Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Geno Smith Scores Big in Football Outsiders Analytical Projection

Recommended Posts

Geno Smith scores big in Football Outsiders analytical projection


Geno Smith, according to at least one metric, scored well above scouts' projections. (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)

By Conor Orr/The Star-Ledger
on May 08, 2013 at 1:17 PM, updated May 08, 2013 at 3:32 PM













Dave DeGuglielmo, the former Jets offensive line coach, hated the notion of "Moneyballing" players, especially offensive linemen.


He was referring to the surge in analytical analysis that has taught us a lot about football in recent years. Like analytics in baseball, one cannot field a team based on those numbers alone. Football is even more fickle in that sense.


Still, some numbers can offer valuable insight, even if they can't tell us the whole story.


For example, before the NFL Draft, the fine folks at Football Outsiders projected NFL production for the quarterbacks in the class using their Lewin Career Forecast model, which takes into account career college games started, career completion rate (equipped with a sliding scale which penalizes the quarterback for a drop in percentage), the quarterback's Body Mass Index, the difference between junior and senior season passer ratings, a run-pass ratio and total rushing yards.


Quarterbacks get a number that estimates their Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement in years 3-5 of their career. The best quarterbacks score above 1,200.


Their best quarterback? Geno Smith, the Jets' second round draft pick, with 2,064. Then came Matt Barkley (1,812), Giants selection Ryan Nassib (1,506), E.J. Manuel (1,270) and Tyler Wilson (425).

Two things here:


1. This metric predicted an unproductive pro career for Matt Leinart, a first round draft pick in 2006, and was also cold on Mark Sanchez. It also spit out a mammoth score for Russell Wilson, who last season led the Seattle Seahawks to the postseason as a rookie.


2. This metric also predicted a massive success for Colt McCoy and Brady Quinn -- which hasn't been the case to this point in their careers.


Smith has endured a heavy amount of criticism in the past few weeks. And yes, there are now a few well-known reasons why he stumbled out of the first round of the draft. This is not meant to say those scouts or league executives are incorrect. It's just another way to look at things.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

but i must say colt never got full year or 2 to show if he is anygood


Yeah Colt wasn't unimpressive.  So they were only way off on Brady Quinn.  I see no reason not to add it to the list of reasons to be excited about Geno.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lewin Career Forecast 2012


by Aaron Schatz

Six years ago, Football Outsiders unveiled the college quarterback

projection system known as the Lewin Career Forecast. Originally, the

LCF projected the success of first- and second-round quarterbacksicon1.png

using just college games started and college completion percentage.

Going back -- including when looking at quarterbacks from the years

before the data set used to create it -- it had a strong record. After

2006, the record was not so strong. So last year, we debuted an updated

version of the forecast, LCF v2.0.

The new version of the Lewin Career Forecast is built to apply only

to quarterbacks chosen in the first three rounds of the draft. After

that, quarterbackicon1.png

success and failure becomes too difficult to predict. Part of the

concept of the system is that scouts will do a good enough job

identifying "system quarterbacks" so that those quarterbacks whose

college stats are much better than their pro potential will naturally

fall to the third day of the draft.

There are seven variables involved in LCF v2.0:

  • Career college games started, with a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 48.
  • Career completion rate; however, this is now a logrithmic variable.

    As a quarterback's completion percentage goes down, the penalty for low

    completion percentage gets gradually larger. As a result, the bonus for

    exceedingly accurate quarterbacks such as Tim Couch and Brian Brohm is smaller than the penalty for inaccurate quarterbacks such as Kyle Boller and Tarvaris Jackson.

  • Difference between the quarterback's BMI and 28.0. This creates a

    small penalty for quarterbacks who don't exactly conform to the "ideal

    quarterback size."

  • For quarterbacks who come out as seniors, the difference in NCAA

    passer rating between their junior and senior seasons. (For quarterbacks

    who come out as juniors or redshirt sophomores, this variable is always

    5.0, which is the average increase for the seniors in our data set.)

  • A binary variable that penalizes quarterbacks who don't play for a team in a BCS-qualifying conference.
  • Run-pass ratio in the quarterback's final college season, with a maximum of 0.5.
  • Total rushing yards in the quarterback's final college season, with a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 600.

These last two variables work together to penalize both quarterbacks

who scramble too often and quarterbacks who take a lot of sacks (since

sacks are negative runs in college), while pocket quarterbacks who are

successful when they do run get a bonus.


The biggest question about LCF continues to be the importance of

games started. This is still the most important variable in the

equation. As I explained in last year's article,

any quarterback projection system based on past performance is going to

highly value collegiate games started. From 1990 to 2005, it was far

and away the most important variable in determining the success of

highly-drafted quarterbacks. However, there are questions about whether

the rise of the spread offense is leading to number of quarterbacks who

come into the NFL with a lot of collegiate experience yet still

unprepared for the NFL-style game. Other quarterbacks have come into the

NFL with less experience and done very well. The best example of this

would be Cam Newton,

who seems like the kind of guy who is built to break this system. He

started only one year of Division I ball and looked like a huge risk,

then put together one of the best rookie quarterback seasons in NFL

history. Aaron Rodgers

is another player who was underrated by the system; given the success

of Newton and Rodgers, perhaps we need to consider adding junior college

experience to the variable for collegiate games started.

Newton demonstrates where the system can go wrong, while Andy Dalton

demonstrates where the system can go right. Dalton was the

highest-rated prospect in last year's draft according to LCF and while

his numbers (and his potential) don't match Newton's, his rookie

performance surprised a number of observers who felt his arm wasn't

strong enough to be a good NFL starting quarterback.

It's important to understand that LCF is meant to be a tool used

alongside the scouting reports, not instead of the scouting reports.

What matters is not which quarterback is ahead of which other

quarterback by 100 points. Instead, what's important is who has an

overall good or bad projection. Scouts still come first and foremost,

but this method is valuable as a crosscheck device and should be part of

the conversation about quarterback draft prospects.

With that in mind, let's look at the projections for this year's

quarterbacks. These numbers represent an estimate for passing DYAR in

years 3-5 of a player's career. The top prospects will be above 1,200

DYAR, and you should avoid quarterbacks below zero. Let's start with the

top two guys, two of the highest-rated quarterbacks in LCF history who

will also be the first two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Robert Griffin, Baylor: 2,530 DYAR

Important stats: 40 games started, 67.0% completion rate, senior passer rating rose 45.3 points, 161 carries for 644 yards.

Andrew Luck, Stanford: 1,749 DYAR

Important stats: 37 games started, 66.4% completion rate, senior passer rating dropped -0.5 points, 47 carries for 150 yards.

Robert Griffin comes out with the strongest LCF projection of any

quarterback we've measured. Here are the top ten quarterbacks by LCF

projection since 1998:

Player Year LCF Robert Griffin 2012 2530 Philip Rivers 2004 2476 Drew Brees 2001 2190 Colt McCoy 2010 2092 Carson Palmer 2003 1973 Peyton Manning 1998 1784 Andrew Luck 2012 1749 Chad Pennington 2000 1678 Brady Quinn 2007 1518 Jason Campbell 2005 1506


Griffin and Luck are basically LCF's dream candidates. They're both

longtime starters with tons of college experience. Both have strong

completion rates. Both get good yardage when scrambling. The biggest

difference between the two according to LCF is what happened in their

senior year. Luck, who was stellar as a junior, saw his passer rating

stay constant. Griffin, on the other hand, improved significantly. The

45.3-point rise in his passer rating as a senior is largest senior

improvement in our database (surpassing Jason Campbell,

who rose 40.3 points) and the second-largest senior change in our

database (behind only Rex Grossman, whose passer rating as a senior

dropped 49.3 points). Statistically, Griffin's senior year was better

than Luck's, his junior year not as good. This could indicate that

Griffin is still improving, still learning, and still getting better,

with more room to grow in the pros. Of course, it also could indicate

that Griffin's 2011 season was a little fluky, and one of the arguments

I've read against Griffin as a can't-miss prospect is that most scouts

didn't have him as a first-round pick before his senior season. With all

due respect to those scouts, it was pretty obvious within the first two

or three games of the year that they were wrong. And even if Griffin's

passer rating as a senior had stayed the same as his passer rating as a

junior, Griffin would still have this year's highest LCF projection at


Again, this little statistical exercise is not definitive proof that

the Colts should draft Griffin over Luck. What's important here is that

both quarterbacks come out as top prospects, and unlike with Colt McCoy, the scouting reports match the statistical projection.

One last note: The argument against "Luck and Griffin are about as

close to can't miss as quarterback prospects can be" is not "well,

people said the same thing about Peyton Manning

and Ryan Leaf." We know more now than we did then. Leaf started only 24

games and completed just 55.4 percent of his passes in college. His LCF

projection is at -407. If Football Outsiders had been around in 1998,

we would have been arguing that Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf weren't even in the same universe as prospects.

Nick Foles, Arizona: 1,391 DYAR

Important stats: 33 games started, 66.9% completion rate, 43 carries for -103 yards.

Foles is this year's version of Ricky Stanzi, a guy whose strong LCF

forecast will probably end up moot because scouts will determine that

he's not worth of a pick in the first three rounds. His film from 2011

has apparently dropped him on a lot of draft boards, and he had a poor

combine performance. Greg Cosell calls him a "major projection"

based on slow arm speed and an inability to drive intermediate-lenth

passes. He also has an elongated delivery. I'm not a scouting expert by

any means, and I haven't seen Foles play, but the scouting reports on

Foles remind me a lot of the scouting reports on Andy Dalton, except that Dalton didn't have a problem with a slow delivery.


Kirk Cousins, Michigan State: 1,362 DYAR

Important stats: 38 games started, 64.6% completion rate.

One interesting note about Cousins is his fluctuating size. He's

6-foot-3 and weighed in at the combine at 214 pounds, which leads to a

26.7 BMI. That's lower than usual for quarterbacks, but not extremely

low. However, he played the 2011 season at 202 pounds and 25.2 BMI. The

data set used to create LCF v2.0 doesn't have a single quarterback

listed below 205 pounds or 25.8 BMI. The team drafting Cousins needs to

make sure he keeps up an intensive strength program so he's sturdy

enough to take the hits he's going to take in the NFL. The ESPN Scouts Inc. profile of Cousins (note: Insider) lists him with "below average" durability.

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: 1,011 DYAR

Important stats: 25 games started, 69.5% completion rate, 26.8 BMI

Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: 730 DYAR

Important stats: 19 games started, 62.3% completion rate, 55 carries for 296 yards.

Given the way they are discussed, you would never know that Ryan Tannehill had almost as many college starts as Brandon Weeden.

Sure, Tannehill spent his first two years as a wide receiver before

spending a year and a half as the Aggies' starting quarterback. But

Weeden spent all those years as a baseball playericon1.png,

then was redshirted, and ended up only starting two full seasons. So

while Tannehill may be a more raw talent than Weeden, and he wasn't as

accurate as Weeden in college, he has far more potential. The LCF

doesn't know that Weeden will turn 29 in the middle of his rookie

season. When John Beck came into the league as an overaged prospect, he

had 12 more games of starting experience than Weeden has and was three years younger.

Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: 248 DYAR

Important stats: 14 games started, 60.3% completion rate.

The LCF likes this year's quarterback prospects, with one exception: Brock Osweiler.

Osweiler is built for LCF to hate. He has a low completion rate and

only started one season in college (along with a single game in each of

his first two seasons) before coming out for the draft early. LCF

doesn't ding him for this, but there also need to be concerns about his

height. He was listed at 6-foot-8 during the season, although he

measured 6-foot-7 at the combine. Either way, he's taller than any

quarterback in the LCF data set. The FO master database lists only two

quarterbacks since 1992 who were at least 6-foot-7: Ryan Mallett and Dan McGwire. Dan McGwire also had very few games started (23) and a low completion rate (59.1 percent). You don't want to be compared to Dan McGwire.

The Asterisk

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: 2,650 DYAR

Important stats: 48 games started, 60.7% completion rate, senior passer rating rose 64.1 points.

I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the ridiculous projection that the Lewin Career Forecast spits out for Russell Wilson. Yes, that projection is even higher than the one for Robert Griffin.

No, it doesn't particularly mean that Wilson is a sleeper prospect.

There are a few things going on here that the LCF is just not designed

to account for.

First and foremost, the change in Wilson's passer rating between his

junior and senior years is insane. Remember that earlier I noted that

Griffin had a larger senior year passer rating increase than any

quarterback in our data set? Well, Wilson's senior year passer rating

increase is 40 percent larger than Griffin's. But does it matter when

the quarterback is playing in a completely different offense for a

completely different school in his last year of college eligibility? At

Wisconsin, Wilson got to pick apart defenses that were concentrating on

stopping Montee Ball. At North Carolina State, I doubt opponents were

quaking in their boots at the thought of Mustafa Greene and Dean Haynes.

It goes without saying that there isn't another quarterback in the LCF

data set who transferred between his junior and senior years.

There's also the issue of height, another data point where there's

nobody in our data set that can be compared to Wilson. At first, it

seems strange that LCF doesn't include a variable to discount short

quarterbacks, but when you look at the data set that went into creating

LCF the reasons are pretty clear. There's no penalty for being

5-foot-11, like Wilson is, because there are no quarterbacks in the data

set who are shorter than 6-foot-0. There's no penalty for being only

6-foot-0 because the two quarterbacks who are 6-foot-0 are Drew Brees and Michael Vick.

Quarterbacks who are Wilson's height simply don't get drafted in the

first three rounds of the draft, period. The FO master database only

includes three quarterbacks who are below six feet tall: Seneca Wallace,

Joe Hamilton, and Flutie. That's a fourth-round pick, a seventh-round

pick, and an 11th round pick from 25 years ago. Even if we go all the way backicon1.png

to 1991, the only quarterbacks taken in the first six rounds at

6-foot-0 or shorter were Vick, Brees, Wallace, Joe Germaine (fourth

round, 1999), and Troy Smith (fifth round, 2007).

Wilson too will probably be drafted on the third day of the draft,

round four or later, which would render his absurdly high LCF moot.

Edited by Villain The Foe

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah Colt wasn't unimpressive.  So they were only way off on Brady Quinn.  I see no reason not to add it to the list of reasons to be excited about Geno.

i mean the kid had no wr or rbs at the time and the boline did not make things any better

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

So.... basically, circus?


I know you know...but the circus left with Tebow...headed for parts unknown.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know you know...but the circus left with Tebow...headed for parts unknown.


The circus left with Tannebaum, and I don't entirely blame him... he just became a lap-dog for Woody and Rex.


They're both still here, but seem to be appropriately deferring to Idzik. 


I love it when Idzik's plan comes together.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this