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Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett was not drafted, but 13 quarterbacks were

Did #16’s height prevent him from getting picked?

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

We Ohio State fans are a fickle group. For the last four years, a certain segment of Buckeye Nation has wanted anyone other than J.T. Barrett to play quarterback for OSU. However, as other— less accomplished— QBs started hearing their names called in last week’s NFL Draft, with nary a mention of Barrett, nearly all Buckeyes got a bit defensive.

It was especially bad when word came out that Barrett had not even been able to sign a contract as an undrafted free agent, but instead had accepted a mini-camp tryout with the New Orleans Saints; yet another slap in the face for the most productive QB in Big Ten history.

Those that have watched Barrett play over the last four years are well aware of all of his insane accomplishments, as well as what he does and doesn’t do well. So, I don’t think that any level-headed OSU observer is going to complain about Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, or Lamar Jackson going in the first round and Barrett not. I think it’s even safe to acknowledge that Mason Rudolph going in the third round ahead of Barrett probably makes sense.

However, from the fourth round on, that’s where things get a little wonky. With the 108th pick, the New York Giants selected Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta. Over his four years at the FCS school, Lauletta accumulated 10,651 total yards, 85 total touchdowns, and threw 35 interceptions. Against obviously better competition, Barrett went for 12,697 yards, 147 TDS, and threw 30 INTs.

Now, you might be saying that Barrett is something of a dual-threat, while Lauletta is a more traditional pro-style quarterback. So, even if you subtract the OSU QB’s rushing stats, he still threw for 9,434 yards compared to Lauletta’s 10,465; and had 31 more passing touchdown, sitting the second halves of many games with the contest already in hand.

Now some old-school evaluators will tell you that Barrett at 6-foot-1 isn’t tall enough to play QB in the NFL given his specific skill set. So, if you give Lauletta the nod with his two-inch height advantage (despite similar concerns about arm strength), there were still six other QBs selected after Lauletta.

QBs Taken in 2018 NFL Draft

Round Pick Team Player School
Round Pick Team Player School
1 1 Cleveland Baker Mayfield Oklahoma
1 3 Jets Sam Darnold USC
1 7 Bills Josh Allen Wyoming
1 10 Cardinals Josh Rosen UCLA
1 32 Ravens Lamar Jackson Louisville
3 76 Steelers Mason Rudolph Oklahoma St.
4 108 Giants Kyle Lauletta Richmond
5 171 Cowboys Mike White Western Kentucky
6 199 Titans Luke Falk Washington State
6 203 Jaguars Tanner Lee Nebraska
7 219 Patriots Danny Etling LSU
8 220 Seahawks Alex McGough Florida International
7 249 Bengals Logan Woodside Toledo

All of those QBs’ stats and honors pale in comparison to Barrett’s, unsurprisingly, but the selection that really jumps out as being almost offensive is that of Tanner Lee, who was taken with the 203rd pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former Nebraska— by way of Tulane— quarterback threw for 6,744 yards in three seasons, and had 46 touchdowns to 37 career interceptions.

So Lee threw an interception for every 1.24 TDs, while Barrett was at a 3.47 ratio. Also, Lee’s career completion percentage was 55.2 percent, while Barrett’s was 63.5. And of course, that doesn’t even account for the fact that Lee had a total of -384 rushing yards in his collegiate career, compared to Barrett’s 3,263.

Barrett had a better 40-time at the combine (4.7 vs. 4.93), and other than their broad jumps, all of their other workout results were comparable. So while Lee does have better arm strength than Barrett, the only other advantage that Lee has is that he is 6-foot-4; everything else leans Barrett’s way.

Buckeye fans saw Lee up close last fall, and he did put up a solid 303 yards, but losing 56-14, he was chucking it around all game, and ended the contest with a moribund 47.4 QBR.

Now, in fairness, Lee is not the worst in the baker’s dozen of quarterbacks selected (no pun intended), but the fact that he ended his career in the Big Ten with fairly pedestrian stats, and still got the call when the B1G’s reigning and three-time QB of the Year is having to fight for a mini-camp tryout is frustrating.

Now, I’m not even particularly saying that Barrett deserved to be drafted; I am far from a #16 apologist. However, when we see what quarterbacks were taken from the fourth round on, and see the type of numbers that they put up—many against inferior competition— you have to wonder what the disconnect is.

I don’t think that Barrett will ever be a full-time starter in the NFL, but there’s no doubt that the way that the position is played in the league is changing. So, when you realize that the last seven QBs taken were all taller than Barrett by an average of 2.3 inches, I don’t think it is inappropriate to wonder if his height was the deciding factor in him not getting selected, despite shorter signal callers having success in recent years.

Barrett clearly had a better resume than everyone not taken in the first round, and many of the guys that went late had just as many skill and technique red flags as Barrett did. So did his less than statuesque stature make a difference?

Or, was it the fact that the NFL execs had a bit too much information on the legendary Ohio State quarterback? Had Barrett been in the spotlight for so long that the mystery had worn off? Was there no more “up side” for a guy that scouts had seen play in major games for four years?

I don’t know the answer, perhaps he legitimately isn’t as good as Western Kentucky’s Mike White, or FIU’s Alex McGough, or Toledo’s Logan Woodside, but it just seems surprising to me that someone who had such a great college career can’t even get a shot when guys who had not nearly as great of college careers can.


Compared to the QBs taken in the fourth round or later, why do you think J.T. Barrett wasn’t selected?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    His height
    (468 votes)
  • 49%
    Too much tape, not enough "potential"
    (979 votes)
  • 26%
    All of those guys were better than Barrett
    (515 votes)
1962 votes total Vote Now