There has been some very good discussion this draft season about the merits of the 2011 QB draft prospects. Several posts have been written about what QBs we like and where we should (or shouldn't) draft them. Some posters like lifelongviking have been very clear that 2011 is the year to draft a Quarterback of the future. He and a few others feel strongly that the only way to find such QB is to take one in the first round. LLV has found some compelling evidence to support his opinion.
On the other side of the fence, I have read posts that call for the Vikings to draft a mid to low round prospect and go after an established (high profile) veteran such as Kyle Orton, Kevin Kolb, Vince Young, Donovan McNabb or Carson Palmer via trade. This theory has been blasted by those in favor of drafting a QB this year because they see this option as a stop-gap solution that is anything but long term. Regardless of where you stand on this option, it may not even be a possibility given the state of the labor agreement between owners and players. Plus it's draft season, so the talk of pick up an veteran just isn't that entertaining.
But then there's another group of posters like myself who tend to like both ideas. Draft a rookie to groom AND sign a veteran (when the new CBA is in place) to compete with Joe Webb for the starting job in 2011. I personally would like to see Donovan McNabb in purple for 3 years while we groom a rookie like Jake Locker for the future. But perhaps that's just me.
Well back to the original topic of this thread. Should we draft a QB in 2011? Who do we take? With the combine in the books and pro days set to begin, prospects are begining to establish themselves on NFL draft boards across the league. But is it possible to know if a prospect is going to have a successful NFL career? Some call the draft a crap shoot. Others say its a complex process that involves careful study of the prospects abilities on the field as well as his patterns of behavior off of it. Well we armchair scouts are only privvy to the former. With youtube and the NFL Network we have a wealth of information on every top prospect to sift through and develop our own evaluation. But is there a better way?
Here's another tool that uses a QB's completion percentage and number of games started to evaluate a QB's potential. The magic numbers are 60% completion and 37 games started.
It's a pretty compelling set of data. QB's in the upper right quadrant (60%+ and 37+) have experienced the highest percentage of success in the NFL. You will recognize names like Petyon Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb and Drew Bress on this list (4 Super Bowl winners). Culpepper and Pennington are two more names that have had solid NFL careers. That’s nine out of 13 QBs that fit both pieces of the criteria.
The players that met neither criteria (lower left quadrant), well their names speak for themselves.
Is this enough to build a case? Let's take a closer look at winning percentage and passer rating plus games started:
In terms of QB rating, five of the top six (and eight of the top 11) met both the 60% threshold in college completion percentage and the minimum number of starts. The only quarterbacks that didn’t meet both criteria but still won at least 50% of games and had a QB rating of 80+ are Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer.
So where does this put this year's prospects?
From what I can find, only Florida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton have at least 37 career starts and completed more than 60% of their passes over their college careers.
Ricky Stanzi has enough starts and comes close at 59.8% completion.
Greg McElroy has under 30 starts but completed over 66% of his passes.
Mallet and Kaepernick completed around 58% of their passes.
Newton and Gabbert fell well short of the # of games started criteria.
Locker fell well short of 60% completion.