[This story was first published on PFF.com back in January.]
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. 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.