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Drafting the right quarterback in the NFL

According to CBSSports.com and a plethora of other mock drafts, the 2018 NFL Draft will produce at least three first-round quarterbacks. Sam Darnold of USC, Josh Rosen of UCLA and Josh Allen of Wyoming are all projected top 10 picks in the upcoming draft. Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph could also potentially be first rounders.

The projected number one pick, Sam Darold (SportingNews.com)

If the NFL Draft were today, Darnold would most likely go first overall to Cleveland, and Rosen would head to San Francisco at number two. Allen would then fall to the next team looking for a quarterback. This would most likely be the Jets.

So, how can we determine who will have the most success in the NFL? Is it based off numbers? Wins? Where they were born? Let’s take a quick look at these five college studs.

Depending on the conference you play in, as well as strength of schedule, certain players’ stats can be inflated. Because of this, we will be focusing on how much experience these players have had at the collegiate level, how accurate they are with the football, and how often they turn the ball over.

Sam Darnold- USC (SOPHOMORE) BORN IN CA

17 CAREER GAMES:

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 67.2%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 512

INT’S PER GAME: .94

Josh Rosen- UCLA (JUNIOR) BORN IN CA

23 CAREER GAMES

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 61%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 918

INT’S PER GAME: .87

Josh Allen- Wyoming (JUNIOR) BORN IN CA

20 CAREER GAMES

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 55.9%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 494

INT’S PER GAME: .90

Lamar Jackson- Louisville (Junior) BORN IN FL

29 CAREER GAMES

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 57%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 805

INT’S PER GAME: .69

Mason Rudolph- OKLAHOMA STATE (SENIOR) BORN IN SC

33 CAREER GAMES

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 62.9%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 1093

INT’S PER GAME: .60

A lot goes into whether or not a quarterback will have success at the next level, but with three guys projected to be top 10 picks, it is important that we dive into the past numbers to attempt to predict what their careers could look like.

QUARTERBACKS OF THE LAST 14 SUPER BOWL WINNING TEAMS (COLLEGE STATS)

NAMEYEARS IN COLLEGECOMPLETION PERCENTAGEATTEMPTSINT’S PER GAME
TOM BRADY461.9%638 ATTEMPTS.59
PEYTON MANNING462.5%1381 ATTEMPTS.73
RUSSELL WILSON460.9%1489 ATTEMPTS.60
JOE FLACCO363.2%942 ATTEMPTS.54
ELI MANNING460.8%1363 ATTEMPTS.81
AARON RODGERS4 (ONLY CAL STATS INCLUDED)63.8%665 ATTEMPTS.52
DREW BREES461.1%1678 ATTEMPTS1.0
BEN ROETHLISBERGER365.5%1304 ATTEMPTS.89

What does this tell us? All of these Super Bowl winning quarterbacks went to school for at least three years. They all completed about 61 percent of their passes. These stars varied with the amount of turnovers per game in college, so people who fault Darnold for turning the ball over too much can relax. Especially when you observe that the great Drew Brees averaged an interception per game.

OTHER NOTABLE QB’S WHO HAVE WON AT LEAST 11 GAMES IN 3 OR MORE SEASONS (COLLEGE STATS)                                 

NAMEYEARS IN COLLEGECOMPLETION PERCENTAGEPASSING ATTEMPTSINT’S PER GAME
ANDREW LUCK367%1064.57
PHILIP RIVERS363.6%1710.69
ALEX SMITH466.3%587.32
MATT RYAN459.9%1347.86

When you compare these NFL stars to the five college players, you can conclude that at least three have serious potential at the next level. Darold, Rosen and Rudolph are accurate with the football, and do not make any more mistakes than these pros did when they were in school. Jackson and Allen are, unfortunately, on the wrong end of the stick.

The experience factor is clearly massive when it comes to winning a championship in the NFL, or even succeeding for multiple seasons. Josh Rosen, Sam Darold and Josh Allen will each play less than 30 games in their college careers if they choose to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

History has also told us that at least one of the top three quarterbacks selected in the draft will not perform up to expectations. Here is 10 years of data to back this up. In bold are the players who are widely considered “busts”.

2006-2015 FIRST THREE QUARTERBACKS SELECTED IN DRAFT

YEARPLAYERSCURRENT STARTERS PICKED AFTER FIRST THREE QB’S (# QUARTBACK SELECTED)
2015JAMEIS WINSTON

MARCUS MARIOTA

GARRETT GRAYSON

Trevor Siemian (7th)
2014BLAKE BORTLES

JOHNNY MANZIEL

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER

Derek Carr (4th)

 

2013EJ MANUEL

GENO SMITH

MIKE GLENNON

NONE
2012ANDREW LUCK

ROBERT GRIFFIN III

RYAN TANNEHILL

Russell Wilson (6th)

Kirk Cousins (8th)

2011CAM NEWTON

JAKE LOCKER

BLAINE GABBERT

Andy Dalton (5th)

Tyrod Taylor (11th)

2010SAM BRADFORD

TIM TEBOW

JIMMY CLAUSEN

NONE
2009MATTHEW STAFFORD

MARK SANCHEZ

JOSH FREEMAN

NONE
2008MATT RYAN

JOE FLACCO

BRIAN BROHM

NONE
2007JAMARCUS RUSSELL

BRADY QUINN

KEVIN KOLB

NONE
2006VINCE YOUNG

MATT LEINART

JAY CUTLER

NONE

 

The eigth quarterback selected from his class, Kirk Cousins (Zimbio.com)

While history cannot tell us what will happen in the future, it sure can help us predict it. We also can see that talent can easily be overlooked. We all know about Tom Brady, and most recently Dak Prescott, two players who were heavily slept on, but don’t forget about guys like Kirk Cousins and Tyrod Taylor.

Cousins was the eighth quarterback selected in his class, and has shown he is a franchise quarterback, not just a franchise tag player. Taylor, the 11th quarterback selected in his class, has shown he is capable of being the guy in Buffalo.

 

Based off these names, let’s break down exactly how to tell if someone will be successful or struggle in the NFL.

Are they a Pocket Passer?

If you look at the Super Bowl champions and even the players who have found success in the regular season, you can see that they are pocket passers. There is usually one outlier, and for this particular argument, it would have to be Russell Wilson, who is not your typical stay in the pocket and throw type of quarterback. Wilson likes to move around, but has an incredibly gifted arm.

Unfortunately, mobile quarterbacks tend to not be the answer. E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman and Vince Young, were one of the first three quarterbacks selected in their draft class. They also all were mobile guys who relied heavily on their legs. Lamar Jackson falls into this category.

Also, stay away from lefties like Leinart and Tebow. Only two lefty quarterbacks in the history of the sport have won the Super Bowl: Ken Stabler and Steve Young.

Are they getting drafted into a good culture?

Culture absolutely matters. Jacoby Brissett is currently starting in the NFL because of how he looked on the Patriots, the most well-run organization in the NFL. Players like Johnny Manziel, Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden were destined to fail as soon as the Cleveland Browns selected them. Historically, the Browns have shown they do not know how to develop a quarterback, or even win games.

Trevor Siemian was the seventh quarterback taken in his draft class. Fortunately for him, he landed with the Denver Broncos, an extremely well run organization led by John Elway. Because of this, it is easier to find success, as he is off to a great start this year.

Sometimes, all it takes is a good coach to change the culture. Jared Goff looked like a bust under Jeff Fisher, but so does every quarterback that Fisher works with. Now with Sean McVay, people believe the Rams have a legit shot to win the NFC West. Pete Carroll took over the Seahawks and immediately turned Seattle into a winning franchise. This made it easier for Russell Wilson to slide into stardom. That, and a little help from the rest of the roster.

What does their roster look like?

Of course, you can’t win many games with a bad roster. The quarterback is usually the one to blame when a team starts losing, but it is all situational. If you are drafted into a bad roster, there is literally nothing you can do. Take Derek Carr for example. In his first season, Carr went 3-13. His leaders in targets that year? James Jones, Mychal Rivera and Andre Holmes. The next season, the Raiders gave him Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, and now they are a Super Bowl contending team.

Blaine Gabbert, who was selected by the Jaguars, was given Mike Thomas and Jason Hill to throw the ball to. When Notre Dame star Brady Quinn was named the starter for Cleveland, his leading running back was Jerome Harrison, and his most targeted receivers were Mohamad Massaquoi and Chansi Stuckey.

Jamarcus Russell took over a terrible Raiders team with no talent. (Zimbio.com)

It gets worse. When JaMarcus Russell took over in 2008, Oakland’s leading rusher was Justin Fargas. Their three most targeted recievers were Ronald Curry, Ashley Lelie and Johnnie Lee Higgins. And Colin Cowherd says Andrew Luck doesn’t have help around him?

On the other hand, certain players can be blessed by getting drafted into elite rosters. Dak Prescott was given one of the best offensive lines in football, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

The Bucs helped out Jameis by grabbing DeSean Jackson from free agency, to play along Mike Evans, one of the best receivers in the game. Marcus Mariota has two lethal running backs, and Tennessee also made serious upgrades to the wide receiver position.

In regards to this past draft, Deshaun Watson has inherited one of the best defenses in the league, and his NFL career is already off to a solid start. Patrick Mahomes has Andy Reid as his coach, who turned Alex Smith into an efficient stud. On the flip side, Mitchell Trubisky is stuck in Chicago, with a poor roster and a bad culture

Who will be the best?

Of course, we will have to wait until draft day to find out where these three stars end up. Darnold, Rosen and Allen are all from California, which is also the home of six other starting quarterbacks.

 

2017 Starting Quarterbacks by High School State

Cali- Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Derek Carr, Jared Goff (6)

Texas- Drew Brees, Josh McCown, Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton, Case Keenum (5)

Ohio- Ben Roethlisberger, Brian Hoyer, Deshone Kizer (3)

Florida- Trevor Siemian, Jacoby Brissett, Blake Bortles (3)

Virginia- Russell Wilson, Tyrod Taylor, Mike Glennon (3)

Louisiana- Eli Manning, Dak Prescott (2)

Alabama- Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston (2)

Georgia- Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson (2)

Pennyslvania- Matt Ryan

Indiana- Jay Cutler

New Jersey- Joe Flacco

Hawaii- Marcus Mariota

North Dakota- Carson Wentz

Michigan- Kirk Cousins

 

So is Mason Rudolph at a disadvantage being from South Carolina? Keep in mind that Jimmy Clausen, and Mark Sanchez are from California, so it’s not like Rosen, Darnold, and Allen are locks to find success.

Who do you think will have the most success at the next level?  The less experienced Cali boys, the inaccurate Jackson and Allen, or the senior from South Carolina?

Featured image by Twitter.com

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