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2019 Rookie Quarterbacks: What went right, what went wrong

The first year for the rookie quarterback class is in the books, and it’s time to assess the good and the bad from their inaugural campaign. Last week, PFF's Kevin Cole did a fine job of projecting each rookie’s future, and I’ll take a look at what went right and wrong from their debuts. The overall PFF grade is a good starting point to see how well a player played, but there is always nuance in where and how that grade was constructed, and certain pieces are more valuable than others when it comes to assessing future performance. Let’s have a look.

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

What Went Right

Murray showed off the zip and touch that made him the No. 1 overall pick, and he finished the season ranking No. 18 in big-time throw percentage and earning the sixth-best grade on 20-plus yard throws. When combining that with his 69.6 rushing grade and 544 yards on the ground (341 in the designed run game, 225 on scrambles), it’s easy to see how Murray will create big-play offense throughout his career. Murray had just the 33rd-highest percentage of “open” throws, but he ranked eighth in accuracy percentage, a good sign of things to come, as hitting open throws is a stable metric from year to year.

What Went Wrong

After it appeared that Murray was on a clear path of progression to a breakout season as a sophomore, he put up his two worst games of the year in Weeks 13 (27.2 grade) and 14 (29.9 grade). Those two games were marred with turnover-worthy plays and poor decisions, and it took away some of the luster of what was shaping up to be a strong second half to Murray’s season. The other important area for improvement for Murray is in the pocket, where we directly charged him with 23 sacks, the most we’ve seen in a single season. That means Murray was inviting pressure or not properly maneuvering the pocket, and he must cut down on those negative plays.

Looking Ahead

Murray’s downfield acumen and rushing ability give him star potential, but now it’s a matter of cleaning up his short game and pocket presence in order to reach his ceiling.

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