With rookie quarterbacks, I like to look at sacks. It provides some information, I think, about how good they are at recognizing pressure (or at least getting the ball out of their hands). And it looks meaningful with this year’s crop of first-round prospects.
Most notably, C.J. Stroud. Below see the notable college season numbers for all quarterbacks who’ve been picked in the first half of the first round in the last 10 years. Stroud has been one of the best at avoiding sacks. He started for two years at Ohio State, and he was sacked on about 3 percent of his pass plays in each of those seasons.
You could fairly argue that Stroud benefited from playing for the Buckeyes, surrounded by superior talent in most games. But Justin Fields operated with similar personnel in a similar offense, and he was sacked almost 3 times as often in both of his seasons. I think coming in, we can assume Stroud will be way better than Fields in terms of not taking a bunch of sacks. (Especially if he’s drafted by Carolina, given Frank Reich’s lengthy history of putting together offenses that keep the quarterback out of harm’s way.)
Stroud, as luck would have it, almost took a comeback-killing sack on his final college pass play – one that would have taken them out of field goal range against Georgia. But he was able to use his plus mobility to buy a little time, and then throw the ball away. He seems to be better than most rookies knowing when to pull the plug on a play.
With Bryce Young, on the other hand, he got sacked a lot more other than the other recent Alabama quarterbacks (Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones). Some of that can be attributed to his line not being as good, but Young likes to hang onto the ball a little longer, playing point guard while he waits for plays to develop. With him being smaller than even Kyler Murray, I worry that playing style will get him crunched at the pro level.
And finally, Will Levis. He got killed at Kentucky last year, taking sacks way more often than any other quarterback on this list. That’s not all on him. He was playing for a lesser team with offensive line and scheme problems. He wasn’t as bad the previous year. But he looks like he’s in the Fields camp, needing improvement in this area. Levis (at least for now) looks like the guy to get the most excited about should he happen to be starting against the defense you’re counting on in a fantasy league.
|COLLEGE QUARTERBACKS / SACKS|
|2021||• C.J. Stroud||13||441||2.9%|
|2022||• C.J. Stroud||12||389||3.0%|
|2022||• Anthony Richardson||14||327||4.1%|
|2022||• Bryce Young||18||380||4.5%|
|2021||• Will Levis||22||353||5.9%|
|2021||• Bryce Young||39||547||6.7%|
|2022||• Will Levis||37||283||11.6%|