(Data from www.pro-football-reference.com)
The NFL is changing. Gone are the days when the likes of Peyton Manning or Dan Marino could dominate from the pocket, rarely leaving it’s safety. Now, a quarterback needs to be quick and elusive, ready to escape danger in a flash and pick up valuable yards with his feet.
There are plenty of electric runners of the football playing quarterback in the NFL. But who’s the best? Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray spring to mind, but let’s take a dive into the stats to find out for real…
We will rank players in five different categories, looking at five different statistics. The 10 best performers in those statistics will be given points depending on what position they are. For example, the top player will receive 10 points, the second nine and so on. At the end, we’ll tally all the points and find out who the 10 most effective running quarterbacks are.
A player must have started at least three games to qualify, and to be as fair as possible everything will be done on a per start basis, because some players will have played far more games than others.
Without further ado, let’s get into the first category…
Rushing Yards Per Game
Starting with the most obvious one; how many yards does a quarterback pick up on the ground per game? It could be a designed run, or a broken down play.
As we can see, Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles leads the pack, with Lamar Jackson close behind.
After a significant gap, Taysom Hill and Kyler are pretty much neck and neck in third and fourth place.
Then, after another sizable gap, it all gets very close, as fifth through tenth are all within 16 yards per game of each other
Rushing Yards Per Attempt
On to category two. Now we look at how effective each player is on a single run. With this stat, we ask: on average, how many yards does a quarterback make on one run?
Jake Luton is miles ahead in this category, doubling second place Daniel Jones’ number. Luton only had one rushing attempt in his three starts last season which went for 13 yards, skewing the numbers in his favour.
Apart from Luton who is way in front, it is close, with most of the top performers getting around six yards per attempt.
Touchdowns Per Game
Now let’s look at the things which win games. How many times does a quarterback get into the endzone in a game?
Taysom Hill leads the way, averaging a touchdown every game, possibly helped by a Saints offence that loves to use him on designed runs in the red zone.
After that, it’s a lot of the names you’d expect to see, with Cam Newton in second and Hurts in third.
Dak Prescott also gets in on the action, scoring three touchdowns with his legs in the five games he started before his unfortunate season ending injury in week five against the New York Giants. Interestingly, all three of his touchdowns came in the second half of his side’s amazing comeback victory against the Atlanta Falcons in week two.
Yards After Contact Per Game
Okay, so we’ve looked at yards and touchdowns, but a lot of the time, those are easy pickups. Good blocking or play design can make a poor athlete look much better than they actually are.
So let’s find out which players can grind out the tough yards, by looking at yards after contact. How many yards does a quarterback pick up in a game after they first come into contact with a defender?
Again, Hill tops the chart, averaging a remarkable 25.25 yards after contact every game. After him, it’s all the usual suspects, with Hurts, Jackson, Newton and Wentz all averaging over 10 yards after contact per game
Finally, we try to isolate explosive plays on the ground by looking at the longest run from each quarterback.
Daniel Jones is way out in front after his infamous 80-yard run against the Eagles in week seven that ended with him tripping over himself right before he could score a touchdown.
Lamar Jackson comes in second courtesy of his 50-yard touchdown rush against the Washington Football Team, followed by Cam Newton and Kyler Murray, who ripped off a 49-yard run and a 48-yard run respectively.
New Carolina Panthers signal caller, Sam Darnold rounds out the top five after his excellent 46-yard touchdown run against the Broncos, in which he shrugged off Alexander Johnson, escaped the pocket and took advantage of some great downfield blocking to cruise into the endzone.
So, after all that, let’s take a look at our final leader board…
It’s no surprise to see Lamar Jackson well ahead at the top of the leader board. Neither is it to see Kyler Murray and Cam Newton tied for second. Jalen Hurts and Taysom Hill finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Possibly the biggest surprise is that Daniel Jones places sixth, one spot ahead of Russell Wilson who is one of the most renowned scrambling quarterbacks in the league.
Newly signed Indianapolis Colt, Carson Wentz in the top 10, tying Wilson for seventh spot despite being benched for Jalen Hurts after losing to the Green Bay Packers in week 13.
Two members of the 2018 Draft class, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold round out the top 10.
Subedited by Charlie Scott