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Kevin Hogan Deep Dive

Long after the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles drafted their quarterbacks, the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Kevin Hogan in the fifth round. What does an investment in a signal caller at that late juncture signify? What kind of player are the Chiefs getting and what kind of impact, especially early, can he have?

WHAT KIND OF PLAYER IS KEVIN HOGAN?

While the top QBs drafted might be flashy and present the most upside, Kevin Hogan might have been left out of that conversation for reasons that don’t really make sense, just as Kevin Cole said of Cody Kessler.

Hogan was a three-plus year starter at Stanford, totaling over 11,000 combined passing and rushing yards and 91 total touchdowns. With Hogan under center, the Cardinal enjoyed a 36-10 record, and won three PAC-12 titles, the best record in Stanford history, and two Rose Bowls.

While he did enjoy a nice complement of NFL talent around him, Hogan faced an uphill battle to post statistics at the rate of his peers. According to Football Outsiders, the Cardinal were a -3.5 in Adjusted Pace, ranking them No. 94 in the sport. The same was at least true in 2014 as well, at least through the first six weeks. As you might predict, Stanford was near the very bottom. The Cardinal ran an average of 64.8 plays per game, 8.3 less than their expected rate of 73.1, which ranked 116 nationally. When viewed through the lens of total plays, Hogan did well to compile such impressive counting stats. 

DOES KEVIN HOGAN’S BALL LACK VELOCITY?

At this year’s NFL combine, Hogan was in the middle tier of throwers in terms of ball velocity, registering 53 mph on the gun. The average the ball velocity of QBs who threw at the combine since 2008 (leaving out 2016) was 53.7 mph. This year’s average ball velocity is 54.8. It is also noteworthy that Hogan had changed his delivery due to concerns about his arm slot and wind up in the weeks leading up to the draft.

IS KEVIN HOGAN INACCURATE?

Of all the complaints levied against Hogan, not only is this one the least defensible, but also it’s categorically and patently false. Of the 15 QBs drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, Hogan ranked No. 3 in career accuracy at 65.9 percent, behind only Brandon Doughty and Cody Kessler. Hogan also ranked No. 2 in 2015 accuracy at 67.8 percent, behind only Doughty.

Quarterback                        2015 Accuracy                                Career Accuracy

Brandon Doughty                        71.9%                                                      68.6%

Cody Kessler                                  67.5%                                                      66.8%

Kevin Hogan                                  67.8%                                                      65.9%

Carson Wentz                                62.5%                                                      64.1%

Paxton Lynch                                 66.8%                                                      62.9%

Dak Prescott                                  66.2%                                                      62.8%

Jared Goff                                       64.5%                                                      62.3%

Jake Rudock                                   64.0%                                                      61.7%

Cardale Jones                                 62.3%                                                      61.7%

Jeff Driskel                                     62.3%                                                      60.7%

Nate Sudfeld                                  60.0%                                                      60.3%

Jacoby Brissett                               60.0%                                                      59.5%

Connor Cook                                  56.1%                                                      57.5%

Brandon Allen                               65.9%                                                      57.4%

Christian Hackenberg                   53.5%                                                      56.1%

DOES KEVIN HOGAN THROW AN INACCURATE DEEP BALL?

There is no data that I could find that tracks college signal callers based on their deep ball accuracy, but perhaps the best metric we can use for this is yards per attempt, as it’s highly influenced by both the accuracy of a passer (as it includes incompletions) and the average distance of the passes he’s attempting. Hogan finished tied for No. 1 with Doughty in 2015, at 9.4 yards per attempt. As for career YPA, Hogan finished No. 3 behind…you guessed it, Doughty and Cardale Jones (who presents a major sample size issue with only 259 career attempts, fewer than even the 2015 season total of every QB on this list minus Wentz, who missed half the season).

Quarterback                        2015 YPA                                               Career YPA

Brandon Doughty                        9.4                                                            8.6

Cardale Jones                               8.3                                                            8.6

Kevin Hogan                                  9.4                                                            8.5

Carson Wentz                                7.9                                                            8.4

Cody Kessler                                  7.9                                                            8.2

Nate Sudfeld                                  8.7                                                            8.0

Dak Prescott                                  8.0                                                            8.0

Connor Cook                                  7.7                                                            7.9

Jared Goff                                       8.9                                                            7.8

Jeff Driskel                                     9.0                                                            7.4

Paxton Lynch                                 8.5                                                            7.4

Brandon Allen                               9.3                                                            7.3

Jake Rudock                                   7.8                                                            7.3

Jacoby Brissett                               6.7                                                            6.8

Christian Hackenberg                   7.0                                                            6.8

 

WHAT COMPARISONS CAN WE DRAW?

Using the Box Score Scout App to analyze Hogan’s 2015, what we see is that Hogan’s 2015 compares favorably to Troy Smith’s 2006 Heisman-winning season (at least from a passing standpoint), and Kellen Clemens, and is basically on par with the senior seasons of E.J. Manuel, Andy Dalton, Russell Wilson, Aaron Murray and Colt McCoy. Comparisons to less successful QBs, such as Nate Scheelhaase, Mike Kafka, Ryan Aplin and Jared Zabransky also exist. I studied Hogan’s career using various passing and rushing criteria (18 in all) in the Box Score Scout. Through that method, the comps most often drawn were Cousins (10), Manuel (8) Campbell (7), Zabransky and McCaron (6) and Dalton (5). So while it’s a bit of a mixed bag, the comparisons generated here do highlight his upside.

How Does He Fit with the Chiefs?

Alex Smith is an established starter with nearly a decade of experience running the show. The Chiefs also invested a similar pick (No. 163 to No. 162 for Hogan) in former Georgia starter Aaron Murray in 2014, and signed undrafted free agent QB Tyler Bray out of Tennessee in 2013. Bray should not be much of an impediment to playing time, as he’s never appeared in an NFL game and has spent the last two seasons on injured reserve and the non-football injury list. Murray, however, may represent Hogan’s biggest challenge to being the eventual in-house replacement for Alex Smith. There is of course the possibility that the Chiefs go outside the organization to replace Smith when that time comes, or that Murray, the more seasoned pro with a two-year head start on Hogan in Andy Reid’s offense, would be considered the favorite for those duties. For what it’s worth, Smith is under contract through 2018 with $39.4 million guaranteed still owed.

For certain, Hogan’s landing spot is less desirable than with those teams that were reported to have interest in him (especially considering the Chiefs have only gotten two wins from QBs they have drafted in the last 27 years), Buffalo and Cleveland. That caps any fantasy value he might have had if he had landed in a place where he had the opportunity to win a QB competition or one where he would be the no doubt handcuff to a lesser starting QB. As that’s not the case, he’s obviously not a consideration for re-draft leagues and is just a deep dynasty stash. However, the comparisons and metrics tend to indicate Hogan has the chops to at least be an elite backup with starting potential, so there could be value down the road in the form of spot starts or being handed the job outright should Smith’s health or play start to decline.

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