The Steelers Search for QB1: Part III: Analysis of the Top-5 NFL Draft QBs College Statistics

By Jeremy Hritz

This is part 3 of a 7 part series taking an in-depth look at the top-5 quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, analyzing everything from their strengths, weaknesses, college and high school statistics, and much, much more. As the Pittsburgh Steelers seemed primed more than ever to draft a quarterback in the first round, the more informed we can be about this class, the better.

Monday, 4/11/22: Part I: The Flaws of the 2022 NFL Draft Top 5 QBs

Tuesday, 4/12/22: Part II: The Strengths of the 2022 NFL Draft Top 5 QBs

Wednesday, 4/13/22: Part III: Analysis of the Top-5 NFL Draft QBs College Statistics

Thursday, 4/14/22: Part IV: High School Statistical Analysis of the 2022 NFL Draft Top 5 QBs

Friday, 4/15/22: V: Synthesizing the Data/Observations Into a Categorical Analysis of the 2022 NFL Draft Top 5 QBs

Saturday, 4/16/22: The Steel Study 2022 NFL Draft Top 5 QB Rankings

Sunday, 4/17/22: Hritz Mock Draft 5.0

In Part III of my NFL Draft quarterback analysis, I take a look at the college passing and rushing statistics of the top 5 prospects. I have populated their data in the tables below for a prospect-by-prospect comparison for you to draw your own conclusions. Before getting into my own analysis, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, statistics aren’t everything, but they are some of the only quantitative, apples-to-apples comparative data we have on these prospects. A completion is a completion, an interception is an interception. However, the quality of competition that Malik Willis encountered at Liberty was not as rigorous as what Matt Corrall faced at Ole Miss. When you look at these statistics, try and approach your interpretation and analysis with the context of the player to get an accurate understanding of what he can offer in the NFL.

College Passing Statistics

Malik Willis388618517662.88.48348187114152.9
Kenny Pickett104516741230362.47.39681329438136.3
Sam Howell71311171028363.89.287922311719164.2
Desmond Ridder81013041023962.17.98187288327145.8
Matt Corrall614912828767.39.19157235914159.2

General Analysis – Passing

I wanted to start with average number of drop backs before a sack: Willis (9), Pickett (18), Howell (10), Ridder (16), and Corrall (15). We have to be mindful of the quality of the offensive lines these QBs had, but this provides an idea of how frequently these players were sacked. Pickett, Ridder, and Corrall evade pressure best, while Willis and Howell took the most sacks, somewhat understandable based on the play of their OL. These numbers also support the argument that Sam Howell sometimes holds on to the ball too long, waiting to make a big play down the field.

What about average yards per completion? Willis (13.3), Pickett (12), Howell (14.4), Ridder (12.6), and Corrall (13.4). This aligns with the yard per attempts data, and reiterates the down-the-field tendency and competency of Howell.

How about number of attempts before an interception? Willis (34.3), Pickett (52.3), Howell (49), Ridder (47), and Corrall (40). You could look at it this way: Willis takes more sacks and more frequently throws interceptions based on this data set than his peers.

In terms of accuracy, Corrall leads the pack with a 67.3% completion percentage, while there is a jumble between the other prospects between 62-63%.

Finally, when looking closely at this data set, it is also worth pointing out that Howell, with fewer attempts than both Pickett and Ridder, put up nearly more productive statistics, once again highlighting the explosiveness of his ability to attack defenses down the field.

College Rushing Statistics

Malik Willis36621315.82967
Kenny Pickett4178011.92058
Sam Howell36910092.71762
Desmond Ridder50120804.42891
Matt Corrall33413384.01861

General Analysis – Rushing

Nobody had more carries out of the top 5 than Ridder, which makes sense considering he was a 4-year starter at Cincinnati. Ridder’s statistics closely mirror those of Willis, but it took him more carries to get there, with Willis needing 144 less carries, once again indicating the athleticism and explosiveness he brings to the position.

Pickett and Howell average fewest yards per carry of the top 5, but still generated 37 rushing touchdowns between them. What they bring in terms of a rushing threat, while not as explosive as Willis, Ridder, or Corrall, is a threat to pull it down and scramble when the play breaks down, instead of an every-play possibility of ripping off a long run for a score.

Regardless, all of the aforementioned QBs show, through their statistics, that mobility is an element of their games, though at varying degrees.

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