Hypothesis: Completion percentage is the single best statistical indicator of NFL QB success.
There hasn't been a more discussed draft topic lately than the annual debate about what types of college quarterbacks translate into successful NFL quarterbacks. Opinions seem to differ as to whether the quintessential "gunslinger", or the more cerebral "accurate" passer is a safer 1st round pick.
Specifically, as it relates to the Seattle Seahawks, the debate over whether or not the Seahawks should draft Stafford (or Sanchez for that matter) is complex to say the least. Conventional wisdom would lead us to believe that any single statistic cannot predict success in a draftee. I thought the theory deserved to be tested and found that, as odd as it seems, there may be a statistical category that can predict NFL QB success better than others.
After some research, there does seem to be a very interesting correlation between QB completion percentage and subsequent success in the NFL. The premise is that collegiate QB's that complete more than 60% of their passes in their final season, have a better chance of NFL success, while QB's that complete LESS than 60% are substantially more likely to fail.
The following group of QB's drafted in the first round (1997-2004 ... stopped in 2004 to allow for a development window) completed LESS THAN 60% of their passes during their final collegiate season. This list is complete .
1997: Jim Druckenmiller, Virginia Tech (Completion Percentage: 54 percent)
1998: Ryan Leaf, Washington State (Completion Percentage: 55 percent). The (1) QB taken in Round 1 with better than 60% (Manning).
1999: Akili Smith, Oregon (Completion Percentage: 58 percent); Cade McNown, UCLA (Completion Percentage: 58 percent). The three QB's taken in round 1 with better than 60% (Couch, McNabb, Culpepper)
2000 Only 1 QB selected in Round 1. Pennington had higher than 60% completion percentage.
2001: Michael Vick, Virginia Tech (Completion Percentage: 54 percent)
2002: Joey Harrington, Oregon (Completion Percentage: 59 percent); Patrick Ramsey, Tulane (Completion Percentage: 57 percent. The (1) QB taken in Round 1 with better than 60% (Carr).
2003: Kyle Boller, California (Completion Percentage: 53 percent); Rex Grossman, Florida (Completion Percentage: 57 percent). The two QB's taken in round 1 with better than 60% (Palmer and Leftwich)
2004 J.P. Losman, Tulane (Completion Percentage: 59 percent). The three QB's taken in round 1 with better than 60% (Manning, Rivers, Rothlisberger).
10 out of the 21 QB's completed less than 60% of their final collegiate season:
Pro Bowl: Michael Vick
Some Success: Rex Grossman
Limited to No Success: Kyle Boller, Patrick Ramsey, Cade McNown, Joey Harrington, JP Losman
Failure: Ryan Leaf, Jim Druckenmiller, Akili Smith
11 Completed more than 60% of their passes in their final collegiate year.
Legends: Peyton Manning
Pro Bowlers Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, Ben Rothlisberger, Eli Manning, Chad Pennington, Dante Culpepper
Stars: Philip Rivers
Some Success: Byron Leftwich
Limited to No Success: David Carr, Tim Couch
Thats a staggering 80% of the "Less Than 60%" group that have experienced little or no NFL success (based on a subjective common sense filter)
. . . and an equally staggering 73% of the "More Than 60%" group that are stars or better (Obviously there is some room for debate as to which categories I have ranked them in, but they should be fairly representative of the collective consensus).
With this is mind:
What do this years 1st Round Draft Picks bring to the table?
Mark Sanchez: 65.8%
Matt Stafford: 61.4%
Josh Freeman: 58.6%