Advanced stats show Brad Kaaya shines under pressure, matches up with Deshaun Watson

One NFL draft analyst watched three games of film of Brad Kaaya and formed his opinion of him as a prospect. For another view, CFB Film Room has a breakdown of advanced stats from all 2015 games.

While the “eye test” is important, numbers help provide a more complete picture, and Kaaya’s numbers show he was just as good — if not more impressive, given what was around him — than another quarterback who could be at the top of the 2017 draft class, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. 

The website’s breakdown also seems to counter Daniel Jeremiah’s take that Kaaya struggles under pressure.

Clemson's Deshaun Watson (left) and Miami's Brad Kaaya. (Getty Images)

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (left) and Miami’s Brad Kaaya. (Getty Images)

CFB Film Room noted that Watson’s work in the run game separates him from Kaaya as a college quarterback. As a pro, however, “outside-the-pocket mobility is significantly less important,” the website wrote:

“In the NFL mobility takes on a different meaning, and is more about your ability to simply avoid pressure than actually take off running. When looking simply at ability to avoid sacks, Kaaya narrows the gap significantly due to his exceptional pocket presence.”

According to CFB Film Room, 11.8 percent of Kaaya’s drop-backs under pressure resulted in sacks, compared to Watson’s 9.5 percent. Kaaya is slightly behind TCU’s Trevone Boykin (10.2) and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett (10.9) who, like Watson, are much more mobile than Kaaya. For comparison, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, another mobile QB, was sacked on 24.4 percent of his pressured drop-backs.

While Watson tends to leave the pocket to avoid sacks, Kaaya rarely rolls out — in 103 pressured pass attempts in 2015, 89 percent came from the pocket.

CFB Film Room’s conclusion: “Due to his lack of mobility, Kaaya’s sack avoidance might actually be more impressive. His ability to move within the pocket is elite, especially considering his age.”

While NFL Network’s Jeremiah wrote that Kaaya’s accuracy “falls off” when pressured, CFB Film Room found that Kaaya’s receivers dropped 15.3 percent of his passes — a rate it called “pathetic” — and said Kaaya’s yards per attempt without drops is 8.1 to Watson’s 8.6.

CFB Film Room also noted Kaaya threw an interception under pressure once every 92 attempts. Watson? Once every 16 attempts.

Why? “Poor decision making,” CFB Film Room wrote:

Sometimes a low interception rate under pressure like Kaaya’s can be attributed to checking down at a high rate, but Kaaya’s passes under pressure actual traveled further through the air on average than Watson (12.6 air yards per att for Kaaya, 11.7 for Watson).

When we isolate the stats for passes 10 or more yards down the field, the numbers swing even further in Kaaya’s favor. 

Again, the completion percentage and yards per attempt are almost irrelevant given the astronomical 27.3 percent drop rate by Kaaya’s receivers. If we remove the dropped passes, Kaaya’s yards per attempts rises to 11.3 and his completion rate rises to 39 percent—both slightly better that Watson’s numbers.

Despite the pitiful performance from Kaaya’s supporting cast, it’s clear he holds an advantage over Watson in this category. But Watson’s numbers outside of the interceptions are still relatively impressive. Remember, he was just a sophomore last season, so some struggles should be expected. Just because he falls short in a comparison to Kaaya does not mean decision making under pressure is a long-term concern for Watson.

Read more of CFB Film Room’s scouting report here.

 

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