2019 College Football Starting Quarterback Rankings -- Final

[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.]


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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%).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Preseason Rank: 82; Week 6 Rank: 81; Week 12 Rank: 83

A classic case of the box score not matching the true sense of his effect on the game, Plitt did finish the year with an impressive 24 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. However, he was subjected to quite of bit of interception luck as he threw 19 turnover-worthy passes compared to just 15 big-time throws. Over half of his yards came after the catch as well, but he did find open receivers extremely well this season, making use of the talented receiving corps for the Cardinals, even if six of his 24 touchdowns did come against Fordham. His final season at Ball State is certainly shaping up to be his best if he can rely on what made would have made him more successful in 2019, and that’s limiting turnover-worthy passes.


Preseason Rank: 68; Week 6 Rank: 83; Week 12 Rank: 101

DTR struggled as a passer for the second consecutive year for the Bruins, completing under 60% of his passes in back-to-back years. He had issues with turnovers both in the passing game and on the ground, but he did have a great sign of positive play when he was kept clean from pressure, completing 66.9% of his attempts and accumulating 103 combined first downs and touchdowns. His best games saw him tote the rock extremely well on scrambles as he accumulated 403 of his 505 rushing yards on designed passes that he took off. He secured a first down or touchdown on 33 of his 87 attempts on the ground but did have 13 fumbles. Critical to winning games and having sustained success at the quarterback position, Thompson-Robinson will have to avoid turnovers in 2020.


Preseason Rank: 57; Week 6 Rank: 79; Week 12 Rank: 90

Smith finished the season with an above-average passing grade and a 19-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio even despite seeing 9.1% of his catchable attempts dropped by his receivers. He had more dropped passes than anyone else this season at 39, with the next closest being just 36. His big arm got him out of trouble at times, averaging 10.4 yards per target downfield, but he still did throw 23 turnover-worthy attempts this year, the sixth-most in the country. There was good and there was bad with Smith this year, with fumbles landing firmly on the bad side, but when he was on and clicking, his deep balls were a treat to watch.


Preseason Rank: 38; Week 6 Rank: 60; Week 12 Rank: 89

Similar to the man above him, Morgan suffered through drops this season – actually having the nation’s highest drop rate on catchable throws among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts. For the season – 9.8% of the catchable passes he uncorked were dropped by his receivers, and that simple fact of upping his completion percentage by nearly 10 whole points makes it easier to swallow his 58.0% box-score completion percentage figure this year. He didn’t quite hit the touchdown total from an outstanding season in 2018, but he was nearly as efficient with the ball on a down-for-down basis that he had just a 1.5-point discrepancy in passing grade from last season. He was incredibly sharp when throwing over the middle of the field to the intermediate range, seeing one of the nation’s highest passing in between the numbers to the 10-19 yard bracket, finding his sweet spot in 2019.


Preseason Rank: 107; Week 6 Rank: 84; Week 12 Rank: 79

Peters may have completed just 54.3% of his passes this season, but he seemed to gain success as the year progressed, much like the rest of the Illini team. His four highest-graded outings came in Week 8 or later and he was very strong when throwing to the deep area of the field, completing 15 of his 32 passes for 544 yards and six scores, he just didn’t get to uncork as many deep shots as he probably should this season. He was the nation’s 27th highest-graded quarterback on throws over the middle of the field, limiting turnover-worthy passes to just two this season, and that’s the area he should be sure to build on next season.


Preseason Rank: 108; Week 6 Rank: 121; Week 12 Rank: 107

Had it just been Vitt to play the majority of snaps for the Bobcats, they’d find themselves much higher on these rankings. Jensen did not look like a viable starter this year, throwing 11 turnover-worthy passes on his 207 attempts compared to just his five big-time throws. Vitt threw 10 turnover-worthy passes this season but counteracted those with 12 big-time throws and a higher average depth of target. Vitt finished the season with a 73.9 passing grade compared to Jensen’s 58.1 as Vitt’s four highest-graded outings came in the team’s last four games, signaling perhaps a sign of good things to come in 2020.


Preseason Rank: 83; Week 6 Rank: 37; Week 12 Rank: 82

Playing several games with a torn ACL, Ellington wins the award for grittiest performance in 2019, and it’s not even close. He completed 63.5% of his passes for 2,449 yards and 22 scores but certainly got some interception luck, as he more than doubled his interception total (8) in turnover-worthy pass attempts (19) this season. Limiting those mistakes would have certainly led to more wins down the stretch of the season, but all things considered, Ellington’s 2019 season was one for the books when you consider his injury and subsequent rushing production as well.


Preseason Rank: 21; Week 6 Rank: 115; Week 12 Rank: 87

Someone with all the talent in the world, Guarantano couldn’t quite get things rolling in a consistent fashion in 2019. He all too often followed up an amazing game with a dud, and not once this season did he have a repeat performance of the two game grades above 66.0. His highs were among the best in the country with two games above 90.0 overall, but some of his lows rivaled those among the worst in the nation, as he saw four single-game grades lower than 48.0. He’s a career 60.0% completion percentage kind of guy, and that was similar in 2019, but he’s yet to finish a season with a passing grade in our elite grade range despite teasing it in multiple games during his career. If he plays a full season at his highest capacity, Guarantano breaks the top 10 among all quarterbacks. Can that happen in 2020, please?


Preseason Rank: 76; Week 6 Rank: 44; Week 12 Rank: 95

Having the best season of his career, Lewerke still completed just 59.7% of his passes and had 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. There were too many boneheaded decisions to warrant a much higher place here, even if he did have his highest passing grade during his four years in East Lansing. Unlike other years of his career, Lewerke was at his best when throwing downfield, and on passes targeted at least 10 yards downfield, he threw for 1,590 yards and 10 scores with 18 big-time throws compared to just eight turnover-worthy passes. His down-to-down accuracy wasn’t as sharp as you’d expect for a four-year starter, but he certainly did have his moments this year, even if a lot of his better passes were even dropped.


Preseason Rank: 29; Week 6 Rank: 29; Week 12 Rank: 67

Doing what was asked of him in the Missouri offense, Bryant actually targeted just 95 passes further than 10 yards downfield as the Tiger offense dictated him to keep things short and simple in 2019. The trouble with that was, of all quarterbacks to attempt at least 100 passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, Bryant’s adjusted completion percentage ranked just 69th out of 110. He wasn’t nearly as accurate with his passes as he was in 2017 with Clemson during the year he broke the PFF ACC record for adjusted completion percentage, but he was much better on downfield throws. His final season certainly didn’t amount to what he and the Missouri faithful thought it probably could or should have, but he did showcase an ability to find his receivers downfield that he hadn’t before.


Preseason Rank: 112; Week 6 Rank: 46; Week 12 Rank: 81

Capping his season with an emphatic performance in their bowl game victory, McMillan had a much better year on the ground than he did through the air, rushing for a total of 911 yards, including 499 on designed carries this year. He broke a total of 36 tackles on the ground and even gained 462 yards after contact with 12 touchdowns and another 49 first downs on the ground. He wasn’t quite as accurate as the new Tulane quarterback Jett Duffey was in 2019, but McMillan still did more to help the Green Wave win games than cost them games this past season.


Preseason Rank: 69; Week 6 Rank: 70; Week 12 Rank: 56

The Rockets had three quarterbacks attempt at least 100 passes and play in at least five games this year in Guadagni, Peters and Bradley, but Guadagni was clearly the best of the three in the process. In his six games, Guadagni looked every bit like a top-notch MAC quarterback, and Toledo would have certainly been in a much better position had he not been injured in the Bowling Green game. He completed 64.5% of his passes and even ran for another 387 yards with 17 carries of 10 or more yards in his brief season. Peters and Bradley failed to live up to the prowess of Guadagni, and their record showed down the stretch, dropping four of their final six without their star quarterback. Despite each attempt 100 passes and 205 total passes, Peters and Bradley didn’t combine to throw for as many touchdowns nor big-time throws that Guadagni was able to put up on his 121 attempts.


Preseason Rank: 60; Week 6 Rank: 57; Week 12 Rank: 60

Sanders was a bit of hit or miss in his 10 games for the Cowboys in 2019, landing home with four single-game grades above 70.0 but four games with grades below 54.1. He did have some promising moments to lean on for the next two seasons, at least, as he completed 60-of-82 passes in between the numbers for 681 yards and four touchdowns. His completion percentage on throws across the middle landed as a top-35 mark across the country as he was able to work from inside out in terms of his progression nicely. Finding that rhythm and sweet spot for the future seems to be a great building block for him moving forward.


Preseason Rank: 46; Week 6 Rank: 130; Week 12 Rank: 122

A tale of three thirds instead of two halves, Kentucky’s quarterback play was a remarkable journey to go on in 2019. Wilson started the season as every bit of a dark horse Heisman contender only to see his injury completely derail the Wildcats season when Smith entered the fold. Smith had the lowest-graded game we’ve ever given to a quarterback at the college level when he became the first player to have double-digit turnover-worthy plays in a game in Week 4 against Mississippi State. Smith’s 14.3% turnover-worthy play percentage ranked as by far the highest percentage among all quarterbacks who attempted at least 100 passes this season. Bowden took the reins not as a passer but as a wildcat quarterback who could also throw, and he had his moments of success, which ultimately led to him receiving the Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in the country. Bowden completed just 35-of-74 passes for 403 yards but ran for 1,342 yards on designed carries and another 154 on scrambles. He broke 55 tackles, including back-to-back games of double-digit missed tackles forced in his final two outings as he totaled 13 touchdowns and another 55 first downs on the ground. He was every bit of a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands; he just had to catch the ball from the center instead of from a quarterback like he was used to.


Preseason Rank: 111; Week 6 Rank: 40; Week 12 Rank: 73

The Broncos are set at quarterback moving forward with Bachmeier if he returns healthy in 2020, as he led all their quarterbacks who had at least 100 dropback attempts this season in passing grade. He didn’t look all that great in his return against Washington in their bowl game, but prior to his injury, Bachmeier had finished with pass grades north of 65.0 in all but one game, throwing more big-time throws than he did turnover-worthy plays despite games against Florida State, Air Force, and Hawaii – each who had well-above-average secondaries in coverage grade. Henderson and Cord shared time after Bachmeier’s exit, and while they combined to throw 21 touchdowns against just five interceptions, the duo didn’t reach Bachmeier’s season total for big-time throws combined.


Preseason Rank: 97; Week 6 Rank: 33; Week 12 Rank: 59

Every bit of an incredible athlete this season for the Sun Devils, Daniels had a great year, completing 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions. However, his accuracy just wasn’t there for the majority of the year as he left a ton of yards to be desired. Despite the incredibly noisy box-score touchdown total, Daniels actually finished the season as the Pac-12’s least accurate quarterback, throwing an accurate pass just 48.4% of the time. He didn’t miss by much sometimes, but to finish his career as a potential three- or four-year starter, he’ll have to improve on his accuracy in the coming years. When he did hit – his 13 big-time throws were extremely fun to watch.


Preseason Rank: 52; Week 6 Rank: 65; Week 12 Rank: 64

An incredible three-year starting career capped by Wassink in 2019 saw him finish his first season with a completion percentage below 60.0% for the first time but saw him set career-highs in passing yards and touchdowns. He eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark with his bowl game performance against Western Kentucky, and this is all without mentioning another 447 yards he totaled on the ground. He got a little bit of interception luck with his 15 turnover-worthy passes to just eight interceptions, but he certainly still did more to win games than lose them for Western Michigan in 2019. Wassink did make way for Griffin Alstott to see seven dropbacks this season as the son of former NFL FB Mike Alstott should be the likely starter to open spring camp in a few months.


Preseason Rank: 66; Week 6 Rank: 53; Week 12 Rank: 75

Finishing the year with his finest passing performance to date, Lewis was every bit of the downfield thrower in 2019 and completed over 50.0% of his passes targeted at least 10 yards downfield. Had it not been for several fumbles this season – Lewis would certainly have cracked an even higher spot here, but his passing ability was never in question in 2019. His 16 big-time throws against just nine turnover-worthy passes on downfield passes certainly paved the way for his top-40 ranking on all throws 10 or more yards past the line of scrimmage.


Preseason Rank: 20; Week 6 Rank: 66; Week 12 Rank: 78

Throwing the sixth-most big-time throws in the country, Love counteracted his 31 big-time throws with another 26 turnover-worthy passes, ranking as the fourth-most. He was a high variance quarterback who was his best when he got the ball out of his hands quickly. He led the country with eight turnover-worthy passes on throws 3.0 or more seconds after the snap, and he was just one of eight quarterbacks to throw 22 or more big-time throws in less than 3.0 seconds after the snap. Simplifying the game for him made life easier, but the fact that he was under pressure on 145 of his 524 dropbacks certainly didn’t help there as he really struggled when pressure was registered this season.


Preseason Rank: 128; Week 6 Rank: 55; Week 12 Rank: 74

What a difference a year can make after posting the lowest grade from a quarterback in 2018, Pass gave way to Cunningham for 12 games this year. Cunningham had a great year throwing the ball downfield and to his star receiver Tutu Atwell out of the slot. Atwell exploded onto the scene and Cunningham saw great success targeting him, completing 70 of 104 total targets this year to the emerging talent. Cunningham sets the bar high for what could be next season from the Louisville signal-caller if he can limit some of the turnovers that bugged him in 2019. He had 11 turnover-worthy passes and seven fumbles, really limiting chances in some games.


Preseason Rank: 84; Week 6 Rank: 73; Week 12 Rank: 71

Pickett’s stretch of athletic play was something to behold for Pitt fans this season, finishing the final four games of the season with an elite overall grade. Three of his four highest-graded outings came over the final four games, and without those, he would have been much further down these rankings. He may have been the only quarterback with at least 500 dropbacks to average fewer than 7.0 yards per pass attempt, but his 36 dropped passes certainly left a lot to be desired this season. Taking that into account, his 75.2% adjusted completion percentage makes his season look much better than his 61.5% box-score completion number.


Preseason Rank: 43; Week 6 Rank: 58; Week 12 Rank: 65

As much as Florida fans clamored for Franks to be removed for Trask, we may be at a time where those same Gator fans are asking for Emory Jones instead of Trask after his average performance in 2019. Jones’ upside is one thing – and Trask’s play this past season certainly wasn’t terrible as he completed 66.7% of his passes for 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. However, Trask launched just nine big-time throws compared to his 22 turnover-worthy passes, a mark that certainly isn’t pleasing on the eyes. 

Still, when he did find his stride, some of his passes were as pretty as any in the conference, he’ll just need to have more of those big-time throw moments instead of the play above if he wants to quiet Gator fans wanting Jones. Good thing for Trask: he has the arm to do so.


Preseason Rank: 74; Week 6 Rank: 82; Week 12 Rank: 54

An all-around frustrating year for the Rams led the way to O’Brien’s emergence after Hill’s injury sidelined him after Week 3. O’Brien finally found his groove later in the season and played some of the more impressive football in stretches, including a 92.5 overall game grade against New Mexico in which he averaged 12.0 yards per pass attempt and 407 total yards on just 38 dropbacks. O’Brien found his most success targeting his receivers down the middle of the field, completing 68.3% of his passes while still averaging 10.3 yards per pass attempt in between the numbers. Finding his receivers open in space was his calling card, and his receivers made the most of their opportunities usually.


Preseason Rank: 88; Week 6 Rank: 80; Week 12 Rank: 36

Firmly inside the top half of all signal-callers here, Barker capped a career-year with a bit of a disappointing end to his season that hurt his overall grade, falling short against the Sun Belt representatives in the championship game. Nevertheless, Barker still finished with 30 touchdowns despite not throwing one over his final two games and only threw 10 interceptions on 460 pass attempts. Barker was a completely different quarterback when kept clean than when he was under pressure, seeing his overall grade drop by nearly 60.0 points from a clean pocket to pressured. As such, his 18 big-time throws from a clean pocket were the 19th-most in the country this season, and he only threw six interceptions on 370 attempts when kept clean from pressure, compared to his four interceptions on just 90 pressured attempts. 


Preseason Rank: 79; Week 6 Rank: 93; Week 12 Rank: 62

Ahlers embodied what seemed to be a gunslinger mentality this season, uncorking the same amount of big-time throws (22) as he did turnover-worthy passes in 2019. He was no stranger to the 300-yard game as he closed out the season with four straight games with at least 300 yards and two with more than 400. Concerning for his season-long goals of winning games, nearly half of his touchdowns came in just two games this year as he combined to throw 10 scores against Cincinnati and SMU, finishing with 21 touchdowns on the year. Still, that high-level play can only lead to good things with another year of C.J. Johnson on the receiving end for Ahlers.


Preseason Rank: 65; Week 6 Rank: 48; Week 12 Rank: 63

The first of the Service Academy quarterbacks to find their way to the rankings, Hopkins was certainly the least active thrower of the trio. He attempted just 78 passes and completed just 33 passes, but that really wasn’t his game in 2019, despite finding themselves trailing in the majority of ball games. He ran the ball effectively and totaled 745 yards on 138 carries, breaking a team-high 49 tackles and only losing five fumbles in the process. Of his rushing yards, only 30 came on scrambles, and he totaled seven scores with another 45 first downs on the ground. He wasn’t quite what he was a year ago in terms of passing, but he was a terrific runner in 2019.


Preseason Rank: 93; Week 6 Rank: 111; Week 12 Rank: 113

The season was a completely different animal with either quarterback in the roster, troubling enough for Cal, however, was the fact that it was one of two polar opposites. Modster struggled to consistently find open receivers and completed just 50.8% of his passes while Garbers made the Golden Bears a viable threat to win games in the conference as well as their out-of-conference schedule. Garbers finished with a terrific 77.0 passing grade compared to Modster’s 60.0, as Garbers also possessed a unique skill set on the ground off scrambles. He totaled 243 yards on scrambles this season and put his team in position to win more than he did to lose, also differing greatly from Modster.


Preseason Rank: 78; Week 6 Rank: 62; Week 12 Rank: 68

A season that could have been had they gone with Doege earlier in the year, the Mountaineers get this high of a ranking based on the former Bowling Green QB’s play alone. Kendall wasn’t terrible as a quarterback by any stretch, completing 61