FanPost

NFL Draft Research Series, Part 1: QBs

From the FanPosts. Wanted to make sure everyone saw this great post. -Joel

The weeks leading up to NFL draft always prove to be fertile ground for thoughtful discussion and excitement among fans regarding which prospects the Chiefs might target in the draft. Countless mock drafts are posted, and conversation generally always seems to revolve around two questions: 1) who should the Chiefs target with their first round pick?, and 2) should the Chiefs target a QB at some point in the draft?

In furtherance of this topic, I thought it might be interesting to start a series of articles focused on a position-by-position quantitative breakdown chronicling the lottery that is the NFL draft. My initial goal was simple: to determine whether those positions seen as "high-value" picks (i.e., QB, LT, DE) justified thier lofty draft status. In other words, you hear pundits talk about picking a LT in the top 5 as a much safer and smarter propsition than selecting a top-5 Safety generally. I wanted to try to shed light on success in the draft, based primarily on position and round selected. As I progressed, I couldn't help but dig deeper into the results, breaking down results by team, year, number selected, etc. This week, I'll post the results for the QBs. I mostly have the other positions finished as well, so if the feedback is positive I can try to make a weekly series out of this. It's a long post, but if you stick with it, it yields some interesting results.

To start, let me outline the process I used in finding the results...

The task is simple: identify every player chosen in the draft since 1989 up to 2008, determine which round the player was selected, and assign the player a rating based primarily on their career stats in relation to other players of the same position. 1989 was selected as a starting point because it provides about 20 years of data (and is the first year I really got into the NFL as a kid). 2008 because it generally takes around 3 years to judge a player.

The rating system is on a scale of 0-5 stars (stars denoted with *), with the general breakdown determined as follows. Note stat guidelines are not concrete, as some players threws loads of INTs to go with their yrds/TDs and had to be adjusted accordingly (cough Kerry Collins, Jake Plummer). Also for those younger players drafted just recently, their ratings are based on current data and projected career data. Aaron Rodgers obviously doesn't have the stats of a Brett Favre yet, but we can all agree he's a 5-star guy.

  • 0: These players made almost no impact in the league, with most never playing a snap; Example: too many to name; Stats guidelines: accumulated less than 200 total yards 3 TDs in their careers,
  • * Generally had a very minimal impact in their careers, generally either never serving as a team's starting QB or starting for only a year; Example: Brody Croyle; Stats guidelines: 200 yrds/3TDs to 4,000 yards/20TDs,
  • ** Below-average players who mostly served as career back-ups in the league, many having starting experience between 1-3 years total; Example: Seneca Wallace; Stats guidelines: 4,000 yards/20TDs to 9,000 yards/50TDs,
  • *** Definition of a league-average QB, generally started for around 5 years with average results; Example: Matt Cassell; Stats guidelines: 9,000 yards/50TDs to 25,000 yards/125TDs,
  • **** Above-average QBs with several productive years, usually making a few Pro Bowls; Example: Trent Green; Stat Guidelines: 25,000 yards/125TDs to 35,000 yards/200TDs,
  • ***** These are Hall of Famers or near HOF players, best of the best with several Pro Bowls and All-AP teams; Example: Peyton Manning; Stat Guidelines: over 35,000 yards/200TDs.

Some of the newer players may need adjusting (likely just a point) as years go on (these still open ratings are in yellow). A perfect example is Eli Manning, who I just bumped up to a 5-star after his second SB win...could still fall back to a 4 dpending on the rest of his career, though. Matt Flynn will be another interesting guy to keep an eye on (I have him as a 2 even with only 1,000 total yrds, because you know he's going to get a shot to start, but I'm still skeptical he'll hit 3 status). Some players are definitely borderline and tough calls, so debate in the comments if you think a rating is wrong.

Here are the edited results for all players with career total yardage exceeding 5,000.

Passing Pass + Rush
Year RD Team Name PB St Yds TD Int Tyds TTD Rating +/-
1991 2 ATL Brett Favre 11 19 71,838 508 336 73,682 522 5 3.9
1998 T5 IND Peyton Manning 11 13 54,828 399 198 55,550 416 5 2.1
1993 T5 NE Drew Bledsoe 4 12 44,611 251 206 45,375 261 5 2.1
1995 T5 CAR Kerry Collins 2 12 40,922 208 196 41,608 218 4 1.5
2001 2 SDG Drew Brees 5 10 40,733 281 146 41,226 288 5 3.5
2000 6 NE Tom Brady 6 10 40,000 300 115 40,711 310 5 4.4
1999 T5 PHI Donovan McNabb 6 12 37,099 234 117 40,558 263 5 2.5
1995 T5 HOU Steve McNair 3 10 31,304 174 119 34,894 211 4 1.1
1993 5 GNB Mark Brunell 3 11 32,045 184 108 34,466 199 4 3.8
1989 T5 DAL Troy Aikman HOF 6 12 32,942 165 141 33,958 174 5 2.1
1998 6 GNB Matt Hasselbeck 3 10 30,993 185 132 32,147 193 4 3.4
1997 2 ARI Jake Plummer 1 10 29,253 161 161 31,106 178 3 1.5
1992 7+ MIN Brad Johnson 2 8 29,054 166 122 29,711 174 4 3.7
1993 7+ SDG Trent Green 2 7 28,475 162 114 29,389 168 4 3.7
1990 T5 IND Jeff George 0 9 27,602 154 113 27,909 156 3 0.1
2004 T5 SDG Eli Manning 1 7 27,567 185 129 27,906 189 5 2.1
2004 1 PIT B. Roethlisberger 1 8 26,555 165 100 27,472 179 5 3.7
1999 1 MIN Daunte Culpepper 3 5 24,153 149 106 26,805 183 4 2.8
2003 T5 CIN Carson Palmer 2 6 25,555 167 116 25,871 173 4 1.1
2004 T5 NYG Philip Rivers 3 6 24,222 163 78 24,519 166 4 1.5
1992 6 NYJ Jeff Blake 1 8 21,711 134 99 23,738 148 3 2.4
2001 T5 ATL Michael Vick 4 6 17,922 111 72 23,133 144 4 1.1
2000 6 NOR Marc Bulger 2 8 22,814 122 93 23,114 130 3 2.4
1990 3 PIT Neil O'Donnell 1 7 21,690 120 68 22,136 124 3 2.6
1999 4 GNB Aaron Brooks 0 5 20,261 123 92 21,795 136 3 2.6
1994 7 WAS Gus Frerotte 1 5 21,291 114 106 21,606 120 3 2.8
1994 T10 TAM Trent Dilfer 1 7 20,518 113 129 21,371 118 3 1.2
1998 3 DEN Brian Griese 1 5 19,440 119 99 20,022 124 3 2.6
2006 1 DEN Jay Cutler 1 5 18,283 117 86 19,166 123 4 2.7
2005 1 GNB Aaron Rodgers 1 4 17,344 132 38 18,455 148 5 3.2
2000 1 NYJ Chad Pennington 0 5 17,823 102 64 18,288 109 3 0.7
2004 3 ATL Matt Schaub 1 5 17,935 98 58 18,272 102 3 2.6
2002 4 JAX David Garrard 1 5 16,003 89 54 17,749 106 3 2.6
1995 2 PIT Kordell Stewart 1 6 14,746 77 84 17,620 115 3 2.0
1989 6 DET Rodney Peete 0 7 16,338 76 92 17,477 92 3 2.4
1993 7+ SFO Elvis Grbac 1 4 16,774 99 81 17,162 106 3 2.7
1996 2 RAM Tony Banks 0 5 15,315 77 73 16,196 83 3 1.0
1990 4 MIA Scott Mitchell 0 5 15,692 95 81 16,177 106 3 2.6
2002 T5 HOU David Carr 0 5 14,433 65 71 15,764 74 3 0.1
2005 1 WAS Jason Campbell 0 5 14,365 74 50 15,417 80 3 1.7
2002 T5 DET Joey Harrington 0 6 14,693 79 85 15,095 79 3 0.5
2005 4 CHI Kyle Orton 0 5 14,555 80 57 14,833 83 3 2.6
2008 T5 ATL Matt Ryan 1 4 14,222 95 46 14,550 99 4 1.1
2008 1 BAL Joe Flacco 0 4 13,888 80 46 14,232 84 4 2.2
1993 T5 SEA Rick Mirer 0 5 11,969 50 76 13,099 59 2 -0.5
2005 7 NE Matt Cassel 1 4 11,700 76 45 12,345 79 3 2.8
2005 7 RAM Ryan Fitzpatrick 0 4 10,933 68 65 11,932 73 3 2.8
1999 T5 CLE Tim Couch 0 3 11,131 64 67 11,687 66 3 0.1
1989 2 SDG Billy Joe Tolliver 0 3 10,760 59 64 11,080 64 2 0.9
1998 2 DET Charlie Batch 0 4 10,402 60 47 11,041 66 3 1.9
2005 T5 SFO Alex Smith 0 6 10,364 58 54 10,856 61 3 0.1
2003 T10 JAX Byron Leftwich 0 3 10,260 58 41 10,644 67 3 1.2
2006 T5 TEN Vince Young 2 4 8,955 46 51 10,377 58 3 0.1
2003 1 CHI Rex Grossman 0 3 10,222 56 60 10,322 60 3 1.8
2005 6 BAL Derek Anderson 1 3 9,148 53 55 9,353 58 3 2.4
2003 1 BAL Kyle Boller 0 4 8,770 48 51 9,304 50 2 0.7
1990 6 SDG John Friesz 0 1 8,699 45 42 8,728 45 2 1.4
1992 7+ NYG Kent Graham 0 1 7,801 39 33 8,225 44 2 1.7
1992 1 DEN Tommy Maddox 0 2 8,087 48 54 8,215 49 2 -0.3
1991 5 PHI Craig Erickson 0 2 7,625 41 38 7,826 42 2 1.8
2006 2 MIN Tarvaris Jackson 0 2 7,070 38 35 7,700 43 2 1.0
2008 2 MIA Chad Henne 0 3 7,114 31 37 7,310 33 3 2.0
2002 3 ARI Josh McCown 0 2 6,584 35 40 7,153 38 2 1.6
2001 2 DAL Quincy Carter 0 2 6,337 32 37 6,855 35 2 0.9
2004 1 BUF J.P. Losman 0 1 6,211 33 34 6,700 36 2 0.8
1995 4 JAX Rob Johnson 0 2 5,795 30 23 6,672 34 2 1.6
1992 7+ GNB Ty Detmer 0 2 6,351 34 35 6,528 37 2 1.7
1994 6 PIT Jim Miller 0 2 6,387 36 31 6,391 36 2 1.4
2007 3 BUF Trent Edwards 0 2 6,019 26 30 6,349 29 2 1.6
2002 1 WAS Patrick Ramsey 0 1 5,930 35 30 6,019 37 2 0.7
2003 4 SEA Seneca Wallace 0 1 4,888 31 18 5,180 32 2 1.6
1996 4 NYG Danny Kanell 0 2 5,129 31 34 5,178 31 2 1.6
1999 2 TAM Shaun King 0 1 4,566 27 24 5,020 32 2 1.0

General Results by Round:

Note I use a baseball-type replacement level theory, as basically 0-2 star players are very marginal back-ups and can likely be found at any time through free agents off the street. The real goal of the draft is to find IMPACT players. Thus, the "S-Rate" is Success Rate in finding impact players (4-5 star players) and "A-Rate" is Acceptable Rate (3 star players). Bust-Rate measures those 0-2 star players. A value is assigned to give an overall number that measures the weighted sucess of 3-5 star players in relation to # of players selected overall (3, 4, and 5 points for 3, 4, 5 star players).

0 * ** *** **** ***** S Rate A Rate Bust Rate Value
T5 0 4 1 6 6 5 50.0% 27.3% 22.7% 3.0455
R1st Rd 1 6 5 5 3 2 22.7% 22.7% 54.5% 1.6818
2nd Rd 4 5 6 5 0 2 9.1% 22.7% 68.2% 1.1364
3rd Rd 3 16 3 3 0 0 0.0% 12.0% 88.0% 0.3600
4th Rd 12 13 4 4 0 0 0.0% 12.1% 87.9% 0.3636
5th Rd 12 9 2 0 1 0 4.2% 0.0% 95.8% 0.1667
6th Rd 21 7 2 4 1 1 5.6% 11.1% 83.3% 0.5833
7th Rd 27 8 3 3 0 0 0.0% 7.3% 92.7% 0.2195
7+ Rd 25 3 2 1 2 0 6.1% 3.0% 90.9% 0.3333
105 71 28 31 13 10 258 8.9% 12.0% 79.1% 0.7558
40.7% 27.5% 10.9% 12.0% 5.0% 3.9% 100%

Highlights:

  • 258 total QBs have been drafted since '89.
  • 3.9% of QBs drafted have been 5-star players, wither another 5% registering 4 stars.
  • 21% of all QBs drafted have been "acceptable" (3-5 star players). This means the total bust rate is 79%, or basically 8 out of every 10 drafted.
  • Top-5: QBs selected have a 50% S-Rate. Thus, 11 of the 22 QBs drafted since '89 have turned out to be a 4 or 5 star, franchise-level QB. 50/50 shot of getting the stud QB your team needs. Six more QBs have been acceptable, so only 23% Bust-Rate.
  • Rest of 1st Rd: Bust Rate skies to 55% for QBs selected and Total Value of QBs selected falls to almost half.
  • 2nd Rd: Good luck finding a franchise QB here: only a 9% S-Rate. Value of QBs selected decreases slightly from the 1st round.
  • This shocked me: There was virtually no variation in results for QBs selected in the 3rd and 7th+ rounds. Basically falls off a cliff after the 2nd Round. The Bust Rate stayed between 88% and 96%, with values staying mostly contstant. Overall, from Rounds 3-7 combined, the Success Rate for all QBs drafted was only 2.6%. This a HUGE HUGE contrast with other positions, which follow a more steady decline in value as the rounds progress as we'll see later. This makes sense as teams like to "reach" for QBs early in the draft.
  • Only 1 5-star QB was drafted after Round 2: Tom Brady. There have been 214 total QBs taken in these rounds. So even though pundits say "look at Brady, you do't need to take a QB in Rd 1"...yeah...no.
  • Worst Year for QBs based on Value--2007: none of the QBs have even hit the 3 star mark. The only hopeful appears to be Kevin Kolb (unless you're still a huge Thigbone fan).
  • Best team at drafting QBs based on Value +/- (this is based on how much value you got compared to expected value from the slot where the QB was picked--can discuss in the comments if you're interested in knowing where I got "Expected Value"): Green Bay Packers. They've racked up +15.45 points in QBs drafted, nearly 5 times the league average. And they didn't even get credit for Favre! (see Falcons). But they did draft Mark Brunell, Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks, and Aaron Rodgers. Notice all but Rodgers were drafted after the 4th round and made their names with other teams, with GB getting good trade compensation for these guys. Seems to be Pioli's strategy with the "draft a QB late every year talk."
  • Worst team at drafting QBs: take a guess...I'll give you a second. That's right, your KC Chiefs!! No team has been worse at drafting QBs in the last 23 years. This doesn't even include the Todd Blackledge clusterfuss! Just edging out the dreaded Raiders, we're actually only 1 of 5 teams to return negative value of our QB selections (take a bow Mike Elkins and Matt Blundin).
  • Biggest Bargain based on Value +/- : Tom Brady obviously. Next, Brett Favre (only other QB taken in Round 2 and drafted after 2 other QBs).
  • Biggest Bust: Jim Druckenmiller, SF. First QB taken of the '97 draft, only 1st Rounder to register a ZERO rating.
  • Looking at every Super Bowl from 1990 to current, ALL TEN 5 STAR QBs ON OUR LIST STARTED THE BIG GAME. Of the 4 and 5 stars, 61% played in the big game (Trent Green being the second best never to make it behind Brunell, and at least he played in a conference title game). Amazingly, only 1.3% of all other QBs (0 to 3 star) played in the SB. If this doesn't already demonstrate the importance of the QB in winning the Lombardi trophy, just wait until we compare these numbers with other positions.
  • SB Players # % of class
    ***** 9 100% 61%
    **** 5 36%
    *** 3 9% 1.3%
    ** 0 0%
    * 0 0%
  • 1st QB taken has value almost 50% higher than 2nd QB taken, and almost 300% higher than 3rd QB taken. If you need a QB, get the unanimous #1 guy...but might as well stay away if the first 2 are gone. So not only does it matter the round drafted, but also how many other QBs have been drafted prior to the guy.
  • QB 0 * ** *** **** ***** S Rate A Rate Bust Rate Value
    1st Taken 1 3 1 7 4 4 40.0% 35.0% 25.0% 2.8500
    2ndTaken 3 5 2 4 3 3 30.0% 20.0% 50.0% 1.9500
    3rd Taken 3 4 8 2 1 2 15.0% 10.0% 75.0% 1.0000

    The overall conclusion: QBs are important. Franchise QBs basically have around a 2/3 shot of playing in the Super Bowl at some point during their careers, while all other QBS have a 1/100 chance. So if you don't have a franchise QB, you need one. If you plan to draft one, take him in the top-5 and you've got a 50/50 shot. If you don't have a top-five pick, you better hope you can land on the right side of the 23% chance in the rest of Round 1. If you don't pull the trigger in the first two rounds, you might as well not draft one.

    Anyway, there's a lot of information I didn't post. And I don't know how to post all the pretty graphs I have. This stuff really gets interesting when you add other positions to compare and contrast.

    Note: all data taken from pro-football-reference.com

    This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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