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Here's how Chad Kelly stacks up against previous Heisman Trophy winners

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Let's take a look at the stats from the last seven QBs to win the Heisman.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

After rewriting the Ole Miss record books and posting the third most single-season passing yards in SEC history during his first year in Oxford, Chad Kelly is getting some deserved buzz as a legitimate 2016 Heisman contender. The latest numbers from Bovada have him at 12/1, tied for the fifth-best odds in the country.

Deshaun Watson (QB Clemson) +350
Leonard Fournette (RB LSU) +400
Christian McCaffery (RB Stanford) +500
JT Barrett (QB Ohio State) +1000
Chad Kelly (QB Ole Miss) +1200
Dalvin Cook (RB Florida State) +1200
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma) +1200
Nick Chubb (RB Georgia) +1400
Josh Rosen (QB UCLA) +1600
Royce Freeman (RB Oregon) +2000
Samaje Perine (RB Oklahoma) +2000
Calvin Ridely (WR Alabama) +2500
Joshua Dobbs (QB Tennessee) +2500
Brad Kaaya (QB Miami) +3300
Patrick Mahomes (QB Texas Tech) +3300

The departures of blindside protector Laremy Tunsil and top target Laquon Treadwell could certainly make things tougher for Kelly. At the same time, a loaded cast of returning skill players and another offseason for a noted tape junkie is more than enough reason to expect Kelly to improve during his senior season.

So how much does he need to improve to have a shot at the Heisman? To get a ballpark sense of what kind of numbers Kelly will need, I pulled stats on the last seven passers to win the award (QBs have won the Heisman in seven of the last nine years). This approach obviously ignores several key factors—namely team success and competition from other contenders—but the idea here is to simply provide statistical reference points.


year comp. % pass yds pass TDs INT total QBR rush yds rush TDs total yds total TDs
Marcus Mariota 2014 68.3 4,454 42 4 91.3 770 15 5,224 57
Jameis Winston 2013 66.3 4,057 40 10 90.2 219 4 4,276 44
Johnny Manziel 2012 68 3,706 26 9 91.3 1,410 21 5,116 47
Robert Griffin 2011 72.4 4,293 37 6 83.5 699 10 4,992 47
Cam Newton 2010 66.1 2,854 30 7 90 1,473 20 4,327 50
Sam Bradford 2008 67.9 4,720 50 8 91.9 47 5 4,767 55
Tim Tebow 2007 66.9 3,286 32 6 86.5 895 23 4,181 55

Now let's average all of those numbers together to create a statistical profile for the archetypal Heisman winner. We can then compare that profile to Kelly's 2015 season to see what kind of numerical improvements he needs to make in order to theoretically be in the conversation.


year comp. % pass yds pass TDs INT total QBR rush yds rush TDs total yds total TDs
AVERAGE 68.1 3,910 36.5 7.1 89.2* 808.6 14.5 4,719 51
Chad Kelly 2015 65.1 4,042 31 13 87.0 500 10 4,542 41

*I have no way of calculating ESPN's Total QBR stat, so I just took the mean.

So what does Kelly need to do to fit the statistical profile of a Heisman winner?

1. Cut down on the interceptions.

Jameis Winston is the only winner on that list to throw double-digit picks, and he offset that by throwing 40 touchdowns. The good news for Kelly is that, through a combination of increased familiarity with the offense and enhanced freedom to use his legs to escape jams, he cut down on those mistakes down the stretch last season: after tossing 12 picks through his first nine games, he threw just one during the last four. Cut the turnovers and Swag's Total QBR could rise above 90.0, a statistical trait shared by five of the seven QBs on our list.

2. Become more accurate.

None of the last seven winners completed less than 66 percent of their passes, and Chad's 65.1 is three percentage points below the average. Specifically, he needs to increase his accuracy against top secondaries: last season, Swag failed to hit the 68.1 percent threshold in all six of the games he played against teams ranked in the top 35 of pass defense F&P+. His combined completion percentage during those games was 61 percent.

3. Score a few more TDs.

Kelly was 10 touchdowns off the average total and needed about five more through the air to reach the average passing mark. The numbers do suggest he could get by with a passing touchdown mark in the low 30s, but only if gets more production on the ground: the four winners who had fewer than 37 scores through the air also piled up at least 699 rushing yards.

What are the five songs most likely to be played during Swag's trophy ceremony if he wins the Heisman?

Glad you asked. Let's count them down:

5. I Won - Future

4. Trophies - Drake

3. Do the Heizman - 3rd Flo

2. Type of Way - Rich Homie Quan

1. Duh