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ASU Football: PFF Points Out Flaws in Daniels’ Accuracy, but Disrespects QB with Ranking Outside Top 60

ASU QB Jayden Daniels deserves better than PFF's ranking.
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Evaluating Jayden Daniels’ true freshman season can go two different ways.

Folks in Tempe marveled over his “it-factor,” his highlights vs. Oregon, his smart decision-making and prowess in protecting the football, and their claim that he is the best quarterback in the PAC-12 coming into 2020.

Others, like the team at Pro Football Focus (PFF), are unimpressed by his advanced statistics that drive “well below-average” accuracy.

Both perspectives have some truth to them. The issue is that both of them are also flawed.

As for the former, Jayden Daniels did indeed show off great athleticism in using his dual-threat abilities situationally during the season to prove his reliability in the clutch. He impressed with his crunch-time performances versus Michigan State, Washington State, and Oregon in 2019.

PFF saw it differently, however. While acknowledging his decision-making and natural talent (and even citing his 2.4% turnover-worthy rate, which ranked 14th in the nation), they expressed concerns over his accuracy. This led to them ranking him the 63rd-best quarterback in the country out of all 130 FBS starting signal-callers.

This list got very little respect due to not only an atrocious ranking of Daniels but other quarterbacks such as Auburn’s Bo Nix (95th) and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson (96th), among others. The list was even somewhat shredded by members of other media outletsnot just the Phoenix-Tempe media market.

It’s true that Daniels is by no means the 63rd best QB in the country, and deserves far more respect than that. He belongs in the top 15 and is the second-best quarterback in the PAC-12 behind only 2019 First-Team Freshman All-American Quarterback Kedon Slovis. PFF ranked Slovis as the seventh-best quarterback in the country, and Daniels as the seventh-best quarterback in the conference.

It’s worth understanding that contrary to popular belief in Tempe, Jayden Daniels does have underwhelming accuracy. Not “well below-average” as PFF states, but definitely not exciting.

PFF recorded a 17% QB-fault incompletion percentage for Daniels in 2019, as well as recording him as accurate on only 48.4% of his passes. Many will scoff at the latter due to his completion percentage being at 60.7%. However, a 60.7% completion percentage is disappointing.

It placed 70th in the FBS last year. He was a true freshman, he should be expected to improve upon that accuracy next year, but when comparing him to another 2019 true freshman in Slovis, it’s understandable why he doesn’t get the love Slovis gets outside of Tempe.

Slovis’ 71.9% completion percentage is the highest in NCAA history for a freshman, the third-highest of any quarterback in the country last year, and had the highest completion percentage of any QB in 2019 of throws 20+ yards downfield (57.1%).

Again, PFF’s list certainly disrespected Daniels and doesn’t deserve much thought or respect overall, but Daniels accuracy numbers prove why there are still questions. When comparing him to Slovis, his passing doesn’t come close. The narrative many Sun Devil fans have tried to spin about Daniels being the better quarterback than Slovis last year is certainly not true.

He absolutely should not be ranked 63rd, but it’s unreasonable to expect a site whose brand is very focused on advanced stats to rank Daniels all too favorably. There’s certainly lots that Daniels did to make up for his accuracy, as stated above, but his cumulative rushing totals weren’t as lucrative as some describe them to be.

He ran for 355 yards, on just 2.8 yards per carry. He added on just three rushing touchdowns to add to 17 passing touchdowns. Those numbers are a little misleading when considering how impressive Daniels was in the clutch, the fact that he had a star running back in Eno Benjamin who needed carries, as well as the terrible offensive line that was in front of Daniels, but PFF prides themselves on numbers, and Daniels just didn’t have them outside of the great turnover-worthy rate and two interceptions (which was tied for the least in the country). After all, Daniels’ 2943 passing yards placed just 39th in football last year, and his 17 pass TDs had him at 62nd.

Lists that weigh the eye test heavier will rank Daniels much higher than where he was on PFF’s list. Again, this list doesn’t deserve much respect in its entirety. It is true, however, that deeper research into Daniels’ accuracy proves that he still has ways to go to achieve the respect that the campus swears he deserves.

With his youth, talent, and it-factor, he, by all means, can take steps to improve and shake the PFF’s title of “the PAC-12’s least accurate quarterback” that they mistakenly awarded him earlier this year.