It’s 2019 and football fans still do not have a widely-used stat that properly measures the accuracy of NFL quarterbacks. Completion percentage is the go-to metric for most, but it’s flawed for obvious reasons: It does not take into account drops or depth of target, nor does it account for spikes and throwaways.
So, it’s hard to properly gauge how accurate a quarterback is without watching him play, and even that method, which is mostly subjective and based on small sample sizes, is not perfect. Luckily, the folks over at Pro Football Focus track and grade every play of every NFL game and do so with an objective eye. PFF has its own accuracy measure which is based on game charting, and it recently released the numbers for the 2018 season in its 2019 QB Annual, which you can find here.
Using PFF’s numbers, let’s take a look at the NFL’s most (and least) accurate quarterbacks based on “Accuracy %.”
The NFL’s most accurate quarterbacks
1. Drew Brees
2. Tom Brady
3. Philip Rivers
4. Matt Ryan
5. Alex Smith
Not a lot of surprises here. Well, except for Alex Smith, though a lot of his placement on the list has to do with his conservative nature. According to PFF, Smith was most accurate on throws it charted as “checkdowns” and “scheme throws,” which include screens and shovel passes.
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It is somewhat surprising to see Tom Brady near the top of the list given the season he had, which included a lot of ugly misses. But Brady’s accuracy improved over the second half of the season. A lot of Brady’s misses came when he was forced to move on from his first read, though those accounted for only 9% of his attempts, per PFF.
The NFL’s least accurate quarterbacks
31. Mitchell Trubisky
32. Eli Manning
33. Josh Allen
34. Josh Rosen
35. Lamar Jackson
It’s no surprise to see the bottom of the leaderboard mostly populated by rookies. Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen both had accuracy issues in college and that did not change in the NFL. Josh Rosen’s accuracy problems are more understanding, as he was constantly under pressure and was forced to throw into tight windows at a high rate.
Mitchell Trubisky was on this list last year, too, which should worry Bears fans who are hoping he is their quarterback of the future.
If it wasn’t already obvious the Giants should move on from Eli Manning, it should be now. He doesn’t offer much in the way of athleticism, his arm is only getting weaker as he ages and, as evidenced by this stat, he misses far too many throws. Not good for a QB with a 2019 cap hit north of $23 million.