2021 Contextualized Quarterbacking Coming Soon

2021 Contextualized Quarterbacking is almost here!

For anyone new to the family here at The Draft Network, Contextualized Quarterbacking is an annual project I put together for TDN Premium subscribers. In Contextualized Quarterbacking, I chart the significant draft-eligible quarterbacks across their final seasons, tagging each dropback with a ton of situational features that allow us to understand their game at more specific and situational levels.

And this year? The number of contexts under which each quarterback was graded has grown. This season, all throws were charted under the following:

  • Alignment: Under Center, Pistol, or Shotgun
  • Dropback Type: Dropback, RPO, or Play-Action
  • Dropback Depth: 1, 3, 5, or 7 Step Drops
  • Dropback Action: Boots and Screens
  • Number of Rushers: 3, 4, 5, or 6+ Rushers
  • Coverage Shell: MOFO or MOFC
  • Progression: First Read or Beyond
  • Pocket: In or Out
  • Throwing Platform: Clean, Adjusted, or On The Move
  • Pressure: Pressured or Unpressured
  • Throwing Window: Open or Tight
  • Result: Complete/Incomplete, First Down, Touchdown
  • Turnover: Interceptable and Intercepted Passes

Each throw is graded both for Accuracy and for Ball Placement. Accuracy is a general metric for catchable passes—an accurate pass is a catchable pass—while Placement scores take more details into account: maximizing YAC opportunities, protecting the wide receiver from unnecessary hits, and protecting the ball from being played on by the defensive back. Throws are also charted relative to depth and passing direction, to understand how target distribution affects accuracy scores for each quarterback. It’s harder to throw deep!

Contextualized Quarterbacking helps us understand what each college offense asked of their quarterback, which gives us an additional tool for projecting these passers to the pros. When we understand their college offense, we can better identify those skills that will translate to the pro level, and accordingly, project the ideal scheme fits for each player.

We now have answers to a lot of questions, both simple and complex ones. How often did Justin Fields really throw beyond his first read? 42 times, by my charting, which was good for 19% of his passing attempts, an extremely competitive number in this class. Was Mac Jones a better passer than Tua Tagovailoa? Deep down the field and behind the line of scrimmage, yes—but Tagovailoa was better on short and intermediate attacks. Who is the best fit for the Kyle Shanahan offense? Well, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance all played in college offenses that have some translatable reps. But we’ll write more about that in the coming days.

Contextualized Quarterbacking should not be viewed as a scouting report as it’s just data, and data has to be understood with the film in order to best project a player to the league. It’s a tool in the toolkit that helps us answer specific questions in the evaluation process and project NFL scheme usage when looking at early rookie fits, and it’s important to use it for just that.

General player profiles for the 10 quarterbacks charted this year will be released Wednesday, April 7, with a link to all of the contextual data included for your perusing upon publish.

  • Trevor Lawrence
  • Justin Fields
  • Zach Wilson
  • Trey Lance
  • Mac Jones
  • Kellen Mond
  • Kyle Trask
  • Jamie Newman
  • Davis Mills
  • Sam Ehlinger

Later on, we’ll use Contextualized Quarterbacking data and film to dive into some deeper questions, such as Shanahan’s pick at No. 3 overall, the transition for Lawrence from a college RPO offense to a pro system, and just how Fields goes through his progressions as a passer.

Draft day is nearly here, and if your team needs a quarterback or if you just like scouting these elite passers, I don’t think you’ll find a better resource than Contextualized Quarterbacking. Grab a TDN Premium subscription and dig in.

Written By:

Benjamin Solak

Senior CFB Writer

Director of Special Projects and Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast. The 3-Wide Raven.

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