The top 10 QBs in college football right now
Two of our top three quarterbacks face off this week with a conference title on the line, with two more in our top five taking part in league championship games. That means there should be a lot of excellent QB play on display in critical games, as the final College Football Playoff order gets set.
Here is our ranking of the top 10 quarterbacks in college football, entering Week 14:
1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma Sooners
Mayfield owns the No. 1 PFF grade among all college quarterbacks with a 93.0, and he has the highest adjusted completion rate among Power-5 passers at 78.7 percent. He has been excellent when facing pressure the past two seasons, but he has destroyed defenses this year when given a clean pocket, to the tune of a best-in-the-nation QB rating of 141.1 when kept clean. He and the Sooners get a major showcase Saturday in the Bedlam game against Oklahoma State and QB Mason Rudolph.
2. Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals
The Cardinals lost their rivalry game to Kentucky on Saturday, but Jackson still performed well, particularly on the ground. 97 of his 202 rushing yards came after contact, and he finished with a pair of rushing touchdowns to go with two passing scores. He did have three interceptions and an atrocious 12.5 passer rating when under pressure, however, indicative of his occasional passing struggles this season. But overall he showed tremendous improvement throwing the ball in 2016, and was at times unstoppable as a runner (he is now up to 46 forced missed tackles on the year), making him the consensus Heisman favorite.
3. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys are a playoff long shot, but they could potentially enter the conversation with a road upset over rival Oklahoma this weekend. It could also be a chance for Rudolph to make fans take note of just how good he has been this season. He has the No. 1 QB rating on deep passes among Power-5 QBs, at 122.3, and his PFF grade of 91.8 puts him third behind only Mayfield and Jackson.
4. Deshaun Watson, Clemson Tigers
Watson is peaking at the right time, having earned his three highest PFF game grades of the season over the course of his last four games, including an outstanding performance in the Tigers’ win over South Carolina on Saturday. He completed 26 of 32 aimed passes for 343 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception, and now ranks third among Power-5 QBs with an adjusted completion rate of 77.0 percent.
5. Jake Browning, Washington Huskies
Browning bounced back from a rough outing a few weeks ago in the Huskies’ loss to USC with a strong road performance to beat rival Washington State in the Apple Cup on Saturday. He finished with a near-perfect passer rating of 151.4 on aimed throws, on the strength of 271 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His 80.0 passing grade ranks sixth in the nation, and he is currently fourth in adjusted completion rate on deep passes. If he comes out of the Pac-12 title game versus Colorado with a good grade, he’ll have earned it – the Buffaloes own the No. 1 PFF coverage grade in college football.
6. Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Mahomes actually ranks fourth in PFF’s overall QB grades at 89.4, but we’ve moved him down a couple of notches here due to the fact that he padded his numbers a little bit against FCS opponents. But this has still been an incredibly productive season for Mahomes, who graded very well in the Red Raiders’ win over Baylor this weekend, throwing for 586 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. His adjusted completion rate from a clean pocket is the best in the Power-5 at 82.2 percent, but he’s just as dangerous when forced to make plays with his legs as a runner and when throwing on the move.
7. Greg Ward Jr., Houston Cougars
Houston had a disappointing end to its regular season with a 48-44 loss to Memphis, which was followed by news that head coach Tom Herman was leaving for the University of Texas job. But Ward still had a solid game, particularly as a runner, and on the season he was one of the best quarterbacks in college football. He currently ranks seventh in PFF quarterback grades, and was a consistent dual-threat playmaker all season long.
8. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina Tar Heels
Trubisky was one of our breakout candidates in the preseason, based on his excellent grades in a small sample size in 2015, and he lived up to that hype in 2016. He currently ranks sixth among Power-5 QBs in PFF grades, and were it not for his one very poor performance in the Tar Heels’ loss to Virginia Tech – which was played in a heavy rainstorm related to Hurricane Matthew – he would be even higher. His 67.6 percent adjusted completion rate under pressure is the best in the Power-5.
9. Quinton Flowers, South Florida Bulls
Flowers’ 97.2 rushing grade comes up just shy of Lamar Jackson’s 97.8, but is nonetheless a remarkable feat for the Bulls’ quarterback. He earned just a 67.8 grade as a passer, but he has been effective enough throwing the ball this season that when combined with his outstanding running ability, he deserves a spot on this list. He has broken 49 tackles this season, while rushing for 1,475 yards and 15 touchdowns.
10. Sam Darnold, USC Trojans
Darnold struggled a little bit in USC’s win this Saturday over Notre Dame, but some of that could be blamed on the rainy conditions in that game. Darnold lost his first game as USC’s starter but has led the team to eight straight wins since. His 77.4 percent adjusted completion rate since taking over as the starter ranks third in college football during that span, and he figures to enter the 2017 season as one of the top QBs in the nation.