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Just The Sports: Comparing Troy Smith circa 2004-2006 to McNabb circa 1995-1998

Just The Sports

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Comparing Troy Smith circa 2004-2006 to McNabb circa 1995-1998

I, like other sports followers in this country, am always comparing current college players to current professional players in an effort to gauge how the college players will do once they get to the professional level so when I was trying to figure out which NFL quarterback to compare Troy Smith to, the answer was obviously Donovan McNabb and not just because they have similar amounts of melanin in their skin. The two quarterbacks are not only of similar stature (McNabb is only an inch taller at 6'2 and weighs about 20 more pounds, but each is solidly built), but they are of a similar make-up (each can run effectively and will at times, but each has made up his mind to be a passing quarterback first and foremost). Since I can't exactly compare the two at the present moment, I decided to look at the two during their NCAA years. Smith's career is not yet over, but enough of it is completed to do what I wanted to do.

Not really having a clear recollection of McNabb in college, when I went back and compiled his passing stats from past box scores, I expected to be astonished at his exploits as a collegiate at Syracuse and immediately see what it was he did to warrant the Eagles taking him with the 2nd overall pick in the 1999 draft. In actuality, McNabb only had two good seasons, freshman (his best) and senior, with the middle two years being average. He finished his college career with a 57.2% completion percentage and 8.9 yards per pass attempt. That completion percentage is not too far away from his NFL career percentage of 58.4%. I was also surprised to see just how few pass attempts he had per game in his career (21.2) since that is a red flag I raised about Troy Smith.

With Troy Smith, for some reason I almost do not want to believe he is as good as he is on the field. When I am being completely honest with myself and not being biased, I will be the first to admit Troy Smith has turned himself into the best college player in the nation and has cobbled together an impressive college career. During his 26 games as an Ohio State quarterback, Smith has completed 63.4% of his passes with 8.9 yards per pass attempt.

Pitting Smith's NCAA career against McNabb's shows that the only significant difference between the two has been completion percentage with Smith having the advantage in this category. Everything else for them has been basically identical so there is no reason to think that Smith will not be every good an NFL starter as McNabb has been. If he is less than the second quarterback taken, something is wrong with NFL scouting departments.



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