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How does Football Outsiders’ QBASE rate 2018 NFL Draft QB prospects?

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Pro Day Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Each year Football Outsiders unveils its QBASE projections for the top quarterbacks in each Draft class. QBASE is a statistical projection based on the qualities that tend to matter in Draft prospects and how the quarterbacks performed in college.

QBASE favors quarterbacks expected to go high in the draft who also have a relatively long résumé of college success according to the stats. Those stats include completion percentage, yards per attempt and team passing efficiency. These numbers are adjusted both for the quality of the defenses that a prospect had to face as well as the quality of his offensive teammates. QBASE is meant to only be used on players chosen in the top 100 picks; after that, the judgment of scouts becomes even more important, and statistics become even less predictive.

The formula gets caught in weeds. How do the players actually rank according to this formula?

  1. Baker Mayfield
  2. Lamar Jackson
  3. Josh Rosen
  4. Sam Darnold
  5. Mason Rudolph
  6. Luke Falk
  7. Kyle Lauletta
  8. Josh Allen


Any measurement of quarterbacks like these naturally draws questions about how important it actually is. I don’t think QBASE is particularly important. I certainly don’t expect that any team would dramatically change its evaluation based on a surprisingly good or bad QBASE score.

But I think it is at least worth taking a look at. It is important to understand which traits successful Draft picks at the position have.

Here are a few snippets of Football Outsiders’ views on the prospects


Mayfield has the fourth-highest QBASE projection of any prospect since 1997. The only players projected higher were Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb.


None of this is a guarantee that Mayfield is going to be a star in the NFL. Situated near the QBASE top 10 are prospects who didn’t pan out, including John Beck, Matt Leinart and Christian Ponder. But based on his college performance, Mayfield has the best odds of any quarterback in this class of being an elite starter in the NFL, and the lowest odds of being a bust.


If we pretend Allen’s 2017 season never happened, then Allen has a QBASE of 161, still the worst of this year’s top prospects.


The problem is that Darnold has only two years of experience as a starting quarterback in college football, and the track record of top-100 quarterbacks with only two college years started is downright lousy.


Rosen is a very typical first-round quarterback prospect. That’s not meant to be a negative statement.


QBASE is projecting only a quarterback’s passing performance, so it doesn’t care about Jackson’s phenomenal running abilities. But QBASE also clearly thinks that talk of Jackson switching positions is kind of silly.

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