The concept of passing efficiency is a relatively new one in football. In fact, the NCAA formula to determine a quarterback’s ‘passer rating’ didn’t come around until 1979.
As offenses have advanced and become more wide open, we’ve seen efficiency ratings shoot through the roof in relative terms.
In recent years, it has been a pretty good indicator of just how well a quarterback will fare in the Heisman race. Currently, several of the top candidates for the award have passing efficiency ratings that are well beyond the NCAA record of 198.92 set last year by Baker Mayfield.
With that thought in mind, here are the top passer ratings for every Heisman-winning quarterback for whom we have the necessary stats available (the only exclusions are Angelo Bertelli and John Lujack).
Note: These are their passer ratings at the time of the Heisman vote.
|Robert Griffin III||2011||192.31|
A couple observations:
— Davey O’Brien‘s 165.33 rating in 1938 stood as the Heisman record for 48 years until broken by Vinny Testaverde in 1986. If you ever wondered why there is a quarterback award named after O’Brien, now you know.
— Some of the quarterbacks on the lower end of this chart would have undoubtedly had higher ratings had they played in today’s modern offenses that emphasize the horizontal passing game and short, high-percentage throws. It’s also a testament to how remarkable O’Brien’s rating was in 1938.
— The top five passers have all come since 2010, the top nine since 2003. Offenses are exploding in the current era and the Heisman results reflect that. Mayfield’s mark could very well be in danger.