PFF doesn’t put much stock into Jayden Daniels.
It’s not a surprise at this point, but still notable every time.
So far this year, PFF has deemed him “the PAC-12’s least accurate quarterback,” and pegged him as the seventh-best quarterback in the conference.
Therefore, it was expected that they leave him off their 2020 Preseason All-PAC 12 Teams.
Daniels wasn’t listed on any of the three teams, and not even an honorable mention.
Only one of the quarterbacks that Pro Football Focus named over Daniels is accurate.
Kedon Slovis was on their 2020 Preseason All-PAC 12 First Team. He deserves to be. He was one of two 2019 First-Team Freshman All-Americans last year at the quarterback position (Sam Howell) and did it with an injury-depleted supporting cast.
Slovis’ had a 71.9% completion percentage, which was the highest in NCAA history for any freshman, as well as the third-highest of any quarterback in the country last year. It’s also the highest in history for any PAC-12 quarterback in a single season. He also had the highest completion percentage of any QB in 2019 of throws 20+ yards downfield (57.1%).
He had 3,502 yards vs. Daniels’ 2,943 and forced former 5-star recruit and Gatorade Player of the Year, J.T. Daniels, to transfer from Southern Cal this offseason. PFF at least got that one right.
They unfortunately, missed the mark on the next three. Starting with the second-team selection, Grant Gunnell, while impressive, is not Jayden Daniels.
Gunnell was good last year and picked up the slack when Khalil Tate wasn’t playing. He even had a TD:INT ratio (9:1) even better than Jayden Daniels’ ever-so-impressive 17:2 TD:INT ratio.
He had a tough time winning football games though and put up much lesser numbers overall than Jayden Daniels, which isn’t very good considering Jayden Daniels isn’t a guy who regularly lights up the box score, but is proficient in his eye test results and in clutch moments.
Gunnell had the highest PFF passing grade for a freshman last year—he’s no slouch. However, it’s criminal to list him as the second-best quarterback in the conference.
Another quarterback who is better than Gunnell is Cal’s Chase Garbers, who PFF selected as their Third Team selection.
Garbers is quietly a very good quarterback. He started nine games in 2019 and went 7-2. The two losses came in games he got injured in, though. It was not looking as if he was going to win the USC game if he had stayed in, but it looked like he would have beaten ASU if he hadn’t gotten injured.
He wins games, limits turnovers (14:3 TD:INT ratio), and dominated in the RedBox Bowl last year against Illinois. He went 22/31 for 272 yards and four touchdowns with no picks versus the Fighting Illini this past bowl season.
Even with all this being said, Daniels beat better teams than Garbers and really showed out in crunch time all 2019. That’s something we didn’t see from Garbers. He’s a good quarterback, but Daniels has more of an impact on his team’s success.
Justin Wilcox coached up his defense to be much better than what ASU’s was, and they were just as big of a reason for those wins as Garbers’ play was. In fact, Garbers only threw for 1772 yards last season. That’s a huge drop off from where Jayden Daniels was, even when considering that Jayden Daniels played in three more games.
Garbers is an impressive and underrated quarterback, but he shouldn’t be taken over Jayden Daniels at this point.
Lastly was PFF’s honorable mention. This would have appeared to point to Jayden Daniels to acknowledge the potential he has even if he wasn’t able to crack one of the three teams.
It was actually awarded to Utah’s Grad Transfer Jake Bentley. This is odd because while Bentley is by no means bad, he’s not great. He has an only somewhat decent 19-14 record (10-7 in SEC) in his 33 starts for South Carolina, and actually missed almost all of last season.
He threw for almost 3,200 yards in 2018, and also threw many more touchdown passes than Daniels (27), but had a rough 14 picks. Bentley to the Utes is an interesting fit for sure, but there are multiple other quarterbacks in the PAC-12 that are better than Bentley and were left off PFF’s Preseason All-PAC 12 Teams.
UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson comes to mind, as well as Jayden Daniels, who will be sure to outshine the low bar that PFF has set for him in this next season.