When Pro Football Focus launched its preseason 2020 NFL draft guide in mid-August, 10 quarterbacks were included as legitimate prospects. LSU's Joe Burrow was not among that list of 10. He was carrying a sub-60% completion percentage and sub-80 PFF grade from the 2018 college football season.
Fast-forward nearly three months and Burrow has not only joined that group but is now No. 1 overall on the upcoming PFF top-100 draft board.
To say he has looked like a different player this season would be an understatement. The jump-ball thrower with shaky pocket presence and inconsistent accuracy has turned into the most poised and accurate passer in the country. Let's dig into the numbers to see exactly how the light switch flipped for the fifth-year senior as he and the Tigers head into the game of the year against Alabama.
Signs of elite play
Through eight games, Burrow has thrown for 2,805 yards, 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions for unbeaten LSU. He is completing 78.8% of his passes and averaging 10.8 yards per attempt. That's a far cry from the 2,894 yards (over 13 games), 16 touchdowns, five interceptions, 57.8% completion percentage and 7.6 yards per attempt that had had last season in his first run with the Tigers after transferring from Ohio State. (He attempted only 39 passes over two seasons with the Buckeyes.)
Why are we so sure Burrow isn't just a fluke? One of the bigger reasons is found in the fact that this leap didn't exactly come out of nowhere. We saw his elite ability for the Tigers at times in 2018. On four occasions, he earned single-game passing grades over 89.0 (against Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss, Rice and UCF), including two of his last three games.