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The Brock Purdy Effect: How One Mr. Irrelevant Changed the NFL Draft Forever

Updated: May 18, 2023

On draft night, every fan is eager to hear the name of the QB that their team will select. While some franchises invest their early-round picks on a future superstar, others may find their hidden gem in the later rounds. Historically, few teams have taken these late round flyers. That was until one late-round pick shattered expectations and disrupted the entire NFL draft narrative – his name is Brock Purdy, and he has made way for the phenomenon that has come to be known as the Brock Purdy Effect.


In 2021, the San Francisco 49ers infamously traded three first-round picks to draft Trey Lance, an untested quarterback who they hoped would replace veteran Jimmy Garoppolo and become the face of the franchise. Lance’s rookie season was cut short by injuries, and it was Garoppolo who helped lead the Niners to the NFC Championship, only to be handily defeated by the Los Angeles Rams. As the 2021-2022 offseason loomed, the biggest question on every 49ers fan’s mind was: who would be the next quarterback to lead them to the playoffs? The answer was shocking and one that no one expected.


With the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy as “Mr. Irrelevant.” Purdy was described by an anonymous NFL coach as having good cognitive abilities as a field general, but lacking certain athletic abilities that many teams look for in their franchise quarterbacks. While this sounds far from impressive, it does draw comparison to a certain late-round New England Patriots’ legend…


After training camp, Purdy was penciled in as the third string backup for the 49ers, with no expectations for playing time in 2022. After Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo both suffered season-ending injuries, Purdy unexpectedly took over the starting job for the 49ers in Week 13, leading them to an undefeated record over the rest of the regular season. In the playoffs he fared just as well, winning two games and losing in the NFC Championship after he was sidelined with a season-ending UCL injury.


Despite claims that he is merely a system quarterback who fits into the Niners’ loaded offensive scheme, Purdy has proven to be a necessary piece in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. We used advanced statistics, primarily cumulative EPA and DVOA, defense-adjusted value over average, to quantify Purdy’s contributions to the team. EPA determines how much a player is contributing to a team by assigning point values to each individual play, while DVOA dictates the value of a player based on the situation that he is placed into. Filtering play-by-play data from Week 13 onwards, we found that Brock Purdy was one of the best quarterbacks in all of football:


For DVOA, players were separated into two categories: above and below 200 passes. Because he only threw 181 passes in the regular season this year, Purdy was part of the latter category. He had a DVOA rating of 21.6, meaning that he was 21.6% better than the average quarterback, with factors including field position, down, and strength of defense taken into account.


This year, a record-breaking 14 quarterbacks were drafted, including 9 in the 4th round or later. We wanted to look at these quarterbacks, specifically the late round quarterbacks, to observe how the Brock Purdy Effect influenced this year’s draft, and to see if we could accurately predict who will be the next Brock Purdy.


Here are three quarterbacks who we believe could all potentially be the next Brock Purdy:

  1. Jake Haener (NO)

  2. Dorian Thompson Robinson (CLE)

  3. Jaren Hall (MIN)

Jake Haener - New Orleans Saints


Jake Haener, the former Fresno State quarterback, has been praised for his high football IQ and natural leadership on the field, just like Purdy at Iowa State. Haener’s measurements at 6-foot and 207 pounds are almost identical to Purdy’s 6-foot-1, 212 pound frame. After participating in the Senior Bowl, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit declared Haener as “this year's Brock Purdy” referencing their shared ability to process complex passing plays with remarkable speed. Despite not possessing the strongest arms in the league, both Purdy and Haener are masters at throwing accurately at all levels and evading pressure in the pocket. Haener finds himself on the New Orleans Saints, competing for a 53-man spot behind veteran quarterbacks Derek Carr and Jameis Winston. As training camp approaches, keep an eye on Haener’s development, as he could have significant snaps this year if Carr and the injury-prone Winston miss time.


Dorian Thompson Robinson - Cleveland Browns


Dorian Thompson Robinson, the five year starting quarterback for the UCLA Bruins, had a terrific 2022 campaign, with career highs in passing yards (3,169), passing touchdowns (27), and rushing touchdowns (12). The dual threat quarterback is very accurate and, like Purdy, is very good at creating opportunities outside the pocket. Robinson, standing at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, has a similar build to Purdy, and analyst Brock Huard sees similarities between the two of them in terms of their tremendous accuracy and anticipation. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is battling with journeyman Joshua Dobbs for the QB2 role in Cleveland, and we expect him to win that spot. If Watson goes down with an injury, Thompson Robinson would be in a position to succeed with an elite rushing attack and good weapons like Amari Cooper, Donovan-Peoples Jones and Elijah Moore.


Jaren Hall - Minnesota Vikings


Jaren Hall took over for Zach Wilson at BYU in 2021 and since then accumulated 5,754 passing yards with 51 passing touchdowns. NFL.com’s draft profile on Hall writes that he is an “undersized pocket quarterback with unimpressive arm strength” and “he throws with excellent ball placement to targets on the move.” Let’s compare that report to NFL.com’s profile on Purdy just one year ago: “[Purdy] needs [an offense] where he can rely on timing over arm strength…generally accurate passer between the numbers.” ESPN analyst Louis Riddick compares Jaren Hall to Purdy, writing


“He’s just one of those guys who you just know is going to do things the right way, on and off the football field. He just needs to develop consistency, and once he’s able to do that, I think this is one of those guys that can be a Brock Purdy type of guy. He has that kind of make-up.”


Hall is in a great situation in Minnesota. The Vikings’ offense is explosive with weapons like Justin Jefferson, TJ Hockenson, and first round pick Jordan Addison. As Kirk Cousins plays off the last year of his three year contract and the Vikings are looking for a QB for the future, Jaren Hall can get a chance to win the role.


With a record-shattering fourteen quarterbacks drafted in this year’s class, we would expect one of the three quarterbacks we highlighted to become a breakout star. Mr. Irrelevant became extremely relevant in bringing his team to the NFC Conference Championship, so what’s to say one of these quarterbacks cannot do the same? Only time will tell…



By Jack Gewanter and Nate Yellin

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