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Mediocre Quarterbacks: Which Average QB is the Most Average?

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

We analyzed five quarterbacks most NFL fans would consider to be mediocre. But which of these "average" QBs is the most "average?"

NFL fans love to debate which quarterbacks are the most elite. And some like to debate which quarterbacks are the worst. But the question no one has been asking is: Who is the most average, the most mediocre, quarterback in the NFL? Our criteria was that they had to be on a second or later NFL contract, it couldn't be a player's first year on the team, and that they played on a team with seven or more wins. We ended up with:

Derek Carr -- Las Vegas Raiders

Jimmy Garoppolo -- San Francisco 49ers

Kirk Cousins -- Minnesota Vikings

Matt Ryan -- Atlanta Falcons

Ryan Tannehill -- Tennessee Titans

To figure out which of these Mediocre QBs we would declare as the MMQB (Most Mediocre QB), we used three different statistics to rank the QBs:

Basic EPA: Expected Points Added is the difference between a team’s Expected Points at the end of a play and their Expected Points at the beginning of a play. In other words, EPA effectively assigns a point value to each individual play

WPA: Win Probability Average represents the player’s contribution to the team’s wins.

Average Yards per Pass: This statistic was the most straightforward and simply the player’s season statistics for passing yards divided by the number of completions.

Median Methodology: After the studies were finally conducted, we looked at the data to determine our MMQB (Most Mediocre Quarterback). We ranked each QB in the three different categories and gave each QB a rating of 1-5 based on where they ranked on each statistic. We added up their ratings for each category and determined the average using the mean.

Ryan Tannehill was in the middle for Basic EPA with a .1116. For WPA, he dropped down one spot with a .0034. For Average YPP, he maintained his position at the number 4 spot with an average of 6.533 yards per pass. His final rating was 3.7.

Matt Ryan was dead last for every category, with an EPA of .0306, a WPA of .0008, and an Average YPP of 6.315. His final rating was 5, which puts him last in the list of Mediocre QBs.

Kirk Cousins ranked second in both EPA and Average YPP score with .1288 and 7.018, respectively. For WPA, he landed in 3rd, with .0045. His final rating was 2.3.

Jimmy Garoppolo ranked #1 for all three categories, with an EPA of 0.1456, a WPA of 0.0052, and an Average YPP, with 7.374. This allowed him to receive a final rating of 1st.

Derek Carr ranked 4th in terms of EPA, with a rating of 0.0511 per play. He then went on to rank #2 in WPA, with a rating of 0.0051. Finally, for Average YPP, he had a value of 6.973. This gave him a final rating of 3.

Going into the study, we thought that WPA rankings would align with the teams that had the most wins during the season. Our end results were largely similar to the expected results, yet slightly different.

We had assumed that Tannehill would finish first in WPA, having a 12 win season and finishing the regular season as the AFC's #1 seed. However, this statistic differs for individual players, and may not line up with the entire team’s end results. Based on the study, Tennessee’s offense clearly isn’t as dependent on the quarterback position as some of the other teams, likely leading to Tannehill’s finish at 4th in this category. And, although he sat out much of the season with an injury, running back Derrick Henry still finished in the top ten this season for rushing yards, which likely contributed to this.

Besides this anomaly with Tannehill, the order of the QB WPA corresponded with the team that had the most wins on the season, playoffs included. Garoppolo finished first, followed by Carr. Next was Cousins, whose team missed the playoffs at 8-9, then the Tannehill Anomaly, and finally, Matt Ryan, whose team finished at 7-10.

Average YPP was simple enough. There was no real way of predicting what the order would be for this part of the study. This was calculated by dividing passing yards by completions, and sorting the results:

So, based on all of this data, we concluded that the 2021 NFL MMQB was....

Derek Carr, of the Las Vegas Raiders.

By Jack Gewanter and Nate Yellin

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