If you all remember I did a series of articles in June of 2017 that looked at the departing starters from the 2016 season and who I thought would be replacing them for 2017. With that I assigned a grade of “Upgrade“, “Downgrade” or “Draw‘.
Here is the lead-in for the first article of that series…
What I’ll do first is look at each position, or unit, along the offense as of today and write down who I think will be the starter and why it will be that guy. Then I’ll assign a ranking of “Upgrade” if I see an upgrade, “Downgrade’ if I see a downgrade or “Draw” if I think we’ll match last year’s player(s) in the position or unit.
Please remember that this is in comparison to the departed player and not a grade of the new player himself. Thus a “downgrade” from NT when Aaron Donald departed would have been assigned even if it had have been anyone college and in the NFL almost and they would still have been a loss at that position.
I’ll do a whole series pertaining to 2017 through 2018 prospective starters this summer but for now let’s look back at some of what I wrote about each position and how you felt the grades should have been awarded. So remember – these are excerpts and were written back in June of 2017:
Pitt fans point to the fact that at the beginning of last season (2016 at USC) Browne played a few tough games before being benched. Let’s say that was one tough game against Alabama, and walk-over against Utah State, then a bit over one half of play against Stanford. Since we are comparing the two QBs I don’t see anything there that is harder than what Peterman went up against this season, do you?
I think Browne is what we see on the surface after his four years in college ball – a player who didn’t live up to a lofty ranking and had become an afterthought at his original school. But that ain’t all bad. Nate Peterman was exactly that (albeit with one less star in his rating) then came to Pitt and did well his first year and there is nothing saying Max Browne can’t waltz in and do the same thing.
I do wonder though and the fact that Browne is about as mobile as a drugged water buffalo doesn’t make me jump for joy – especially since he’ll be playing behind a rebuilt offensive line. That is one area he doesn’t come close to Nate Peterman as Peterman was very good with his legs.
Well, I think we can all agree that this grade was on the mark. It was more like A TRAGIC DOWNGRADE. I was actually pretty tame in my description of Browne in that article – that must have been one of my more ‘optimistic’ days (see why I don’t have all that many of them?)
Here is what our main QBs produced in both 2016:
Then what our top three did in 2017:
Surprisingly there wasn’t really a huge difference in yards passed with 2,871 to the next year’s 2,597. But the real separation came in TDs thrown with 28 to 11 and yards per completion with Peterman and DiNucci’s great 15.3 ypc to 2017’s measly 7.8.
The Passing efficiency ratings of the starters is mind-boggling really: Peterman’s Pitt record 163.4 (15th nationally in 2017) against the combined Max and Ben show’s horrid 120.95.
Those are the statistics – the real difference was in-game and team leadership with Pickett the only QB in 2017 who exhibited any of it at all. So that was obviously a big downgrade in my eyes. What say you?
Another reminder that I’ll do a full series along these line comparing positional units from 2017 to the prospective 2018 starters next month...