Pro Football Focus, the darling of data geeks, has ranked all 130 FBS teams in terms of their quarterback situation, and it provides some interesting results.
We have noted in past stories that Cal quarterback Chase Garbers is not getting much love from preseason all-conference teams, but he occupies an unusual place in the PFF quarterback rankings. He is ranked lower than Washington’s Dylan Morris and Washington State’s Jayden de Laura, but higher than Utah’s Charlie Brewer and Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels.
Most rank Daniels among the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12, if not the country, but he is only 72nd in the country and on the fourth of six tiers of quarterbacks on the PFF scale. The Sporting News, for example, ranks Daniels No. 14 among all college quarterback heading into 2021,and CBS Sports placed Daniels at No. 8.
UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson received a surprisingly low ranking by PFF as well.
Only one quarterback – Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler – is on PFF’s top tier of quarterbacks, and the article provides a breakdown of the top 51 quarterback situations.
One other interesting aspect of the PFF rankings for Cal fans is that Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, who will face the Golden Bears in Cal’s season opener on Sept. 4 in Berkeley, is ranked 11th in the country, with this breakdown:
Strong enters 2021 with a spotlight on him after breaking out in 2020 and becoming known as one of the big-armed quarterbacks in the country. He earned an 85.8 passing grade last season that featured the fifth-best turnover-worthy play rate in the FBS (1.7%). Strong threw four touchdowns that traveled 50-plus yards through the air. That’s the most in a single season in the PFF College era — no other quarterback in the FBS in 2020 had more than one.
Max Duggan of TCU, Cal’s other nonconference opponent in 2021, is ranked 55th, just above Garbers. The Bears play a road game against TCU on Sept. 11.
PFF makes a point of saying a team needs “a viable signal-caller” to compete for a conference championship, but the quarterback situation at Oregon, the Pac-12 favorite, ranks in the bottom half of the Pac-12. That may tell you something about the Ducks’ vulnerability.
PFF provides this description of its ranking methodology:
Taking into account each projected starter's play-by-play grading profile and several other data points, in addition to film and scheme review, here are PFF's annual college quarterback rankings for all 130 FBS programs.
Here are the PFF rankings of the Pac-12 teams’ quarterback situation, which includes the projected starter, the team's national quarterback ranking in parentheses, and the PFF breakdown for quarterbacks ranked in the top 51.
1. USC: Kedon Slovis (10):
Slovis is skating on thin ice here but just holds on to the No. 10 spot. He shattered expectations as a true freshman in 2019, earning an 80.8 passing grade and displaying precise accuracy. Still, Slovis often looked like a first-year player and made one or two head-scratching forced throws per game. He also struggled to hold onto the ball in collapsing pockets.
Note: Georgia QB JT Daniels, who transferred from USC when Slovis replaced him as the starter, is ranked 23rd.
2. Washington: Dylan Morris (28)
Morris is a pretty limited passer and won’t provide much in the deep passing game, but he takes exceptional care of the ball elsewhere and doesn't make many mistakes.
In four starts in 2020, he earned an 81.9 passing grade, posted a minimal 1.6% turnover-worthy play rate and led the Huskies to the fourth-most efficient passing offense in the Pac-12. He was automatic from a clean pocket and when not trying to do anything special downfield. Most teams would love to have such a safe passer.
Note: PFF does not mention how highly touted freshman quarterback Sam Huard figures into the Huskies’ quarterback situation.
3. Washington State: Jayden de Laura (31)
Jayden de Laura may not even end up the starter for the Cougars, but he’s undoubtedly the best passer on the roster despite playing in only four games during his coronavirus-shortened freshman season last year. He produced a 78.4 passing grade and was sharp when letting the ball go in a timely fashion. On passes thrown 2.5 seconds or less from the snap, de Laura ranked fourth in the FBS in passing grade (91.0). His performance dipped when he held onto the ball inside the pocket, so that’s something to monitor moving forward. Still, de Laura is a promising quarterback talent.
Note: In May, de Laura was reinstated to the team after serving a suspension that stemmed from an offseason DUI arrest.
4. Cal: Chase Garbers (59)
5. Utah: Charlie Brewer (71)
Note: Brewer transferred from Baylor in the offseason. Utes' 2020 starter Jake Bentley transferred to South Alabama in the offseason and is ranked 107th by PFF.
6. Arizona State: Jayden Daniels (72)
7. Oregon State: Tristan Gebbia/Sam Noyer (74)
Note: Noyer transferred from Colorado to Oregon State in the offseason.
8. Oregon: Anthony Brown/Ty Thomson (79)
Note: Ducks 2020 starter Tyler Shough transferred to Texas Tech in the offseason and is 69th in the PFF rankings.
9. UCLA: Dorian Thompson-Robinson (87)
10. Colorado: Brendon Lewis/JT Shrout (90)
11. Stanford: Tanner McKee/Jack West (99)
12. Arizona: Jordan McCloud/Gunner Cruz/Will Plummer (111)
Note: Wildcats' 2020 starter Grant Gunnell transferred to Memphis in the offseason and is 39th in the PFF rankings.
Cover photo of Chase Garbers by Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports
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