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Will Justin Fields Suck Because He Played At Ohio State?


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No, Ohio State Isn’t A Quarterback School. But There Are No Quarterback Schools.

TY SCHALTER JANUARY 07, 2021

 

CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl – Clemson v Ohio State Will Justin Fields make it in the NFL? 

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

Justin Fields’s impressive performanceagainst Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals didn’t just wow football fans, it cemented his status as the consensus No. 2 quarterback prospect of this year’s NFL draft class. “Fields seemed to erase all the talk of his limitations with one of the gutsiest performances of the season,” wrote Yahoo’s Eric Edholm.

But when it comes to the popular belief in his eventual NFL success, Fields faces a bigger hurdle than even Alabama’s defense. Nothing he does on the field could erase his biggest perceived limitation: playing for Ohio State.

A quick Twitter search for “Ohio State quarterbacks” returns plenty of snark about Fields’s prospects in the NFL — especially given that his predecessor, Dwayne Haskins, was released from the Washington Football Team just days before. But is there any truth behind the social-media narratives already metastasizing into articles about Ohio State’s “quarterback curse?”

Since 2001, only five quarterbacks have been drafted out of Ohio State. Before Haskins was selected with the 15th pick in the 2019 draft, no other Buckeye QB this century had been taken any higher than the fourth round. And none of those other four left much of a mark at the next level: Cardale Jones, Troy Smith, Craig Krenzel and Steve Bellisari all failed to become regular NFL starters.

But that’s not evidence of a curse. It’s just what usually happens to college quarterbacks.

Given 130 Division I FBS football programs and just 32 NFL teams, the vast majority of college quarterbacks are just never going to find a long-term seat in that game of musical chairs. Using Stathead’s draft finder, we’re able to find the weighted career Approximate Value1 — Pro-Football-Reference.com’s single-number measure of player value — of all quarterbacks drafted since 2001, the year after Tom Brady, the oldest quarterback in the NFL, was drafted:

schalter-COLLEGE-QBS-0106-1.png?w=1400

Of the 248 quarterbacks drafted since 2001, the majority haven’t made any impact in the NFL. Nathan Peterman, whose mistake-filled play earned him a reputation as “the worst quarterback ever,” has a weighted career AV of 2. Only 126 of these drafted quarterbacks have a weighted career AV of 3 or higher — so about half of all draftees haven’t done any better than Peterman.

But given Haskins’s high-profile flameout, and Fields being another big-framed quarterback in the mold of Haskins and Jones, it’s worth checking to see if Ohio State is actually worse at turning out signal-calling prospects than other schools.

schalter-COLLEGE-QBS-0106-2.png?w=1400

Of the 111 unique programs that produced at least one drafted quarterback, 45 (40.5 percent) produced only one. Only 35 schools have produced three or more drafted quarterbacks since 2001, and only three of those have an average weighted career AV of 50 or higher.

Purdue boasts the highest average weighted career Approximate Value of any school with three drafted quarterbacks. Kyle Orton (41 AV) and Curtis Painter (2) can thank Drew Brees (167) for helping them look so good. California’s average is lower, but it’s spread out a little more equally among four quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers (151), Jared Goff (49), Kyle Boller (17) and Davis Webb (0). Among schools with five quarterbacks, Oklahoma’s have been the most productive— but with an average of just 22.0. Georgia has six quarterbacks on the list, all divvying up the weighted career AV of Matthew Stafford (102) and Quincy Carter (17).

As we can see, most of the schools with any significant production are relying on the total value of one all-time standout. After Brady, four quarterbacks were drafted out of Michigan, and only one has a nonzero weighted career AV (Chad Henne, 27). But throw Brady’s 179 into the group, and the resulting 41.2 average almost doubles Oklahoma’s five-QB mark.

This is Ohio State’s problem. The measly 2.0 average of the five quarterbacks the school has sent to the NFL doesn’t represent an unusual level of failure. It’s that none of those five quarterbacks went on to become an exceptional success like Brady, Brees, Rodgers or Stafford. Any team that drafts Fields will certainly hope he starts for a decade or more — garnering Pro Bowl nominations, Super Bowl berths and Hall of Fame consideration along the way — but history shows that’s not the norm. Linking Fields’s future prospects to the past of a prospect like Jones, who played four years earlier under a different head coach, makes no sense.

If there’s a school “cursed” to consistently turn out draft-caliber quarterback prospects who never become regular starters, it’s LSU. A whopping nine passers from Death Valley have been drafted since 2001, and so far none of them have done any better than Matt Flynn (8 AV).2

On the flip side, if there’s such a thing as a good quarterback school, it’s USC. Carson Palmer’s weighted career AV of 108 anchors a class of eight, but it’s the relatively rich middle class of passers like Matt Cassel (45), Mark Sanchez (34), Sam Darnold (15) and Matt Leinart (12) that has the school’s average at 28.0 — the highest of any school with five or more drafted quarterbacks. That Leinart, a notorious draft bust, doesn’t significantly drag down USC’s average shows how hard it is for a quarterback to accomplish anything in the NFL.

Fields may or may not eventually play at a high level on Sundays. But there’s no reason to believe his odds are any worse because he wore scarlet and gray on Saturdays.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/no-ohio-state-isnt-a-quarterback-school-but-there-are-no-quarterback-schools/

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I think the main thing that is being ignored in this piece is that it’s just looking at career value with no regard for draft capital spent on guys.

That Sanchez, Darnold, and Leinart’s careers are twisted to point to USC being a good school to draft quarterbacks from is a little silly. 

Some guys get bumped up to be more visible and have more opportunities to play in big games because of the profile of their school and the talent they play with. It’s not a dealbreaker but I think it makes evaluations more challenging and can lead to expensive misses.

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Taking the average of AV ratings is a moronic way of doing any tabulation like this, since one ultra-great skews the numbers. 2 bust QBs plus a HOF QB doesn't average out to 3 usable but meh Fitzpatrick QBs. They're extreme absolutes on their own: 1 big hit and 2 big, unusable misses.

You're looking for mode not mean here, after setting a minimum benchmark - whatever arbitrary AV number where one is considered a good pro that you'd be content to have as your starter - and then tabulating:

1. How many were above that mark aggregately

2. How many were considered good NFL prospects based on their college career, and then went on to fall above/below that mark

Stewpid otherwise, and even crunching numbers it the "right" way you still can't do a statistical comparison with credible conclusions when dealing with data sets of 1-2 player "hits" - over decades of time - to determine success or failure of a program's ability to push out adequate pro QBs, rather than luck of the draw in recruiting since (considering the volume of QB turnover at every college, since they can't have 5-15 year careers there) there just aren't that many good pro QB prospects in the first place.

A great prospect can go to a college program that's pushed out a prior big hit or two, or one that's never pushed out a big hit. That's it. He at least appears to get the conclusion right (clumsily), but wasted a lot of time plotting points to calculate meaningless averages.

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7 minutes ago, Scott Dierking said:

Justin Fields may suck. He may be a HOF player. Neither of those things will happen because he went to school at Ohio State.

But you needed a worthless study of JHS-level statistical analysis to tell you this, right? 

At least even an inherently flawed study isn't as lazy as the "repeated correlation = causation" conclusion that people draw, no matter how many player and coaching and scheme changes have occurred over the duration of data accumulation that ultimately makes these stats pure noise anyway.

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2 minutes ago, JiF said:

Hands down the dumbest takes of all the draft takes is the good old; NO QBs from this college!!!!!  Legit, the dumbest sh*t you can use to predict the future of a player, no questions asked, if you say it, you should hang our head in shame.

That said, Joe Burrow went was recruited, committed and played at Ohio St, whereas, Justin Fields was recruited, committed and played a UGA.  THey are transfers.  Cracks me up how in the midst of these stupid takes, those facts are lost upon the masses.

 

 

 

But USC QBs yo. Obviously Darnold doesn't suck because he sucks. He sucks because Sanchez, Leinart, Kessler, Booty, Marinovich, etc. sucked before him. Those guys failing before him is the real reason he was a flawed prospect from the start. Get it?

Here's your statistical analysis: there aren't enough good QBs being born for any program to push out reliably excellent pro QBs, so such analysis is an endeavor in futility.

Higher profile schools will seem to boost bad players more than a lower profile one because there's also a disparity in recruiting their surrounding casts. It doesn't therefore make them worse QB schools; there are no good QB schools and there are no bad QB schools. From a statistical perspective, they're all bad QB schools. 

A good QB - one we'd be happy to draft - will have at least a 10-year career (these days it's more like 15+). Every school's starting QB is replaced every 1-3 years. That's why there are no programs that pump out hit after hit after hit. Big programs will more often hide QB flaws better than a crap one, but that doesn't therefore mean QBs from USC or LSU or OSU are bad bets. There aren't enough true FQBs on the planet to go around in the NFL's 32 teams, let alone to divide among 300 Div I + Div II college programs that each has its starting QB reach draft eligibility every 1-3 years. In every draft there isn't even necessarily one FQB to be had. 

Nobody - not even the school(s) with the best recruiting - gets a disproportionate share of that QB pie. Mmm...pie. 

Joe Burrow's success as a pro will be as relevant to Jamarcus Russell and Matt Flynn as it is to Y.A. Tittle and Bert Jones. 

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7 minutes ago, Sperm Edwards said:

But USC QBs yo. Obviously Darnold doesn't suck because he sucks. He sucks because Sanchez, Leinart, Kessler, Booty, Marinovich, etc. sucked before him. Those guys failing before him is the real reason he was a flawed prospect from the start. Get it?

Here's your statistical analysis: there aren't enough good QBs being born for any program to push out reliably excellent pro QBs, so such analysis is an endeavor in futility.

Higher profile schools will seem to boost bad players more than a lower profile one because there's also a disparity in recruiting their surrounding casts. It doesn't therefore make them worse QB schools; there are no good QB schools and there are no bad QB schools. From a statistical perspective, they're all bad QB schools. 

A good QB - one we'd be happy to draft - will have at least a 10-year career (these days it's more like 15+). Every school's starting QB is replaced every 1-3 years. That's why there are no programs that pump out hit after hit after hit. Big programs will more often hide QB flaws better than a crap one, but that doesn't therefore mean QBs from USC or LSU or OSU are bad bets. There aren't enough true FQBs on the planet to go around in the NFL's 32 teams, let alone to divide among 300 Div I + Div II college programs that each has its starting QB reach draft eligibility every 1-3 years. In every draft there isn't even necessarily one FQB to be had. 

Nobody - not even the school(s) with the best recruiting - gets a disproportionate share of that QB pie. Mmm...pie. 

Joe Burrow's success as a pro will be as relevant to Jamarcus Russell and Matt Flynn as it is to Y.A. Tittle and Bert Jones. 

Carson Palmer was pretty good before his legged died, no?  And then had a strong resurgence in Arizona but I guess that doesnt count for USC QB's because I only hear about the busts.

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I think it would be foolish to ignore if certain schools/coaches in college produce NFL failure after NFL failure.  While each individual is unique, their "upbringing" in football may not be.

If I hired a guy from "John's College of Stuff", and he was bad at doing stuff, and was the 10th bad-at-doing-stuff guy I hired from John's College of Stuff, I would probably stop hiring from that College because clearly they're not preparing their graduates right, and/or are accepting poor/lazy candidates.

Same goes for this.  No, one bad QB wouldn't turn me off a school.  But if a school consistently produces bad Pro QB's (like USC), I would factor that into my evaluations.  It wouldn't be a deal-breaker alone, because each man is unique, but it would be considered.

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10 minutes ago, Warfish said:

I think it would be foolish to ignore if certain schools/coaches in college produce NFL failure after NFL failure.  While each individual is unique, their "upbringing" in football may not be.

If I hired a guy from "John's College of Stuff", and he was bad at doing stuff, and was the 10th bad-at-doing-stuff guy I hired from John's College of Stuff, I would probably stop hiring from that College because clearly they're not preparing their graduates right, and/or are accepting poor/lazy candidates.

Same goes for this.  No, one bad QB wouldn't turn me off a school.  But if a school consistently produces bad Pro QB's (like USC), I would factor that into my evaluations.  It wouldn't be a deal-breaker alone, because each man is unique, but it would be considered.

You just contradicted yourself. It's not about the school, its about the coach and system. Ryan Day is a relative newcomer to OSU. Even if you include the Urban Meyer era we are talking about less than a 10 year run. How many schools produce elite QBs every 10 years? 

Technically, Joe Burrow is an OSU QB. How did LSU QBs fare before Burrow? How about Oregon QBs before Herbert? Haskins busted because he is a lazy douche, not because he doesn't have talent. Carson Palmer should have put the USC QB narrative to bed 15 years ago. 

Lastly, if you believe that certain schools always produce bad QBs, then by that logic you should certainly also believe that some NFL teams simply can't produce QBs either-in that case the Jets shouldn't even bother trying to develop a QB. 

 

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3 minutes ago, QB1 said:

You just contradicted yourself.

Nope.

3 minutes ago, QB1 said:

It's not about the school, its about the coach and system.

Could be about both.  Some schools may hire the same type of Coach or system Coach, who could maintain the issue that causes bad pro QB's.

3 minutes ago, QB1 said:

Lastly, if you believe that certain schools always produce bad QBs, then by that logic you should certainly also believe that certain NFL teams can't produce QB either. If that is the case the Jets should never even bother to develop a QB. 

Cool story Nico.

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1 minute ago, Warfish said:

I think it would be foolish to ignore if certain schools/coaches in college produce NFL failure after NFL failure.  While each individual is unique, their "upbringing" in football may not be.

If I hired a guy from "John's College of Stuff", and he was bad at doing stuff, and was the 10th bad-at-doing-stuff guy I hired from John's College of Stuff, I would probably stop hiring from that College because clearly they're not preparing their graduates right, and/or are accepting poor/lazy candidates.

Same goes for this.  No, one bad QB wouldn't turn me off a school.  But if a school consistently produces bad Pro QB's (like USC), I would factor that into my evaluations.  It wouldn't be a deal-breaker alone, because each man is unique, but it would be considered.

The difference is in your analogy you'd have to be recruiting for a job where there are maybe ~20 people on the planet good enough to do it. In the world outside NFL QB candidates, there are probably colleges that regularly push out good candidates in a field and ones that regularly push out failures. In terms of QBs, though, every school is a statistical failure, and a big failure at that. I don't think it's the same for that reason. 

There are zero good QB Factory schools; there are only ones that were lucky to get the 1 or 2 QBs in any given year that gets among 130 Div I teams and another 160 Div II teams. All that QB turnover every year, on top of the hundreds(?) of college coaching/system changes that also occur every decade.

USC puts out more "bad" pro QBs for one reason: it's because more USC QBs get drafted outright, not because they're worse than others at producing pro QBs. If every single QB was drafted from every Div I school, USC would look like a QB factory in comparison. 

In other words, a program other than USC is considered a more reliable QB factory if, in between its 1 or 2 usable QBs in the last quarter century, all the rest its other QBs were totally undraftable in the first place. 

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8 minutes ago, Sperm Edwards said:

The difference is in your analogy you'd have to be recruiting for a job where there are maybe ~20 people on the planet good enough to do it. In the world outside NFL QB candidates, there are probably colleges that regularly push out good candidates in a field and ones that regularly push out failures. In terms of QBs, though, every school is a statistical failure, and a big failure at that. I don't think it's the same for that reason. 

There are zero good QB Factory schools; there are only ones that were lucky to get the 1 or 2 QBs in any given year that gets among 130 Div I teams and another 160 Div II teams. All that QB turnover every year, on top of the hundreds(?) of college coaching/system changes that also occur every decade.

USC puts out more "bad" pro QBs for one reason: it's because more USC QBs get drafted outright, not because they're worse than others at producing pro QBs. If every single QB was drafted from every Div I school, USC would look like a QB factory in comparison. 

In other words, a program other than USC is considered a more reliable QB factory if, in between its 1 or 2 usable QBs in the last quarter century, all the rest its other QBs were totally undraftable in the first place. 

Exactly, I was about to make the same point.  USC is somehow a “bad” QB school because they produce too many QBs that go to NFL but don’t necessarily become FQBs.   

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It's a bad argument. It's not fair to judge Justin Fields based off of the play of Dwayne Haskins or anyone else who went to the same school. They are different people.

Also, besides Haskins, who are the other big QB's to come out of Ohio State recently? There are none.

Troy Smith, JT Barrett, CarDale Jones, and Braxton Miller were not top QB prospects coming out of college. They were middle to late round picks and Barrett didn't even get drafted. 

 

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22 minutes ago, Sperm Edwards said:

The difference is in your analogy you'd have to be recruiting for a job where there are maybe ~20 people on the planet good enough to do it. In the world outside NFL QB candidates, there are probably colleges that regularly push out good candidates in a field and ones that regularly push out failures. In terms of QBs, though, every school is a statistical failure, and a big failure at that. I don't think it's the same for that reason. 

There are zero good QB Factory schools; there are only ones that were lucky to get the 1 or 2 QBs in any given year that gets among 130 Div I teams and another 160 Div II teams. All that QB turnover every year, on top of the hundreds(?) of college coaching/system changes that also occur every decade.

USC puts out more "bad" pro QBs for one reason: it's because more USC QBs get drafted outright, not because they're worse than others at producing pro QBs. If every single QB was drafted from every Div I school, USC would look like a QB factory in comparison. 

In other words, a program other than USC is considered a more reliable QB factory if, in between its 1 or 2 usable QBs in the last quarter century, all the rest its other QBs were totally undraftable in the first place. 

I'll be honest, I don't feel any need to make it that deep.

1. I'd judge every player individually.  

2. If School X has produced 10 bad pro QB's in a row before the guy I'm looking at, I factor that into my decision.  How much I weight this factor, who knows, depends on all the specifics involved.

For me, it really is as simple as that.  I'm not really looking for others to agree nor am I trying to convince you to think this way, per se, just explaining how I'd do business.  

The TLDR for this thread is I am not of the view that Fields shouldn't be our pick simply because he went to Ohio State.  

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