There are many who believe 2017 will be the “Year of the Quarterback” in the SEC, and Pro Football Focus shed some light on how the league’s younger generation is a big part of that narrative.
Last season, the conference saw several true freshmen shine. One of them, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, led his team to the national championship game. Another, South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, took over a 2-4 team and went 4-2 on the way to a surprising bowl appearance.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss’ Shea Patterson racked up 1,049 total yards (880 passing, 169 rushing) in just three games.
All showed maturity beyond their years in high-pressure situations, and they each stack up very well when compared with other true freshman signal-callers last season.
Pro Football Focus gave Patterson, Hurts and Bentley three of the top five grades among true freshmen. Patterson was second only to Oregon’s Justin Herbert, and the other two weren’t far behind.
Here are the top graded true freshman QBs last year, who played at least 240 snaps:
— Cameron Mellor (@PFF_Cam) July 27, 2017
Pro Football Focus’ QB grades differ from traditional passer ratings as it goes beyond the stats and analyzes on a play-by-play basis.
The grade is intended to isolate the quarterback’s play and determine “how much of his production should be attributed to those around him or just general good and back luck.”
The system takes into account things such as “simple” or “easy” throws like a touchdown off a screen pass. It also incorporates INTs and fumbles in a ratio with “turnover-worthy plays” or, in other words, any play that can easily lead to an INT or fumble. Those are just a few examples.