2018 QB Class Statistical Profiles

2018 QB Class Statistical Profiles

My work this offseason has been all about evaluating quarterback prospects. I introduced a new metric (TANY/A*), explained how important TANY/A* and other attributes are for QB prospects, looked at quarterback draft classes from a historical perspective, and talked about all this research on a couple podcasts — the 2QB Experience Podcast with Greg Smith and RotoViz Radio Draft Series with Anthony Amico. I’ve given my thoughts on this year’s quarterbacks, but it’s time to officially rank them before they get official landing spots. My rankings are based on factors I find important for QB prospects, including draft position, college efficiency, mobility, and age.

Draft Position

I looked at over a dozen recent mock drafts from various websites. A total of 14 quarterbacks from the 2018 class were selected in at least half of the mock drafts that went a full seven rounds, and those are the prospects I’ll include in these tiers. Using median draft position from these mocks, we see clear tiers emerge:

Early-First Round

Sam Darnold (1st overall)
Josh Rosen (3rd)
Josh Allen (5th)
Baker Mayfield (6th)

Late-First Round

Lamar Jackson (15th)
Mason Rudolph (29th)

Middle Rounds

Kyle Lauletta (104th)
Luke Falk (106th)
Mike White (120th)

Late Rounds

Riley Ferguson (155th)
Logan Woodside (170th)
Chase Litton (188th)
Kurt Benkert (206th)
Tanner Lee (228th)

If I had to guess, Jackson and Rudolph will each go higher than these projections, and maybe Lauletta jumps to the second round. Otherwise, there will be some natural draft-day variance within the tiers, especially with the later names.

College Efficiency

As detailed in my previous articles, TANY/A* is my favorite quarterback efficiency metric for prospects. Here’s how the 2018 class stacks up:

Elite TANY/A*

Baker Mayfield (8.94 career, 11.04 in 2017)

Great TANY/A*

Lamar Jackson (8.12 career, 8.56 in 2017)
Logan Woodside (8.11 career, 8.49 in 2017)
Mason Rudolph (8.08 career, 9.10 in 2017)

Good TANY/A*

Sam Darnold (7.82 career, 7.55 in 2017)
Riley Ferguson (7.34 career, 7.72 in 2017)
Kyle Lauletta (7.04 career, 7.13 in 2017)

Mediocre TANY/A*

Josh Rosen (6.71 career, 7.06 in 2017)
Mike White (6.70 career, 6.08 in 2017)
Josh Allen (6.50 career, 5.62 in 2017)

Poor TANY/A*

Luke Falk (5.97 career, 5.60 in 2017)
Chase Litton (5.80 career, 5.96 in 2017)
Tanner Lee (5.11 career, 7.08 in 2017)
Kurt Benkert (5.06 career, 5.42 in 2017)

You’ve heard about Mayfield’s legendary career. His 2017 TANY/A* is the best of any FBS passer with at least 60 attempts in a season since 2000. Jackson and Rudolph were also very efficient in their college careers. They’re joined by Woodside, my favorite sleeper in this year’s draft. Darnold is close to that great tier, but his 2017 mark keeps him out. Despite a small step back, Darnold still is far ahead of Rosen and Allen, the two prospects whose value is most reliant on game tape and/or physical stature.

Mobility

In my previous articles, you’ve seen me reference Rush%. This measures how much of a quarterback’s production comes from rushing (including sacks). Some players shine in this category due to their athleticism. For others, it’s just good to be positive, meaning they provided more value on actual rushing attempts than value subtracted due to sacks. Here, we see another quarterback head-and-shoulders above the rest:

Elite Mobility

Lamar Jackson (35.8 Rush%)

Great Mobility

Josh Allen (16.8 Rush%)
Baker Mayfield (8.6 Rush%)

Good Mobility

Sam Darnold (5.9 Rush%)
Kyle Lauletta (4.0 Rush%)
Mason Rudolph (2.5 Rush%)
Riley Ferguson (1.9 Rush%)
Logan Woodside (1.5 Rush%)

Mediocre Mobility

Josh Rosen (-0.4 Rush%)
Chase Litton (-0.4 Rush%)

Poor Mobility

Kurt Benkert (-1.6 Rush%)
Luke Falk (-2.2 Rush%)
Mike White (-3.1 Rush%)
Tanner Lee (-6.0 Rush%)

Among former early-round picks, only Cam Newton, Vince Young, Colin Kaepernick, and Pat White have been in Lamar Jackson’s range of Rush%. It’s a small sample and a mixed bag, but only Newton was more efficient with his arm than Jackson. Mayfield is interesting because he was nearly as efficient on the ground as Allen, but was able to rely on his arm a lot more. Darnold was again on the fence between good and great. Rosen’s mobility is another red flag on top of efficiency, and I’m surprised he hasn’t been as polarizing of a prospect as Allen.

Age

Quarterback prospects have been getting younger and younger. Form 2004-2013, there were just six signal-callers drafted who were younger than 22 in Week 1 of their rookie seasons. In the five draft classes since, there have been 10 such draft picks, with 2018 being the first class containing three or more. Here’s how old each of the 2018 rookies will be in Week 1:

21

Sam Darnold (21.3)
Josh Rosen (21.6)
Lamar Jackson (21.7)

22

Josh Allen (22.3)
Chase Litton (22.9)

23

Mason Rudolph (23.2)
Kurt Benkert (23.2)
Baker Mayfield (23.4)
Mike White (23.5)
Kyle Lauletta (23.5)
Tanner Lee (23.6)
Logan Woodside (23.6)
Riley Ferguson (23.7)
Luke Falk (23.7)

Rankings

Whether you look at it from a dynasty, redraft, or NFL perspective, draft position is extremely important when projecting quarterback prospects. Once we find out draft capital and landing spots next week, I’ll publish my final dynasty rankings for the rookie class. But for now, it makes more sense to ignore draft capital and give my rankings as they currently stand. These are purely statistical profiles that lack the context of how NFL teams view these players. Besides Rosen getting a major boost from draft position (hot take incoming), they will not be far off from next week’s rankings unless Jackson falls later than I expect. Following each player is their score in my draft-agnostic model, which ranges from 0-10.

Tier 1

Lamar Jackson (9.48)

Ignoring draft position takes away Jackson’s biggest weakness compared to the other top prospects. He profiles as great or elite in all the statistical factors I value. If I was a GM, I would take Jackson first overall unless there were serious red flags on tape.

Tier 2

Sam Darnold (7.94)
Baker Mayfield (7.78)
Josh Allen (7.33)

Mayfield behind Darnold may come as a surprise, but it’s testament to how well-balanced Darnold is as a prospect. His efficiency and mobility were both on the fence of great, and he’s the youngest quarterback prospect in my database. Despite Allen’s middling efficiency in college, he lands in the second tier thanks to his youth and mobility. He is a polarizing prospect, and he moves up and down a few spots every time I tweak the weights of my model’s inputs.

Tier 3

Mason Rudolph (6.94)
Logan Woodside (6.59)

It’s apropos that these guys form a tier of their own, as they are both reliant on their college efficiency, without much else standing out. Rudolph is closer to the prototypical NFL passer in terms of size, which is why he’s getting looks from teams and Woodside is not.

Tier 4

Josh Rosen (6.22)
Kyle Lauletta (6.17)
Riley Ferguson (6.12)

Here it is, Rosen’s tier number is higher than most draft analysts’ rankings of him. This prompts my disclaimer that these rankings are not reflective of where I’d draft these guys in a dynasty rookie draft. Of course, I’d take Rosen above Woodside. One will be a first rounder, and the other might not be drafted. The takeaway here is that Rosen, not Allen, is the prospect who doesn’t belong in the top-five when looking through a statistical lens. The rave reviews of his mechanics prop him up in the NFL draft world. So I’ll leave you with one question regarding Rosen — if a quarterback can’t shine in college despite awesome mechanics, why should we expect him to translate to the NFL better than a one who excelled in college, regardless of mechanics?

The Rest

Mike White (5.02)
Chase Litton (4.58)
Luke Falk (4.18)
Kurt Benkert (3.27)
Tanner Lee (2.54)

White and Falk have statistical profiles of late-round QBs in the NFL draft. I much prefer Lauletta and Woodside in the middle rounds. White and Falk may have a better chance of getting drafted than Woodside. But if a team takes a shot on Woodside before the sixth round, I’ll stash him for free in 2QB/Superflex dynasty leagues while White and Falk go in the fourth round of rookie drafts.

Related Reading:

Sean Slavin

Sean Slavin

Sean Slavin is an all-around sports nut, who has been playing fantasy football since 2001. He focuses on redraft leagues, but dabbles in dynasty, superflex, IDP, and DFS. Sean has a mathematics degree from Rutgers. Besides his day job, he mostly applies his math skills to find an edge in drafting/trading. Sean's favorite sports teams are the Giants, Braves, Hornets, Rangers, and Florida Gators
Sean Slavin


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