DraftHistory.com Congratulates Vikings Kirk Cousins and Unveils New Quarterback Rating System

By Chris Malumphy

Congrats to Kirk Cousins on the fully-guaranteed three-year contract he is expected to sign with the Minnesota Vikings that will make him, at least temporarily, the highest paid player in league history. The Vikings have twice made strong playoff showings over the past three seasons but a missed chip-shot field goal against the Seahawks in 2015 and running into the eventual Super Bowl champs in 2017 did them in. Minnesota accomplished all this with questionable quarterback talent and hope to get over the hump during their window of opportunity with the signing of Cousins.

Still, many have questioned how talented Cousins actually is. It is truly difficult to tell whether or not he is a top grade talent. His supporting cast in Washington has always been suspect ever since he joined the team as the eighth quarterback selected in the 2012 NFL Draft. It hasn't helped either that the ownership and front office has also been erratic. Cousins was selected in the fourth round, the 102nd player, and wasn't even the first quarterback drafted that year by the Redskins who used the second pick of that draft on Robert Griffin III.

So it is here that DraftHistory.com unveils its own DraftHistory Quarterback Rating System. The DraftHistory method is very similar to the ANY/A (average net yards per attempt) statistic that is frequently published but in addition to pass attempts, yards gained passing, touchdown passes, interceptions, sacks and yards lost from sacks it also seeks to give proper due to a quarterback's running ability by incorporating rushing attempts and yards gained rushing while also taking into consideration a quarterback's fumbles and fumbles lost. The DraftHistory approach also excludes as overly excessive the 20-yard bonus ANY/A provides for every touchdown pass, whether it's a one or 99-yarder. Let's see if our perceptions of the running abilities of Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Mariota, Deshaun Watson match their ability to improve their average gain per play and let's penalize players as thoroughly for fumbles lost as for interceptions.

At first blush, the results appear to be very reasonable and enlightening. Quarterbacks readily accepted as having good seasons are at the top, those with poor seasons at the bottom, and mediocrity sits in the middle as it should. Although you could disagree about the order, virtually everyone would accept that Alex Smith (Chiefs), Drew Brees (Saints), Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers), Philip Rivers (Chargers), Tom Brady (Patriots), Jared Goff (Rams), Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), Matt Ryan (Falcons), Case Keenum (Vikings) and Carson Wentz (Eagles) had pretty good seasons. Those players top the ratings. Conversely, pretty much everyone was disappointed with the play of quarterbacks like Mike Glennon (Bears), Tom Savage (Texans), Blaine Gabbert (Cardinals), DeShone Kizer (Browns), Bryce Petty (Jets), Brett Hundley (Packers) and Trevor Siemian (Broncos) who can be found at the bottom of the ratings.

Running quarterbacks didn't fare too well in 2017 according to these ratings. To get a ratings benefit from running, the average gain per rushing attempt has to be greater than the average gain per pass while also accounting for interceptions and fumbles. When even Cam Newton and Russell Wilson can't rise from the middle of the pack, perhaps teams and fans should recognize that while having the ability to extend plays and pick up valuable yardage on some plays can be beneficial, a big diet of quarterback rushes is bad for productivity. Much like how baseball now eschews the strategy of bunting, perhaps the overall impact of running quarterbacks has also been over-rated. It's a skill that you like to have when needed, but it is not the primary purpose of the quarterback position and may very well negatively impact the quarterback's overall offensive productivity. Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham never won a big one, nor has Cam Newton. Russell Wilson did once, with the aid of a stellar defesne. Of course, if you gotta run, it's nice if you have the ability.

A few points of interest. Both Tom Brady and Nick Foles ratings rose when I added the playoffs (as reported here) to the regular season statistics. Brady rose a few spots, Foles a boatload. Aaron Rogers play was mediocre in 2017, even before his injury, and ranked 25th. Ryan Fitzpatrick played soundly and ranked 12th when he filled in on a limited basis for an injured Jameis Winston, unlike in recent seasons when he was a turnover machine. Cousins was 20th of the 44 quarterbacks with 100 or more attempts. The Ravens should seriously consider the future of Joe Flacco who was ranked 34th as should the Giants with Eli Manning ranked 33rd. Blake Bortles (14th) ain't so bad. Buffalo Bills fans either love or truly hate Tyrod Taylor (23rd), but he ranked between some quarterbacks considered pretty decent, directly below Dak Prescott and barely ahead of Cam Newton by some thousandths of a point, as well as Aaron Rogers. The Bengals' Andy Dalton is another quarterback fans like to doubt, and for good reason in 2017 when he finished 29th behind rookie Mitch Trubisky and directly ahead of Brock Osweiler, Brian Hoyer and Jay Cutler. Carson Palmer (18th) could still help many teams if he wanted to continue playing, Jay Cutler (32nd) should have kept his television job.

Of course I'll be the first to admit that no quarterback rating system is perfect but at least now DraftHistory.com has one of its own.

Final 2017 DraftHistory.com Quarterback Ranking
(Includes Playoffs)
NameTeamDraft History Rating
Alex SmithChiefs6.51
Drew BreesSaints6.45
Jimmy Garoppolo49ers6.38
Philip RiversChargers6.30
Tom BradyPatriots6.24
Jared GoffRams5.94
Ben RoethlisbergerSteelers5.73
Matt RyanFalcons5.70
Case KeenumVikings5.66
Deshaun WatsonTexans5.52
Carson WentzEagles5.51
Ryan FitzpatrickBuccaneers5.47
Matthew StaffordLions5.36
Blake BortlesJaguars5.32
Nick FolesEagles5.20
Russell WilsonSeahawks5.13
Jameis WinstonBuccaneers5.01
Carson PalmerCardinals5.00
Marcus MariotaTitans4.88
Kirk CousinsRedskins4.85
Derek CarrRaiders4.85
Dak PrescottCowboys4.76
Tyrod TaylorBills4.67
Cam NewtonPanthers4.67
Aaron RodgersPackers4.62
Josh McCownJets4.54
Jacoby BrissettColts4.40
Mitch TrubiskyBears4.36
Andy DaltonBengals4.24
Brock OsweilerBroncos4.13
Brian HoyerPatriots4.07
Jay CutlerDolphins4.04
Eli ManningGiants3.99
Joe FlaccoRavens3.96
C.J. Beathard49ers3.92
Matt MooreDolphins3.87
Drew StantonCardinals3.56
Trevor SiemianBroncos3.53
Brett HundleyPackers3.32
Bryce PettyJets3.20
DeShone KizerBrowns3.05
Blaine GabbertCardinals2.99
Tom SavageTexans2.66
Mike GlennonBears2.54
The DraftHistory.com quarterback ranking is very similar to ANY/A but also includes rushing attempts, rushing yards, fumbles and fumbles lost and excludes the bonus yards ANY/A grants for touchdown passes. The formula is:
(pass_yds - yds_lost + rush_yds - 45 * (pass_int + fumbles_lost)) / (pass_att + sacks + rush_att + fumbles)