clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pac-12 quarterback rankings: Jared Goff joining Marcus Mariota & Brett Hundley at the top?

New, 15 comments

Jared Goff had a spectacular performance and is starting to look like the best QB we've had post-Aaron Rodgers. Where would you rank him among the current cadre of Pac-12 QBs through one month of the season?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Kranz

Tier 1 - The undisputed champion: Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota is the best quarterback in the country, and thus will obviously top the rankings. I honestly don't think the talent surrounding him is all that overwhelming this year (in part due to line injuries) but his stats are still off the chart.
Tier 2 - The game changers: Jared Goff, Brett Hundley
If Marcus Mariota didn't exist, Jared Goff would have the best arm in the conference, and Brett Hundley would have the best legs. Both teams absolutely rely on those strengths to make their offenses go, and I suspect without them both offenses would flounder.
Tier 3 - Talented, but circumstances conspire against them: Sean Mannion, Taylor Kelly, Travis Wilson
These are guys that either get injured a lot, or have questionable talent around them. In better circumstances, they could ascend to tier 2, but you can't control every aspect of reality.
Tier 4 - Masters of the short pass: Sefo Liufau, Connor Halliday, Anu Solomon
Another name for this category could be 'system quarterbacks,' which I didn't use because it's somewhat unfairly become a slur rather than a fair description. All three of these players are playing in high-tempo spread offenses designed to flood the field with short receiving options, and for the most part these guys aren't supposed to face a ton of pressure or make a bunch of tough throws. And all three tend to do the job pretty darn well.
Tier 5 - The unproven and the game managers: Cody Kessler, Ben Hogan, Cyler Miles
I feel like Ben Hogan COULD be much better, and thus maybe I should move him to Tier 3, because the circumstance he can't overcome is having a head coach who doesn't realize that football has evolved past the full back dive as an offensive wrinkle. But seriously, Cody Kessler isn't a bad quarterback and he's probably the 2nd worst in the conference. And sophomore Cyler Miles will probably be pretty good once he get a little bit of experience.


Avinash Kunnath

1. Marcus Mariota is the best player in college football and will win the Heisman Trophy if Oregon goes 12-0/11-1. He is carrying probably the worst modern-age Ducks team into playoff contention.

2. Brett Hundley obviously missed the Texas game, but I edge him over Goff just because he's faced a more difficult gauntlet and survived. Hundley is completing over 70% of his passes and notching 10 yards a throw behind a pretty shaky offensive line.  Beating Oregon vaults him right back into Heisman chatter.

3. I did not expect Jared Goff to be this high on the list this year. But he's been spectacular. It's taken him only 127 throws to land him 17 touchdowns (it took him 529 to land 18 last year). He has thrown three interceptions, two of which were not his fault. The team is a Hail Mary away from being 4-0 and at least half of that falls on Goff's improved ability to spin the deep ball and stretch the field wider than his dink-and-dunk freshman phase. He will give us a chance to win many games this year if he can keep on making the five to eight dynamite throws that set the Bears up for points.

4. Cody Kessler has had an outstanding season (10 TDs, no picks, 72% completion rate). I downgrade him a little because he has a better O-line and far more skill players to work with, but he's been playing really well after a shaky first season at the helm.

5. Taylor Kelly is pretty much nestled into that "good college QB" phase. He controls the flow of the game and is generally good against teams not named Stanford. Seeing his backup move the ball against UCLA does go and show you that he could be a product of the system, but Kelly probably would have finished more of those drives.

6. Sefo Liufau, look at you! Sure didn't expect to see you this high on the list a few weeks ago. He is a bit scattershot beyond his normal distance, but he is proving he can move that football quickly and decisively and keep his offense on the field. This is miles ahead of any CU team of the past.

7. Connor Halliday would be a top three guy on this list if he didn't insist on making one or two Popcorn Guy throws every game. But it does look like he grasps the Air Raid much better than he did his first few years in the system. He's definitely high usage, but they need all of his usage to compete considering where that running game is.

8. Kevin Hogan is completing 71% of his throws, is averaging nearly 8.8 YPA to his deadly trio of wideouts, has thrown only 2 picks, and he's only thrown 100 passes through four games because this team must run to the death. Keep on doing what you do David Shaw.

9. I feel like Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton deserve some sort of honorable mention for Sean Mannion becoming the all-time Pac-12 passing leader. He looked really bad against USC and the Beavers look really beatable this season. Oregon State doesn't have a whole lot of offensive talent, but it sure looks like the wideouts he got carried Mannion a bit more than we realized.

10. Anu Solomon is up and down, but he grasps the system and has a really promising young group of receivers to grow with. The future definitely looks bright for the Wildcats once Solomon fully acclimates himself to the Rich Rod offense.


11. The greatest trick that Kyle Whittingham ever performed was convincing Utah fans that three years of starting Travis Wilson at QB would be a healthy prescription for Saturday football. He's just too inconsistent to make the Utes a winning Pac-12 team.

12. Maybe Cyler Miles isn't that good a QB because he just realized all Husky fans are Seahawks fans.

HydroTech: I don't watch enough Pac-12 football to evaluate where Goff ranks compared to the other Pac-12 QBs, but I think it's clear that he's extremely talented.  It's been a long time since we've seen a QB with his accuracy, poise, and play making ability.  Goff is definitely the best Cal QB we've had since Nate Longshore and perhaps even since Aaron Rodgers.

I believe that if Goff continues to improve that he could be playing on Sundays too.  My biggest worry for Goff and a career in the NFL is that scouts might see him as a "system QB."  By that, I mean a player who they think plays well within the offensive system he had in college, but that because he was confined to operating a very specific offensive system, that he will lack the skills to operate a more complex NFL offense.  Scouts might point to the fact that it's not Goff who makes audibles out of the check-with-mes, but that it's Tony Franklin on the sidelines.  Scouts might also point out that Cal's playbook is limited and will question whether Goff will be able to handle a bigger playbook -- and a playbook which may require Goff to make some throws he rarely had to attempt in college.  Goff operates solely out of shotgun and in the NFL he will have to transition to taking snaps under center.  Scouts will question his dropback mechanics, something he's never had to focus on in college.  Assuming Goff doesn't suffer a major injury in his Cal career, it seems already assured that he will leave Cal as one of the most prolific passers in Cal history in terms of quantity statistics.  Skeptics will point to the fact that Goff's gaudy numbers were a result of Cal's wide open pass offense, and no-huddle offense.

But if you watch the tape -- and the tape rarely lies -- it is clear that Goff is pretty darn accurate.  He does a good job hitting his receivers in stride.  He makes his reads and progressions.  He doesn't lock onto one receiver.  He can occasionally scramble for minor gains, and sometimes throw touchdown passes on the run.  He makes tough throws into narrow windows, and completes really tough sideline out and comeback throws.

The way he's performing now, he will garner serious evaluation by NFL scouts.  Right now I have him pegged as a possible mid to late draft pick with the biggest concerns being the "system QB" criticism and his thin frame.  I'd like to see him bulk up a little more, improve his adequate arm strength, and continue to work on his anticipation throws.  He's still got two more years of college so he definitely has time to work his way up the draft board.