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Just The Sports: Quarterback Drafters Beware

Just The Sports

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quarterback Drafters Beware

A warning must be issued and restraint must be exercised. There are NFL draft pundits and experts who would have you believe that Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, and Josh Freeman are all quarterback prospects who are worthy of first-round draft selections and first-round contracts. Ignore their words at all cost for they are sorely mistook. No quarterback this year deserves to be drafted in the first round because they have deficiencies that make investing so much money in them more risk than reward.

During this past college football season, every time I heard someone say Matthew Stafford of Georgia was a future first-round selection, I kept wondering who this other Matthew Stafford was who was so great since it was definitely not the one I saw suiting up for the Georgia Bulldogs. The one I saw was a mediocre college quarterback and to expect him to suddenly improve drastically and be a player a franchise can build around is ludicrous. For his career, he completed 57.1% of his passes in meaningful games (where he either attempted the most passes for his team or threw for the most amount of yardage). I have well documented how college completion percentages translate to the NFL stage and there is simply no place for a quarterback with such a low completion percentage. Even at Stafford's best, he will be a below average NFL quarterback, powerful arm strength or not. It does not matter if he can make all the throws if he will miss all the throws almost as often.

When it comes to Mark Sanchez, formerly of the USC Trojans, his is the story that is most tragic because he probably could have been a good NFL quarterback if he had just listened to head coach Pete Carroll who told him he is not ready for the NFL. Sanchez only attempted 476 meaningful passes in college with only one season as a full-time starter. While that may still be more than Vick threw during his years at Virginia Tech, it is not enough to determine what kind of quarterback a player will be at the highest level; his resume is lacking valuable experience and the NFL is not in the business of allowing first-round quarterbacks time to develop. Most likely, Sanchez will never get the repetitions he needs to be successful. Another year of completing 65.8% of his passes and Sanchez would have been worthy to be selected in the first round. As it stands now, he is unfortunately not.

Former Kansas State junior Josh Freeman's declaration for the draft is a head-scratcher by itself. The fact people are actually contemplating picking him in the first round is like a person taking a poison ivy bath followed by drying off with a poison oak towel. After one strips away his physical gifts and looks only at his quarterbacking numbers, what is left is someone with a 59.5% completion percentage, but with a completion percentage standard deviation of .130 so he is not a very consistent quarterback, either; to be inconsistent on top of being an erratic passer is the quarterback version of adding insult to injury. Consider Freeman another quarterback no franchise can depend upon to lead them anywhere but deep into mediocrity.

For Stafford and Freeman, the problem is their paltry completion percentages. For qualified NFL quarterbacks in 2008 (according to, the median completion percentage was 61.3%. The league is moving in the direction where a quarterback needs to be incredibly accurate to carry an offense. Neither Stafford nor Freeman is a quarterback like that. Sanchez, on the other hand, simply lacks the experience necessary to make the transition to the NFL unless he is given three or fours years in the same system to improve himself as a quarterback. The pressure of being a first-round selection will not afford him that opportunity. Even though the reasons might be different, none of these quarterbacks should be taken with the first thirty-two picks of the NFL draft come April 25th.

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