What do the advanced numbers say about Sam Darnold‘s new backup?
The most shocking selection of Joe Douglas’ inaugural draft class was undoubtedly that of Florida International quarterback James Morgan, taken in the fourth round with the 125th overall pick.
Does Morgan have the tools to become a reliable long-term backup for Sam Darnold?
Let’s dig into the analytics behind Morgan’s collegiate career with the Panthers.
Excellent 2018 season
Morgan initially committed to Bowling Green, where he redshirted as a freshman and then played 18 games from 2016-17. He transferred to FIU ahead of the 2018 season and finished out his final two years of eligibility there.
While he had a rough 2019 season in which he played through a knee injury, Morgan was tremendous in his first season at FIU, being named the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year.
In 2018, Morgan completed 213 of 326 passes (65.3%) for 2,727 yards (8.4 per attempt), 26 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, earning an NCAA passer rating of 157.6 that led Conference USA and stands as the 14th-best single-season mark in conference history.
The intermediate area of the field (10-19 yards downfield) is where Morgan thrives. In 2019, he completed 44 of 78 (56.4%) passes in that range for 777 yards (10.0 per target), four touchdowns, and no interceptions, posting an NFL passer rating of 107.7. Morgan’s Pro Football Focus passing grade of 90.7 on intermediate throws ranked 17th-best in the entire nation.
Morgan handled pressure respectably in 2019, completing 40 of 82 passes for 508 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception:
- 48.8% completion rate (77th percentile among qualified quarterbacks)
- 71.6 NFL passer rating (66th percentile)
- 6.2 yards per attempt (49th percentile)
In addition, Morgan only took 12 sacks in 2019, tied for the third-fewest among all quarterbacks in college football with at least 300 dropbacks.