preseason Rank: 112; Week 6 Rank: 46; Week 12 Rank: 81
Capping his season with an emphatic performance in their bowl game victory, McMillan had a much better year on the ground than he did through the air, rushing for a total of 911 yards, including 499 on designed carries this year. He broke a total of 36 tackles on the ground and even gained 462 yards after contact with 12 touchdowns and another 49 first downs on the ground. He wasn’t quite as accurate as the new Tulane quarterback Jett Duffey was in 2019, but McMillan still did more to help the Green Wave win games than cost them games this past season.
76. Mitchell Guadagni, Eli Peters, Carter Bradley – Toledo
Preseason Rank: 69; Week 6 Rank: 70; Week 12 Rank: 56
The Rockets had three quarterbacks attempt at least 100 passes and play in at least five games this year in Guadagni, Peters and Bradley, but Guadagni was clearly the best of the three in the process. In his six games, Guadagni looked every bit like a top-notch MAC quarterback, and Toledo would have certainly been in a much better position had he not been injured in the Bowling Green game. He completed 64.5% of his passes and even ran for another 387 yards with 17 carries of 10 or more yards in his brief season. Peters and Bradley failed to live up to the prowess of Guadagni, and their record showed down the stretch, dropping four of their final six without their star quarterback. Despite each attempt 100 passes and 205 total passes, Peters and Bradley didn’t combine to throw for as many touchdowns nor big-time throws that Guadagni was able to put up on his 121 attempts.
75. Spencer Sanders, Dru Brown – Oklahoma State
Preseason Rank: 60; Week 6 Rank: 57; Week 12 Rank: 60
Sanders was a bit of hit or miss in his 10 games for the Cowboys in 2019, landing home with four single-game grades above 70.0 but four games with grades below 54.1. He did have some promising moments to lean on for the next two seasons, at least, as he completed 60-of-82 passes in between the numbers for 681 yards and four touchdowns. His completion percentage on throws across the middle landed as a top-35 mark across the country as he was able to work from inside out in terms of his progression nicely. Finding that rhythm and sweet spot for the future seems to be a great building block for him moving forward.
74. Lynn Bowden, Sawyer Smith, Terry Wilson – Kentucky
Preseason Rank: 46; Week 6 Rank: 130; Week 12 Rank: 122
A tale of three thirds instead of two halves, Kentucky’s quarterback play was a remarkable journey to go on in 2019. Wilson started the season as every bit of a dark horse Heisman contender only to see his injury completely derail the Wildcats season when Smith entered the fold. Smith had the lowest-graded game we’ve ever given to a quarterback at the college level when he became the first player to have double-digit turnover-worthy plays in a game in Week 4 against Mississippi State. Smith’s 14.3% turnover-worthy play percentage ranked as by far the highest percentage among all quarterbacks who attempted at least 100 passes this season. Bowden took the reins not as a passer but as a wildcat quarterback who could also throw, and he had his moments of success, which ultimately led to him receiving the Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in the country. Bowden completed just 35-of-74 passes for 403 yards but ran for 1,342 yards on designed carries and another 154 on scrambles. He broke 55 tackles, including back-to-back games of double-digit missed tackles forced in his final two outings as he totaled 13 touchdowns and another 55 first downs on the ground. He was every bit of a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands; he just had to catch the ball from the center instead of from a quarterback like he was used to.
73. Hank Bachmeier, Jaylon Henderson, Chase Cord – Boise State
Preseason Rank: 111; Week 6 Rank: 40; Week 12 Rank: 73
The Broncos are set at quarterback moving forward with Bachmeier if he returns healthy in 2020, as he led all their quarterbacks who had at least 100 dropback attempts this season in passing grade. He didn’t look all that great in his return against Washington in their bowl game, but prior to his injury, Bachmeier had finished with pass grades north of 65.0 in all but one game, throwing more big-time throws than he did turnover-worthy plays despite games against Florida State, Air Force, and Hawaii – each who had well-above-average secondaries in coverage grade. Henderson and Cord shared time after Bachmeier’s exit, and while they combined to throw 21 touchdowns against just five interceptions, the duo didn’t reach Bachmeier’s season total for big-time throws combined.
72. Jayden Daniels – Arizona State
Preseason Rank: 97; Week 6 Rank: 33; Week 12 Rank: 59
Every bit of an incredible athlete this season for the Sun Devils, Daniels had a great year, completing 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions. However, his accuracy just wasn’t there for the majority of the year as he left a ton of yards to be desired. Despite the incredibly noisy box-score touchdown total, Daniels actually finished the season as the Pac-12’s least accurate quarterback, throwing an accurate pass just 48.4% of the time. He didn’t miss by much sometimes, but to finish his career as a potential three- or four-year starter, he’ll have to improve on his accuracy in the coming years. When he did hit – his 13 big-time throws were extremely fun to watch.
71. Jon Wassink – Western Michigan
Preseason Rank: 52; Week 6 Rank: 65; Week 12 Rank: 64
An incredible three-year starting career capped by Wassink in 2019 saw him finish his first season with a completion percentage below 60.0% for the first time but saw him set career-highs in passing yards and touchdowns. He eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark with his bowl game performance against Western Kentucky, and this is all without mentioning another 447 yards he totaled on the ground. He got a little bit of interception luck with his 15 turnover-worthy passes to just eight interceptions, but he certainly still did more to win games than lose them for Western Michigan in 2019. Wassink did make way for Griffin Alstott to see seven dropbacks this season as the son of former NFL FB Mike Alstott should be the likely starter to open spring camp in a few months.
70. Levi Lewis – Louisiana
Preseason Rank: 66; Week 6 Rank: 53; Week 12 Rank: 75
Finishing the year with his finest passing performance to date, Lewis was every bit of the downfield thrower in 2019 and completed over 50.0% of his passes targeted at least 10 yards downfield. Had it not been for several fumbles this season – Lewis would certainly have cracked an even higher spot here, but his passing ability was never in question in 2019. His 16 big-time throws against just nine turnover-worthy passes on downfield passes certainly paved the way for his top-40 ranking on all throws 10 or more yards past the line of scrimmage.
69. Jordan Love – Utah State
Preseason Rank: 20; Week 6 Rank: 66; Week 12 Rank: 78
Throwing the sixth-most big-time throws in the country, Love counteracted his 31 big-time throws with another 26 turnover-worthy passes, ranking as the fourth-most. He was a high variance quarterback who was his best when he got the ball out of his hands quickly. He led the country with eight turnover-worthy passes on throws 3.0 or more seconds after the snap, and he was just one of eight quarterbacks to throw 22 or more big-time throws in less than 3.0 seconds after the snap. Simplifying the game for him made life easier, but the fact that he was under pressure on 145 of his 524 dropbacks certainly didn’t help there as he really struggled when pressure was registered this season.
68. Micale Cunningham, Evan Conley, Jawon Pass – Louisville
Preseason Rank: 128; Week 6 Rank: 55; Week 12 Rank: 74
What a difference a year can make after posting the lowest grade from a quarterback in 2018, Pass gave way to Cunningham for 12 games this year. Cunningham had a great year throwing the ball downfield and to his star receiver Tutu Atwell out of the slot. Atwell exploded onto the scene and Cunningham saw great success targeting him, completing 70 of 104 total targets this year to the emerging talent. Cunningham sets the bar high for what could be next season from the Louisville signal-caller if he can limit some of the turnovers that bugged him in 2019. He had 11 turnover-worthy passes and seven fumbles, really limiting chances in some games.
67. Kenny Pickett – Pittsburgh
Preseason Rank: 84; Week 6 Rank: 73; Week 12 Rank: 71
Pickett’s stretch of athletic play was something to behold for Pitt fans this season, finishing the final four games of the season with an elite overall grade. Three of his four highest-graded outings came over the final four games, and without those, he would have been much further down these rankings. He may have been the only quarterback with at least 500 dropbacks to average fewer than 7.0 yards per pass attempt, but his 36 dropped passes certainly left a lot to be desired this season. Taking that into account, his 75.2% adjusted completion percentage makes his season look much better than his 61.5% box-score completion number.
66. Kyle Trask, Feleipe Franks – Florida
Preseason Rank: 43; Week 6 Rank: 58; Week 12 Rank: 65
As much as Florida fans clamored for Franks to be removed for Trask, we may be at a time where those same Gator fans are asking for Emory Jones instead of Trask after his average performance in 2019. Jones’ upside is one thing – and Trask’s play this past season certainly wasn’t terrible as he completed 66.7% of his passes for 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. However, Trask launched just nine big-time throws compared to his 22 turnover-worthy passes, a mark that certainly isn’t pleasing on the eyes.
Still, when he did find his stride, some of his passes were as pretty as any in the conference, he’ll just need to have more of those big-time throw moments instead of the play above if he wants to quiet Gator fans wanting Jones. Good thing for Trask: he has the arm to do so.
65. Patrick O’Brien, Collin Hill – Colorado State
Preseason Rank: 74; Week 6 Rank: 82; Week 12 Rank: 54
An all-around frustrating year for the Rams led the way to O’Brien’s emergence after Hill’s injury sidelined him after Week 3. O’Brien finally found his groove later in the season and played some of the more impressive football in stretches, including a 92.5 overall game grade against New Mexico in which he averaged 12.0 yards per pass attempt and 407 total yards on just 38 dropbacks. O’Brien found his most success targeting his receivers down the middle of the field, completing 68.3% of his passes while still averaging 10.3 yards per pass attempt in between the numbers. Finding his receivers open in space was his calling card, and his receivers made the most of their opportunities usually.
64. Kaleb Barker – Troy
Preseason Rank: 88; Week 6 Rank: 80; Week 12 Rank: 36
Firmly inside the top half of all signal-callers here, Barker capped a career-year with a bit of a disappointing end to his season that hurt his overall grade, falling short against the Sun Belt representatives in the championship game. Nevertheless, Barker still finished with 30 touchdowns despite not throwing one over his final two games and only threw 10 interceptions on 460 pass attempts. Barker was a completely different quarterback when kept clean than when he was under pressure, seeing his overall grade drop by nearly 60.0 points from a clean pocket to pressured. As such, his 18 big-time throws from a clean pocket were the 19th-most in the country this season, and he only threw six interceptions on 370 attempts when kept clean from pressure, compared to his four interceptions on just 90 pressured attempts.
63. Holton Ahlers – East Carolina
Preseason Rank: 79; Week 6 Rank: 93; Week 12 Rank: 62
Ahlers embodied what seemed to be a gunslinger mentality this season, uncorking the same amount of big-time throws (22) as he did turnover-worthy passes in 2019. He was no stranger to the 300-yard game as he closed out the season with four straight games with at least 300 yards and two with more than 400. Concerning for his season-long goals of winning games, nearly half of his touchdowns came in just two games this year as he combined to throw 10 scores against Cincinnati and SMU, finishing with 21 touchdowns on the year. Still, that high-level play can only lead to good things with another year of C.J. Johnson on the receiving end for Ahlers.
62. Kelvin Hopkins Jr., Jabari Laws – Army
Preseason Rank: 65; Week 6 Rank: 48; Week 12 Rank: 63
The first of the Service Academy quarterbacks to find their way to the rankings, Hopkins was certainly the least active thrower of the trio. He attempted just 78 passes and completed just 33 passes, but that really wasn’t his game in 2019, despite finding themselves trailing in the majority of ball games. He ran the ball effectively and totaled 745 yards on 138 carries, breaking a team-high 49 tackles and only losing five fumbles in the process. Of his rushing yards, only 30 came on scrambles, and he totaled seven scores with another 45 first downs on the ground. He wasn’t quite what he was a year ago in terms of passing, but he was a terrific runner in 2019.
61. Chase Garbers, Devon Modster – Cal
Preseason Rank: 93; Week 6 Rank: 111; Week 12 Rank: 113
The season was a completely different animal with either quarterback in the roster, troubling enough for Cal, however, was the fact that it was one of two polar opposites. Modster struggled to consistently find open receivers and completed just 50.8% of his passes while Garbers made the Golden Bears a viable threat to win games in the conference as well as their out-of-conference schedule. Garbers finished with a terrific 77.0 passing grade compared to Modster’s 60.0, as Garbers also possessed a unique skill set on the ground off scrambles. He totaled 243 yards on scrambles this season and put his team in position to win more than he did to lose, also differing greatly from Modster.
60. Jarret Doege, Austin Kendall – West Virginia
Preseason Rank: 78; Week 6 Rank: 62; Week 12 Rank: 68
A season that could have been had they gone with Doege earlier in the year, the Mountaineers get this high of a ranking based on the former Bowling Green QB’s play alone. Kendall wasn’t terrible as a quarterback by any stretch, completing 61.5% of his attempts but averaged 6.5 yards per pass. Doege developed a rapport with former 5-star wide receiver George Campbell that made the WVU offense more than one-dimensional as well as exciting for fans to watch, averaging 10.3 yards per completion. Despite nearly tripling the pass attempts, Kendall finished with only nine big-time throws compared to Doege’s five on 184 fewer attempts. Of his 79 completions this season, 35 of them either scored a touchdown or moved the chains for a first down.
59. Desmond Ridder – Cincinnati
Preseason Rank: 23; Week 6 Rank: 31; Week 12 Rank: 61
A more dynamic runner than passer this season, Ridder may have regressed through the air in 2019 but added a new edge to his game with his legs. Still, he threw for 2,169 yards and 18 scores while he was dominant when he was kept clean – finishing with 17 of those touchdowns coming from a clean pocket. On the ground, he added 301 yards on his 38 scrambles and another 486 yards on 89 designed carries, setting new career-highs in yards (787), yards after contact (359), broken tackles (28) while also limiting himself to three fewer fumbles than a season ago. If 2020 sees him with this newfound rushing prowess to go with some of the success he saw in 2018 through the air – there is no doubt he rises higher than 59th.
58. Steven Montez – Colorado
Preseason Rank: 28; Week 6 Rank: 30; Week 12 Rank: 53
The Montez Rollercoaster is officially closed in Boulder after four years of rocky production. His highs were among some of the highest moments in the Pac-12 over the past four seasons, but some of his lows were ultimately some of the conference’s lowest moments. His career sees him finish with five elite passing game grades but with also six single-game passing grades lower than 45.0. He capped his career with his third straight season of 2,800 yards through the air and third consecutive year with at least 17 touchdowns. Much like the rest of his career as well, he finishes with 14 big-time throws and another 15 turnover-worthy throws, nearly mirroring each of his previous career season totals. His longevity as the starting quarterback for the Buffaloes is certainly admirable, but a change of scenery may be welcomed by Colorado fans.
57. Ty Storey, Steven Duncan – Western Kentucky
Preseason Rank: 100; Week 6 Rank: 61; Week 12 Rank: 47
Taking over for Duncan in Week 5, Storey got the ultimate revenge by defeating, in convincing fashion, his former team at Arkansas in a game that culminated with the firing of Chad Morris as the head coach at Arkansas. Storey was the much better of the duo for the Hilltoppers this year, completing nearly 70% of his attempts and averaging 7.4 yards per pass attempt. His 79.7% adjusted completion percentage was the sixth-best among all quarterbacks in 2019, but he did it by sporting an average depth of target of just 8.0 yards downfield. They didn’t rely on the deep game much as Storey attempted just 46 deep shots all year, but he certainly had his efficiencies across the gridiron in 2019 that led to WKU finishing the year 8-2 with Storey at the helm.
56. Ryan Agnew – San Diego State
Preseason Rank: 61; Week 6 Rank: 38; Week 12 Rank: 33
There wasn’t much deep prowess to the Aztecs passing game in 2019 as Agnew attempted just 32 passes targeted at least 20 yards downfield all season, but perhaps there should have been. He completed 15 of those passes for 480 yards and six of his touchdowns against just one interception. For the season, Agnew was solid if not unspectacular from down to down and was surprisingly better under pressure than most quarterbacks, ranking seventh in passing grade when pressured. He completed 45 pressured attempts for 601 yards with eight of his 14 touchdowns on the year coming when he was pressured.
55. Sean Clifford – Penn State
Preseason Rank: 31; Week 6 Rank: 24; Week 12 Rank: 29
After teasing the Penn State fans with four big-time throws on just seven completions in very limited duty in 2018, Clifford did enough to hold on to some games in 2019 but lacked those big-play moments that the PSU faithful have become accustomed to. Compared to those four big-time throws in 2018, he unleashed just 11 of them this season and had 12 turnover-worthy passes to boot. He’ll have to tighten up on the latter if Penn State wants to win more than just 10-11 wins in a season and maybe rely on his intermediate passing ability as he connected on 36-of-67 attempts for 728 yards and seven scores, finishing as the nation’s seventh highest-graded passer to the 10-19-yard range this year.
54. Tyler Johnston III, Dylan Hopkins – UAB
Preseason Rank: 14; Week 6 Rank: 12; Week 12 Rank: 27
Johnston’s brand of boom-or-bust football was such an intriguing brand of football to watch, finishing the year with 28 big-time throws (11th-most) and 22 turnover-worthy passes (10th-most). When he missed, sometimes he missed big.
But when he did hit a deep, perfectly-placed shot, it was among some of the best throws of the season.
Johnston was every bit of a gunslinger for the Blazers in 2019, and while he took a step back from a grade standpoint from 2018, he should be primed to lead UAB to even more success in 2020.
53. Brady White – Memphis
Preseason Rank: 47; Week 6 Rank: 71; Week 12 Rank: 14
Capping an incredible season with disappointment in the end, White did seem a bit rusty against Penn State after two shaky performances in back-to-back victories over Cincinnati to close the regular season. He threw for a career-high 4,032 yards and 33 touchdowns but got away with some lucky bounces here and there. In fact, he equaled his total big-time throws to turnover-worthy passes with 21 of each this season despite his 33-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Had it not been for sub 61.0 passing grades in each of his last four outings that saw six of his 11 interceptions come down the final stretch, he would have found himself much higher on this list.
52. Zac Thomas – App State
Preseason Rank: 40; Week 6 Rank: 41; Week 12 Rank: 69
Every bit of a dominant athlete at the quarterback position, Thomas set new career-highs in just about every category and somehow exactly matched his completion percentage from a season ago by completing 62.5% of his passes in each of the past two seasons. He had three elite passing game grades this season and even added 272 yards on designed carries and another 277 on scrambles. He hit a ton of big-play moments this season, seeing 18 carries of at least 10 yards or more and connecting on 23 deep shots targeted at least 20 yards downfield. Turning the corner down the stretch of the year, he began to limit turnover-worthy plays as well as of his 19 turnover-worthy passes, only four of them came after their Week 10 loss to Georgia Southern.
51. Anthony Russo – Temple
Preseason Rank: 22; Week 6 Rank: 64; Week 12 Rank: 46
Entering the season with incredibly high hopes for what was expected to be a breakout season, Russo largely did just that, even if he didn’t quite reach the highs that some thought he might. He did finish with two passing grades above 90.0 this season but fell short of reaching his overall season grade from a year ago by some margin. Still, his 30 big-time throws ranked as the eighth-most in the country even if he did have 22 turnover-worthy passes to tie Johnston for 10th-most in the country in that facet. The big-armed quarterback in Philly will certainly have the eyes of the college football world and those looking toward the 2021 NFL Draft as well as he’s every bit of an NFL-caliber quarterback if he can start to limit those mistaken-ridden throws.
50. Hendon Hooker, Ryan Willis, Quincy Patterson – Virginia Tech
Preseason Rank: 73; Week 6 Rank: 74; Week 12 Rank: 43
Every bit of a different team with Hooker at quarterback, this ranking largely shows how affected the Hokies were with Willis in at quarterback this season. They dropped two of his four starts on the season and subsequently won six of Hooker’s eight starts on the year. Finishing with 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions, Hooker paced the Hokies throughout the back half of the season, tossing 10 big-time throws and throwing an accurate pass on 57.1% of his attempts – the third-highest figure in the conference. In fact, Hooker’s perfectly placed, accurate-plus passes came at a higher rate than any other quarterback in the ACC, checking in at 16.3% for our ‘perfectly thrown’ passes.
49. John Rhys Plumlee, Matt Corral – Ole Miss
Preseason Rank: 50; Week 6 Rank: 63; Week 12 Rank: 48
Each quarterback for the Rebels got it done his own way in 2019 as unorthodox as it was for them to have success, however. Corral saw passing game grades above 70.0 in five of his starts while Plumlee was largely ineffective as a passer and instead relied on his incredible rushing ability. For the season, it should go down as no surprise that Corral was the significantly higher-graded passer while Plumlee was the much higher-graded rusher. If the job is Plumlee’s to lose in 2020, he’ll need to improve on his passing ability, but if he can rely on the fact that he broke off 1,067 rushing yards including 45 combined touchdowns and first downs on the ground while breaking 39 tackles, that’s a pretty good fallback. If Corral does stay around and fights for the job in 2020, he can improve on what seemed like an improved feel for the game as his starts started to trickle on early in the year. Seven of Corral’s eight big-time throws this season came across his first four starts as he got better with each insertion into the lineup.
48. Jack Abraham – Southern Miss
Preseason Rank: 59; Week 6 Rank: 13; Week 12 Rank: 23
Abraham finished the season with an even 3,500 yards through the air, and without a poor performance against FAU in Week 14, he would have possibly cracked the top 40 here. Still, his season was dominant at times, and he even saw three game grades at an elite level early in the season. He was at his best when throwing over the middle of the field and completed 176-of-234 passes for 2,261 yards and 11 touchdowns on passes targeted between the numbers. He took the next step this season from an already impressive first year as the starter in 2018 and 2020 should be the best yet for Southern Miss with Abraham at the helm.
47. Stephen Calvert – Liberty
Preseason Rank: 92; Week 6 Rank: 75; Week 12 Rank: 40
‘Buckshot’ Calvert had some of the nation’s top throws in 2019, finishing with two of the highest-graded games from a quarterback this year. He needed those game grades to buoy his overall season grade from some other duds that he put forth this year, including three game grades below 50.0 overall. When he was on, and when his connection to Antonio Gandy-Golden was clicking, the duo from Liberty was certainly one of the top QB-WR combinations in the country. Calvert finished seventh in the country in total deep passing yards with 1,169 as he had 10 touchdowns on those throws targeted at least 20 yards downfield. He hit 24 big-time throws this year compared to just 20 turnover-worthy plays in his final season at Liberty.
46. Zach Wilson, Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney – BYU
Preseason Rank: 30; Week 6 Rank: 122; Week 12 Rank: 77
Had he participated in more than nine games, you can be sure you’d find Wilson and BYU much higher on this list this season. Still, the Cougars got plus play from both Hall and Romney this year but were a much better team with a much higher win percentage with Wilson at the helm. Wilson combined for more big-time throws than Hall and Romney combined, and despite two games to end the year with no touchdowns against four interceptions, was subjected to some bad interception luck. In fact, six of his interceptions this season were for reasons not of his own fault, including two passes in which he was hit as he threw, two passes that his receivers ran the wrong way or broke their route wrong, another that his receiver just simply fell down and one that went right through his receiver’s hands.
45. Mason Fine – North Texas
Preseason Rank: 5; Week 6 Rank: 43; Week 12 Rank: 34
A terrific quarterback by any stretch of the word, Fine was a victim to his previous success in 2018 as he didn’t quite live up to an incredibly lofty billing for the 2019 season. Fine, however, still did throw for 3,087 yards and 29 touchdowns, so a down year would still be a career-year for a slew of other quarterbacks across the country. He was just as good as he had been on throws downfield in 2019, and though he didn’t reach the heights on deep passes that he had before, he still did finish with 20 big-time throws on passes targeted at least 10 yards downfield, ranking 21st in the country. He was terrific both from a clean pocket and when pressured, combining to convert 142 first downs or touchdowns this season.
44. Chris Robison – FAU
Preseason Rank: 81; Week 6 Rank: 35; Week 12 Rank: 41
Robison came into his own in Year 2 at FAU, completing 61.5% of his passes for 3,705 yards and 28 touchdowns. He was incredibly sharp on throws downfield, ranking 24th in overall grade on all throws targeted at least 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. He completed 94 attempts for 2,181 yards and 15 of his touchdowns on such throws and just four interceptions to boot. Pressure certainly seemed to faze him as much as the next guy, but he had an elite overall grade when kept clean and threw for 3,149 of his total passing yards and 24 of his scores when not under duress. If the improvement in his second year at FAU can be expected to repeat itself in Year 3, the sky is the limit for the Owls.
43. Bryce Perkins – Virginia
Preseason Rank: 15; Week 6 Rank: 77; Week 12 Rank: 66
Not very many people were able to do the things on the field that Perkins did this season – but those mainly relied on his ability with his legs rather than his arm. In fact, Perkins led the nation with 29 turnover-worthy passes even though he had just 12 interceptions this year. His prowess not as a passer, even though he did reach 3,542 yards but had just 14 big-time throws to his credit. He ranks as high as he does because of his rushing ability, an ability that saw him run for 1,015 total yards that included 666 yards on 132 designed carries. He took off on another 51 scrambles and gained 349 yards as he broke 36 tackles as a runner this year. His 11 touchdowns were second on the team on the ground, but his 46 first-down carries led the Cavaliers by 28.
42. Shea Patterson – Michigan
Preseason Rank: 13; Week 6 Rank: 47; Week 12 Rank: 49
Reaching career-high figures in 2019 across the board, Patterson didn’t quite grade as well as he did in his first season at Michigan, but he certainly brought an exciting brand of football at times. There were three games in which he averaged over 10.0 yards per pass attempt and three games with an elite passing grade above 85.0. He had too many middling passing game grades to warrant a higher spot than he has now, but he still finished his career with a career-high 3,058 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. While pressure really affected him, he was dominant from a clean pocket, even more so than the most as he finished with the 22nd-ranked passing grade from a clean pocket. He whipped out 2,618 yards and 20 passing touchdowns from a clean pocket and combined to secure another 98 first downs for the Wolverines.
41. Kellen Mond – Texas A&M
Preseason Rank: 25; Week 6 Rank: 42; Week 12 Rank: 37
Owner of one of the best throws of the entire season, Mond had a tremendously difficult schedule to contend with at Texas A&M this season. He still navigated through difficult secondaries fielded from Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and LSU to field a completion percentage of 61.3% and 20 passing touchdowns against just nine interceptions. Buoyed by the aforementioned top throw of the season, Mond was incredible when working to his left, completing 39 of his 69 throws to the left of the numbers for 486 yards and four scores. His season started off with a bang against Texas State with this throw.
Unfortunately, he needed a few more big-time throws like that to reach a few more victories and a few more spots higher on these rankings.
40. Jack Coan – Wisconsin
Preseason Rank: 106; Week 6 Rank: 39; Week 12 Rank: 52
Exceeding everyone’s expectations this year, Coan followed up an utter disastrous showing on 95 attempts in 2018 with one of the better Big Ten seasons from a quarterback this year. He needed just 236 completions to reach 18 touchdowns and took great care of the ball to the tune of just five interceptions. He was sharp to most levels of the field but really found his groove with Quintez Cephus to the deep right part of the field. There are several distinct areas where Coan had success but there were 132 quarterbacks to attempt at least 10 passes outside the numbers and 20 yards downfield. Coan graded out with the sixth-highest passing grade, connecting on six big-time throws, four touchdowns and 243 yards on such attempts and five of those big-time throws were targeted to Cephus. His ability through the air helped carry them to the Rose Bowl this season as they were able to also put a scare into the Buckeyes for the Big Ten crown. More success like that from Coan could only mean another Badgers-Buckeyes Big Ten title game, and if he improves the way he did from 2018 to 2019, the sky is the limit.
39. Asher O’Hara – Middle Tennessee
Preseason Rank: 121; Week 6 Rank: 68; Week 12 Rank: 38
Finishing the season with three of his four highest-graded games (@ Charlotte, vs Rice, vs ODU), O’Hara seemed to turn the corner as the signal-caller for the Blue Raiders. He finished the year completing 62.3% of his passes for 2,575 yards and 20 scores as well as 16 big-time throws. His best action of the year came on throws over the middle, where he was the country’s 21st-ranked quarterback, throwing for 1,551 yards on 123-of-161 passing and six scores. His 76.6% completion percentage on throws between the numbers ranked 13th in the country as he was one of the nation’s elite throwers over the middle.
38. Cole McDonald, Chevan Cordeiro – Hawaii
Preseason Rank: 32; Week 6 Rank: 14; Week 12 Rank: 51
There’s one way to counteract a massive amount of turnover-worthy passes as a quarterback in today’s college football realm, and that’s to throw even more big-time throws. Tying with Bryce Perkins for most turnover-worthy passes at 29 this season, McDonald more than doubled Perkins’ big-time throw mark of 14 with 31 BTTs himself. He was a true gunslinger and his good outweighed the bad this season to the tune of 33 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions – and that’s even with splitting time at points with Cordeiro. McDonald slung it around the field with reckless abandon at times and connected on some of his better throws between the numbers. For the year, McDonald finished as the country’s 28th-ranked quarterback on throws over the middle, connecting on 162-of-227 attempts for 2,016 yards and 17 touchdowns, both figures ranking in the top 10 among the nation’s quarterbacks on throws in between the numbers.
37. Skylar Thompson – Kansas State
Preseason Rank: 58; Week 6 Rank: 20; Week 12 Rank: 26
Needing just 177 completions to reach 2,315 yards through the air, Thompson was perhaps an even more effective runner his season for the Wildcats. Still, Thompson hit on 27 big-time throws this year, surprisingly enough, to rank 15th in the country in such a metric. He limited himself to just 14 turnover-worthy passes as well as some of his throws gave fans pause as to why he only attempted 54 deep shots and just 125 total passes targeted at least 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. Rounding out his impressive season was the rushing ability that saw him reach 484 yards on the ground including 265 on designed carries and another 219 on scrambles. He broke 12 tackles and 37 of his attempts scored (11) or recorded a first down (26).
36. J’Mar Smith, Aaron Allen – Louisiana Tech
Preseason Rank: 34; Week 6 Rank: 49; Week 12 Rank: 50
One of the more exciting quarterbacks to watch over his time with the Bulldogs, Smith actually capped his Louisiana Tech career with career-high figures in touchdowns, completion percentage, overall and passing grades. He finished the season by completion 64.1% of his throws for 2,978 yards and 18 touchdowns despite missing some time as well. He threw just five interceptions as he took better care of the ball this year than he did a year prior, all leading to his 20 big-time throws to just eight turnover-worthy passes. He was the nation’s highest-graded quarterback on throws outside of the pocket this season, completing 22-of-48 passes for 331 yards, five touchdowns and a 65.8% adjusted completion percentage as he even had to deal with drops across the board. This, of course, all is without mentioning his 390 total rushing yards and 12 broken tackles on the ground that made him a true dual-threat if he did decide to tuck it and run.
35. Chris Reynolds – Charlotte
Preseason Rank: 90; Week 6 Rank: 99; Week 12 Rank: 35
It may not have seemed like it but Reynolds really moved the 49ers offense this season and even got the Charlotte football program to their first bowl game in history. Reynolds had two elite passing grades this season and if you were to throw out his under-matched performance against a clearly superior Clemson team, his season’s worth of work is incredibly impressive. He was remarkable when kept clean, finishing with the country’s 19th-ranked passing grade from a clean pocket. He also added a ton of value for Charlotte on the ground and ran for 718 yards on 119 designed carries with another 140 yards coming off scrambles. He broke 30 tackles on the ground and had a whopping 32 carries of at least 10 yards or more.
34. Kyle Vantrease, Matt Myers – Buffalo
Preseason Rank: 123; Week 6 Rank: 101; Week 12 Rank: 70
Vantrease was the significantly better quarterback for the Bulls this year and even with just a 57.9% completion percentage and just eight touchdowns, showcased an impressive arsenal of throws that he hadn’t shown before. He had two games with a passing grade above 90.0 this year and the country’s 20th-best passing grade from a clean pocket. He finished with 13 big-time throws this year and had an incredible downfield throwing ability he put on display just 33 times this year. With another year for Vantrease entrenched as the starter, the Bulls may just be in good hands.
33. Ian Book, Notre Dame
Preseason Rank: 18; Week 6 Rank: 25; Week 12 Rank: 28
Book’s return to Notre Dame in 2020 should be a welcome addition to fans after he showed great improvement in 2019. He may not have completed passes at a rate as high as 2018 but his big-time throws came at a higher clip, securing 22 of those moments compared to just 14 turnover-worthy plays. He suffered through some dropped passes, 28 to be exact, and his 73.6% adjusted completion percentage showcases just how sharp he actually was when things were in his control. He improved as a passer and finished his season on a tear with five consecutive passing grades above 70.0 and a ridiculous 13 touchdowns to no interceptions over his final four.
32. Kedon Slovis, JT Daniels, Matt Fink – USC
Preseason Rank: 67; Week 6 Rank: 96; Week 12 Rank: 45
Slovis is the man in LA going forward after he dominated the action as the Trojans starter. While Daniels started the season at the helm, he was knocked out after just one game and replaced by Slovis who finished the year with a 71.9% completion percentage and 30 touchdowns against just nine interceptions. He set records for yards in a quarter and a slew of other USC passing records in the first year of offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s offensive scheme as Slovis seems destined to rewrite the Trojans record books before it’s all said and done. Owner of one of the longest passes of the year, Slovis uncorked 20 big-time throws and finished with the Pac-12’s highest accuracy percentage among full-time starters. He limited the mistakes and even limited those uncatchable passes as he also led the conference with the lowest percentage of uncatchable inaccurate passes thrown as well at just 12.1%.
31. Donald Hammond III – Air Force
Preseason Rank: 89; Week 6 Rank: 54; Week 12 Rank: 57
The second of the Service Academy quarterbacks to grace our rankings, Hammond was every bit of a dominant thrower of the football when the plays called for it. He threw for 1,316 yards on just 113 attempts including 13 touchdowns and just six interceptions. They dropped him back to pass on just 121 plays this season and he made the most of those attempts by averaging 11.6 yards per attempt and 23.5 yards per completion. On the ground, Hammond was the least active of the three academy quarterbacks, dishing out a ton of work for his counterparts in the option attack but still gaining 557 yards and leading his team with 13 rushing touchdowns on the year. He ran for another 37 first downs and gained 253 yards after contact in what became one of the more important seasons for a quarterback in terms of his team’s chances to win riding high on his shoulders.
30. Mike Glass III – Eastern Michigan
Preseason Rank: 56; Week 6 Rank: 26; Week 12 Rank: 19
Perhaps the nation’s ‘zippiest’ arm, Glass gets the ball out as quick as anyone with as much power as the rest of the quarterbacks anywhere in the country. He finished with 3,171 yards and 24 touchdowns this year despite having 28 of his catchable attempts dropped by his receivers. He finished with 24 big-time throws to just 14 turnover-worthy passes and had the country’s 14th-highest adjusted completion percentage in the process. It was a career-year by all accounts in his final college season as he saw elite passing grades in three of his outings and game grades of 75.0 or above in seven for the year.
29. Josh Love – San Jose State
Preseason Rank: 62; Week 6 Rank: 45; Week 12 Rank: 22
Seeing the benefits of Tre Walker’s reemergence as the season went along, Love’s performance may not have been indicative of the number of wins that followed, but he was certainly one of the nation’s best passers. Love finished the year with 3,923 passing yards and 22 touchdowns and despite having him for just 10 games, reached 1,161 yards for Walker through the air. In a career year for Love, he saw his best game grades come down the stretch and his four highest-graded performances were in the final five games including an elite game against Army in which he averaged 10.1 yards per attempt and three scores against no interceptions. For the year, his 28 big-time throws to just 14 turnover-worthy passes were the best ratio of his career.
28. Shane Buechele – SMU
Preseason Rank: 42; Week 6 Rank: 23; Week 12 Rank: 12
Looking every bit like the former Power-5 quarterback that he is, Buechele dominated the action for the Mustangs as he finished second in the country in deep passing yards with 1,462 yards on throws targeted at least 20 yards downfield. He was at his best in the quick game, finishing as the 25th-ranked quarterback on throws before 3.0 seconds. He finished the season with 30 of his 34 touchdowns coming on passes thrown within 2.9 seconds of the snap, the third-most in the country as he completed 274-of-415 attempts for 3,277 yards and 21 of his big-time throws on such attempts. He threw a touchdown in every game except for the season opener and eclipsed the 400-yard mark in three outings this season.
27. Caleb Evans – UL-Monroe
Preseason Rank: 75; Week 6 Rank: 34; Week 12 Rank: 21
It’s okay if you didn’t know the kind of year that Evans had for the Warhawks but it’s not okay if you don’t go back and watch some of the marquee moments from his four-year career at UL-Monroe. He capped his impressive career with a career-high 21 touchdowns, 2,930 yards and elite overall grade of 89.3. He evaded pressure in the pocket like a seasoned veteran and despite pressure on 131 dropbacks, took a sack just 13 times. He was stellar from a clean pocket as well and completed 64.7% of his throws for 2,149 yards and 17 touchdowns when free from pressure despite 23 drops on such attempts. His best work came on throws over the middle where he completed 69.1% of his pass attempts even with 15 dropped balls and threw 12 of his total touchdowns.
26. Layne Hatcher, Logan Bonner – Arkansas State
Preseason Rank: 126; Week 6 Rank: 108; Week 12 Rank: 42
The season changed for the Red Wolves when Hatcher took over following the Georgia game as he was absolutely dominant and looked every bit like the former Alabama quarterback he was. In just nine starts, Hatcher threw for 2,899 yards and 27 touchdowns with six games surpassing 300 yards in the air. His ability to find his receivers downfield was remarkable as he finished with the country’s ninth-highest grade on throws at least 20 yards downfield. He completed 29-of60 attempts for 1,099 yards and 12 touchdowns with 21 big-time throws on deep shots. Those 21 big-time throws were the 10th most this season as he found his talented receivers outside on go routes for 699 yards and nine touchdowns, each ranking as ninth-most in the country this season.
25. Grant Gunnell, Khalil Tate – Arizona
Preseason Rank: 10; Week 6 Rank: 8; Week 12 Rank: 31
In a year dominated by Tate’s healthy return to the lineup this season, Gunnell was the significantly better passer of the duo. Tate still dominated with his legs but went four games without a passing touchdown and just one game against Power-5 competition with a passing grade above 71.2. On the ground, Tate eclipsed 500 yards with 254 yards on 42 designed carries and another 308 on scrambles, breaking 17 tackles in the process. Signaling the future is in good hands, however, was Gunnell as he had a passing grade of at least 72.2 in every single outing this season, compared to Tate’s three games with such grades. He wasn’t just dinking and dunking either as he finished the year with a mark of 27 completions of 10 or more yards downfield for five scores and no interceptions. He was the only quarterback in the country to attempt at least 20 passes on throws 10+ yards downfield and not commit a turnover-worthy pass while he had five big-time throws of his own on such throws.
24. Nate Stanley – Iowa
Preseason Rank: 51; Week 6 Rank: 50; Week 12 Rank: 30
A good reason why box score data is never the best way to look at the overall picture for a quarterback as, by all means from us at PFF, Stanley had a career-year at Iowa. He had 10 fewer touchdowns than his previous career bests but he had a significantly better passing grade than even his sophomore season of 2017. Stanley was sharp and even with some dropped balls plaguing him this year, he still made the most of the opportunities presented to him. He averaged 7.3 yards per attempt and his adjusted completion percentage of 69.8% really showcases his ability to get the ball to the places he intended more often than not. He was dramatically improved from a clean pocket in 2019, finishing with a 63.5% completion percentage (despite 27 drops) and had 2,479 of his passing yards with 13 of his 16 touchdowns coming when kept clean from pressure.
23. Charlie Brewer – Baylor
Preseason Rank: 12; Week 6 Rank: 21; Week 12 Rank: 15
It’s fair to say 2019 was a letdown for Brewer even if he broke his previous career-high figures in yards, touchdowns and yards per attempt as he just didn’t quite have the accuracy levels he set a year prior. That being said, those numbers were among the best not only among returning quarterbacks but among all quarterbacks in 2018 so 2019 was bound to see some regression. Still, he got the Bears to the Big 12 Championship game and even with a late-season letdown in their final two games, still finished as one of the higher-graded quarterbacks in the country. He was consistent across the field this past season, finding a touchdown to every dimension of the field on throws 10 or more yards past the line of scrimmage and finished with top-30 passing grades to both the intermediate (10-19 yards) and deep (20+ yards) ranges.
22. Anthony Gordon – Washington State
Preseason Rank: 95; Week 6 Rank: 22; Week 12 Rank: 13
You don’t reach 5,563 passing yards and 48 touchdowns without exploiting all levels of the field like Gordon did this season. He was the highest-graded quarterback on all throws within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and led all quarterbacks with 3,217 yards and 22 touchdowns. He topped 300 yards in all but one game this season and even surpassed 400 yards in nine outings with multiple 500-yard performances to boot. Gordon was tremendous on all throws over the middle of the field and was the 21st-ranked quarterback all throws between the numbers. He led the country with 34 touchdowns on such throws and even had 14 big-time throws over the middle which also led the country.
21. Nathan Rourke – Ohio
Preseason Rank: 19; Week 6 Rank: 56; Week 12 Rank: 39
The cream rises to the top as the expression goes and though Rourke didn’t finish as the MAC’s highest-graded quarterback, he still shook off a slow start to the season to finish just behind Dustin Crum of Kent State. For the third-straight season, Rourke finished with an elite overall grade and grades of 73.4 or higher in both passing and rushing. He was every bit of one of the country’s best dual-threat quarterbacks and threw for a career-high 2,820 yards and just five interceptions in the air while he ran for 1,013 yards for the second straight season. He broke more tackles this year than he had in any year prior, forcing 51 missed tackles on his 142 rush attempts, gaining 914 yards on his 129 designed carries and chipping in with 99 more yards on scrambles. His void will be hard to replace for the Bobcats even if it is yet another Rourke behind center in 2020.
20. Malcolm Perry – Navy
Preseason Rank: 71; Week 6 Rank: 28; Week 12 Rank: 55
The highest-ranked of the Service Academy quarterbacks, Perry is perhaps one of the better option quarterbacks of this generation, a generation where the triple-option attack is near obsolete. If one wishes to watch how the triple-option offense is supposed to be run, all one would have to do is throw on the tape of Perry as he ran for 2,093 yards on 287 carries, averaging a whopping 7.3 yards per attempt and securing 21 touchdowns with another 82 first downs on the ground. He broke more tackles than any player in the country this season with 88, while also averaging 3.88 yards after contact per attempt. No matter which way you slice it, Perry was one of the better option quarterbacks that college football has seen in some time.
19. Jake Luton – Oregon State
Preseason Rank: 49; Week 6 Rank: 18; Week 12 Rank: 16
The best quarterback on what equated to a losing team this season, Luton was terrific in 2019, completing 61.8% of his passes for 2,714 yards and 28 touchdowns against just three interceptions. That success was mirrored in his advanced data as well as he hit on 19 big-time throws compared to just nine turnover-worthy passes as well. There were times that he disappeared against some tougher defenses but when he was on, he was nearly unstoppable. He threw at least three touchdowns in six games this season and has thrown only 15 interceptions over 797 attempts. He benefited heavily from his first back-to-back seasons with the same offensive coordinator and utilized his big arm to make nearly all the throws on the football field. He was terrific on deep shots, finishing as the eighth-ranked quarterback on all throws 20 or more yards downfield, completing 26-of-51 deep attempts for 836 yards and 13 touchdowns against no interceptions. He was the only quarterback in the country to throw 11 or more deep touchdowns without an interception this season.
18. Jacob Eason – Washington
Preseason Rank: 36; Week 6 Rank: 11; Week 12 Rank: 25
Eason flipped back and forth from near-elite to shaky almost on a whim. Fortunately for him and his projection at the next level, his peaks completely outweighed his valleys in 2019. He had 10 games with game grades above 70.0 but had three game grades lower than 60.0. Eason was a completely different quarterback when pressured, again fortunately for him and his NFL projection, that is an incredibly unstable metric from one year to the next. When he was kept clean, he was the nation’s ninth-ranked quarterback by passing grade, completing 227-of-315 passes for 2,741 yards and 20 of his touchdowns. His 81.4% adjusted completion percentage when kept clean from pressure ranked the 10th-best in the country as he was absolutely dominant when given time to throw.
17. Jett Duffey, Alan Bowman – Texas Tech
Preseason Rank: 26; Week 6 Rank: 36; Week 12 Rank: 24
The Red Raiders quarterback situation seemed murky when Bowman went out with injury after three games but with Duffey’s emergence this season, Bowman was relegated to a redshirt season as Duffey finished with an elite 90.3 passing grade. Duffey will be taking his services to Tulane in 2020 as the position is Bowman’s for the foreseeable future but that doesn’t mean that head coach Matt Wells didn’t get great success from Duffey in 2019. Duffey threw for 2,832 yards while completing 65.1% of his passes for 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions. As with any air-raid type offense, the quick game is going to be integral in the offense’s success and Duffey was one of the nation’s best in the quick game. Attempting a pass within 3.0 seconds of the snap, Duffey was the nation’s ninth-ranked quarterback by passing grade and finished with 206 completions on 303 attempts for 2,299 yards and 13 touchdowns. His 19 big-time throws on such attempts were the 10th most while his 68.0% completion percentage was among the nation’s top marks as well.
16. Jamie Newman, Sam Hartman – Wake Forest
Preseason Rank: 37; Week 6 Rank: 7; Week 12 Rank: 11
Newman’s services are headed to Georgia in 2020 and that leaves Hartman as the next man up. He’ll have big shoes to fill with the void of Newman’s transfer. Newman finished the year as the country’s sixth highest-graded quarterback on all throws at least 10 yards downfield, completing passes at a high rate and uncorking 22 big-time throws compared to just four turnover-worthy passes. He stood tall in the pocket and utilized his big arm to squeeze throws into tight windows, seemingly at will. When necessary, Newman took something off the ball and floated passes into his big receivers on the outside. He was the country’s 10th highest-graded passer on throws outside the numbers in 2019, completing 106-of-175 attempts for 1,548 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 of his big-time throws came on such passes.
15. Brock Purdy – Iowa State
Preseason Rank: 8; Week 6 Rank: 9; Week 12 Rank: 8
The nation’s best magician under pressure not named Joe Burrow, Purdy actually led the country in big-time throws while under pressure, buying enough time and maneuvering his way away from defenders to the tune of 14 big-time throws. He looked every bit of the top-graded true freshman quarterback from 2018 at times in 2019 even if he, like Trevor Lawrence, seemed to suffer a sophomore slump in 2019. Purdy had the nation’s second-highest grade in a game for his efforts against UL-Monroe when he completed 75.0% of his passes for 15.5 yards per attempt and a touchdown. He looked great at times this season and even threw for five touchdowns against Oklahoma. He finished with 3,975 yards through the air and 27 touchdowns and is firmly planted as one of the nation’s best quarterbacks returning to action in 2020 because of moments like this:
14. Sam Ehlinger – Texas
Preseason Rank: 6; Week 6 Rank: 5; Week 12 Rank: 20
Yes, Texas didn’t win as many games as they certainly hoped they would in 2019 and yes, Ehlinger did suffer a bit of bad luck with some ugly interceptions this season. No, Texas is not ‘back’ but Ehlinger is in 2020 and despite that bad interception luck, Longhorns fans should rejoice. He set career-high figures in yards at 3,657, completion percentage at 64.9% while tossing 32 touchdowns to top his previous season-best by seven. Proving to be invaluable to his team’s success, Ehlinger was the country’s fourth highest-graded quarterback when pressure was registered, completing 53.2% of his attempts for 693 yards and converting a first down on 38 other dropbacks. While he was essentially to blame for the loss at TCU, the rest of the team’s success can squarely be placed on Ehlinger’s shoulders and his big-play moments certainly did outweigh his bad. He finished third in the country (tied with former teammate Shane Buechele) with 33 big-time throws compared to just 14 turnover-worthy plays in 2019.
13. Dillon Gabriel, Brandon Wimbush, Darriel Mack Jr. – UCF
Preseason Rank: 64; Week 6 Rank: 15; Week 12 Rank: 18
Imagine a world where a true freshman entered the fold in Orlando and *almost* makes a casual fan of the program forget one of the best quarterbacks to ever do it in McKenzie Milton. That is just how good Gabriel was in 2019 as he finished with 3,653 yards and 29 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. He was the only quarterback in the country to unleash 29 or more big-time throws without throwing double-digit turnover-worthy passes, finishing with 30 big-time throws to just seven turnover-worthy passes. In fact, he led the country throwing to his preferred area of the field, outside the numbers on deep passes, proving he played well above his age for the majority of the season.
His 24 big-time throws outside the numbers and 20 or more yards down the field were even two better than Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Gabriel was also one of the country’s best when kept clean but also showing his maturity, fielded one of the nation’s top grades when blitzed, completing 60-of-122 attempts for 1,120 yards and nine touchdowns against just two interceptions and taking only six sacks.
12. Peyton Ramsey, Michael Penix Jr. – Indiana
Preseason Rank: 54; Week 6 Rank: 16; Week 12 Rank: 17
Posing an interesting but also promising dilemma for their 2020 season, the Hoosiers received incredible play from both Ramsey and Penix in 2019. Penix was certainly the more dynamic of the duo, completing 68.1% of his passes and averaging 8.6 yards per attempt while also leading the country with a 79.3% adjusted completion percentage on straight dropback pass attempts. That figure led all quarterbacks who averaged at least double digits (10.0+) per target on straight dropback attempts. Ramsey added incredible stability, finishing every game from Week 8 on with an overall grade above 67.6. Ramsey was dominant throwing down the field, ranking 11th in the country in grade on throws targeted at least 120 yards downfield. He completed 56-of-106 passes on such throws for 1,282 yards and seven touchdowns with 14 big-time throws compared to just one interception and just two turnover-worthy passes. Ramsey also chipped in with another 374 yards on the ground as 30 of his 78 carries either scored six points or moved the chains for a first down. No matter which way you slice it, each quarterback had some top-notch moments, and whoever starts the season for the Hoosiers in 2020 should be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
11. Dustin Crum, Woody Barrett – Kent State
Preseason Rank: 104; Week 6 Rank: 94; Week 12 Rank: 32
Putting his elite passing and rushing skills on display for the nation to watch in the Golden Flashes bowl game performance, Crum was every bit of the MAC’s best quarterback all throughout 2019. In doing so, he became not just one of the conference’s best but one of the nation’s best as well. He had five elite passing grades across the season this year and finished the year with 20 touchdowns against just two interceptions. Crum added 884 yards on the ground, including 564 yards on 62 scrambles, breaking 32 tackles and scoring six touchdowns with 46 first-down carries. He was elite when kept clean and elite even when blitzed, and he had the country’s third-best passing grade on throws targeted at least 10 yards downfield. He completed 57-of-101 attempts for 1,430 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 22:2 big-time throw to turnover-worthy pass ratio on downfield throws. That BTT:TWP ratio was the country’s best ratio while he also possessed the 10th-ranked passing grade on all throws over the middle of the field. He enters the 2020 season as hands-down the best returning Group of 5 quarterback.
10. Sam Howell – UNC
Preseason Rank: 99; Week 6 Rank: 32; Week 12 Rank: 44
Setting all sorts of true freshman records in the process, Howell has the Carolina fans eyeing even bigger goals in 2020. He finished the season with 3,638 yards on just 258 completions for 38 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He nearly capped what was, to date, Clemson’s first loss in over two years as he was a mere 2-point conversion attempt away from the upset. Still, his true freshman season is one for the ages as he finished with an elite passing grade of 85.4 in the process. Howell finished 17th in passing grade on all throws 10 or more yards downfield but really hit his stride on deep shots of 20 or more yards downfield. He ranked third in deep passing yards this season, throwing for 1,339 yards and second in deep touchdowns with 21, each sitting just behind Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow among quarterbacks.
He trusted his arm, and it showed this season, as he finished the year with the country’s fifth-most big-time throws at 32, perhaps none more impressive than the one above.
9. Tyler Huntley – Utah
Preseason Rank: 27; Week 6 Rank: 10; Week 12 Rank: 6
He may not have looked it to the general public over his final two games, but if you had paid attention to the year Huntley and the Utes had over the course of their full season and not just the two games that made national television, you would have been utterly impressed with everything Huntley did in 2019. There were moments that he took games over for the Utes and moments that you wished to see him throw it downfield more because he was simply one of the best to do it this year. On all throws targeted at least 10 yards downfield, Huntley was the country’s fifth highest-graded quarterback and isolating even further downfield, on all throws at least 20 yards past the line of scrimmage, he was the nation’s sixth-ranked passer. For the year, he threw just six turnover-worthy passes compared to his 18 big-time throws, and that’s considering he wasn’t even tasked with throwing downfield all too often. He has every bit of arm talent to find all levels of the field and was truly dominant when given a chance to find his receivers on longer-developing pass attempts. This all goes without mentioning his 28 rushing conversions and 18 broken tackles on the ground this year.
8. Jake Fromm – Georgia
Preseason Rank: 9; Week 6 Rank: 6; Week 12 Rank: 7
It wasn’t always pretty from Fromm this season, but he just simply got the job done when he needed to (save for one outing against South Carolina). Sure, he threw away the game, literally, against the Gamecocks, but he was entrusted with every throw and put up a passing grade of 69.0 or higher in all but two contests this year. Outside of the game against SC, he just simply didn’t make many unforced errors in 2019, and that will certainly take him far at the next level. He finished with just seven turnover-worthy throws compared to 24 big-time throws as his avoidance of negatively-graded plays was among the best in the country. He had elite passing grades on throws over the middle just the same as he did on throws outside, finishing with the 10th-most big-time throws on passes outside the numbers. Fromm’s departure to the NFL draft gives way for the Newman transfer as he’ll have big shoes to fill in Athens.
7. Tanner Morgan – Minnesota
Preseason Rank: 86; Week 6 Rank: 27; Week 12 Rank: 9
Perhaps the best season from a quarterback that you didn’t see coming, we’re a long way from Zack Annexstad seemingly entering the year as the starter for the Gophers way back in early summer, 2019. All Morgan did was finish the year with the country’s seventh-highest passing grade as he was every bit of an elite quarterback this season. He threw for 3,252 yards and 30 touchdowns against just seven interceptions and had multiple games with elite-level passing grades, including three overall outings with a passing grade above 90.0 this year. In perhaps one of the finest displays of accuracy, poise and touch, Morgan connected on 21-of-22 attempts for 396 yards and four touchdowns against Purdue in Week 5 as he finished the season with the nation’s 11th-best passing grade over the middle of the field and 10th-best grade on throws outside the numbers. He didn’t just dink-and-dunk passes short of the first-down marker either to complete such a high percentage of his passes, he took his shots and made his own receivers open with an incredible pocket presence in 2019.
It didn’t matter the situation, didn’t matter the throw type. Morgan made nearly every throw look easy and took advantage of his extremely talented receivers on the outside as well as anyone else did in 2019.
6. Justin Herbert – Oregon
Preseason Rank: 3; Week 6 Rank: 19; Week 12 Rank: 4
Herbert reached new heights in 2019, finishing with his highest-graded full season’s worth of work and mirroring the kind of success he had in limited time during the 2017 season. He threw for a career-high 32 touchdowns while limiting himself to just six interceptions, and he did this while also fielding the country’s 22nd-highest drop rate, having 32 of his catchable throws dropped by his receivers. Still, his adjusted completion percentage of 75.3% ranks in the top 20 among all quarterbacks while his play from a clean pocket, one of the most stable metrics from year to year and college to pro, put him in an elite category with just a few others. Herbert’s 90.1 passing grade when kept clean from pressure saw him complete 249-of-349 attempts for 2,884 yards and 28 of his touchdowns. He was kept clean on 77.2% of his dropbacks this year, the ninth-highest rate, and his ability to work through his progressions when free from pressure was among the best in the country. It also didn’t matter whether he threw passes deep or short, he was dominant across the route tree but had his most success throwing vertically, uncorking the nation’s third-most big-time throws on vertically-led routes. He leaves Eugene with no grade lower than 77.0 in the passing game for a season, making way for Tyler Shough to fill some very big shoes.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones – Alabama
Preseason Rank: 2; Week 6 Rank: 3; Week 12 Rank: 10
Finishing the year with the country’s fourth-highest and 35th-highest grades at the position, respectively, Tagovailoa and Jones paired to make one of the more compelling stories in sports this season actually one of the best quarterback situations in the country. Tagovailoa was absolutely one of the best quarterbacks in the country when he went down with a season-ending hip injury, and Jones was forced to fill huge shoes as a date with Auburn loomed large over his second collegiate start. Jones finished the Auburn game with a 75.9 passing grade and capped his season by throwing for 275 in each of his three starts to close the year, finishing with a 2-1 record, a win over Michigan and a valiant effort despite the loss against the Tigers in the Iron Bowl. For being thrust into action the way he was, it should come as no surprise that Jones was actually the country’s second-ranked quarterback from a pressured pocket, completing 66.7% of his passes and not committing a single turnover-worthy play when he was under duress. This, of course, comes on the heels of the knowledge that Tagovailoa finished as football’s fourth-ranked passer when kept clean. The duo had their highs this season, and though it didn’t end with an appearance in the playoffs, it still did culminate with a dominant win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl that proves the Crimson Tide should be in good hands now that Tagovailoa is NFL bound.
4. Jalen Hurts – Oklahoma
Preseason Rank: 11; Week 6 Rank: 2; Week 12 Rank: 3
For the third consecutive year, an Oklahoma quarterback who didn’t start his career with the Sooners ended up in New York and earning Heisman votes. Although Hurts didn’t win the Heisman like his predecessors in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray did, he was every bit of the more talented dual-threat quarterback than those two were. He had a dominant season not just on the ground as he was every bit of a downfield passer for what seemed like the first time of his career. He finished 2019 with career-highs in grades, touchdowns, yards, yards per attempt, and just about every other situation you could drum up from the PFF advanced analytics. Hurts connected on downfield pass attempts almost at will and finished the year as the country’s 10th-ranked passer on all throws 10 or more yards downfield. He connected on 99-of-157 pass attempts downfield for 19 touchdowns and 18 big-time throws. Hurts was tremendous when kept clean from pressure, mirroring similar success he saw at Alabama and added a dimension under pressure that saw him complete 54.4% of his pressured pass attempts and nine touchdowns against just two interceptions under duress. This all goes without mentioning the fact that he led all non-option quarterbacks in rushing yards this season with 1,422 rushing yards and 918 yards on 162 designed carries. He broke 47 tackles on the ground and ripped off 20 touchdowns with another 61 first-down conversions on the ground and was every bit of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback in 2019.
3. Justin Fields – Ohio State
Preseason Rank: 16; Week 6 Rank: 4; Week 12 Rank: 2
The season didn’t finish how they wanted, but Fields did more than impress in his first season as the man in charge in Columbus. He finished the year with an elite passing grade of 92.5 after completing 238-of-356 attempts for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns against just three interceptions, two of which came against Clemson in the Playoff. Fields was head and shoulders above the rest of the nation in several categories this year, and only Joe Burrow ranked ahead of him in most others. He was just behind Burrow in passing grade on a variety of important metrics (vertical lead, horizontal lead, kept clean, 10+ yards, 10-19 yards and more) but was the nation’s highest-graded passer on pure dropback pass attempts. On straight drop concepts, Fields completed 193-of-270 attempts for 2,556 yards and 33 touchdowns.
His 24 big-time throws were a near-the-top figure, and his adjusted completion percentage of 78.1% is by far the highest in the country among quarterbacks who averaged at least 10.5 yards per target on straight dropback attempts. He is every bit the downfield, pure passer in the 2021 NFL Draft class, and he should be one of the heaviest favorites for the 2020 Heisman Trophy entering fall camp later this year.
2. Trevor Lawrence – Clemson
Preseason Rank: 1; Week 6 Rank: 17; Week 12 Rank: 5
There was a high to Lawrence’s game in 2019 and a low to his game in 2019. The unfortunate part for the ACC and the rest of the country is that Lawrence’s lows came in just a three-game stretch to open the season, and the highs came down the back half of the year when he finished Clemson’s final seven games as the nation’s highest-graded quarterback. The highs that Lawrence has seen in his two years in college are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before at PFF as he’s finished each of his two seasons at the helm of the Tigers with historic grades. He has not thrown an interception since the first quarter in Week 8 against Louisville and has unleashed just three turnover-worthy passes over the team’s seven games, the fewest TWPs among full-time starters over the season’s second half. Unlike his first season, where he dominated in a select few categories en route to the highest grade we’ve ever given a true freshman, Lawrence doesn’t have the elite-level grades in once facet but rather has elite-level grades at all but a few facets. He was tremendous when kept free from pressure, in elite company when he was pressured, fielded the nation’s best passing grade when blitzed, the list goes on. He’s the odds-on favorite to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy for damn good reason.
1. Joe Burrow – LSU
Preseason Rank: 17; Week 6 Rank: 1; Week 12 Rank: 1
There has never been a season quite like Burrow’s season in 2019. Not Mayfield. Not Newton. Not Tebow. Not Winston nor Mariota. No season in history has a quarterback risen the way that Burrow did in 2019, and his season was capped by a National Championship victory over Clemson. No season in history has been as decorated as Burrow’s. No season has anyone dominated a set of statistics or advanced analytics the way Burrow did in 2019. You have to search long and hard to find a category that Burrow isn’t the highest-graded player in the PFF data. He’s the highest-graded player on throws 10 or more yards downfield, the highest-graded player under pressure, the highest-graded player on horizontal leads, the highest-graded player in the first quarter, the most accurate quarterback we’ve ever charted. The list could go on and on for Burrow and his historic season in 2019 to 2020, but I’ll leave you with the following statement. When the grading criterion for the rest of the quarterbacks went as such: “Where did he rank next to Burrow?” – you know just how special of a season it was for Broadway Jeaux, Joe Burreaux.