Last offseason, there was an interesting article written by CincyJungle commenter Ephram. The source can be found here:
I won't repeat the entire article, but I will point out that INT% and Accuracy weighed heavily into somewhat consistent results that indicated the overall outcome of a Quarterback transitioning into the NFL from college. The general rule of thumb:
"ACCURACY MATTERS A LOT
The ‘busts’ all had %’s below 62%.
2/3 of the ‘busts had a % of 58% or lower
INT % MATTERS MORE THAN NOT
The ‘busts’ ranged from 2.4%-3.9%
The ‘servicable’ guys ranged from 1.4%-3.3% and were all over the map
The ‘elite’ guys had a % of 2.0%-2.6%
The ‘elite’ guys generally have a lower int % than the ‘busts’
TD % DOES NOT MATTER
The ‘busts’ generally had a higher % than the elite in this regard, and 3 of them (Akili, Klingler, Leaf) had TD %’s higher than any of the elite QB’s.
YARDS PER DOES NOT MATTER
The ‘busts’ generally had a higher Yards Per than the elite in this regard, and 4 of them (Akili, Leaf, Vince Young, J Russell) had higher Yards Per than any of the elite QB’s.
I took this "projection" into a lot of consideration last offseason. I haven't considered it since the NFL regular season began. Now that we're a year into last year's draft class, let's consider a few points:
Cam Newton - His college numbers indicated he was "elite" in interception %, and "serviceable" in accuracy. Only one year in, and Cam is certainly trending into positive territory. I can't disagree, yet, with this projection. It could be said that Cam, based off past quarterbacks ending into the proper categories based off the same statistics, is heading in the predicted direction.
Andy Dalton - 2010/11 numbers projected Dalton was "serviceable" across the board. Once again, we see just that based off of his NFL performance in 2011. While Dalton can certainly improve on this, it's worth noting he's performed exactly as this little formula assumed he would.
Blaine Gabbert - College numbers indicated he was "serviceable" across the board, in terms of projections. His 2011 rookie season would, at first glance, disagree with serviceable - with many people quick to label him as a "bust." I wouldn't be so quick to label Gabbert just yet. As with Newton and Dalton, who are trending toward their projections, they still need more time to get a proper sample for their true Quarterback value. Gabbert is no exception. I can't argue he's not quite a "serviceable" quarterback yet, but anyone who''s actually spent time watching him play can make the argument the skill set is there, and one season doesn't garner a true determination just yet.
Christian Ponder - Was projected as serviceable in Accuracy, but there was a "bust" flag on his int%, based off of his senior year at Florida State. Ponder ended his 11 game season with the Vikings with a 4.5 int% and 54.3% completion percentage. It goes without saying we have a small sample, here. However, the pieces fall into place as far as the initial projection. 2012 will either support or reverse the trend.
The rest of the 2011 class (Locker, Mallett, Kapernik, Yates, etc) played in few to no games in the NFL.
To humor those who are curious:
T.J. Yates had 61.2% accuracy in 6 NFL games, and 2.2% INT in 2011. Interestingly enough, Yates wasn't considered for the "test" in Emphrams article last season. With 66.8% accuracy and 2.1% INT his senior season, Yates would have fallen into an "Elite" projection. Now, I'm not going to assume Houston has an elite player sitting on the bench next season (presumably), but the formula offers an interesting projection, nonetheless.
Jake Locker had 51.5% Accuracy in 5 NFL games, and 0% INT. He was projected to be a BUST across the board.
So, as we continue to evaluate 2011's Draft Class we can see, overall, that Ephram's observations and projections are not exactly off base with a new sample group of QBs last season. Time will tell, of course.
SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US FOR 2012?
I've considered the main ingredients in what Ephram believes determines a QBs value (Accuracy, INT%) I've narrowed it to the top 5 QBs (projected) coming into the draft:
Andrew Luck, 71.3% COMP 2.4% INT (ELITE, SERVICEABLE)
Robert Griffin III 72.4% COMP 1.6% INT (ELITE, ELITE)
Ryan Tannehill 61.6% COMP 2.8% INT (BUST unless he's the next Drew Brees, SERVICEABLE)
Brock Osweiler 63.2% COMP 2.5% INT (ELITE, SERVICEABLE)
Brandon Weeden 72.3% COMP 2.3% INT (ELITE, SERVICEABLE)
Interesting how inflated these numbers are compared to last season's Quarterbacks. Do I really believe that we have 4 of our 5 top Quarterbacks that will end up Elite in the NFL? No. Sure, anything is possible, but the important thing to remember is that there is no fool-proof system to project quarterbacks. If there were, a lot of people would be out of jobs and we'd miss out on players like JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf being the butt of every "bust" joke for the rest of our lives. I can't have a witty football discussion without Ryan Leaf injected into every once in awhile. I. just. can't. And while Ephram looks at common denominators, providing a very simplistic evaluation, there are always other factors; the system the QB operated in, the receivers that contributed to the QBs output, and so on. If the formula were fool-proof, the Bengals had an Elite Quarterback as a third string with Dan Lefevour - Yea. I looked that up. So you have your anamolies, let's say.
It's hard to deny that the Accuracy and INT% plays a major role when considering a Quarterback's success. Ephram provided a great sample of current quarterbacks in the league in his article to support the theory. Formulas change, however. They evolve and need to be adjusted as time goes on, with respects to a sport full of intangibles. I don't know that this formula is already aging based off of one year with QBs that have such great numbers, but it's important to consider, nonetheless.
The point is: the system wasn't too far-fetched last season, and while this year's prospects may be seemingly "too good to be true," it doesn't fail to keep my interest and speculation hightened. Who knows? Maybe Brock Osweiler will have a bust in Canton thirty years from now!
I speculate. You debate. Pumped for 2012, football fans!