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Pro Football Focus gives Cal's Chase Garbers the third-highest grade of any returning Pac-12 quarterback, virtually tied with USC's Kedon Slovis.  That sounds about right until you notice that Arizona's Grant Gunnell has the highest grade. 

The immediate reaction is that Gunnell only started three games last season, so how can he have the best grade, ahead of everyone, including Slovis?

Let's take a step back before looking at PFF's grades further.

Metrics admirers are forever trying to find the perfect formula to rate a quarterback's proficiency.

The passer rating came first, but it has been augmented by systems such as total quarterback rating (QBR), expected points added (EPA), win probability added (WPA), defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) and defense-adjusted yards above replacement (DYAR). And there are countless others that claim to be the best reflection of a quarterback's impact on the game.

I tend to choose the formula that best fits what my eyes tell me.  The QBR through three NFL games ranks former Cal star Aaron Rodgers atop the NFL list followed, in order, by Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. That sounds about right, so the total quarterback rating is the one I choose to invoke.

Pro Football Focus uses its metrics to measure a lot of things in the NFL and college football, trying to quantify exactly what each player does regardless of how the play turns out.  For instance, a  perfectly placed pass that is dropped by the receiver counts as a quality pass attempt for a quarterback.

This video gives you a primer on how the PFF formulas work.

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So let's consider Gunnell.  He played in eight games as a freshman last season, and threw nine touchdown passes with just one interception.  His basic passer rating of 150.18 was better than every returning quarterback except Slovis (167.6), and a bit higher than Garbers (148.9) and Arizona State's Jayden Daniels (149.2). However, Gunnell did not have enough pass attempts to qualify for a ranking.

And Gunnell did it against good competition. His three starts came against Oregon, Utah and UCLA.

So maybe Gunnell should have the highest grade.

What may be more interesting to Cal fans is that Garbers' grade is less than one point lower than Slovis' grade and higher than Daniels' grade.

Cal fans mocked PFF when it did not include linebacker Evan Weavers on its all-Pac-12 team last year even though Weaver wound up as a first-team All-American and Pac-12 defensive player of the year.  But now the Golden Bears faithful may be inclined to think PFF has something here.

Of course, none of this means anything until the Pac-12 begins playing games on Nov. 6.

Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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