Elite college QB or QB from elite college?

Back Shoulder Fade Elite college QB or QB from elite college?


This edition I wanted to take some time to dig a little deeper into what translates from college football to the NFL. To do this I’m going to take a little bit different approach. The world is getting lit on fire with analytics, statistics, and every
other ‘measurable’ thing in this world. How much of that is true value, and how much of it is a byproduct of what makes this game great? Football is a true team game. 11 players on each side of the ball working together to achieve a goal. Tom Brady can’t block for himself, Aaron Rodgers can’t throw to himself, and Russell Wilson can’t hand the ball to himself. The point is the whole team is needed in order to be successful, so how many college QBs are elite because they’re that good, and how many are elite because the other 10 guys are that much better than the 11 they’re lining up against?

First up. Tom Brady. Final college Season 1999 – Michigan – 2-year starter

Record: 10-2 (6th of 114) (Schedule & Results)
Rank: 5th in the Final AP poll

YearSchoolConfClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsY/AAY/ATDIntRate
1999MichiganBig TenQB1118029561.022177.57.7166138.0
CareerMichigan39563861.947737.57.23017134

Primary playmakers (draft round): WR - David Terrell (1st), WR - Marcus Knight, TE - Aaron Shea (4th), WR – Marquise Walker, RB - Anthony Thomas (2nd)


Aaron Rodgers. Final college season 2004 - California – 2 year starter

Record: 10-2 (8th of 120) (Schedule & Results)
Rank: 9th in the Final AP poll

YearSchoolConfClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsY/AAY/ATDIntRate
*2004CaliforniaPac-10JRQB1220931666.125668.18.5248154.3
CareerCalifornia42466563.854698.28.64313150.

Primary playmakers (draft round): WR – Geoff Mcarthur, WR – Robert Jordan, RB – Marshawn Lynch (1st)

Russell Wilson. Final college season – 2011 - Wisconsin – 4-year starter between NC State and Wisconsin (2011 was the only year he played at Wisconsin)

YearSchoolConfClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsY/AAY/ATDIntRate
*2011WisconsinBig TenSRQB1422530972.8317510.311.8334191.8
CareerOverall907148960.9117207.98.410930147.2
North Carolina State682118057.885457.27.57626135.5
Wisconsin22530972.8317510.311.8334191.0

Primary playmakers (draft round): WR – Nick Toon (4th), WR – Jared Abbrederis (5th), RB – Montee Ball (2nd – he was also 4th in Heisman voting in 2011), RB – James White (4th)

Wilson was the only one that had a true playmaker in the offense in Montee Ball. He rushed for nearly 2000 yards in 2011. You could argue David Terrell was a playmaker out of Michigan, and he had a good NFL career, but his ‘best season’ actually came AFTER Brady left in 2000 where he had 2 more catches than 1999, but 110 more yards, and 9 MORE TDs.

To show a level of contrast I took a look at what is considered the biggest QB bust in the history of the NFL. Jamarcus Russell. Final college season – 2006 – LSU – 3 year starter

YearSchoolConfClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsY/AAY/ATDIntRate
*2006LSUSECJRQB1323234267.831299.19.7288167.0
CareerLSU49379761.966258.38.45221147.9

Primary playmakers (draft round) – WR – Dwayne Bowe (1st), WR – Early Doucet (3rd), WR – Craig Davis (1st), RB – Jacob Hester (3rd).

To take things a step further, I looked at Ken Dorsey, who played for one of the best teams in the history of college football:

YearSchoolConfClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsY/AAY/ATDIntRate
1999Miami (FL)Big EastQB67412061.78076.77.6102142.3
2000Miami (FL)Big EastSOQB1118832258.427378.59.4255152.3
2001Miami (FL)Big EastJRQB1118431857.926528.38.5239146.1
*2002Miami (FL)Big EastSRQB1322239356.533698.68.62812145.9
CareerMiami (FL)668115357.995658.38.78628147

And I compared him to Ben Roethlisberger, the QB who came from arguably the most obscure school and won a Super Bowl… Miami of Ohio.

YearSchoolConfClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsY/AAY/ATDIntRate
2001Miami (OH)MACFRQB1224138163.331058.17.92513146.5
2002Miami (OH)MACSOQB1227142863.332387.67.42211138.7
*2003Miami (OH)MACJRQB1434249569.144869.19.63710165.8
CareerMiami (OH)854130465.5108298.38.48434151.3

Similar statistics in less games, with less weapons…

There are a TON of factors that make a good QB. Not all of which have been sorted out quite yet, but could this be a factor? This is not a rule. Trevor Lawrence appears to have the goods AND have elite talent around him. Burrow appears to be transitioning well while playing with a stacked offense at LSU. Tua went to Alabama and that book isn’t written… yet. But maybe, just maybe we need to start thinking about WHO is around the QB we’re looking to draft, in addition to the other factors of wins, yards, tds and INTS. Top tier receivers create separation and the passing window is bigger. Top Tier RBs open up the offense for QBs with play action. Having playmakers that tower in talent over their competition can possibly mask deficiencies a college QB may have… lets keep that in mind when we’re evaluating the ‘next big thing.’

There is a ‘pink elephant’ in the room here… and it’s a legitimate connection to what inspired me to look deeper into this subject to hopefully paint a clearer picture… This does not necessarily paint a clear picture about the future of our young QB, but was more a thought of what to look for in 2021 and beyond.

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