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Just The Sports: 2011 NFL Draft: Pat Devlin Deserves A Legitimate Chance In The NFL

Just The Sports

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Pat Devlin Deserves A Legitimate Chance In The NFL

Based on the quarterbacks who were drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, the fact that former University of Delaware Blue Hen quarterback Pat Devlin went undrafted shows just how convoluted the NFL's process for selecting quarterbacks truly is. Despite the numerous interviews and the multiple workouts NFL teams put prospective quarterbacks through, most teams have no idea what they should truly look for when trying to predict how a college quarterback will perform in the NFL.

Even though Devlin went undrafted, his college football résumé measures up extremely favorably to every quarterback who was drafted; for the purposes of this article, his college statistics will only be compared to the six quarterbacks taken in the first three rounds of the draft who started at least two seasons of college football.

Accuracy is the most important tool a college quarterback can possess when making the transition to the NFL, and those quarterbacks who have been able to consistently put up excellent completion percentages across multiple seasons are those who are most likely to experience success in professional football.

Under that criterion, it is Devlin and no other quarterback who is best suited to quarterback an NFL team. In his first year as Delaware's primary quarterback (games in which he either attempted the most passes or threw for the most yards) after transferring from Penn State, Devlin completed 64.0 percent of his passes for 7.7 yards per pass attempt. Devlin then followed that up in his second year as a starter by completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 7.9 yards per pass attempt.

Part of his improvement in completion percentage from his junior to senior season is because his yards per completion dropped from an average of 12.1 yards to 11.6 yards. Even so, there is no doubt Devlin has elite accuracy.

It becomes even more elite when compared to the quarterbacks drafted in the first three rounds who started more than one season in college football. Devlin's career completion percentage of 66.0 percent as a primary quarterback is statistically significantly better than Jake Locker's (54.0 percent), Blaine Gabbert's (61.2 percent), Christian Ponder's (62.4 percent), Andy Dalton's (61.6 percent), and Colin Kaepernick's (58.3 percent). Although Devlin's career completion percentage was not statistically significantly better than Ryan Mallett's (60.2 percent) due to Mallett's incredibly inconsistency in his accuracy, it was still much better; in fact, it was 9.6 percent better.

Since no other quarterback in the draft could hold a candle to Devlin in terms of being very accurate across multiple seasons, it is absurd that no team was willing to reward him for his college football career. He should have been at the very least highly drafted. In a perfect world, he would have been the first quarterback chosen.

Devlin's college career is also superior to the career of former Delaware and current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

For his college career, Flacco completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 7.5 yards per pass attempt, both worse than Devlin's 66.0 completion percentage and 7.8 yards per pass attempt.

Devin also had a higher touchdown percentage than Flacco (5.2 percent to 4.4 percent), which made up for the fact he had a slightly higher interception percentage (1.7 percent to 1.6 percent).

There is not much more a college quarterback could have done to convince the NFL he is worthy of a shot to start than to have a better college career than an NFL starting quarterback than what Devlin accomplished. Devlin did every single thing he needed to do to warrant an NFL team giving him a legitimate shot to be a team's franchise quarterback.

Unfortunately for Devlin, based on the fact he went undrafted, it is improbable that a team will allow him to truly compete for a starting quarterback position. Therefore, the NFL's thinking that he will not succeed in the NFL will become a self-fulfilling prophecy as he will probably never be given a chance to prove otherwise.

Devlin certainly deserves that opportunity, however.

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