Despite solid 2023 campaign with Florida Football, Graham Mertz is still undervalued

Graham Mertz was left off the 247 Sports lists of top QBs for 2024

Florida Quarterback Graham Mertz (15) prepares to pass during practice. The Florida Gators held
Florida Quarterback Graham Mertz (15) prepares to pass during practice. The Florida Gators held / Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY

It's officially talking season and unfortunately for Florida Football they are not in a position to dispute any negative press that comes their way until September. After three straight losing campaigns, the Gators are mostly forced to stew with any proclamations made about the squad.

But there is a difference between team-wide proclamations and analyzing individual players, and despite being one of the bright spots for the Gators in 2023, Graham Mertz still can't seem to gain the respect of the national media heading into 2024.

Florida Football: Prove Them Wrong

We here at Hail Florida Hail, along with many others, had our doubts when Billy Napier plucked Mertz out of the transfer portal from Wisconsin. Thankfully, we were wrong, and anyone trying to pin the 5-7 season on Mertz would be doing so out of spite versus reality.

Mertz may not have pumped the ball downfield as much as fans would have liked, but he was able to throw for 20 touchdowns against just three interceptions and had a completion percentage of 72.9% while saddled behind a flawed offensive line.

Based on ESPN's QBR rating, Mertz was 36th in the country in 2023. Of QBs that took at least 300 dropbacks, Mertz was 28th in PFF's ratings.

With several QBs that were ahead of him now gone, one would think Mertz would have some traction heading into 2024.

Well, 247 Sports just released their list of the top 25 quarterbacks heading into 2024, and the answer to that question is no.

In order to include Mertz on this list, we would have to take someone off and there are three prime candidates who we would argue Mertz had a better 2023 season than.

K.J. Jefferson did come into The Swamp and beat Florida. That is true, but it wasn't because Jefferson outplayed Mertz. Both accounted for three touchdowns, while Mertz had zero interceptions to Jefferson throwing one. Arkansas won the game because Ricky Pearsall got stripped for a fumble returned for a touchdown and because Florida didn't know how to line up for a game-winning field goal.

Mertz ranked ahead of Jefferson in both QBR and in PFF for 2023.

Grayson McCall was a one-time target for the Gators out of Coastal Carolina. It didn't work out for him to transfer, and he stuck around in Conway, SC, last season. Now at NC State, apparently nobody bothered to pay attention to his 2023 season prior to him sustaining a concussion in late October.

McCall only had 10 touchdowns through seven games and still managed to throw six interceptions, four of which came against Georgia Southern.

Mertz ranked ahead of McCall in both QBR and in PFF for 2023.

Then finally there is Cam Ward, who the Gators will see in their opening game on August 31. The former Washington State QB is now in Miami, and everyone seems enamored with the flashy name versus the actual production.

Mertz was sacked 31 times in 2023, in part due to having a turnstile of an offensive line. Somehow, Ward managed to get sacked even more, as he was taken down 43 times, according to PFF, the 5th most in the country.

Mertz ranked ahead of Ward in both QBR and in PFF for 2023.

As is the case for any narrative written about Florida, Mertz won't have a chance to prove the doubters wrong for months.

But if Mertz can put together another solid 2024 campaign and Florida can surpass expectations, don't be surprised if Mertz shoots up some of these QB lists by the end of the season.

Next. Basketball. It would benefit the Gators to lose early in the SEC Tournament. dark