2020 Rookie Scouting Index: Quarterback Rankings
Image Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Justin Herbert.

Each year, in the run-up to the NFL draft, we produce the RotoViz Scouting Index (RSI). The RSI aggregates and compiles NFL prospect rankings from a variety of more traditional scouting outlets. This accomplishes a few things:

  • It saves time. No need to check rankings on several sites, we’ve done the work.
  • It reveals the general consensus. No need to guess which players are held in high – or rising – esteem, we’ve done the math.
  • It checks our bias. We do love statistical analysis, but it’s important to consider what the more traditional football community thinks about a given player. The consensus opinion is what will largely determine a player’s initial fantasy value, which is especially important for dynasty rookie drafts. It’s also possible we’re missing something; seeing which players the film community holds in higher regard might prompt us to look more closely at a prospect.

2020 Calculation and Sources

The outlets that will contribute to the RSI calculation are CBSDraftTekDraftCountdownOurLads, TheDraftNetwork, and DraftScout.

A player’s RSI score will be calculated as follows:

  • Determine a player’s positional percentile rank for each outlet
  • Sum each player’s percentile ranks and divide by the number of sources
  • Scale to 100
  • If a player is not ranked by a given source he is assigned a zero for that source

This rewards/penalizes players for being/not being ranked at multiple sources. It also does a better job of addressing the variance in the number of players being ranked by each site than simply reviewing average rank.

2020 QB Rookie Scouting Index

 
Rank Player RSI % AVG High Low
1 Joe Burrow 100 1 1 1
2 Tua Tagovailoa 95 2 2 2
3 Justin Herbert 90 3.2 3 4
4 Jordan Love 83 4.2 3 6
5 Jacob Eason 81 5.2 4 7
6 Jalen Hurts 77 6.2 5 7
7 Jake Fromm 73 6.3 6 7
8 Anthony Gordon 64 8.5 8 10
9 James Morgan 59 9.5 8 13
10 Nate Stanley 53 11.3 8 15
11 Steven Montez 49 11.7 10 14
12 Cole McDonald 46 12.2 10 16
13 Brian Lewerke 42 13.7 10 17
14 Jake Luton 41 14.3 11 19
15 Bryce Perkins 38 15.2 11 23

There’s absolutely no question about it, Joe Burrow is the top dog in this year’s class. Burrow, who figures to be selected by Cincinnati as the first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, is ranked No. 1 by all six RSI sources. Similarly, Tua Tagovailoa is the unanimous QB2 and will be drafted in Round 1, likely by Miami at Pick 5 but possibly by Washington at Pick 2. The Chargers control the sixth pick and many analysts expect the team to draft a quarterback as well. Assuming that both Burrow and Tagovailoa are off the board, Justin Herbert looks like their most likely selection. Only a single source ranked him lower than QB3.

What Should Teams Be Looking For?

When evaluating rookie QB prospects there are two statistics that I consider before all others — completion percentage and adjusted passing yards per attempt. I think this makes sense intuitively. Accuracy is an important part of a quarterback’s game. If he’s going to be competent as a professional, it stands to reason that he should have been successful in completing passes in college. Adjusted yards per attempt (AYA), convert interceptions and touchdowns into yards which helps provide a better sense of the number of yards generated by each attempt a passer throws. Naturally, a higher AYA is favorable. It may signal that a passer is willing and able to connect with receivers downfield, get them the ball in situations that allow them to accrue yards after the catch, and isn’t overly hindered by interceptions. While we can only infer these attributes from AYA, it is fair to assume that positive and negative traits bear out in this adjusted metric.

While a strong completion percentage and competitive AYA can’t guarantee success, low scores in these metrics place the odds against a prospect’s likelihood of NFL success.  Few passers with a collegiate AYA of less than 8.0, a competitive cutoff, record significant stretches of NFL playing time.

How did the cohort of 2020 QBs perform in these metrics? Let’s take a closer look at the top seven passers in the RSI.

Joe Burrow – LSU

PASSING

 
Seas School Pos Games PaAtt PaComp Comp% PaYds PaTD PaINT PaAYA
2016 Ohio State QB 5 28 22 0.79 226 2 0 9.5
2017 Ohio State QB 4 11 7 0.64 61 0 0 5.55
2018 LSU QB 13 379 219 0.58 2893 16 5 7.88
2019 LSU QB 15 527 402 0.76 5671 60 6 12.53
Career QB 37 945 650 0.69 8851 78 11 10.49

RUSHING

 
Seas School Pos Games RuAtt RuYds RuTD Fum
2016 Ohio State QB 5 12 58 1 1
2017 Ohio State QB 4 3 -5 0 1
2018 LSU QB 13 128 399 7 5
2019 LSU QB 15 115 369 5 4
Career QB 37 258 821 13 11

 

Height: 6 feet 4 inches

Weight: 221 pounds

Age at 12/31/2019: 23.1

In many respects, Burrow was a one-hit-wonder. In his first season as a full-time starter, he completed just 58% of passes, compiled only 16 passing touchdowns, and posted an AYA of 7.88. However, his senior season was so absurd that it might not matter. Overall, Burrow’s collegiate completion percentage of 69% ranks in the 96th percentile and his AYA of 10.49 is in the 98th percentile.1 If we combine these percentiles to arrive at a composite score, only five players have done better. On top of Burrow’s impressive passing numbers, it turns out he can scoot and has a penchant for scrambling to the end zone. While one could make a case for Tagovailoa, it’s easy to see why Burrow is universally viewed as 2020’s top passer.

 

Tua Tagovailoa

PASSING

 
Seas School Pos Games PaAtt PaComp Comp% PaYds PaTD PaINT PaAYA
2017 Alabama QB 8 77 49 0.64 636 11 2 9.95
2018 Alabama QB 15 355 245 0.69 3966 43 6 12.83
2019 Alabama QB 9 252 180 0.71 2840 33 3 13.35
Career QB 32 684 474 0.69 7442 87 11 12.7

RUSHING

 
Seas School Pos Games RuAtt RuYds RuTD Fum
2017 Alabama QB 8 27 133 2 1
2018 Alabama QB 15 57 190 5 3
2019 Alabama QB 9 23 17 2 1
Career QB 32 107 340 9 5

 

Height: 6 feet 3 inches

Weight: 218 pounds

Age at 12/31/2019: 21.8

Had Tagovailoa’s 2019 not been marred by injury, it’s possible his name would be the one penciled in next to Cincinnati. Unfortunately, he missed substantial time this past season dealing with a dislocated and fractured hip. At any rate, his collegiate resume is a thing of beauty. Like Burrow, Tagovailoa boasts a 96th percentile career completion percentage. However, his AYA crushes Burrow’s. In fact, his 12.7 is an entire yard greater than the second-highest AYA in our Prospect Box Score Scout database. Playing with a bevy of future NFL players, especially an insanely talented group of WRs, undoubtedly played a major role in Tagovailoa’s gaudy production. However, other collegiate QBs have played with loaded rosters and failed to produce such impressive numbers. If he can fully recover from injury and get back to 100%, it’s entirely possible that he’s a star in the NFL.

 

Justin Herbert

PASSING

 
Seas School Pos Games PaAtt PaComp Comp% PaYds PaTD PaINT PaAYA
2016 Oregon QB 8 255 162 0.64 1936 19 4 8.38
2017 Oregon QB 8 206 139 0.67 1983 15 5 9.99
2018 Oregon QB 13 404 240 0.59 3151 29 8 8.34
2019 Oregon QB 14 428 286 0.67 3471 32 6 8.97
Career QB 43 1293 827 0.64 10541 95 23 8.82

RUSHING

 
Seas School Pos Games RuAtt RuYds RuTD Fum
2016 Oregon QB 8 58 161 2 1
2017 Oregon QB 8 44 183 5 4
2018 Oregon QB 13 71 166 2 2
2019 Oregon QB 14 58 50 4 4
Career QB 43 231 560 13 11

 

Height: 6 feet 6 inches

Weight: 236 pounds

Age at 12/31/2019: 21.8

Justin Herbert completed 64% of passing attempts as an Oregon Duck which places him in the 81st percentile. Given a 91st percentile AYA, Herbert ranks in the 90th percentile when combining completion percentage and AYA. Additionally, he threw more than four passing touchdowns to every interception and 2.2 touchdowns per game. Both are impressive numbers and speak to Herbert’s potential for NFL success. While it’s hard to conclude that his outlook includes mega-stardom, Herbert has the potential to be an NFL starter and as such should garner consideration in 2020 rookie drafts.

 

Jordan Love

PASSING

 
Seas School Pos Games PaAtt PaComp Comp% PaYds PaTD PaINT PaAYA
2017 Utah State QB 12 235 129 0.55 1631 8 6 6.47
2018 Utah State QB 13 416 266 0.64 3552 32 6 9.43
2019 Utah State QB 13 473 293 0.62 3402 20 17 6.42
Career QB 38 1124 688 0.61 8585 60 29 7.54

RUSHING

 
Seas School Pos Games RuAtt RuYds RuTD Fum
2017 Utah State QB 12 46 165 2 3
2018 Utah State QB 13 43 63 7 3
2019 Utah State QB 13 81 175 0 6
Career QB 38 170 403 9 12

 

Height: 6 feet 4 inches

Weight: 224 pounds

Age at 12/31/2019: 21.2

Jordan Love’s completion percentage of 61% paired with his AYA of 7.54 place him in the 67th percentile when combined. While neither measure is particularly impressive, there have been passers with similar scores that found NFL success. However, Love’s case would be a lot more compelling if he had a better rushing resume. Sure, he scored seven rushing touchdowns in 2018, but a lack of rushing yardage makes it hard to assume that he possesses a strong skill set as a runner. This is somewhat surprising when one considers his 74th percentile forty-yard dash of 4.74.

 

Jacob Eason

PASSING

 
Seas School Pos Games PaAtt PaComp Comp% PaYds PaTD PaINT PaAYA
2016 Georgia QB 13 370 204 0.55 2430 16 8 6.46
2017 Georgia QB 3 7 4 0.57 28 0 0 4
2018 Washington QB 1 0 0 0 0 0
2019 Washington QB 13 405 260 0.64 3132 23 8 7.98
Career QB 30 782 468 0.6 5590 39 16 7.23

RUSHING

 
Seas School Pos Games RuAtt RuYds RuTD Fum
2016 Georgia QB 13 33 -45 1 3
2017 Georgia QB 3 3 -12 0 1
2018 Washington QB 1 0 0 0 0
2019 Washington QB 13 46 -69 1 3
Career QB 30 82 -126 2 7

 

Height: 6 feet 6 inches

Weight: 231 pounds

Age at 12/31/2019: 22.1

Jacob Eason’s resume is pretty lackluster. While Love’s isn’t that much better, Eason’s completion percentage ranks in the 50th percentile and AYA in the 59th. This combines to a score that falls in the 57th percentile, a range from which few passers have found NFL success without rushing ability. To be fair, his touchdown to interception ratio of 2.4 is competitive. Still, there’s nothing particularly compelling in his profile.

 

Jalen Hurts

PASSING

 
Seas School Pos Games PaAtt PaComp Comp% PaYds PaTD PaINT PaAYA
2016 Alabama QB 15 382 240 0.63 2780 23 9 7.42
2017 Alabama QB 14 255 154 0.6 2081 17 1 9.32
2018 Alabama QB 13 70 51 0.73 765 8 2 11.93
2019 Oklahoma QB 14 341 237 0.7 3851 32 8 12.11
Career QB 56 1048 682 0.65 9477 80 20 9.71

RUSHING

 
Seas School Pos Games RuAtt RuYds RuTD Fum
2016 Alabama QB 15 191 954 13 11
2017 Alabama QB 14 154 855 8 4
2018 Alabama QB 13 36 167 2 2
2019 Oklahoma QB 14 233 1298 20 8
Career QB 56 614 3274 43 25

 

Height: 6 feet 1 inch

Weight: 221 pounds

Age at 12/31/2019: 21.4

Jalen Hurts is awesome and the scouts, among others, are way too low on him. He was successful as a freshman at Alabama and continued to progress throughout his career. While he was surpassed by  Tagovailoa, arguably as stellar a prospect as we’ve seen in the last decade, Hurts also found tremendous success at Oklahoma. As a rusher, Hurts recorded more touchdowns than other QBs in the class totaled both through the air and on the ground. In his senior season, he rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns. Plus, he threw for over 3,800 yards with an AYA of 12.11 and 32 passing touchdowns. That is insane. Don’t forget, he was a 21-year-old senior so age is on his side.

On his career, Hurts completed 65% of passing attempts which equates to a percentile rank of 85 and his AYA of 9.71 lands in the 95th percentile. The two measures, when combined, place Hurts in the 94th percentile and speak to his potential to operate as a competent passer at the next level. When coupled with his ground-game prowess, it’s easy to see how with the correct scheme fit he could be a difference-maker in the NFL. If Hurts finds himself under center he has the potential to be a fantastic fantasy asset equipped with significant upside. NFL teams should be placing a keen eye on Hurts and he shouldn’t be going later than QB3 in 2020 rookie drafts.

 

Jake Fromm

PASSING

 
Seas School Pos Games PaAtt PaComp Comp% PaYds PaTD PaINT PaAYA
2017 Georgia QB 15 291 181 0.62 2615 24 7 9.55
2018 Georgia QB 14 305 206 0.68 2749 30 6 10.1
2019 Georgia QB 14 385 234 0.61 2860 24 5 8.09
Career QB 43 981 621 0.63 8224 78 18 9.15

RUSHING

 
Seas School Pos Games RuAtt RuYds RuTD Fum
2017 Georgia QB 15 55 79 3 3
2018 Georgia QB 14 41 -27 0 4
2019 Georgia QB 14 38 -12 0 3
Career QB 43 134 40 3 10

Height: 6 feet 2 inches

Weight: 219 pounds

Age at 12/31/2019: 21.4

Jake Fromm burst onto the scene as a freshman at Georgia throwing 24 touchdown passes with an AYA 9.55. While he didn’t trend upward for the duration of his career, he does leave school with a career completion percentage of 63% and AYA of 9.15. As a result, Fromm Boasts an impressive 88th percentile score when combining the two metrics. Further, his touchdown to interception ratio of 4.3 is top-tier as are his 1.8 touchdown passes per game. Despite being ranked seventh by the film watchers, Fromm looks like a strong prospect on paper. He doesn’t possess any major red flags and performed in the areas that matter the most. One could quibble with his lack of growth but keep in mind that he was only 21.4 years old on 12/31/19.  It’s hard to continually improve off of such a strong baseline registered so early in a player’s career.

  1. The data set used in this article begins in 2005 and does not include players with less than 301 collegiate passing attempts.  (back)

Dave Caban

Senior Fantasy Analyst, app developer, hosts the RotoViz Radio Flagship, auction draft enthusiast.
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