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Just The Sports: Examining Four Vastly Overhyped Quarterbacks

Just The Sports

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Examining Four Vastly Overhyped Quarterbacks

As Vladimir Lenin once said, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth." This proof by assertion logical fallacy is running rampant across the college football landscape as at least four quarterbacks are receiving undue and undeserved hype as once again people are making the mistake of valuing physical tools over actual performance.

The quarterback who has been the recipient of the most undeserved praise is senior University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker. Based on absolutely nothing that he has actually done on the football field, which is the best way to truly evaluate the pro potential of a quarterback or any player really, Locker is projected as the top quarterback in the 2011 draft.

By now, I should be used to overrated quarterbacks going too high in the NFL draft (see Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, and Josh Freeman for starters), but any objective observer should be able to see why Locker is simply not good enough to succeed in the NFL, especially once you take into consideration the fact he has struggled so mightily in the inferior college game.

Locker possesses skills quarterbacks do not necessarily need (extreme athleticism and running) and does not possess the one skill quarterbacks absolutely need (accuracy). In Locker's best season, which took place last season, he only had a 58.2 completion percentage on 7.09 yards per pass attempt. Elite quarterbacks in college football simply do not complete less than 60 percent of their passes; usually, they are at 63 percent and higher. The fact Locker did not even come close to that mark speaks to his mediocrity as a passer. Since the NFL is a passing league, there is no way he should be highly regarded as a future NFL quarterback.

In the case of junior University of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, people are once again being fooled by size and arm strength. True, Ryan Mallett is both big (6'6, 238 pounds) with great arm strength, but he is also incredibly inaccurate and inconsistent as his 55.8 completion percentage demonstrates. When such a low completion percentage is mixed with a high yards per pass attempt average like Mallett's 9.00 mark, it means that while a quarterback is giving his team a good share of big plays he is just as often throwing incompletions and killing the team's offense.

Since it is far easier to remember a forty-yard touchdown pass than all of the incompletions before it, people tend to focus only on Mallett's good plays to the detriment of their evaluation of him as a player. If he were a truly elite player, his statistics would look more like Sam Bradford's who paired a 67.9 completion percentage with 9.19 yards per pass attempt. Mallett's inconsistency and inaccuracy should scare people off from anointing him as a great quarterback.

Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck has a similar resume as Ryan Mallett, which does not speak well in his favor. Last season, Luck completed 56.3% of his passes and had 8.94 yards per pass attempt so he was also a big-play or incompletion type of quarterback. Although some people think that is good enough to put him on the top of an NFL draft board, I do not. Luck will need to improve greatly over the next two seasons in order to justify all the hype that is currently being heaped on his below-average quarterback shoulders.

As much as people might like to see junior Ohio State University quarterback Terrelle Pryor succeed, there is no indication it will ever happen. Last season, when Pryor was actually asked to throw a significant amount of passes per game (22.7 per game), he only had a completion percentage of 56.6 and 7.10 yards per pass attempt. Those are mediocre numbers, not ones that give any sort of indication he should be competing for a Heisman trophy.

Most of this hype is based on Pryor's Rose Bowl performance against Oregon where he completed 62.2% of his thirty-seven pass attempts and netted 7.19 yards per pass attempt on the way to 266 yards. The fact that so much is being made of what would be an ordinary game for a truly elite college quarterback really speaks to how disappointing a passer Pryor is. Just because a C student gets an A on a test does not magically turn that student into an A student. The same goes for mediocre quarterbacks who have good games; at the end of the day, they are still mediocre.

For Jake Locker the ship has sailed and it is too late now for him to enter the rarefied air of great college quarterbacks; he is the below average passer he will always be. For the rest, however, if they can make significant improvements in their passing numbers, then they might be actual viable draft prospects instead of just being overrated draft prospects.

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