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To sit or not to sit: Analysis of 1st/2nd round QBs from 1998-2020


Jetsfan80
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Awesome breakdown. I think we all get caught up in a little bit of recency bias when it comes to these things.

It is undeniable though, second chance QB's are becoming a thing in an NFL where run/short pass game and protecting the ball is being weighted more.

Another rabbit hole to crawl into might be to see how much smaller and quicker the front 7 have gotten in order to cover TE's and get to the QB over the last decade. I think Offenses are reading and reacting to this with cycling multiple fresh RB's and a strong dump off passing game.

I see the Titans, Eagles, Ravens, Patriots, Jets, Browns, Niners, and Seahawks all following this trend. 

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26 minutes ago, Jetsfan80 said:

It's time to finally put this discussion to bed, if possible.

Below you will find an analysis of 77 QBs selected in Rounds 1-2 of the NFL draft from 1998-2020 who could be fairly easily placed into the camp of "HIT" or "BUST". 

QBs who fall into more of a "gray area" (decent journeymen, successful backups, out the league under weird circumstances, or jury still out) were excluded.  Those 10 QBs were as follows:  Kellen Clemens, Chad Henne, Colin Kaepernick, Geno Smith, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Jared Goff, Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Jordan Love.

I'm sure there will be some quibbles on what is considered a "HIT" or a "BUST" but for the most part, I imagine there will be agreement on the placement of at least 60 or so of these QBs, giving us plenty of sample size to make a proper analysis.

Those 77 QBs were then placed into 8 different buckets:  HIT/BUST and how long they sat before being named a starting QB (0-3 weeks; 4-8 weeks; 9-16 weeks; >1 full season).  

Below were the resulting buckets:

 

1) Played right away (within first 3 weeks of rookie season) - HITS (12)

  • Peyton Manning (1998 - 1.1)
  • Carson Palmer (2003 - 1.1)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (2004 - 1.11)
  • Matt Ryan (2008 - 1.3)
  • Joe Flacco (2008 - 1.18)
  • Matthew Stafford (2009 - 1.1)
  • Cam Newton (2011 - 1.1)
  • Andy Dalton (2011 - 2.35)
  • Andrew Luck (2012 - 1.1)
  • Ryan Tannehill (2012 - 1.8)
  • Derek Carr (2014 - 2.36)
  • Deshaun Watson (2017 - 1.12)
  • Joe Burrow (2020 - 1.1)
  • Justin Herbert (2020 - 1.6)

 

2) Played right away (within first 3 weeks of rookie season) - BUSTS (16)

  • Tim Couch (1999 - 1.1)
  • Quincy Carter (2001 - 2.53)
  • David Carr (2002 - 1.1)
  • Joey Harrington (2002 - 1.3)
  • Kyle Boller (2003 - 1.19)
  • Mark Sanchez (2009 - 1.5)
  • Sam Bradford (2010 - 1.1)
  • Jimmy Clausen (2010 - 2.48)
  • Blaine Gabbert (2011 - 1.10)
  • Robert Griffin IIII (2012 - 1.2)
  • Brandon Weeden (2012 - 1.22)
  • EJ Manuel (2013  - 1.16)
  • Marcus Mariota (2015 - 1.2)
  • Carson Wentz (2016 - 1.2)
  • DeShone Kizer (2017 - 2.52)
  • Sam Darnold (2018 - 1.3)

 

3) Sat for 4-8 weeks  - Hits (5)

  • Charlie Batch (1998 - 2.60)
  • Michal Vick (2001 - 1.1)
  • Alex Smith (2005 - 1.1)
  • Josh Allen (2018 - 1.7)
  • Tua Tagovailoa (2020 - 1.5)

 

4) Sat for 4-8 weeks  - BUSTS (13)

  • Ryan Leaf (1998 - 1.2)
  • Cade McNown (1999 - 1.12)
  • Patrick Ramsey (2002 - 1.32)
  • Byron Leftwich (2003 - 1.7)
  • Vince Young (2006 - 1.3)
  • Matt Leinart (2006 - 1.10)
  • Josh Freeman (2009 - 1.17)
  • Christian Ponder (2011 - 1.12)
  • Blake Bortles (2014 - 1.3)
  • Paxton Lynch (2016 - 1.26)
  • Mitchell Trubisky (2017 - 1.2)
  • Baker Mayfield (2018 - 1.1)
  • Josh Rosen (2018 - 1.10)

 

5) Sat for 9 weeks - 1 full season  - HITS (7)

  • Donovan McNabb (1999 - 1.2)
  • Daunte Culpepper (1999 - 1.11)
  • Eli Manning (2004 - 1.1)
  • Jay Cutler (2006 - 1.11)
  • Patrick Mahomes (2017 - 1.10)
  • Lamar Jackson 2018 - 1.32)
  • Jalen Hurts (2020 - 2.53)

 

6) Sat for 9 weeks - 1 full season   - BUSTS (9)

  • Akili Smith (1999 - 1.3)
  • Shaun King (1999 - 2.50)
  • Rex Grossman (2003 - 1.22)
  • Tarvaris Jackson (2006 - 2.64)
  • JaMarcus Russell (2007 - 1.1)
  • Tim Tebow (2010 - 1.25)
  • Johnny Manziel (2014 - 1.22)
  • Dwayne Haskins (2019 - 1.15)
  • Drew Lock (2019 - 2.42)

 

7) Sat for > 1 full season  - HITS (6)

  • Chad Pennington (2000 - 1.18)
  • Marc Bulger (2000 - 2.168)
  • Drew Brees (2001 - 1.32)
  • Phillip Rivers (2004 - 1.4)
  • Aaron Rodgers (2005 - 1.24)
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (2014 - 2.62)

 

8 ) Sat for > 1 full season   - BUSTS (9)

  • Marques Tuiasosopo (2001 - 2.59)
  • J.P. Losman (2004 - 1.22)
  • Jason Campbell (2005 - 1.25)
  • Brady Quinn (2007 - 1.22)
  • Kevin Kolb (2007 - 2.36)
  • Drew Stanton (2007 - 2.43)
  • Jake Locker (2011 - 1.8)
  • Brock Osweiler (2012 - 2.57)
  • Christian Hackenberg (2016 - 2.51)

 

By the numbers:

  • Started right away or within 3 weeks:  57 % Bust rate
  • Sat for 4-8 weeks:  72 % Bust rate
  • Sat for 9 weeks - 1 full season:  56 % Bust rate
  • Sat for > 1 full season: 60 % Bust rate

 

So is there any correlation between sitting and success in the NFL?  Not so much.  

 

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oh yeah? so what! that is just numbers man, you big number-man!

excited happy redneck GIF by Redneck Island

 

I am only kidding

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19 minutes ago, Warfish said:

Also, where is Kirk Cousins, he sat for three years I believe, then played.

Kinda like Mike White.

I only included 1st and 2nd round picks. 

Lots of mid and late rounders sit for a while so it would have required including ALL drafted QBs to analyze them properly.  That would have taken far too long for very little payoff.  After all,  mid-late round guys tend to be "flyers" that teams take who already have an established starter.  They're not being sat with any real expectation they become a starter.  1st & 2nd rounders come into the league with the expectation that the team who took them intend for them to be "the guy" or "possibly the guy", and sitting them is more of an intentional decision for their development. 

So the data would have become very muddled if I included any of the mid-late round guys.  

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19 minutes ago, Bruce Harper said:

Interesting, but I'm not quite sure what to make of it.  Not sure what correlations to draw.

There aren't any.  Which means that there isn't any meaningful data to suggest that playing right away or sitting for any length of time has much of an impact on whether a QB succeeds or not. 

But meanwhile you have thread after thread suggesting Wilson would have succeeded if only had he sat and watched and White would not if he had been forced to play right away.  Not only is that claim impossible to prove, but as you can see, the historical data does not suggest any correlation whatsoever.  

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11 minutes ago, GreenFish said:

I tend to agree that you either have it or you dont. But I’ll say this, a QB shouldn’t start until he checks off a few boxes.

For example, a QB can’t start until he

- is mechanically sound

- knows the playbook

- has a basic understand of how to attack different coverages

 

 

So Zach fails rule #1 and 3  right off the bat.

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6 minutes ago, Jetsfan80 said:

There are multiple threads about QBs sitting on the 1st page of the forum.  So, yes, I imagine people do care.  

We care because we’ve witnessed Sanchez, Sam and now Zach come and go. And that’s just in the last ten years or so.

So it makes you wonder.

Would better coaches have made the difference like say, Andy Reid? Perhaps. Maybe coaches like Reid would never have drafted Sanchez, Sam or Zach in the first place.

So, I blame Woody! 😂 

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Some guys are good to go day one, whereas others aren't. That their team treated them in one manner or another doesn't change that starting fact. Keep in mind correlation is not causation. If a QB isn't ready he needs some pine time, if he is ready throw him to the wolves, but this one size fits all nonsense we try to define for everything just isn't reality. There is almost never a golden rule that equates to success in all situations.

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18 minutes ago, GangGreen Machine said:

Awesome breakdown. I think we all get caught up in a little bit of recency bias when it comes to these things.

It is undeniable though, second chance QB's are becoming a thing in an NFL where run/short pass game and protecting the ball is being weighted more.

Another rabbit hole to crawl into might be to see how much smaller and quicker the front 7 have gotten in order to cover TE's and get to the QB over the last decade. I think Offenses are reading and reacting to this with cycling multiple fresh RB's and a strong dump off passing game.

I see the Titans, Eagles, Ravens, Patriots, Jets, Browns, Niners, and Seahawks all following this trend. 

 

The "2nd chance" guys are definitely an interesting conundrum.  It certainly seems to show that there's something to be said with:  1) Gaining maturity and skills over time, and 2) Finding the right scheme and coaching staff.

With a QB like Geno Smith, it was clear to anyone watching that he had SOME baseline ability to play the QB position.  His issues were primarily linked to lacking maturity, with a splash of poor decision-making.  Given enough time to grow up and put in the work as a long time as a backup, he's resurrected his career.

Still, those examples are very much few and far between.  And for Geno, very little of it likely had anything to do with whether he played right away or not.  He wasn't going to mature enough in 4 weeks, 16 weeks, or 2 seasons to be a QB1 in this league.  He clearly needed years and years of grinding until 1) His prefrontal cortex developed and 2) The right opportunity arrived.  

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Nice breakdown but I think it's more about how prepared an individual rookie is for the NFl than treating them all the same......I would be more interested in a breakdown of where QBs are taken in the draft that have succeeded....I recently heard a stat that the last 16 top 5 QB taken 11 of them busted...not sure how accurate it is.

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2 minutes ago, chirorob said:

Good list, I appreciate the work.

I also wonder the correlation of number of starts in college vs bust rate.  We had mentioned in another thread, you take a Peyton Manning, 40+ college games vs  our boy with 30 games played, and 400 less throws. 

QBASE has this as one of their top 2 criteria for projecting pro QB success.  # of starts in college absolutely matters a great deal when it comes to the likelihood of pro success.

But the solution for NFL teams isn't to let those kids sit for a while.  It's to not draft them in the first place.  You have to know how to play the position long before you arrive in the league, and that includes both HS AND collegiate experience.  Sam Darnold playing Linebacker in HS and only getting 27 collegiate starts at QB should have been enormous red flags.  

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21 minutes ago, Zachtomims47 said:

So all in all it's a total crap shoot.

Sort of.  You can't really project how a QB will handle the speed of pro defenses until he gets into the league, and yet processing speed may well be the # 1 most important characteristic for a QB prospect.  Perhaps VR technology will provide more avenues for measuring this ability.  But until then its a bit of a mystery.

It's why a lot of pro teams have been heavily favoring prospects with elite athleticism and QBs who can do a lot of damage on the run.  If all else fails, QBs who are great athletes can "buy time" with tremendous god-given abilities.  Cam Newton and Josh Allen fall into that category.  

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So realistically it needs to be stratified differently (draft position and quality of prospect likely matters and explains some of your data - 2/3 the sit > 1Y hits are top 32 picks whereas 5/9 of the sit >1Y busts are second rounders, 6/14 play right away hits are top overall guys and 3/16 of the play right away busts are top overall guys), the sample size is small regardless, and there’s a bias baked in that in general teams are more likely to play guys who are ready to play earlier and those guys are more likely to be good.

My response to your last post was most of the guys who can overcome bad circumstances go #1 and the rest (including some of the #1 picks) need support which can be defense/run game/organization, skill talent, and/or sitting. Not all guys who get support will succeed, most of the ones who don’t get it will fail. I still think that.

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