Who's the Best? Ranking Cyclone No. 17

Hidden in a 3-9 season was plenty of quality-to-elite talent. It's one man's list, but we've set off to rank Iowa State's best players, counting down from No. 50 all the way to No. 1. In this installment we rank player No. 18

The debate's getting serious.

AllCyclones.com began listing ISU's best 50 players for 2014 earlier, Nos. 50-26 — using production, potential, positional value and a little bit of by-the-gut reasoning.

Now we get to the nitty-gritty, beginning our one-by-one countdown of No. 25 to No. 1, a task that'll run through Spring Football.

The envelope, please ...

No. 17: Grant Rohach, Quarterback, SO

For Iowa State to improve on its 3-9 season, get back to a bowl game and have fans feeling good about the future of Paul Rhoads' program, the Cyclones need a quarterback.

They've got a few options right now, with Joel Lanning (No. 47), Rohach (No. 17) and Sam Richardson (??) apparently even in spring practices. OK, scratch that: For ISU to do all that nice stuff we just talked about, it needs more than a quarterback. It needs a very-good-to-great quarterback.

Is Rohach that guy?

As a redshirt freshman, Rohach went through spells where I was convinced he wasn't good enough to play in a BCS conference. His last two games, in wins over Kansas and West Virginia, he was the difference between 1-12, 2-10 and 3-9, amassing 661 yards passing and six touchdowns, to go with 77 yards on the ground and a score.

Per ESPN's adjusted QBR rankings (a metric I'll vouch for), Rohach was better in those final two games (85.3 and 88.2) than Sam Richardson was in all but one (91.6 on a scale of 100 against Texas).

We'll use some more metrics below, outlining the reason for this ranking.

  • Rohach's Best Case Scenario: Wins the quarterback job outright and stays upright, starting 13 — yes, a bowl game — for the Cyclones while completing over 65 percent of his passes.

  • Rohach's Worst Case Scenario: The guy who began the spring as QB1 is passed up by the more experienced Richardson and the stronger-armed Lanning and has a decision to make about his future.

  • Reason for the Ranking:

    A few things ...

    ... Richardson is more experienced than Rohach and more athletic ...

    ... Rohach might be totally green if Richardson's 2013 injuries hadn't opened the door to playing time ...

    ... Richardson is more adept at making plays with his feet.

    Now, for some advanced stats:

  • Adjusted Net Yards/ Attempt (takes into account sacks, yards lost on sacks, passing yards, attempts, touchdowns, interceptions thrown: Rohach, 4.66 yards. Richardson, 4.83.

  • Passer rating: Rohach, 117.21. Richardson, 118.48.

  • QBR: Rohach, 66.5. Richardson, 51.2.

  • TD %: Rohach, 4.2. Richardson, 5.

  • INT %: Rohach, 3.7. Richardson, 3.2.

  • 3rd-down completion % (TD/INT): Rohach, 48.1 (2/3). Richardson, 42.9 (5/3).

  • Redzone completion % (TD/INT): Rohach, 37.5 (4/0). Richardson, 60 (6/0).

    We're splitting hairs on many of those stats, but enough of them go in the favor of Richardson to support the objective eye-test, along with film review. One advantage Rohach has over Richardson is the deep ball.

    Briefing

    It is with caution that I dip my toe into what will likely be choppy waters. Ranking Iowa State's 50 best players is an arduous task. With a number that allows for the two-deep (22 on each side) plus a few, any omission might be construed as an insult. That's not at all what I set out to do here. I wanted to locate and then rank the most valuable Cyclones for the 2014 football season. Read that again. For the 2014 football season. Not from last season. Or for 2017. How'd I do this? I looked at production, sure, and of course I looked at short-term potential — can this player contribute in 2014, and at what level?

    Phone calls were made, brains were picked, contributions considered. I tried to think like an NFL executive: Quarterback, offensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback are by many accounts the most important positions in football, but I didn't always obey that rule, not unless the talent stacked up. I went back to my notes for the first and second watches of all the 2013 games, but those were last season's schemes, at least on offense, and I project the change to Mark Mangino's scheme will shake things up.

  • 50: Brian Peavy

  • 49: Jevohn Miller

  • 48: Pierre Aka

  • 47: Joel Lanning

  • 46: Kamari Syrie

  • 45: Colin Downing

  • 44: Kamari Cotton-Moya

  • 43: Michael Warren

  • 42: Kenneth Lynn

  • 41: Justin Madison

  • 40: Duaron Williams

  • 39: Tad Ecby

  • 38: Tyler Brown

  • 37: Mitchell Meyers

  • 36: Gabe Luna

  • 35: Cole Netten

  • 34: Rob Standard

  • 33: Dondre Daley

  • 32: Wendell Taiese

  • 31: Jared Brackens

  • 30: T.J. Mutcherson

  • 29: Oni Omoile

  • 28: Trent Taylor

  • 27: Sam E. Richardson

  • 26: Devlyn Cousin

  • 25: Terry Ayeni

  • 24: Qujuan Floyd

  • 23: Jake Campos

  • 22: Allen Lazard

  • 21: Luke Knott

  • 20: Jamison Lalk

  • 19: Jacob Gannon

  • 18: Jordan Harris

  • 17: Grant Rohach

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