We are six weeks in, and it is going to be a rough class, while the highly toted 2021 class is not exactly shining either. Through my partner on the Dynosty Kings podcast, @Dynasty_Jake, we find through regression analysis that certain metrics from these prospects’ collegiate careers correlate to future fantasy football success. These metrics are their 40-yard dash, QBR, Completion percentage, Adj YPA, Adj YPA^2. You may have noticed that adjusted YPA is on here twice because of the quadratic relationship, which means there’s a sweet spot.
At this time, I cannot provide the 40-yard time until the combine, and I can not supply the adj YPA until the end of the year, so I will substitute just plain old boring college YPA. These metrics might help point us in the right direction, but this position is almost as unpredictable as tight ends. When I like to scout players, I’m a big fan of when metrics are on par with what I watch on film. Let’s dive in!
QB1 – Matt Corral
- QBR: 89.9
- Completion percentage: 69.2%
- YPA: 10.2
Matt Corral will be the first QB off the board this year. His QBR is currently second in college, and his YPA ranks in the 95th percentile. He had three years of over a 69%, nice, completion percentage. He has shown some rushing upside while in college as well. I’m not sure if we will see that rushing ability translate into the NFL, but he offers the ability to roll out of the pocket for teams to use play-action and maybe some RPOs. In recent years, turnovers were an issue, but Corral threw his first INT of the year against Tennessee this last weekend – Ole Miss’ sixth game.
Corral has the strength to throw those deep bombs and the ability to throw with some zip into tight coverage. I am on the side of believing he holds onto the ball for too long. I like watching him play this year because he has had pass catchers of the likes AJ Brown, DK Metcalf, Dawson Knox, Van Jefferson, and Elijah Moore through his collegiate career. This feels like the first year that Ole Miss does not have a highly touted wide receiver, and it’s encouraging Corral is putting up the identical numbers as the prior years. The arm talent is there, he needs to clean up some accuracy issues, and his decision-making has improved yearly.
QB2 – Malik Willis
- QBR: 89.6
- CP: 67.9%
- YPA: 8.5
Willis was not in my top five preseason rankings, but he has risen in this class. He is the dual-threat QB in the class, and the NFL seems to be largely moving to more mobile QBs. He has only two years of starter experience, and not a part of the P5 brings to question the level of competition he plays against. However, he has dominated every game he’s played so far. I agree with a comparison made on the Devy Debate podcast; Willis is a similar profile to Jalen Hurts but with a better arm.
On the ground, Willis has great short-area burst and some top-notch lateral agility. His throws on the move make for some entertaining highlights, but he does need improvements in his accuracy. His overall decision-making is suspect, and he has been sacked 18 times this year. I believe his abilities with his legs and arm strength will be appealing to GMs and fantasy managers. If someone wanted to make Willis their QB1 because of the rushing upside, I wouldn’t argue.
QB3 – Desmond Ridder
- QBR: 73.6
- CP: 66.5%
- YPA: 8.2
Ridder is another Dual-Threat QB and one that I’m more bullish on than others. He returned for his senior year and is currently leading a top-4 team in the Cincinnati Bearcats. Ridder throws some nice short-area balls with velocity, and he has the arm strength to push the ball deep. His lateral agility helps him escape the pocket and use his elusiveness in the open field to gain yardage.
However, Ridder is not the best at avoiding contact. I love the competitive nature, but I also prefer my QBs uninjured. His downfield throws are real iffy. Cincinnati isn’t known for WR talent by any means, but the arm strength is there – the placement is not. The rushing upside has not been there this year either; I suspect it is a coaching scheme to protect Ridder from getting injured with their chance at the CFB playoffs. Also, Ridder might want to showcase improvement on his arm for the upcoming draft.
QB4 – Sam Howell
- QBR: 70.0
- CP: 60.5%
- YPA: 9.2
Howell was the preseason’s second overall pick. I don’t think his capital has been hurt that much, but I’m not excited about the prospect. Howell had a daunting task in front of him this year. He had to produce with the same or better numbers with an almost entirely new offense. Howell has been disappointing so far by dropping off in every statistic category.
Howell has decent arm talent and ordinary athleticism. He features a quick release, is fairly accurate, throws a good deep ball, and he has found production at North Carolina in the past. This drop-off in every category production is a combination of coaching and the QB not being able to lead a new offense. They are losing to poor unranked teams.
I don’t want a QB that can’t win in college on any of my rosters, and I remember that being a part of Daniel Jones’ profile. Howell looked like a top prospect last year, and I cannot support his current production or find any point of inspiration. This is a recency bias, and I doubt he falls out of the first round, but I no longer see the NFL upside. If he can’t win against college teams, I don’t expect it at the NFL level. It would take a juicy landing spot to re-spark my interest in Howell at this point,
QB5 – Carson Strong
- QBR: 62.2
- CP: 69.3%
- YPA: 8.3
Carson Strong, like the name suggests, has a very strong arm. He’s the pocket passer in the class. He will offer no rushing upside but has superb throwing mechanics. I am also a big fan of his pocket presence; he’s not a statue but seems to handle pass rush well.
Strong demonstrates the mental ability and correct decision-making to be successful at the next level. I love watching him operating in the pocket, keeping his feet moving, and working through his progressions. He misses on timing occasionally and overthrows some long balls. The overthrows have low velocity, and when he underthrows them, they become very interceptable. Strong is a safe prospect and I view him similarly to Mac Jones’ draft profile, though not quite as developed mentally but more willing to take downfield shots.
Kenny Pickett, Pitt
The Pitt QB is looking like the real deal, leading the class in QBR, 10.3 YPA, and a 72% completion percentage. On all accounts, he is smashing the metrics and analytics and the tough opponents start now. After dominating the easy schedule early on, we will now get a chance to see what Pickett can do against more formidable defenses.
Jake Haener, Fresno State
Haener is a player I truly think is a decent prospect but lacks elite traits to catch the eye of NFL GMs. Someone will take a flyer on him on day three at a minimum. The QB class has been disappointing so far that maybe scarcity of the position may boost him up.
Will Levis, Kentucky
The Wildcats finally have a capable QB, and I like his arm talent. I don’t think Levis will come out this year and I’d like to see more production. For now, he is a winner and a draftable prospect. Against Georgia this past weekend, he looked solid and could have helped his stock. Levis is a name to keep your eye on.
Tanner Mordecai, SMU
The Oklahoma transfer is similar to Levis, and I like to arm talent. The SMU prospect wants to push the ball downfield and he’s lighting it up this year so far. He’s a winner but to address the INTs – many of them come from moments before the half, or at the end of the game when he slings it for one last chance at a score. Besides those instances, Mordecai is overly willing to sling it. He’s the Ryan Fitzpatrick of college football.
Addressing another Sooner prospect, the future is not shining bright for Rattler. Lincoln Riley is a QB guru that puts plenty of high-level prospects into the league. Rattler got benched this past game and is currently trending to the transfer portal. He was a preseason QB1 in the class, and to echo what Felix stated on Coast2Coast – there has never been a QB with a first-round draft grade benched, transferred, and returned to that grade. That, combined with not being able to succeed in one of the best systems in college football, leaves me with little hope or inspiration for Rattler’s future.
It’s hard to draw inspiration from this class, but the 2021 class is struggling so far, and spots may come open. There are plenty of veterans hitting their expiration soon. Tom Brady is a machine, Big Ben is not looking well, and old man Fitz has hip problems. Some QBs like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are looking for redemption but not coming through either. Someone has to step up, and these are the prospects I’m keeping my eye on.