Top 10 QBs in college football through Week 5
Last week saw one of the best quarterback head-to-head matchups of the season, with Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers barely coming away with a 42-36 home win over Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals.
That didn’t result in a new No. 1 in our quarterback rankings, however. Here are the top 10 QBs in college football right now, based on PFF’s grades:
1. Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals
Jackson earned his lowest passing grade of the season in the loss to Clemson, but was still effective through the air and borderline unstoppable on the ground, rushing for 178 yards (including an absurd 163 coming after contact) and two touchdowns on 27 carries. He broke eight tackles on the game, bringing his season total to 26. He is the most dangerous offensive player in college football and has showed massive improvements as a passer this year.
2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson Tigers
Based purely on this year’s grades, Watson belongs lower on this list, but he has shown in back-to-back performances against Georgia Tech and Louisville what made him the third-ranked Power-5 quarterback in PFF grades last season. He surprisingly hasn’t had the same impact as a runner this year as he did last, but he ranks in the top 20 of deep-ball adjusted completion rate (he’s been particularly effective on deep shots down the left sideline), and has done a great job of getting the ball out of his hands quickly, with a time-to-throw of 2.26 seconds that is fifth-fastest in the nation.
3. Davis Webb, California Golden Bears
Webb is similar to Watson in that he has one of the fastest times-to-throw in the country at 2.31 seconds, and he has graded very well as a passer against the Golden Bears’ three Power-5 opponents so far: Texas, Arizona State and Utah. 20 percent of his pass attempts are 20 or more yards downfield, and he still ranks in the top 10 of deep-ball adjusted completion rate, throwing on target on 45.1 percent of such attempts.
4. Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Currently ranking third in the nation in passer rating and fourth in adjusted completion rate, Mahomes is doing an excellent job of running the Red Raiders’ pass-heavy attack. He takes advantage of the many throws of less than 10 yards that the offense manufactures for him, but he is plenty creative in his own right, utilizing his athleticism to extend plays (his sack rate of just 12 percent is one of the lowest in the nation, an indication of his ability to elude rushers when pressured) and produce as a runner – 112 of his 223 yards, two of his four touchdowns and four of his six forced missed tackles have come as a scrambler.
5. Austin Allen, Arkansas Razorbacks
Allen ranks this high in large part due to his posting an excellent grade in the Razorbacks’ loss two weeks ago to Texas A&M, owners of one of the best defenses in the country. He has another opportunity to impress against an elite defense this weekend, when taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide. On the season he has been most effective on intermediate throws, completing 29 of 39 passes between 10 and 19 yards downfield, for 521 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception.
6. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina Tar Heels
Trubisky has been one of the breakout players of the 2016 season so far, which is something his 2015 performance hinted at this offseason based on his grades in his limited snaps. He leads the nation in passer rating and has the highest adjusted completion rate on pressured throws, at 75 percent. He has also been excellent when throwing the deep ball, completing 13 of 26 attempts of 20 or more yards, for 499 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions (with one drop).
7. Jake Browning, Washington Huskies
Another offseason breakout candidate, Browning has been lights-out after a Week 1 down game against Rutgers. In last week’s blowout win over Stanford, he completed 3 of his 4 deep balls for 82 yards and a touchdown, while earning a near-perfect passer rating when throwing from a clean pocket. Just a true sophomore, Browning is a key reason behind Washington’s rise into the top 5 of the polls.
8. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss Rebels
Kelly put up a monster grade in the Rebels’ win over Memphis, completing 30 off 43 aimed passes for 361 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He has been knocked throughout his college career for some spotty decision-making with the football, but he makes up for that with some big-time throws. He leads the nation in deep adjusted completion rate at 56 percent, which is made even more impressive by the fact that 20 percent of his throws are of the 20-plus-yard variety.
9. Greg Ward Jr., Houston Cougars
Ward earned Team of the Week honors this week as the highest-graded QB in the country after his standout performance in the Cougars’ huge win over UConn. He has been productive as a runner, albeit a little off last year’s pace as the top-graded rushing QB in the nation, but has shown significant strides as a passer. He currently ranks fifth nationally in adjusted completion rate, throwing on target on 76.5 percent of his attempts.
10. Seth Russell, Baylor Bears
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen were among the QBs who warranted consideration here, but Russell earns a spot after ranking in the top 10 of PFF QB grades in large part due to his dual-threat ability. He is one of the top-graded runners among all quarterbacks, and has been effective as a passer as well, particularly off of play-action. A nation-leading 62 percent of Russell’s dropbacks feature play-action, and he has recorded an impressive 120.3 QB rating and 12-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio on those plays.