Selecting a QB in the NFL draft is one of the most important decisions a team can make. It can be the difference between turning an entire franchise’s fortunes around or setting them back several years.
As more and more teams rely on QBs with rookie contracts so they can stock up at other positions (see Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City or Jared Goff in Los Angeles), drafting the right quarterback has become more critical. That means teams need to select players who will be good not just in the future, but potentially from day one. One advanced stat — success rate — helps determine whether or not a college QB will be successful in the pros.
What is success rate?
SB Nation writer Bill Connolly examined the college performance of several of the top quarterback prospects in the 2019 NFL draft. He also looked at the college stats for other QBs drafted in recent years, compared to their pro success.
Connolly found that by measuring a QB’s college success rate — an advanced statistic meant to measure a player’s football efficiency similar to the on-base percentage in baseball) — one could fairly accurately predict their success at the pro level.
Connolly shows that of the QBs taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, the ones with the higher college success rates enjoyed higher success rates as rookies.
So, based on 2018 college success rate, these are the top-ranked QBs in the 2019 draft:
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma: 53.4%
Murray is widely regarded as the top player in the 2019 NFL draft, quarterback or otherwise. He also just so happens to have the highest success rate of this year’s QB crop. It remains to be seen whether Murray goes to the Cardinals or if another team willing to trade up for the first pick, but two things remain fairly certain. Murray will be taken No. 1, and he’s got the most upside of any QB in this year’s draft class.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State: 53.2%
Haskins is the type of big-armed pocket passer teams used to go crazy for. His stock has reportedly dropped in recent weeks, but whether that is a smokescreen from interested teams or a legitimate concern is up for debate. Based on his college success rate, Haskins is right behind Murray as the second best QB prospect in the draft.
Will Grier, West Virginia: 49.2%
In Connolly’s piece, he put Grier in his “Tier I” of QBs along with Murray and Haskins, and it’s not hard to see why. When Grier opted not to play late in the season to preserve his draft status, West Virginia struggled mightily without their star. That kind of decision making might hurt Grier’s stock with some teams, but he remains one of the best passers in the NFL draft.
Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss: 47.9%
He may not be a household name, but Jordan Ta’amu was fourth overall in success rate among this year’s QB class. Ta’amu had a solid senior season in 2018, throwing for 3,918 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also showed the ability to run the ball, rushing for 342 yards and six touchdowns. His 4.77 second 40-yard dash time also points to a QB who can help a team with his legs as well as his arm.
Jake Browning, Washington: 47.2%
As a four-year starter at Washington, Browning has tons of experience. He also has one of the highest success rates of any QB prospect in 2019. Browning’s strengths (experience, accuracy, mechanics) are offset by his weaknesses (weak arm, poor decision making), but based on success rate, he could be the steal of the draft.
Brett Rypien, Boise State: 47%
Rypien nfl-draft-nfl-drisn’t projected as a starter at the NFL level, but his success and reliable play at Boise State helped him achieve a 47% success rate in college. Rypien, the nephew of former Redskin Mark Rypien, boasts solid accuracy but has below-average arm strength. Still, he could hear his name called in the NFL draft due to his bloodlines and college success rate.