Thread: QB Impressions
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Old 02-11-2017, 04:43 PM   #53
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QB Impressions

Originally Posted by BryanBusby View Post
Can you just post the results because **** ****ing assholes that do slideshows to up view count. **** them in the ass.

Which Quarterback From the 2017 Draft Class Is Statistically Superior?

What We're Looking For

In that aforementioned piece that looked at how collegiate numbers translate to the NFL, three statistics shined through as being relevant when looking at quarterbacks: the number of games they played (based on games in which the passer had at least 10 attempts), adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A, which includes both touchdowns and interceptions to get a measure of efficiency), and passer efficiency rating. These three will be the main focuses in looking at this crop of newcomers.

To determine which quarterbacks would be classified as "successful," we used numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), the metric we use to track how many expected points a player adds to his team's total throughout the course of the season. Specifically, we looked at where a player ranked in Total NEP (which accounts for points added as a rusher, as well) in each season he had at least 200 drop backs. By seeing how often a player finishes as a top-15 or top-10 passer in this metric, we can see if he's a guy we'd want leading our franchise each and every year.

Let's give a quick example here. The table below splits all quarterbacks taken in the first round from 1995 through 2014 into two groups: those who had at least one season in the top 10 in Total NEP and those who never finished that high. "Pick" refers to where that player was selected in the draft, and both AY/A and passer efficiency rating are from the player's final season in college.

Any Top-10 FinishesPickGames Pass. Eff. Rat. AY/A

Top-10: 6.2137.37 156.6 9.1
Non-Top 10: 12.2631.58 152.9 8.7

The players who had at least one top-10 finish to their credit averaged 37.37 games in college before going pro; those who were never in the top 10 averaged just 31.58.

That would seem to be important.

In setting a baseline for a franchise quarterback, we looked at players who had finished in the top 10 in Total NEP in at least one third of their seasons. After including 2016's metrics (and omitting players from the last two draft classes due to a lack of an adequate sample), only 13 of 50 first-round quarterbacks met this criteria. Here's how their stats compared to the other 37.

One Third of Seasons in Top 10PickGamesPass Eff RatAY/A

Yes: 6.3139.00162.4 9.4
No: 11.2431.95151.5 8.6

As you can see, there's a big split in each of our three desired stats between those who qualified and those who did not. This helps us form a blueprint of what we want in a quarterback as he enters the NFL draft.

If a quarterback doesn't have at least around 36 games under his belt (roughly three years as a starter), it's justified to be skeptical. Players beneath that range have busted much more often than their more experienced counterparts, and you can bet that'll be a big topic of discussion with this year's class.

As for the passer efficiency rating and AY/A, the ideal ranges are around 160 and 9.2, respectively. This year's crop can be competitive in these arenas, but there is no Marcus Mariota-level efficiency savant in the field.

It's worth noting that draft capital had a much larger effect on predicting which players would pan out, meaning scouts are pretty good at what they do. If they deem a player with great collegiate stats to be a third-round pick, then we should be wary of getting too excited about him. However, if we're focusing just on the stats, here's how these top five rank heading into the draft process.

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1. Brad Kaaya, Miami

Games Played: 38 | Passer Efficiency Rating: 150.3 | AY/A: 8.9

Top Statistical Comp: Byron Leftwich

Brad Kaaya's reputation with scouts doesn't seem to be overly rosy as Kiper listed him fifth among these players. But when it comes to statistics, he's the closest we've got to fitting the blueprint.

The big thing working in Kaaya's favor is his number of games played. As you'll recall, we're looking for guys with around 36 games played, and he's the only guy in this class who exceeds that number. In this department, Kaaya is solid. His efficiency, though, leaves something to be desired.

Kaaya's passer efficiency rating ranks fourth of our five quarterbacks. If we combine this group of five with the 55 other first-round pick quarterbacks since 1995, Kaaya ranks just 39th. It's also right in the range where we saw busts in the previous slide.

His AY/A is a bit more favorable, sitting 31st in this group of 60 and third among the incoming quarterbacks. However, it still falls a bit short of what we're looking for. You can see why this draft class presents a dilemma: the only guy with the requisite level of experience had mediocre efficiency. It's hard to get too excited about any of the crop.

There is a bit of a saving grace, though, for Kaaya in that he plays in the ACC. This is the same conference as both Trubisky and Watson, meaning we can check out how they each fared when facing common opponents. Kaaya and Trubisky faced seven common teams this year, and here's how they performed in those contests.

Against Common OpponentsAttemptsYardsTouchdownsInterceptionsAY/A

Brad Kaaya: 2382,0441539.28
Mitch Trubisky: 2512,1321849.21

And here's how Kaaya compared against five common opponents to Watson.

Against Common OpponentsAttemptsYardsTouchdownsInterceptionsAY/A

Brad Kaaya: 1741,420928.68
DeShaun Watson: 2471,9281287.32

If you're looking at raw yardage, you're not going to be Kaaya's biggest fan. However, he did get more bang for his buck thanks to a higher yards per attempt and AY/A while successfully avoiding interceptions. He had higher efficiency than both of these guys while facing the same defenses, and he tops both in games played. That's a glimmer of hope.

Kaaya's basic draft profile is this: gobs of experience without overwhelming efficiency. How does that fit into the mold? We can take a peak by looking at quarterbacks with a similar profile coming out.

Of the past 55 quarterbacks selected in the first round, 23 of them had started between 34 and 42 games (four games in each direction from Kaaya). Two of those had an AY/A near Kaaya's. Here's a look at Kaaya's profile side by side with theirs.

QuarterbackGamesPass. Eff. RatAY/A

Byron Leftwich: 36 156.59
Brad Kaaya: 38 150.38.9
Blake Bortles: 34 163.48.8

This is why Leftwich wound up being Kaaya's top comp as they're relatively close across the board. Blake Bortles is far from being a flattering second choice, never finishing higher than 19th in Total NEP in his three qualified seasons, including a 28th-place finish this year.

The positive of Kaaya is that his questions will likely come at a discount. Because he's held in much lower regard, he'll likely wind up being available on either the second or third day of the draft, so the costs of potential shortcomings are less extreme. He has the experience you want, and his efficiency was above that of both Trubisky and Watson against common opponents. That should be enough to justify a gamble later on, even if he's far from being a surefire stud.

2. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

Games Played: 30 | Passer Efficiency Rating: 157.0 | AY/A: 9.2

Top Statistical Comp: Steve McNair

If we were judging this based just on collegiate efficiency, then Patrick Mahomes would hold the top spot. He had the best AY/A in the class, and his passer efficiency rating was second by a hair. With the discrepancy between Kaaya and Mahomes in games played, though, Mahomes slides down to a respectable second.

Mahomes took big strides between his 2015 sophomore season and last year in limiting interceptions, something that helped vault him to the top of this list. He threw 15 picks as a sophomore, leading the Big 12, but he cut that to 10 this year despite adding 18 more total attempts. When you couple that with a gaudy 41 touchdowns, it's easy to see how his AY/A got so meaty.

This isn't to say he cowers over previous first-round picks, though. Going back to our group of 60 candidates, Mahomes ranks 26th in AY/A and 29th in passer efficiency rating. This is all while starting for just two-plus seasons, limiting him to 30 games played. Even the elite in this class bring some serious questions.

Whenever Mahomes' name is brought up this draft season, you can bet someone will make mention of his playing in the Big 12. This isn't a conference known for stellar defense, potentially tainting his efficiency stats. Looking back at how past Big 12 first-round picks have fared likely won't help his case.

Since 1995, there have been seven quarterbacks from the Big 12 drafted in the first round. Here's a look at how they've fared in the NFL through the eyes of NEP, again focusing on top-15 seasons in years in which they had at least 200 drop backs.

Quarterback School Top-15 NEP Seasons Qualified Seasons

Robert Griffin III Baylor 1 3
Sam Bradford Oklahoma 1 6
Vince Young Texas 1 3
Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State 0 2
Josh Freeman Kansas State 1 4
Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M 1 5
Blaine Gabbert Missouri 0 3

In 26 qualified seasons, former Big 12 quarterbacks have finished in the top 15 in Total NEP just five times. Sam Bradford didn't get his first top-15 finish until this year. You can bet Mahomes is going to hear about this, whether it's fair or not.

Perhaps it's fitting, then, that Mahomes' top comp is the late Steve McNair, who played his college ball at Alcorn State, which was -- at the time -- Division I-AA. His stats there weren't anything otherworldly, either, and he and Mahomes line up well across the board.

Quarterback Games Pass. Eff. Rat. AY/A

Steve McNair: 33 155.4 9.0
Patrick Mahomes: 30 157.0 9.2

McNair was a tremendous NFL player despite putting up just decent stats against lower-level competition in college; it's probably not right to write off Mahomes simply because he played in an offensive-minded conference.

Mahomes is similar to Kaaya in that he's not likely to cost a team a first-round pick. That makes any warts and worries he may present less frightening. He showed some reasons for excitement when he was at Texas Tech, and it would seem fully justifiable to target him at some point beyond the first round.

3. DeShaun Watson, Clemson

Games Played: 34 | Passer Efficiency Rating: 151.1 | AY/A: 8.0

Top Statistical Comp: E.J. Manuel

If it weren't for all of those gosh-darn interceptions, DeShaun Watson could be really freaking good. But, alas, here we are.

Watson is similar to Kaaya in a lot of ways. They both are around the experience levels we want -- and for Watson, it's high-leverage experience with two National Championship Game trips -- but depressed efficiency. Watson has the added bonus that scouts seem to hold him in higher regard, potentially stirring a bit of optimism for him as a pro.

Even though both Kaaya and Watson struggled a little with their efficiency, Kaaya was still a solid step ahead. You saw their marks against common opponents earlier, and here's their full-season stats for comparison.

Quarterback Games Pass. Eff. Rat. AY/A
Brad Kaaya: 38 150.3 8.9
DeShaun Watson: 34 151.1 8.0

Throwing interceptions is a great way to sink your AY/A, and that was the efficiency stat that best predicted future success. That's the reason for the big split between these two.

Before you blame level of competition with Watson having to play in the College Football Playoff, remember that our comparison of Kaaya and Watson against common opponents also favored Kaaya. Add in four additional games of experience, and having Kaaya ahead of Watson would seem to be the way to go.

In reality, though, Watson doesn't need to compete with Kaaya. His true competition is likely Trubisky as they're the two quarterbacks most commonly found in the first round of mock drafts. So let's do the same thing and compare those two against common opponents. There were five overlap matches for the two, and Watson's fatal flaw shined through again.


DeShaun Watson: 2471,9281287.32
Mitch Trubisky: 1871,5251228.96

Watson threw at least one interception in each game; Trubisky only did so in one game, tossing a pair of picks against Virginia Tech while playing in remnants of Hurricane Matthew. This doesn't make up for the enormous gap in experience between the two, but it helps explain the skepticism around Watson despite his resume.

Although Watson's top comp is E.J. Manuel, that's a bit of an incomplete pairing. It's Watson's statistical profile as a passer that puts him with Manuel. Manuel was nowhere near the athlete that Watson was rushing the ball, and it's something that should serve Watson well at the next level. So while the two sit near each other in passing efficiency, we shouldn't simply assume that Watson will be a failure at the next level like Manuel has been thus far.

Perhaps a more apt comparison for Watson would be Jameis Winston. Watson played more games than Winston in college and had better efficiency stats, so they don't mesh well for this endeavor, but Winston was another guy who struggled with interceptions in college. Unfortunately, they've followed him to the NFL.

Over the past two seasons, 37 quarterbacks have at least 300 pass attempts. Only two (Peyton Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick) have higher interception rates than Winston's 2.99% clip. Winston has still managed to be a top-15 passer in Total NEP each of his first two years, but it doesn't inspire hope that Watson will simply brush aside his propensity for picks in the pros.

With Kaaya and Mahomes, teams will probably have the luxury of acquiring them later in the draft. That might not be the case with Watson. There are enough reasons to like him if he winds up falling, but as a potential top-15 pick, there may be too many statistical red flags to buy into the upside.

4. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina

Games Played: 18 | Passer Efficiency Rating: 157.9 | AY/A: 9.1

Top Statistical Comp: Mark Sanchez

Oh boy. If you're talking red flags, and you don't bring up Mitch Trubisky's lack of experience, you're doing it all wrong.

Trubisky enters the NFL draft with just 13 career starts and an additional five games in which he had at least 10 pass attempts. His 18 qualified games rank 59th out of our aforementioned group of 60.

The only guy he beats is -- you guessed it -- Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez -- like Trubisky -- left school after just one full season as the starter. None of his five qualified NFL seasons have resulted in top-15 finishes in Total NEP, and he finished the season as the number three quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately for Trubisky, the two have more in common than just their lack of experience.

PlayerGamesPass. Eff. Rat.AY/A

Mitch Trubisky: 18 157.9 9.1
Mark Sanchez: 16 164.6 8.8

Trubisky's AY/A -- the more important statistic -- was higher than Sanchez's, but Sanchez edged him in passer efficiency rating. Sanchez's collegiate stats were on par with Trubisky's, he was the fifth overall pick, and he still flamed out. We shouldn't use one example to condemn all who follow, but this is flat out scary.

Sanchez isn't the only example we have of players with limited experience and decent efficiency. There have been four quarterbacks who have played 25 or fewer games, had an AY/A of at least 9.0, and wound up as first-round picks. Here's that list with their stats alongside Trubisky's.

QuarterbackGamesPass. Eff. Rat.AY/A

David Carr: 25 165.9 10
Johnny Manziel: 25 172.9 10
Akili Smith: 22 167.3 10.9
Alex Smith: 22 176.5 10.8
Mitch Trubisky: 18 157.9 9.1

Those players have a combined 16 qualified seasons, and they have turned those into three top-15 seasons (one by David Carr and two by Alex Smith).

Carr, Alex Smith, and Akili Smith also had the draft pedigree that we look for, but none wound up being a superstar, all while having superior college efficiency stats to Trubisky. This is alarming for a guy who will likely also be a high-end pick.

In our sampling of 60, Trubisky ranks 26th in passer efficiency rating and 28th in AY/A despite ranking first and second, respectively, of this year's class. Historically, his efficiency metrics are nothing amazing, and his lack of experience is tied to a string of busts. If he had gone back to school for another season and beefed things up, it'd be easier to understand the hype, but as it stands right now, Trubisky is frightening.

A team will likely wind up rolling the dice early on Trubisky. That leaves them vulnerable if he winds up crashing and burning. Based on what he offers statistically, they are inheriting a ton of risk here, and there is no guarantee the pick pans out. It seems like the best strategy would be to wait on the position and snag one of the other options at a discount.

5. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

Games Played: 24 | Passer Efficiency Rating: 145.6 | AY/A: 8.4

Top Statistical Comp: Joe Flacco

Given what happened at Notre Dame this year, DeShone Kizer likely did the right thing in getting the heck up outta Dodge. They finished 4-8, and Kizer even got benched for Malik Zaire in one of the games. Nobody should blame him for leaving early.

Unfortunately, it left his statistical profile entirely uninspiring.

Kizer enters the NFL draft with just 24 games under his belt, putting him well below our desired threshold in that category. In our group of 60, his mark ranks 52nd. Again, it's easy to understand why he left, but it really puts him in a tight spot with regards to experience.

All of this is while simultaneously having unsatisfactory efficiency stats. Among the top five incoming quarterbacks, he ranks last in passer efficiency rating and fourth in AY/A, besting just Watson there. If we expand it to all 60 names again, Kizer is 44th in passer efficiency rating and 46th in AY/A. Each of the other four players on our list had either experience or efficiency, but Kizer appears to have neither.

A quick glance at Kizer's game logs might lead you to believe that his season picked up after the benching during the Stanford game. Over their final five games, Kizer threw 12 touchdowns to 2 interceptions, protecting the ball better than he did initially. However, that can be a bit misleading when you view the wider scope of what he did before and after the benching.


Before Benching: 203 1,775 14 7 8.6
After Benching: 158 1,150 12 2 8.2

Even though his touchdown-to-interception ratio was better, his AY/A shot down as the team seemed to shift to a more conservative passing attack. He went from averaging 8.74 yards per attempt the first part of the season to just 7.28 after the benching. The result was a disappointing overall season.

Kizer's top comp -- Joe Flacco -- appears to be elite, but Flacco is, not shockingly, far from an efficiency stud in the NFL. He has never finished in the top 10 in Total NEP through nine seasons, and he has been outside the top 15 five times. Flacco's rate stats at Delaware were never tremendous, so although the comp has name value, it's not necessarily a big boon for Kizer.

It's hard to separate a player from a situation, and that's an important distinction to make for Kizer. If a team goes 4-8, they've got more problems than just their quarterback, and we shouldn't punish Kizer for their struggles. However, based on the information we have, Kizer appears to be highly flawed in both experience and efficiency, and that will make his selection a risky one on draf

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