Joshua Dobbs’ Low 3rd Down College Completion Rate Warrants Deeper Look

While scouting players via their stats is very unadvisable, it doesn’t prevent a lot of us from using it as a starting point in some areas in order to find noticeable deficiencies before diving back into the tape of certain players in order to see what’s really going on.

With that disclaimer now out of the way, I wanted to alert all of you to something I noticed when looking at the college passing stats of new Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs and it’s an area of his game that I intend on digging deeper into while going back over his Tennessee games once again. It revolves around his third down passing.

Of the nine quarterbacks that wound up being selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, Dobbs’ third down completion percentage of 48.5 in 2016 was the lowest of the group. Now, if that isn’t alarming enough and thus a very good reason to go back and look at what actually transpired with Dobbs’ third down tape from 2016, the fact that he only completed 40.7% of his third down passes when facing 7 or more yards to go definitely is.

Of the 10 quarterbacks who were drafted this year, Dobbs’ 40.7% completion rate when facing third down and 7 or more yards was way lower than the nine others. In fact, the next two lowest drafted quarterbacks in that statistical category in 2016 were Brad Kaaya (50.8%) and Nathan Peterman (50.9%).

So, did Dobbs face third down and 7 or more quite a bit in 2016 and if so, did that help result in his overall completion rate on that down being 48.5%? In short, no. In fact, of Dobbs’ 99 total third down passing attempts in 2016, only 54.5% of them came on third down with 7 or more yards to go. To give that some perspective, only Deshaun Watson (46.1%), Chad Kelly (53.7%) and Peterman (49.5) had lower percentages of third and long attempts than Dobbs did in 2016 when looking at all 10 of this year’s drafted quarterbacks.

While it will likely take some time, I plan on seeing if I can find all 99 of Dobbs’ third down pass attempts from 2016 and chart them all. At the very least, hopefully I can find his 54 total third down pass attempts when facing 7 or more yards.

While the tape won’t tell us whether Dobbs’ intended targets were properly following their individual assignments, it should show us how accurate the Steelers new quarterback was and how many poor decisions he made.

Dobbs, by the way, completed just 50.5% of all third down pass attempts during his college career at Tennessee. Additionally, his career college completion percentage when facing third down and 7 or longer was 44.0%.

In short, stay tuned for more information on this topic.

2016 third down passing stats of 2017 drafted quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes IITexas Tech121157666.1122510.6511462612814
Mitch TrubiskyN Carolina131177564.19267.91724950258
Deshaun WatsonClemson151529361.212398.1514637733610
DeShone KizerNotre Dame12975556.77177.39926738206
Chad KellyMiss9673755.25167.70525027166
Nathan PetermanPittsburgh131075854.29048.4512279411711
Brad KaayaMiami131105751.87656.951127734167
C.J. BeathardIowa13894651.74224.74562521101
Davis WebbCalifornia121487450.09686.54767452228
Joshua DobbsTennessee13994848.56066.12555531154

Joshua Dobbs 2016 3rd Down Pass Attempts (7 yards or more to go)

Appalachian St.1st8:093rd7APP 38J.Dobbs pass complete to P.Williams for 16 yds to the AppSt 22CY15
Appalachian St.1st0:003rd18TENN 32J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.HurdIN2
Appalachian St.2nd5:103rd21TENN 38J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Hurd for 6 yds to the Tenn 44CN-4
Appalachian St.3rd3:053rd7APP 21J.Dobbs pass incomplete to A.KamaraIN-1
Appalachian St.4th10:553rd9TENN 19J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Malone for 14 yds to the Tenn 33CY12
Appalachian St.4th7:463rd18TENN 16J.Dobbs pass incomplete to E.WolfIN 7
Appalachian St.4th3:203rd21TENN 32J.Dobbs pass complete to E.Wolf for 9 yds to the Tenn 41CN9
Virginia Tech2nd5:413rd15VT 16J.Dobbs pass incomplete to T.ByrdIN 27
Virginia Tech3rd10:113rd10VT 29J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.JenningsIN14
Virginia Tech3rd7:043rd15VT 23J.Dobbs pass complete to A.Kamara for 23 yds for a TDCY5
Virginia Tech3rd2:253rd13TENN 37J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.SmithIN3
Virginia Tech4th9:213rd11TENN 20J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Hurd for 1 yd to the Tenn 21CN1
Ohio1st4:573rd18OHIO 35J.Dobbs pass complete to A.Kamara for -2 yards to the Ohio 37CN-3
Ohio2nd4:553rd7TENN 31J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.MaloneIN13
Florida1st4:323rd11TENN 40J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.MaloneIN 8
Florida1st2:443rd7FLA 43J.Dobbs pass incomplete to T.ByrdIN1
Florida2nd8:573rdGFLA 7J.Dobbs pass intercepted, touchbackINTN15
Florida3rd4:203rd8TENN 34J.Dobbs pass incomplete to A.KamaraIN16
Florida4th11:483rd10FLA 42J.Dobbs J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Malone for 42 yds for a TDCY10
Georgia1st11:033rd9TENN 47J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.SmithIN13
Georgia1st7:123rd8UGA 34J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.HurdIN-4
Georgia3rd12:403rd7UGA 40J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Malone for 11 yds to the Geo 29CY11
Georgia3rd3:043rd9TENN 28J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.MaloneIN34
Texas A&M1st7:343rd7TENN 38J.Dobbs pass complete to A.Kamara for 55 yds fumbledCY-3
Texas A&M2nd5:203rd8TENN 16J.Dobbs pass incomplete to E.WolfIN4
Texas A&M3rd13:173rd10TENN 40J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Malone for 27 yds to the TexAM 33CY14
Texas A&M3rd9:493rd10TENN 18J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Kelly for 12 yds to the Tenn 30CY-3
Texas A&M4th13:133rd23TA&M 43J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.SmithIN12
Texas A&M4th9:203rd10TENN 36J.Dobbs pass complete to A.Kamara for 13 yds to the Tenn 49CY-7
Texas A&M4th2:403rd10TA&M 49J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Croom for 9 yds to the TexAM 40CN5
Alabama1st0:143rd7ALA 37J.Dobbs pass intercepted by R.Harrison for a TDINTN-5
Alabama2nd10:403rd8TENN 26J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.JenningsIN16
Alabama2nd5:153rd10TENN 35J.Dobbs pass complete to A.Kamara for 3 yds to the Tenn 38CN3
Alabama3rd10:153rd14TENN 35J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.HurdIN2
Alabama3rd4:553rd10ALA 23J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Jennings for 4 yds to the Alab 19CN4
South Carolina1st7:123rd21TENN 42J.Dobbs pass incomplete to T.ByrdIN 4
South Carolina2nd13:453rd17TENN 14J.Dobbs pass intercepted by J.KingINTN15
South Carolina2nd11:353rd9TENN 26J.Dobbs pass incomplete to E.WolfIN4
South Carolina2nd7:583rd13TENN 30J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.SmithIN 6
South Carolina3rd7:513rd10TENN 45J.Dobbs pass incomplete to nobodyIN2
South Carolina4th14:093rd11TENN 15J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.CroomIN11
Tennessee Tech1st3:403rd7TENN 30J.Dobbs pass complete to B.Johnson for 21 yds to the TnTch 49CY13
Missouri1st6:013rd8MIZ 49J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Jennings for 49 yds for a TDCY27
Missouri2nd12:073rd7MIZ 29J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.MaloneIN13
Missouri2nd8:003rd7MIZ 36J.Dobbs pass complete to A.Kamara for 10 yds to the Misso 26CY6
Missouri3rd8:513rd11TENN 24J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.SmithIN10
Vanderbilt3rd7:463rdGVAN 7J.Dobbs pass incomplete to E.WolfIN7
Vanderbilt4th12:063rd17VAN 19J.Dobbs pass incomplete to T.ByrdIN 9
Nebraska1st11:463rd11NEB 33J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.JenningsIN32
Nebraska1st6:433rd14TENN 41J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.SmithIN9
Nebraska2nd4:453rd7TENN 25J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Malone for 10 yds to the Tenn 35CY10
Nebraska2nd3:263rd21TENN 38J.Dobbs pass complete to J.Jennings for 15 yds to the Neb 47CN5
Nebraska2nd1:053rd10TENN 40J.Dobbs pass complete to A.Kamara for 12 yds to the Neb 48CY5
Nebraska4th6:003rd13TENN 36J.Dobbs pass incomplete to J.MaloneIN38

  • Sam

    Why don’t you track how many times you take a dump and compare it to others? You would obviously win cause you are full of CRAP. Just sayin!

  • falconsaftey43

    what the heck was that all about? No need to lash out at Dave for posting some statistics. If you’re not interested, don’t read it.

  • SteelersDepot

    Hmm, not understanding this reply at all.

  • george

    Yeah…pretty bizzare response. Maybe Sam got fired this morning.

  • The Chin


  • Peter MacDonald

    Reads free content….complains about free content. Wins day!

  • Spencer Krick


  • Gautama Om

    Well he had one of the worst OL in college FB. That’s not going to help on 3rd down when the D is most amped up to stop your drive. I’m not blaming all his short comings on a terrible OL but it was a big factor that was made worse when the D puts the most pressure on the offense.

  • Durango Snowman

    I just glanced through his posts, it seems angry fecal related comments are his goto response on most topics

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Dave there are so many variables. Was their coach happy to have him quickly dump the ball off to a RB or something and let the guy try to make a play and get the first down? Was the coach and Dobbs scared that the OL would not hold up for a 5 step drop and played conservatively? Did they take some chances and throw the low percentage deep throw trying to get a TD? Were they leading or losing at the time?

    Perhaps the Steelers have observed this and don’t mind. The Steelers may want Dobbs to go deep on 3rd and short as well. Just like they do with Ben. Even if there is some sort of 3rd down problem, the Steelers may feel like they can correct it.

    So many possibilities. I agree that the 3rd and long success rate deplorable.

  • VaDave


  • VaDave

    Sound like a good study Dave, and I’d be interested in the results. The only thing I can go by are the videos on the internet, which only gets you part of the way there. I’m by no means a stats guy, but coupled with solid visual evidence (* which is why I Love Alex’s gif break downs) it becomes pretty clear what you have. What I’ve seen so far, he’s a guy with a not great arm that throws lot of balls that look like wounded ducks, in a not real good offensive system, with players not helping him much. Just maybe the truth is in the numbers this time.

  • RickM

    I imagine that every QB on the list experienced O-line issues from time to time, or receivers who didn’t make catches. So the discrepancy is pretty stunning. That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved through better coaching and a full-time emphasis on football as opposed to studies and football. But it spells out why he wasn’t picked until almost the 5th round, and why he’s a longshot to make it as an NFL starter.

  • MintDragon

    just discovered you can block his comments through Discus. Cool!

  • Terrible Towlie

    wasted pick

  • Aj Gentile

    You seem like a great kind of person

  • ManRayX

    Sam—Really?! The utter randomness and coarseness of your vitriol toward Dave (who based on his website and podcast seems like a pretty likable, affable and hard-working fellow–a good all-around egg) gave me a big laugh AND an excuse to send a small donation Dave’s way to thank him for his fine work & for putting up with a population that includes blustering miscreants and malcontents like you. But it really did make me laugh!

  • Anon Mouse

    On 3rd down, a completion that doesn’t get a 1st or a TD is a failed play. From that perspective Dobbs is average (~31% success rate). And the players selected in the 1st round standout.

  • Geoffrey Benedict

    Hey Sam why don’t you use your keyboard to make some intelligent posts, instead of just furthering your fetish for fecal matter? Just saying?

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Tennessee was a hard team for me to figure out this year. Not only were they inconsistent from game to game but also wildly inconsistent during games.

  • Aj Gentile

    Simple solution, don’t get to third down

  • Scott N.

    I don’t watch Gruden much, but he was very high on Dobbs. Maybe he is like that with everyone. Like I said, I haven’t watched Gruden’s Camp that much overall, but he never brought up his 3rd down percentages that I am aware of. I was actually impressed with the kid after watching it.