Matt Corral and the Masters of the RPO

Ole Miss Rebels QB Matt Corral
Ole Miss Rebels QB Matt Corral
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Draft - How do you evaluate a quarterback prospect like Matt Corral of Ole Miss, who attempted over eight RPO passes per game in 2021?

That's not a rhetorical question. I'm really asking, because I don't know how to do it.

Corral is projected as a first-round pick in some circles, especially after earning positive reviews from his Pro Day last week. He's the QB3 on many 2021 NFL draft media boards and certainly some team boards. He definitely has some NFL attributes. But it's hard for me to wrap my head around Corral because he throws ... so. Many. RPOs.

As always, Football Outsiders' 2022 NFL draft coverage is presented by Underdog Fantasy!

Underdog Fantasy

Let's back up for a moment. As you probably know, RPO stands for "run pass option." It's an offensive concept that the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles popularized when Nick Foles led them to victory in Super Bowl LII over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (he typed, somewhat vindictively). The basic design: the quarterback has the option to either hand off or fake the handoff and attempt a short play-action pass, often a quick slant or a toss into the flat, usually based on a pre-snap or immediate post-snap read.

The RPO requires rudimentary quarterback skills, such as the ability to quickly deliver accurate short passes and make simple pre-snap decisions based on factors like the number of defenders in the box. When an NFL team deploys an RPO-heavy offense, it is usually doing so to protect the quarterback, either from himself or a terrible offensive line. Teams like the Chiefs and Packers do use lots of RPOs to diversify their play-action game, but no NFL coach is looking for a quarterback prospect who is "great at the RPO," any more than they may seek a prospect who is "great at handing off from the I-formation."

So when a scouting report includes some remark like "he's really effective running the RPO," it's really saying "he did just fine in a paint-by-numbers offense designed for remedial quarterbacks." That's not to suggest that Corral is a "remedial" quarterback, but the fact that Ole Miss treated him that way is notable. Corral's film and his raw stats are so littered with RPOs that it's difficult to get a sense of what else he does.

Let's run some numbers. Here are the RPO passing statistics of each of the major 2022 draft prospects, courtesy the Sports Info Solutions college football datahub.

RPO Passing Statistics
Name School Att Comp C% Yards TD INT Sacks ANY/A
Kaleb Eleby Western Michigan 131 99 75.6% 1,198 7 2 5 8.9
Matt Corral Ole Miss 107 81 75.7% 874 3 0 3 6.3
Bailey Zappe Western Kentucky 124 107 86.3% 667 7 1 0 7.9
Sam Howell North Carolina 82 55 67.1% 696 4 2 3 8.3
Desmond Ridder Cincinnati 81 61 75.3% 502 4 2 3 5.7
Malik Willis Liberty 61 46 75.4% 484 2 0 3 8.0
Kenny Pickett Pitt 35 30 85.7% 151 5 0 0 7.5
Carson Strong Nevada 31 26 83.9% 115 4 0 2 5.6

Eleby isn't quite a "major" prospect, but he's getting some late-round buzz, so he's worth mentioning here. He led the nation in RPO pass attempts in 2021, often flicking the ball to Skyy Moore on quick slants. When an NFL starting-caliber receiver prospect like Moore lines up in the slot against MAC competition and the play design says to throw him an automatic quick slant if there's no defender head up on him, guess what? He's going to be open, and the quarterback will get an easy completion.

Zappe is another late-round prospect and Senior Bowl attendee whose statistical profile is a real journey. Let's put him on ice for a moment.

Corral completed 75.7% of his RPO passes, which is non-noteworthy: the RPO is a high-percentage play. His adjusted net yards per attempt of 6.3, however, was depressingly low for a play he executed so frequently. Ole Miss RPOs were like pretzel bits: more filling than nourishing. On the stat sheet, they add bulk completions and completion rate while nerfing Corral's yards per attempt. On film, they're a blur of easy throws that will inevitably result in one misleading impression (fetishizing his quick release or accuracy) or the other (this kid can't do anything else).

Corral's RPO totals don't look all that different from Desmond Ridder's at first glance, even accounting for the fact that Ridder played one more game in 2021. But now let's look at the non-RPO passes of the top prospects. While we are filtering, let's also take out passes behind the line of scrimmage to get rid of quick screens, shovel passes, and other stat-sheet filler. As you can see, Ridder threw downfield far more often than Corral:

Non-RPO, Past Line of Scrimmage
Name School Att Comp C% Yards TD INT ANY/A
Bailey Zappe Western Kentucky 449 286 63.7% 4,813 48 10 11.9
Kenny Pickett Pitt 376 248 66.0% 3,812 32 7 11.0
Carson Strong Nevada 367 252 68.7% 3,432 30 8 10.0
Desmond Ridder Cincinnati 260 156 60.0% 2,591 25 6 10.8
Malik Willis Liberty 229 135 59.0% 2,207 22 11 9.4
Sam Howell North Carolina 213 128 60.1% 2,177 17 6 10.5
Matt Corral Ole Miss 190 106 55.8% 1,940 12 5 10.3
Kaleb Eleby Western Michigan 190 106 55.8% 1,945 16 4 11.0

A whopping 36% of Corral's pass attempts in 2021 were RPOs when passes behind the line of scrimmage are filtered out. Eleby threw a higher percentage of RPOs then Corral (those similar attempt and completion numbers are not a typo; I triple-checked), but again: Eleby is a late-round prospect from a midmajor program, not someone being talked about as a potential New Orleans Saints or Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback of the future. Corral's completion rate with the RPOs and screen/swing passes filtered out is also disturbingly low. Conventional downfield passing is something Corral did not do very much and appears to have not been all that great at.

The non-RPO table helps explain the appeal of Kenny Pickett and, to a lesser extent, Carson Strong. Their film is full of conventional forward passes with minimal fluff. Pickett may check down a lot, and Strong heaves a ton of yolo balls, but at least they aren't just tossing 4-yard slants to uncovered slot receivers eight or nine times per game. Pickett's checkdowns are also more feature than bug for many scouts and insiders: they require more NFL readiness than prescribed passes to receivers with a 15-yard cushion.

And then there's Zappe, who set the all-time single-season yardage record with 5,967 yards for the Hilltoppers in 2021. Zappe threw 124 RPO passes at an 86.3% completion rate, but those RPOs represented just 18% of his total attempts. Zappe's 2021 completion rate of 69.2% is juiced by RPOs, but not by much.

Zappe appeared at the Senior Bowl and didn't embarrass himself, but he has failed to generate much pre-draft buzz. I checked my scouting notes on Zappe and found this line that sums up the issue with evaluating him: "I am basically watching a guy stand motionless in a whistle-clean pocket and throw to wide-open receivers." Who needs RPOs when you have overmatched Old Dominion and Tennessee-Martin defenses?

Malik Willis, Sam Howell, and Running by Design

Corral was also a gutsy, productive rusher: 614 yards and 11 touchdowns for Ole Miss in 2021, though with just 4.0 yards per attempt. Perhaps we're selling him short by harping on the RPOs: Corral could be a dual-threat capable of doing some of the things Kyler Murray does for the Arizona Cardinals.

Raw college rushing stats are a catch-all. Sacks are included in the data, which makes analytics types want to punch a hole in the sun. Designed runs, meanwhile, are so common that they really need to be separated out just to get a sense of how often a prospect did something he will rarely do in the NFL (run the quarterback draw or midline iso) versus something he will do a lot if he sees the field as a rookie (run for his life).

The Sports Info Solutions datahub allows us to sort scrambles from designed runs for college quarterbacks, just as it does for NFL quarterbacks. Here's each top prospect's scrambling data for 2021. B+MT stands for "broken and missed tackles":

Rushing Production on Designed Runs
Name School Att Yards YPA B+MT TD
Malik Willis Liberty 81 551 7.6 35 8
Sam Howell North Carolina 74 667 9.0 31 7
Matt Corral Ole Miss 71 454 6.4 18 11
Desmond Ridder Cincinnati 45 267 5.9 3 5
Kenny Pickett Pitt 18 55 3.1 0 3
Carson Strong Nevada 1 -2 -2.0 0 0

The 2022 draft prospects at quarterback break down as two players (Willis and Howell) who can be regular zone-read threats in the NFL, three (Corral, Ridder, Pickett) who could run now and then as a wrinkle, and one (Strong) whose feet will be dead-bolted to a spot in the pocket. While Corral ran frequently, the numbers above show a rather substantial difference between him and Willis/Howell in terms of results. Also, he's a rather lean lad with a habit of putting himself in harm's way.

Howell ran a nation-leading 39 quarterback draw plays, averaging 8.5 yards per rush. If you think the RPO makes a quarterback tricky to evaluate, try filtering out several runs right up the middle per game. Howell is a rugged runner, but he's not Cam Newton, and he does a lot of Carson Wentz stuff when asked to stand in the pocket and be a semi-conventional quarterback. Howell would be fun to watch in the USFL and will make some preseason games lively. In the NFL, he might end up in some goofy Kevin Hogan/Jacoby Brissett Wildcat/short-yardage specialist role.

Before we talk about Willis, let's run the scrambling table:

Rushing Production on Scrambles
Name School Att Yards YPA B+MT TD
Malik Willis Liberty 60 586 9.8 45 4
Matt Corral Ole Miss 54 312 2.5 13 0
Sam Howell North Carolina 50 438 5.1 26 3
Kenny Pickett Pitt 49 404 8.2 9 2
Desmond Ridder Cincinnati 21 155 7.4 7 1
Carson Strong Nevada 11 43 3.9 0 0

College quarterbacks should not scramble a lot, because their systems are generally designed to reduce pressure and they often play for superior programs. College quarterbacks who throw RPOs on 36% of their pass attempts definitely shouldn't scramble a lot, because the RPO gets the ball out of their hands immediately by design. Sorry to keep ripping Corral, but his stat breakdowns are just one yellow flag after another.

Willis' scramble rate is a little troubling. He scrambled against Ole Miss seven times, which is fine: the Flames were outgunned/outmanned/etc. He also scrambled seven times against Louisiana and Army and nine times against Louisiana-Monroe. Willis is an outstanding scrambler and was the best athlete on the field in many of those games, so he probably received lots of latitude to take off and run from his coaches. But that's exactly the sort of habit that must be relearned and replaced by something else in the NFL.

Pickett also scrambles quite a bit, but there's a difference between taking off five times per game against Virginia and Miami and seven times against Army. We're not going to sing any more hosannas about Pickett's decision-making than he's already getting from insiders who are trying to talk him up as QB1, but he's mobile enough to escape harm's way in the NFL. It's also worth noting that, despite his dainty little hands, Pickett only fumbled once when running by design or scrambling.

Ridder's low scramble rate is illuminating. Ridder runs well but rarely chose to do so. He played for a midmajor powerhouse that did a fine job protecting him, but he also faced Alabama, Notre Dame, Indiana, and some AAC programs that can take care of themselves (Houston, UCF) in 2021. Ridder's low scramble totals supplement the argument that he will enter the NFL as an experienced, relatively game-ready decision-maker. Pickett's scramble totals don't refute his similar claim, but they don't support it.

Strong is completely immobile, but he makes up for it by having an overrated arm. We'll let Strong have his revenge in a week or two when we break down each prospect's 20-plus-air yard passes, but the lack of Strong chatter coming off his Pro Day last week speaks volumes. Here's Strong's "money" throw from that workout, complete with a double-hop windup, if you are into that sort of thing:

How to Evaluate a QB in a System Full of Bullsh*t

Let's circle back to our initial question: how are we supposed to get a true read on a quarterback prospect who showed us so little of substance?

Before the RPO, there were the bubble and tunnel screens. College programs were addicted to them about a decade ago. Half the quarterbacks in the nation were tossing six to 10 glorified sweeps to wide receivers in spread offenses per game. Paxton Lynch threw for 8,863 yards in three seasons at Memphis, but I swear he only threw for about 250 air yards. Lynch was the prime example of a prospect whose evaluation turned to gibberish because so much of his production was piffle.

Those receiver screens were in vogue at around the same time as the "spot on the field" throw, a Big 12 staple that made collegiate rock stars of Graham Harrell and Kliff Kinsgbury and could make Landry Jones look like an NFL prospect. We're talking about the Mike Leach Air Raid in its early incarnation, as well as various successors and imitators, plus other spread concepts and variations from 10 or 20 years ago, all of them popular in a conference that became notorious for defense-optional sandlot football.

Blaine Gabbert stood in a chapel-quiet pocket and floated short pass after short pass into the wide-open prairies. His receivers knew where the ball was going and their defender didn't, so the receivers won. Sam Bradford did much the same thing. Yes, these are oversimplifications, but Gabbert was a tricky evaluation because he threw so few passes under duress into tight coverage. Every Leach quarterback has been a system product, even as elements of his offense have been integrated into half the programs in the nation and the NFL. Bradford arrived in the NFL as injured vaporware and stayed that way.

It has always been this way, going back before Football Outsiders existed, when scouts were tasked with projecting triple-option quarterbacks and Big 10 BMOCs who handed off 40 times per game into the NFL. But don't despair! Here's how you can filter out all the noise to determine what a quarterback in a hinky system is really capable of:

  • Become a team scout with NFL resources at your fingertips who can focus on prospect evaluations as a full-time career;
  • Cross your fingers and proceed by dead reckoning;
  • Recognize that team scouts with NFL resources at their fingertips who can focus on prospect evaluations as a full-time career are crossing their fingers and proceeding by dead reckoning.

NFL evaluators can see lots of things on film that even an experienced media scout cannot. They can talk to the prospect, his coach, and his weight bench sanitizer so they can learn things about his understanding of NFL offenses, work habits, and likelihood to end up on the police blotter that the rest of us can only guess at. Yet the NFL's success rate given all of this inside information speaks for itself. It has been five years since the "historic" 2018 quarterback class and the only first-round picks with any dignity left are the dude that #DraftTwitter and #AnalyticsTwitter treated like a smoldering poop bag on the porch and the dude The Establishment wanted to move to wide receiver.

Face it: we all suck it this. And yet we keep trying. So if we cannot succeed very often, let's at least fail for the smartest possible reasons.

Corral's film shows a pesky-but-scrawny quarterback who executes a pea-shooter passing game. He runs hard, but he got injured in his final college game. The stat breakdown shows that he relied heavily on a system which gave him easy reads and lots of high-percentage short passes.

So what are Corral's starting-caliber NFL quarterback attributes? A quick release? Great short accuracy? Mobility? Fine. Now: are those truly elite qualities for Corral, or are they simply all we have to talk about? Competitiveness? OK, boomer. If the best argument for someone being a starting-caliber prospect is that someone else put him on the list of starting-caliber prospects, then we have surrendered to groupthink. Which is another thing the professionals who run NFL teams do all the time.

The statistical breakdowns of all the 2021 draft quarterback prospects' rushing and RPO data bring us right back to where we started. Willis is gifted but unready. Pickett and Ridder are experienced and do some things well but lack va-va-voom factor. Howell is this class' designated option guy, Strong the flypaper for Mike Mayock types.

And Corral? He's a Lynch- or Gabbert-style system quarterback, just in a different system. His RPO breakdowns are warning us that he will max out as a feisty NFL backup.

We'll find out in a month whether teams like the Falcons, Steelers, and Saints heard the message.


53 comments, Last at 01 Apr 2022, 6:54am

#1 by OmahaChiefs13 // Mar 28, 2022 - 7:04am

And yet, one of the other things we've learned is that at least one of these guys could end up "succeeding" least temporarily and for whatever value of "success" we want to use...if and when they end up with the right team and support structure.

Points: 0

#2 by Bob Smith // Mar 28, 2022 - 10:36am

Mike------Omaha brings up a great point-how do YOU for example define "succeeding" and what "value of success" do YOU use for NFL QB's.

For me, I first want them to play good enough to become a "franchise QB", then it gets more involved. Then, my Mission Statement for my Franchise QB becomes this:  Play good enough to help our team win multiple Championship Games, both Conference and League.

I somewhat take it for granted that a franchise QB will play good enough to help their team get into the playoffs a majority of the time, so the Regular Season isn't nearly as important as the playoffs are. 


Points: 0

#5 by HitchikersPie // Mar 28, 2022 - 11:28am

In reply to by Bob Smith

The regular season is important because it gets you to the playoffs, the best way to guarantee playoff success is continually get into them, and then bank on some luck eventually smiling your way. The list of QBs with a lot of playoff losses looks quite nice all things told:

Peyton - 13

Brady - 12

Favre - 11

Roethlisberger/Rodgers/Marino - 10

Brees - 9

Kelly - 8

Montana/Elway/Wilson/McNabb/Rivers/Moon - 7


Those QBs collectively make up 21 Super Bowls and 38 Super Bowl appearances, there's a lot of losing involved if you want to get to the mountain top.

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#6 by Bob Smith // Mar 28, 2022 - 11:35am

Of course you have to qualify for the playoffs 1st, but that more or less goes without saying-it is somewhat COMMON SENSE. 

But a QB can't have any REAL SUCCESS in the Regular Season. If he plays very very good he helps his team get a higher seed for the playoffs, but that is as much success as he can get in the Reg. Season.

But in the playoffs a QB can get that REAL SUCCESS if he plays very very good and helps his team to win it all. And that is the goal of every NFL QB after all. 

Points: 0

#11 by dbostedo // Mar 28, 2022 - 12:02pm

In reply to by Bob Smith

It seems like the implication here is that there are say, 2 QBs who perform equivalently in the regular season, but one of them is inherently better in the playoffs. As though playoff success can be looked at as somehow different than regular season success.

I don't believe that's true. I think regular season success tracks with playoff success. Again the best way for a QB to be good in the playoffs is to make the playoffs a lot. There's no magic "clutch" QB who "comes through in the playoffs" even though they aren't any better in the regular season than other good QBs. I believe any appearance of that (or the largest part of the reason for that) is statistical noise + overall team performance + luck. 

Points: 0

#34 by Bob Smith // Mar 28, 2022 - 3:55pm

The study that was done on P-F-R concerning the Value that a QB gives to his Team has 2 great examples going both ways. They did this study for both the Regular Season and a separate study for the playoffs.

The 2 examples were Terry Bradshaw and Dan Marino. Marino is in the Top 10 amongst QB's for Value in the Reg. Season but he is not in the Top 100 for Value in the playoffs.

Terry Bradshaw is just the opposite. He is just barely in the Top 100 (#94)  for Value in the Reg. Season, but he is in the Top 5 for Value in the playoffs.

Points: 0

#35 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 4:22pm

In reply to by Bob Smith

It's not impossible that a player be better in the postseason(mainly due to psychology, some people can concentrate better with pressure, it's not really sustainable however). Still, sample sizes are so small in football it's hard to tell. 

Only reasonably clear example I've seen is Curt Schilling in baseball, since both pitched a decent number of postseason innings (133) and had an ERA over a run lower than his average.  

Kurt Warner is probably the best football example I can think of, although 13 games

Points: 0

#36 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 4:29pm

One of the greatest stats for Babe Ruth was that while he was a fantastic hitter in the postseason (his rate stats are higher in the post-season than the regular season, and he was perhaps the greatest regular season hitter in MLB history), he was a a better post-season pitcher than he was as a hitter.

\In 1916, he was MLB's best pitcher.
\\In 1918, he was MLB's best hitter.

Flacco, oddly, was a lot better in the post-season.

Points: 0

#3 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 10:38am

I wonder if some teams are better than others? Might be hard to evaluate as getting a "hit" means you don't need to take any more chances. I.e teams that draft alot of QB arn't good at it. 

Times the first qb picked has worked out well(last 20):

2021 is a mulligan (to early)

2020 Burrow

2021 kyler Murray 

2012 Luck*

2011 Cam Newton*

2009 Stafford

2008 Matt Ryan

2004 Eli

2003 Palmer

2001 Vick*

2000 Pennington 

I left the guys who got injured or had other issues in there. And there are some eh cases that depends where you want to put them. It's about 50% however.  You get about 1-2 franchise level QB per draft but they appear all over the place. And sometimes a few more who bounce around for a while. Usually high draft picks that people keep trying to unlock the potential. (We can thank Brees for that)


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#4 by Bob Smith // Mar 28, 2022 - 10:59am

Certainly some teams are better than others, but the 2 luckiest Rookie QB's that stand out for me were Sanchez getting drafted by the Jets in '09 with that very good Defense and running game, and Marino in '84 getting drafted by the Dolphins in '84.

Both Sanchez and Marino inherited very good teams, but Dan had it even a little better overall. The Dolphins had just played in a Super Bowl game, and had a very good Defense, a very good running game, AND the best coach (Shula) in the League at the time.

Nobody came into the League with a better chance to succeed than Marino given all of the facts.

Points: 0

#19 by serutan // Mar 28, 2022 - 1:14pm

In reply to by Bob Smith

Don't forget Big Ben - He was put in a situation that was set up for success as well.  And if you're a RINGZ person, you'd say he got a better situation than Marino given the Steelers won the SB in his 2nd year.  

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#25 by Bob Smith // Mar 28, 2022 - 2:04pm

Very good, I did forget about Big Ben. He did indeed have 2 of Marino's  4 items checked as a Rookie-he had a very good Defense and a very good running game.

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#26 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 2:31pm

In reply to by Bob Smith

They days of that may be done. The rules favor offence so much I'm not sure a good running game+good defense+meh QB actually works anymore. 

Points: 0

#33 by Bob Smith // Mar 28, 2022 - 3:42pm

That's a great point, especially as it pertains to the meh QB. But that has always been the case in a way because in a majority of Super Bowl wins, the winning teams' QB outplayed the opposing QB. Not 100% of the time, but a good majority of the time.

I forget the number that Kerry Byrne at CHFF came up with in his study, but it was very high-80% or probably higher where the winning QB in a S.B. game outplayed the opposing QB.

So you are exactly right about the meh QB-he might win 1 now and then but not a majority of the time.

Points: 0

#42 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 4:53pm

In reply to by Bob Smith

Admittedly NE is the first time I've seen a team try to do this intentionally. I suppose you could make the argument that, if you can't get a great QB, get a non flashy one you can pay peanuts rather than getting a guy who could be great but 90% of the time is Kirk Cousins and gets paid like a high end QB. 

Points: 0

#7 by Pat // Mar 28, 2022 - 11:38am

And sometimes a few more who bounce around for a while. Usually high draft picks that people keep trying to unlock the potential. (We can thank Brees for that)

Huh? I don't get this reference? Are you trying to suggest that the Saints picked up Brees just because he was a high draft pick and they thought he had "potential"?

Brees was a Pro Bowl QB on the Chargers when that actually meant something, and was top-10 in DYAR/DVOA for his last 2 years with the Chargers. He didn't have 'high pick potential,' he was totally a franchise QB when the Saints signed him. The only reason the Chargers let him go is because they had Rivers and Brees had the shoulder injury.

I can't even think of the last former high pick that flamed out with the original team that actually amounted to anything. It certainly wasn't anytime recent, and it definitely wasn't Brees. Closest you could argue would be Tannehill, but that stretches the whole "flamed out" part.

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#8 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 11:55am

There's Tannehill and Smith. Depending on what you think of them, Wentz and Bridgewater. Jury is still out on Winston.

If you subscribe to a Ringz argument, Stafford.

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#10 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 11:58am

Fair enough. I was mentioning him as a case of a team picking up a QB and unlocking their potential. It's true that he was a special case in a number of ways. (not a high pick either).  He's easily the best QB to change teams via FB before age 30 however.  But yeah, I can't think of any cases of high pick flaming out then succeeding. 

Points: 0

#13 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 12:10pm

If you're talking about Tannehill, he was the 8th overall pick. 

In NBA parlance, that's a lottery pick.

Points: 0

#20 by IlluminatusUIUC // Mar 28, 2022 - 1:20pm

I can't think of any cases of high pick flaming out then succeeding. 

It's changing a little now, but in general high picks get every humanly possible chance to turn it around. Coaches and GMs stake their careers on those selections, so they'll keep shoving the guy out there and hope for the best. Usually, by the time said high pick would even be available to change teams, they've developed such a bad rep that the new team is hesitant to give them the same rope.

That being said, if its going to happen it is likely to happen this year. Trubisky and Winston are both going into relatively good situations to have a career resurgence.

Points: 0

#14 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 12:13pm

Brees is interesting.

He was good with San Diego (most of their QBs are...), but... he wasn't so good that SD didn't let him walk in FA, and he wasn't so certain that Miami didn't pass on him. Both decisions look horrible in retrospect, but he was not a sure thing when he went to NO.

Points: 0

#21 by serutan // Mar 28, 2022 - 1:26pm

  He's definitely an argument for patience - IIRC he didn't break out until his third year.  Also if memory serves 3 years used to be the standard amount of time a new QB was given to develop before a team gave up on them.   Admittedly this meant some busts were kept too long, but it also means that nowadays that at least some QBs were written off too soon.  So you kinda have to choose your poison.

Points: 0

#45 by Tutenkharnage // Mar 28, 2022 - 5:50pm

In reply to by serutan

Many years ago, the college and pro games were radically different, so quarterbacks needed more time to acclimate themselves to the NFL, and few of them were labeled "pro-ready" entering the draft. But the pro game's incorporation of more and more college concepts may have made it easier for coaches and GMs to tell whether a quarterback can play at this level, or at least easier to justify throwing in the towel and moving on to the next prospect.

Points: 0

#9 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 11:56am

Every Leach quarterback has been a system product

And then there is Pat Mahomes...

The counter-argument for Corral vs Eleby is Eleby is doing it in the MAC and Corral in the SEC.

It's interesting that you describe Howell as Sane Carson Wentz. Considering his unstable personality is why he's left two teams, but his talent is why he's joined three, that may not be all bad.

Even looking at QBs who prospered with chapel-quiet pockets, see Brady, Tom. Every guy on his line got at least a cup of coffee in the NFL, with two guys making All-Pro, including one HOFer. Brady's career was fortunate in that he spent almost the entirety of it with better-then-average to great O-lines.

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#17 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 12:28pm

Brady is totally weird in that NE had good O-lines but was totally inept with WR. The only WR they drafted who amounted to much of anything were Edelman and Dion Branch. (Matt Slater wasn't used as a WR). Mac Jones is probably doomed. 

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#24 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 2:03pm

We knew Moss was a fantastic, if somewhat marginally-motivated player.

Welker was a fungible slot guy on a bad Miami team. No one suspected he was nearly as good as Moss.

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#28 by colonialbob // Mar 28, 2022 - 2:35pm

Ah gotcha. Yeah, Welker was obviously a win for the pro scouting department.

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#22 by IlluminatusUIUC // Mar 28, 2022 - 1:27pm

Every Leach quarterback has been a system product

And then there is Pat Mahomes...

Leach left Texas Tech years before Mahomes arrived, Kliff Kingsbury was his college coach. Although it was still the same system (Kingsbury was himself a QB under Leach) sometimes coaches run things differently even if the core concepts are the same.

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#12 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 12:03pm

Honestly, there is always one guy who has "X red flag" and turns out to succeed anyway. Maybe Pickett will be the "hand size guy"? I suppose some team will try to find out given the other options. 

Points: 0

#15 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 28, 2022 - 12:16pm

And 32 games, Carson Strong had ZERO rush TDs. Didnt stumble in on a goalline sneak once. There's no succesful (modern) QB that goes in like that. 

That's a-whole-nother level of immobility that I dont feel like projecting that level of processing and accuracy on him to learn to overcome. And this article isn't helping whatsoever. 

And for that reason I'm out (on him).

Points: 0

#16 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 12:18pm

How many years did Roethlisberger go between called rushes?

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#27 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 28, 2022 - 2:32pm

4 his first 2 years. 

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#29 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 2:52pm

Jared Goff. Witness his only NCAA rushing TD -- against an FCS team.

Davis Mills, Josh Rosen, Jacob Eason, Nick Foles, and Mac Jones were pretty rush-averse, too.

Zach Mettenberger had no rushing TDs (and negative rushing yards)

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#31 by mehllageman56 // Mar 28, 2022 - 3:16pm

I tried to find the college rushing stats for Ken O'Brien and Phil Simms but could not. They're the guys I think of when people refer to quarterbacks as statues, at least semi-successful ones.

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#49 by Travis // Mar 28, 2022 - 11:22pm

Based off old media guides:

Phil Simms at Morehead State:

1975: 115 rushes (includes sacks), -186 yards, 1 TD

1976: 125 rushes, 54 yards, 3 TD

1977: 96 rushes, -27 yards, 2 TD

1978: ? rushes, -95 yards, ? TD

O'Brien at Cal-Davis:

1982: 164 yards

Career: 267* rushes, -74 yards

*(or 277, the UC Davis record book has two different totals for O'Brien's career incompletions)

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#32 by mehllageman56 // Mar 28, 2022 - 3:23pm

Also have to comment on the scramble data not necessarily meaning anything.  If sacks aren't included, then we aren't including their worst rushing plays, which probably are also the plays where the prospect was most confused.  I don't Pickett's relatively high totals are a demerit to him, or that Ridder's low totals mean he knows what he's doing better than the other prospects, especially Pickett.  From what I see on film, Pickett is the one who looks like he'll work out, hand size be damned, and I doubt all of the others.  If the Jets took Pickett  I would not get that upset, although it probably would be bad timing (looking at their schedule, this is going to be a lost year anyway, and if they end up losing to every decent team on their schedule they'll end with a grand total of 4 wins again, so hello Bryce Young).

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#37 by IlluminatusUIUC // Mar 28, 2022 - 4:32pm

If the Jets took Pickett  I would not get that upset, although it probably would be bad timing (looking at their schedule, this is going to be a lost year anyway, and if they end up losing to every decent team on their schedule they'll end with a grand total of 4 wins again, so hello Bryce Young).

Is Zach Wilson that bad?

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#39 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 4:40pm

Has a team EVER selected QB in round 1 twice in a row? Only way I can see it happening is if something tragic happened to the first one. So yeah, probably not happening. Heck, Ryan Leaf got 2 more years. 

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#40 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 4:45pm

At one stretch in the 40s and 50s, the Bears selected seven starting QBs in six drafts, although they didn't all start for the Bears.

The season after picking Bobby Layne, they drafted George Blanda. Both were HOF QBs, although neither was for the Bears. 

Google tells me the 49ers did in 1956 and 1957, The Dolphins in 1966 and 1967, and the Colts twice -- 1954 and 1955 and 1982 and 1983. The Colts got a grand total of 13 games and 6 starts from those two picks in the 80s.

The Dolphins dynasty was operated by the second of their consecutive QBs and the first of San Francisco's. In fact, that second guy ran Baltimore's dynasty for a bit, too.

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#41 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 28, 2022 - 4:48pm

For the cardinals. I would not suggest it for the Jets though

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#44 by Vincent Verhei // Mar 28, 2022 - 5:29pm

We ran a table on this in the Arizona chapter of the Almanac the year Kyler Murray was drafted.

In 1989, Dallas drafted Troy Aikman first overall. Then they took Steve Walsh in the first round of the supplemental draft, forfeiting their first-round pick in 1990. That pick also ended up being the first overall pick, so technically the Cowboys took QBs with the first overall pick in back-to-back years. Pretty sure Jacksonville won't be the second team to do that, but I guess anything is possible. 

In 1982, the Baltimore Colts drafted Art Schlichter fourth overall; in 1983, they drafted John Elway first overall.

Add in the Rosen-Murray Cardinals, and those are the only three teams that have drafted QBs in the first round in back-to-back years. Next closest would be the Panthers, who drafted Jimmy Clausen 48th overall in 2010 and then Cam Newton first overall in 2011. More recently, the Browns drafted DeShone Kizer 52nd overall in 2017 and then Baker Mayfield first overall in 2018.

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#46 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 5:54pm

Well, Schlichter  was suspended in 1983 for gambling, so yeah, it's pretty rare unless something odd happens. So the Rosen-Murray Cards are the only straight example.  Probably more likely when you have a bad year followed by a good year, so I can see a team that takes a QB this year taking one next year also. 


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#47 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 28, 2022 - 6:06pm

The Colts selected two QBs in the 1982 draft! They chose QBs with 4, 84, and 1 in 1982 and 1983. Mike Pagel (84) threw more passes for the Colts than the other two, combined! Pagel was the first starting QB for Indianapolis.

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#48 by Vincent Verhei // Mar 28, 2022 - 6:27pm

They also drafted Jim Bob Taylor in 1983, 280th overall.

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#50 by Stendhal1 // Mar 28, 2022 - 11:30pm

(Noted previously in recent comments.)  Drafted Shuler and Frerotte in 1994, Griffin III and Cousins in 2012.  In both cases the lower-drafted player ended up the starter eventually.

Also Dan Pastorini and Lynn Dickey, 1971 Oilers.  Of the three drafts, the one that produced the best combination of QBs.

Thought I remembered the 49ers doing this too and sure enough, Carmozzi and Rattay in 2000, the Tom Brady draft.

I am fascinated by this, any others come to mind?

edited:  cheated by looking it up, 2008 Packers took Brohm and Flynn.

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#51 by mehllageman56 // Mar 29, 2022 - 12:59am

He was very disappointing last year, and all three back-ups outplayed him, until Wilson came back, and was... serviceable, mostly because he ran more and didn't throw interceptions.  It makes more sense to roll with him this year, but if he tanks there might be more heads rolling in NY than just Wilson's.

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#38 by Dan // Mar 28, 2022 - 4:39pm

Better videoediting could help with evaluating quarterbacks who have a lot of filler. It works very well at filtering things out.

Just have a video which excludes all of a quarterback's RPOs, screens, and designed runs, and includes all of his non-RPO passes past the line of scrimmage, sacks, and scrambles. Some quarterbacks' videos might be shorter than others, but at least they won't be clogged up with too many irrelevant plays. And you can make them longer by including more seasons.

(Then have separate videos with RPOs, screens, designed runs, or whatever else you also want to look at.)

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#43 by KnotMe // Mar 28, 2022 - 5:06pm

It's mostly a result of college not being a developmental league. Success for NCAA coaches is mostly recruiting, and if you got the better athletes, there isn't much incentive to do anything that could mess it up. If the RPO's work and are easy....why do anything different?

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#52 by Dan // Mar 31, 2022 - 10:55pm

The YPA in the "Rushing Production on Scrambles" table doesn't match the yards & attempts. e.g., 54 attempts for 312 yards for Matt Corral is not 2.5 yards per attempt. I imagine that the YPA in the table is wrong, and the attempts & yards are correct?

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#53 by Dan // Apr 01, 2022 - 6:54am

Also, the rushing production on scrambles plus the rushing production on designed runs doesn't match what I've seen elsewhere for players' total rushing production, especially with Desmond Ridder.

footballdb has Ridder with 110 carries for 355 yards (including sacks), with 25 sacks for 169 yards lost. That gives him 85 carries for 524 yards on non-sack runs.

The tables in this post have Ridder with 45 carries for 267 yards on designed runs and 21 carries for 155 yards on scrambles, for a total of 66 carries for 422 yards. That's only about 80% of his total rushing production (according to footballdb), with a discrepancy of 19 carries for 102 yards.

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