Trying to do something like rank every quarterback in college football is basically an impossible task, but necessary for the offseason content, so I have sympathy for people who make the attempt. But you have to at least give it an honest effort, and there’s not much evidence that Pro Football Focus’s Cam Mellor did that much.
Take, for instance, not just that Devin Leary is No. 57 in his rankings, but that he’s just one spot ahead of Bailey Hockman, who left for a job at a mid-major because he was never going to be better than Leary.
It’s important to note that Leary gets the nod above his former teammate Hockman mainly because he: A) kept the job at NC State, and B) went 3-0 in his starts during the 2020 season. Leary played in the Virginia Tech blowout and started the next three games for the Wolfpack — all victories against Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Duke. The reason he barely gets the nod over Hockman is simple. That isn’t quite the gauntlet of ACC defenses to hang your cap on.
There are legitimate reasons to have doubts about Devin Leary, primary among them, there’s a small sample to his good performance. But the idea that opponent quality could be a factor in his being just slightly better than Hockman is nonsense. Again, there is a good reason why Hockman transferred. And for the record, Pitt ranked 27th in defensive SP+, UVA was 57th, and Duke was 83rd.
If you want to be a Leary skeptic, that’s fine. He played a quarter of last season, and he’s had injury problems. There’s still a lot we don’t know about his game. It’s pretty ridiculous to ignore the obvious circumstances of last year, though, and to argue there’s not much difference between him and Hockman just tells me you aren’t paying attention. And you definitely didn’t watch the bowl game.