Throw Efficiency Grade

What is a throw efficiency grade? In simplest terms, it’s the percentage of passes that were on target as contextualized through advanced charting methods.

Why Throw Efficiency?

When you look at the stats, you see the completions of the game without context of what went into that throw. Adjusted stats that attempt to account for dropped balls and throwaways are an improvement, but still not fully giving an accurate picture of the context of the play.

How can we attempt to account for differences between schemes? Take the 2018 draft class, which included a quarterback from an Oklahoma system throwing to a guy without any coverage within three yards of him and a quarterback in a Wyoming system where defenders are in the receiver’s hip pocket. The same level of accuracy of throw can be the difference in a receiver making a small adjustment on the ball and taking it for a highlight reel touchdown and a pass breakup that knocks down a quarterback’s completion percentage. How can we level that playing field?

These charting methods don’t take into account reads, scheme, decision making, or mechanics. It doesn’t knock the quarterback for an on target throw that the defender was able to break up, unless it was so poorly/dangerously placed it counts as a turnover worthy throw (TOWT). It essentially strips the defense away and looks at what sort of throws a quarterback is capable of making from an offensive coordinator’s perspective.

These charting methods help to establish narratives on players instead of perpetuating narratives that may not be fully accurate. Many people who do this non-professionally will watch a handful of cut-ups and subjectively give a number on a scale, say 1-10, about the performance in certain categories. While this is great, it is highly susceptible to reinforcing narratives. If there is a strong narrative that quarterback A is highly accurate and quarterback B is wildly inconsistent, then as we watch their games, we either write off their misses because it wasn’t a big deal or we hyper focus on them because that’s the accepted narrative out right now- when in reality they may have had the same exact throw efficiency grade that game.

The Process

The field is broken up into 35 sections and each throw is given a grade within that field. Each throw is contextualized with accuracy on a five-level scale.  High-level impact throws (generally 20-plus air yards) are described as blue throws (BT). Drops, throwaways, pass breakups, free plays and TOWT are also noted.

What Do I Do with This Info?

Throw efficiency is not a ranking. It’s not an overall grade. You should look at the numbers and determine what strengths and weaknesses you value of the player, and if you can build a successful scheme around him. With the NFL becoming more accepting of college concepts, you can run a highly successful offense with a young quarterback who isn’t a complete package.  Use this data to help fit a player to your schemes.

QB Volatility

QB volatility is a stat that attempts to determine how consistent of a thrower the player is over the course of a season. For example, an 80 percent passer could be a guy who completes 80 percent of his throws every single game or a guy who completes 100 percent of his throws one week then 60 percent the next week. Both come out to 80 percent on the stat sheet.

  • Per Game is the game by game throw efficiency.
  • Game Average is the average result of all game grades combined
  • Season Average is the total number of throws and misses calculated into one full-season figure.

2020 Draft Class Reports:

Jacob Eason, Washington

Jake Fromm, Georgia

Jordan Love, Utah State

Justin Herbert, Oregon

Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Joe Burrow, LSU