College Football QB Power Rankings: Ranking all 130 starting quarterbacks for 2021

PFN’s inaugural College Football QB Power Rankings analyzes every team’s starting quarterback situation. Who is the best for the 2021 season?

College Football QB Power Rankings for 2021 | 100-115

The going is rough for a lot of these QBs, including for a Power Five program vying for a top-10 finish in the College Football Playoff Rankings.

115) Hayden Wolff | Old Dominion

Week 5 ranking: 86 (-29)

After a year off from football, ODU has won four games and could clinch bowl-eligible status with wins against MTSU and Charlotte to close out the year. Wolff is 3-1 as the starter since taking over for D.J. Mack Jr. in Week 7 against Western Kentucky. He’s won three games in a row and most recently knocked off FAU thanks in part to 289 yards and 1 touchdown through the air.

Wolff has a ways to go as a passer, but the big guy from Florida certainly may be the answer moving forward for the Monarchs. He’s thrown 5 touchdowns against 4 interceptions, and as we’ve found out, arm strength is not going to be an issue with him. Wolff needs the pocket to form around him to make much happen right now — some pocket maneuverability and downfield awareness could do his game wonders.

114) Nicholas Vattiato, Bailey Hockman, Chase Cunningham | Middle Tennessee State

Week 5 ranking: 48 (-66)

Chase Cunningham was carving up defenses left and right to start the year, yet the wins didn’t follow. Now, all of a sudden, the MTSU defense has stacked up, and despite lackluster quarterback play, the Blue Raiders are winning games. Middle Tennessee is 3-1 over their last four games, but they’ve had two different quarterbacks lead them and have been powered by their defense.

They also have played an incredibly easy schedule over their last four games with wins against UConn, Southern Miss, and FIU. Nicholas Vattiato put forth a solid game that could move him up our College Football QB Rankings. Still, we’ll temper expectations after he threw 5 picks against WKU just a week prior.

113) Sean Chambers, Levi Williams | Wyoming

Week 5 ranking: 93 (-20)

As great as it has been to have Sean Chambers back on the college football field, the Cowboys’ offense has really struggled to move the ball through the air with him behind center. Levi Williams has started the last three games, tossing 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

He seems to have at least elevated his game from a 2020 campaign that saw him forced into action. Williams is completing a career-high 51.4% of his throws but averaging career-low yards per attempt. This Wyoming defense is a terrific unit that deserves a bit of an uptick in offensive production.

112) Isaiah Chavez, CJ Montes, Terry Wilson | New Mexico

Week 5 ranking: 88 (-24)

The Lobos’ offense drastically changed upon Terry Wilson’s exit from the starting quarterback role, and as such, they continue to fall here. In New Mexico’s most recent outing against Fresno State, Isaiah Chavez threw for just 34 yards with an interception to his credit as the Lobos ran just 46 total offensive plays.

With CJ Montes leading the way a week ago, New Mexico actually became the first team to lose to UNLV all season long. Whether Montes or Chavez, it really hasn’t been all too different. It’s been a far cry from the offensive production that Wilson brought to the table.

111) Jack Coan | Notre Dame

Week 5 ranking: 95 (-16)

Jack Coan had arguably his best game of the season in Week 11, completing 15 of 20 passes for 3 touchdowns. Yet, he still averaged just 6.6 yards per pass attempt and put up only 28 points against a Virginia defense that had given up 106 points over their last two games. Coan hardly makes mistakes with the football, but he barely tests the waters either.

He plays a safe brand of football that lacks excitement but wins games with the power of this Notre Dame team. For the year, Coan has thrown 16 TDs to 5 INTs but averages 7.6 yards per attempt. It’s not flashy, but it’s Notre Dame football. You won’t rise in these College QB Rankings like you will in the College Football Playoff Rankings playing the way Coan does.

110) Tanner McKee, Ari Patu | Stanford

Week 5 ranking: 57 (-53)

Some big things have to change out at The Farm, and it may have already started as true freshman Ari Patu received the lion’s share of snaps at quarterback in Week 11. Tanner McKee has failed to impress this season despite lofty billing from his recruiting days. He’s completed 64.8% of his throws this year. But he has gotten away with some ill-advised decisions that his receivers somehow have come down with.

McKee missed the Oregon State game in Week 11, and it’s not clear if Stanford will force him to return for the final two games of the season with bowl eligibility gone. Patu, the former four-star quarterback recruit, completed 50% of his throws and threw his first career touchdown pass in the loss to the Beavers. Patu is a big man with a big arm at 6’5″, 200 pounds.

109) Desmond Trotter | South Alabama

Week 5 ranking: 59 (-50)

The Jaguars’ season crumbled when Jake Bentley went down against Troy in Week 10. The offense drastically changes with Desmond Trotter’s presence in the lineup, as they’ve now dropped two straight. Bentley was injured on the opening drive of the game against Troy, and that drive remained the team’s lone scoring series until the game against the Trojans was out of reach.

Trotter’s inability to find the open receiver with much zip on the ball is a night-and-day difference from Bentley. The offense changes to more of a read-option, check-down offense that favors South Alabama’s opponents down the stretch. Trotter does offer an element with his legs, but he hasn’t shown that as a possibility so far in 2021.

108) Jason Bean, Jalon Daniels | Kansas

Week 5 ranking: 101 (-7)

Jason Bean, the primary starter this season, exited the Jayhawks’ Week 10 contest against Kansas State. Jalon Daniels has taken over, and it could be said he is the reason that they were able to outlast Texas in a thriller in Week 11. Bean has struggled with accuracy this season, completing a conference-low 56.4% of his throws. He has added a dynamic with his legs, but that carried Kansas to just one victory.

Daniels, the team’s 2020 starter, emerged victorious from the Texas game in Week 11. He completed 70% of his throws for 202 yards and 3 touchdowns while chipping in with 45 yards and a score on the ground. A season ago, the issue with Daniels was his consistency, and his status as the team’s starter remains in question with Bean on the mend. Either way, the Jayhawks defeated Texas, and that’s something Daniels can hang his hat on.

107) Todd Centeio | Colorado State

Week 5 ranking: 118 (+11)

Todd Centeio has, at the very least, been consistent in 2021. He’s completed 52.9% of his passes in all but one game this year and is averaging 7.3 yards per pass attempt. The knock on Centeio, however, is his accuracy on a down-to-down basis and the infrequency with which he gets to use his arm.

It’s extremely difficult to showcase any arm talent if you’re only throwing it past the first-down sticks a handful of times a game. Centeio is a product of a system that heavily favors shot passes and the run game. Regardless, he rises in our QB Power Rankings because he’s chipped in with 430 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground last week.

106) Tyler Vitt, Brady McBride | Texas State

Week 5 ranking: 69 (-37)

Brady McBride hasn’t started for the Bobcats since Week 8, yet he still ranks sixth in passing yards and seventh in passing touchdowns in the Sun Belt. His struggles with ball security have made way for Tyler Vitt to return to his starting role for Texas State, as he’s been behind center since Week 9.

Vitt has led the Bobcats to a victory but also a poor showing against Louisiana that almost brought McBride back into the picture. All told, Vitt has completed 56.7% of his throws for 580 yards, but he has just 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions to his credit. It’s an interesting quarterback battle for head coach Jake Spavital, as it seems McBride does more favors for the Texas State offense than Vitt. Then again, McBride also does more harm than Vitt at times.

105) Matt McDonald | Bowling Green

Week 5 ranking: 87 (-18)

This Bowling Green team has knocked off Minnesota and defeated Buffalo in upstate New York. Yet, they’ve also lost to Akron at home. Matt McDonald has weathered the storm but has been largely disappointing since defeating Minnesota back in Week 4. He’s thrown for 2,192 yards and 11 touchdowns but has a MAC-low 6.7 yards per pass attempt.

His long windup on his release isn’t doing him many favors, as his pass protection has been subpar all season long. He’ll need to shorten his throwing motion and hope for better protection in 2022 because all the physical tools are there for a deep run in the MAC.

104) Gunnar Holmberg | Duke

Week 5 ranking: 97 (-7)

Gunnar Holmberg’s veteran leadership has only carried him so far in 2021. As a reminder, head coach David Cutcliffe said Holmberg’s best attribute was his veteran leadership. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, that’s only translated to three victories this season and just 87 total points during a six-game losing streak.

Holmberg missed the most recent outing against Virginia Tech in Week 11 but has thrown for 2,034 yards this season. He’s completing passes at the highest rate in the ACC but doesn’t push the ball downfield very well. Duke’s offense is predicated on running the ball and short-area passes. But as they’ve found themselves down on the scoreboard, they’ve not quite realized that this isn’t the way to win games or make up ground when behind.

103) Spencer Petras | Iowa

Week 5 ranking: 42 (-61)

It’s important to note that Spencer Petras’ Week 5 ranking of No. 42 was when the Hawkeyes were No. 2 in the nation. He’s made our preseason ranking of No. 92 look better and better as the year has gone on. It’s also important to note that Alex Padilla won the game for the Hawkeyes against Minnesota in Week 11.

Petras is on the outside looking in regarding passing yards among full-time starting Big Ten quarterbacks. He doesn’t push the ball downfield well at all and has struggled when attempting to do so. Petras has 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions while averaging the Big Ten’s third-lowest yards per attempt at 6.4.

102) Jonah Johnson | New Mexico State

Week 5 ranking: 122 (+20)

Jonah Johnson has steadily improved over the course of the 2021 season. It’s the kind of growth that should make New Mexico State fans proud. The FBS wins haven’t come this season, but they’ve certainly been competitive in more than one game this year. Johnson has completed nearly 60% of his throws for 2,104 yards and had back-to-back weeks of 3-touchdown performances in the middle of the schedule.

His pass protection hasn’t been there, but Johnson has done his best to keep the offense in rhythm. Johnson even had the Aggies up 3-0 early on Alabama, and he finished the contest against the Crimson Tide without a turnover in Week 11.

101) Lucas Johnson | San Diego State

Week 5 ranking: 111 (+10)

The Aztecs don’t need Lucas Johnson to do much to win games this season, so don’t be too surprised by a low ranking here. He’s currently averaging just 5.7 yards per pass attempt and has thrown 6 TDs against 3 INTs. Johnson does add an element with his legs, but this SDSU team gets by on the strength of their defense.

The way Johnson finds success is on designed rollouts and bootlegs, but those can’t be run on every pass attempt. Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem to matter, as the Aztecs are 9-1 and squarely ranked inside the College Football Playoff Rankings.

100) Tanner Morgan | Minnesota

Week 5 ranking: 100 (no change)

A tough year for Tanner Morgan hasn’t gotten any easier now that Big Ten play really started. This team is a completely different unit than the one that gave Ohio State trouble on opening weekend. They’re bowl-eligible, but they haven’t done much to warrant too many good feelings as of late.

Morgan ranks ninth in the conference with 1,540 passing yards and is second to last with a completion percentage of 58%. He hasn’t been completing passes at the career-high rate he flashed in 2019, nor has his game been nearly as good. Morgan has struggled to get the ball to his receivers with tempo, velocity, and speed on a routine basis. He has all the tools — it’s just about harnessing them at this point.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. He is also the co-host of Between the Hashes, a college football and NFL draft podcast. You can find his writing here. Follow him on Twitter @CamMellor