How did LSU quarterback Joe Burrow go from intriguing prospect to expected No. 1 overall pick?
His 2018 season was a mish-mash of NFL-level highlights and head-scratching decisions, though LSU fans saw a passer they were ready to rally behind. But even the biggest LSU supporter could not have predicted Burrow’s 2019 domination that will go down as one of the best seasons in college football history. It put Burrow into a special echelon among the greats of the game, and his numbers suggest that he’s among the best quarterback prospects to come out since PFF started grading college players in 2014.
The most impressive part of Burrow’s 2019 season is that he simply didn’t have a bad game. His lowest game grade was 69.3 against Auburn, still an above-average mark. Other Heisman winners had at least one game in which they looked human, or they ran into better competition during postseason play and came back down to Earth. Burrow actually got stronger down the stretch, dominating his best opponents while continuing to build on the strengths that won him the Heisman in the first place. Let’s break it all down.
Where does Burrow’s 2019 stack up?
Starting with his 94.9 overall grade, Burrow’s 2019 is the highest graded season we’ve seen at quarterback since 2014. He made big-time throws, limited mistakes and graded at 78.5 as a runner, where he was an opportunistic scrambler. Even more impressive is Burrow dominating in the SEC, a conference that has had only four 90.0-plus passing grades since 2014, and Burrow dwarfed it this season. The previous top-graded seasons were held by Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, both excellent NFL prospects, but two signal-callers who did have some inflation to their production due to Oklahoma’s excellent scheme and the lesser defensive play of the Big 12. The Big 12 has had 11 90.0-plus passing grades since 2014, and Mayfield and Murray both separated themselves with the only grades of 93.0-plus, putting Burrow’s 94.1 passing grade into perspective even further.
Burrow graded that high in the conference with the most defensive talent in the nation, while showing no signs of slowing down in the season’s biggest games. The one thing Mayfield had on Burrow — and Murray — as a prospect is multiple years of elite play. Mayfield has three 90.0-plus years on his resume, while Burrow and Murray both surpassed him in their one-year samples. Here’s a look at what the film says about Burrow and how his skillset will translate to the next level.