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History tells us the NFL is terrible at evaluating quarterbacks

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This is sobering in a way so don't read of you are over anxious already!


 

History tells us the NFL is terrible at evaluating quarterbacks

 

 


Bill Barnwell
ESPN Staff Writer 

 

We could come close to an NFL record this year before any players take a snap. There are five quarterbacks who could come off the board on Day 1 of the draft, which would tie the 1999 draft for the second most since the merger. The only draft to post six first-rounders is the legendary Class of 1983, which delivered a trio of Hall of Famers in John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

As much as the league seems to be struggling to pick between the prospects in this year's class, though, the coaches and executives of 1983 weren't able to separate the wheat from the chaff until well after the fact. Elway was the first overall pick, but the Chiefs still managed to draft Todd Blackledge seven picks before Kelly. Blackledge threw 29 career touchdowns. Kelly topped 29 in 1991 alone. Tony Eason was taken one pick after Kelly and 12 picks before Marino, who would post the greatest passing season in league history to that point during his second campaign.

A league full of coaches and personnel executives who had spent and would go on to spend the majority of their lives working in the game of football were not able to pick between a trio of future Hall of Famers and two guys who would fail to make a single Pro Bowl. (Ken O'Brien, drafted after Eason and before Marino, at least made two Pro Bowls over his 10-year career.)

 

Thirty-five years later, I'm not entirely convinced we've gotten much better at evaluating quarterbacks. The league has access to more information than ever before, but the job has become tougher. A wider range of passing offenses at the collegiate level have made it more difficult for obstinate coaches to translate amateur success into bland professional schemes. Passers come better prepared for the pre-draft process than ever before and are far more selective about throwing at the combine.

As a result, the range of opinions -- anonymous and otherwise -- we hear about these players before they enter the league is truly remarkable. The error bars are impossibly large. Ask around about Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen and you'll hear that he'll turn into budding MVP candidate Carson Wentz or Titans washout Jake Locker. You'll hear that Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield will turn into either Johnny Manziel or Russell Wilson. This doesn't happen in other sports. Jaylen Brown didn't enter the NBA draft only to be compared to both Jimmy Butler and Bill Murray in "Space Jam."

 

More at http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/23039883/history-tells-us-nfl-terrible-evaluating-quarterbacks-means-2018-draft-prospects

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Hindsight is great, but it doesn't really say anything about 2018 pro prospects?

I'm sure that in 1983, all of those guys were 1st round potential, with their own lists of pros and cons. 

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Nice disclaimer first sentence homey LOL he knows me all too well~~~lol MUPPY full fledged member of the anxiety club 

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I agree with Bill Barnwell (which is a sentence that makes me ill to type).

There are some "anonymous NFL sources" who just INSIST that Josh Allen is worth a top 10 or top 5 pick. I'm not buying it. He SO CLEARLY demonstrates many of the traits of a colossal bust. And yet, a 6'5" frame and a cannon arm have a tendency to give NFL scouts complete amnesia and hypnotize them into thinking "we can make something of this kid!". I won't bite. Allen will bust.

Why can't these guys learn?

 

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8 minutes ago, TheElectricCompany said:

Hindsight is great, but it doesn't really say anything about 2018 pro prospects?

I'm sure that in 1983, all of those guys were 1st round potential, with their own lists of pros and cons. 

 

Exactly.  No one batted an eye at Blackledge, Eason, or O'Brien.  It's easy to remember the HOFers.  There's no guarantee that even one of these kids coming out of school will turn out to be great, much less good.

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History tells us the NFL is terrible at evaluating quarterbacks

 

 

and the Bills have been even worse, but even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut

Edited by ddaryl

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Evaluating human beings of any kind is extremely difficult. I've seen good managers hire bad employees who had great resumes.

 

NFL front offices are getting smarter drafting but it's still tough to predict who'll cut it, particularly at QB. I don't see teams as eager like they were in 2011 to take QBs. When Ponder went 12th to Minnesota that was the low water mark.

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9 minutes ago, Logic said:

I agree with Bill Barnwell (which is a sentence that makes me ill to type).

There are some "anonymous NFL sources" who just INSIST that Josh Allen is worth a top 10 or top 5 pick. I'm not buying it. He SO CLEARLY demonstrates many of the traits of a colossal bust. And yet, a 6'5" frame and a cannon arm have a tendency to give NFL scouts complete amnesia and hypnotize them into thinking "we can make something of this kid!". I won't bite. Allen will bust.

Why can't these guys learn?

 

watch the throw Allen makes at the :55 mark.  That is why the Browns might select Josh Allen #1 overall.  He draws comparisons to Cam Newton

 

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It's not that they haven't gotten better at evaluating QBs. They've gotten the measurables down as much as possible. There is so simply no way to evaluate the most important traits a QB must have to succeed at the next level. You can't tell the all important " processor speed" in their head while NFL speed bullets are flying around them. There is no way to do that. You can get a gut feeling as to what makes them tick, what drives them. That's about it. Then throw in external variables like fit , scheme and coaching along with the talent around them. You can determine to a degree which prospects have the best chance to succeed, it still doesn't mean they cannot fail. There is no such thing. Barnwell opines that the NFL is " terrible" at doing the impossible. 

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1 minute ago, Pete said:

watch the throw Allen makes at the :55 mark.  That is why the Browns might select Josh Allen #1 overall.  He draws comparisons to Cam Newton

 


Thanks. I've seen that throw and that video before. 

Unfortunately, watching highlight videos doesn't give you a very honest appraisal of a prospect. For every "wow" throw he makes -- and I fully admit that he makes some jaw-dropping throws -- there are two or three easy misses that make you question if he can do even the little things consistently well. I've seen simple swing passes, drags, and curls be overthrown, picked off, or wildly inaccurate too many times to count in the games I've watched of Allen's. 

I love that he can make those big time throws, but if he can't keep his offense on schedule by completing the easy stuff, then those big time throws won't matter. You know who got drafted because of his mobility, ability to throw the ball to the moon, and occasional jaw-dropping throws? JP Losman. But heaven help you if you needed him to complete a 5 yard curl route on 1st down.

I'm still not biting. Allen will bust.

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so many factors beyond the control of the player come into effect

 

but watching Manziel get paraded around as the GOAT in college was obviously going to flop bad

 

 

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History tells us that, no matter what, talking heads are going to find 5-6 QBs to talk about every single year in order to generate interest.

 

The bottom line is that there simply aren't that many people on the planet who are capable of being great QBs in the NFL.

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Why?  College success does not correlate to NFL success.  Who improves the most over the next 5 years?  Who is best equipped to handle adversity and who ends up in a good situation.  For all the emphasis on the Qb position in the NFL and it is important., a Qb is just 1 out of 11 on offense and 1 out of 46 of players on the roster game day.   Qb's going to poorly run teams will fare poorly for the most part.  Not attacking the position aggressively as you attack other positions is more risky than worrying about a pick failing.  

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31 minutes ago, Logic said:

I agree with Bill Barnwell (which is a sentence that makes me ill to type).

There are some "anonymous NFL sources" who just INSIST that Josh Allen is worth a top 10 or top 5 pick. I'm not buying it. He SO CLEARLY demonstrates many of the traits of a colossal bust. And yet, a 6'5" frame and a cannon arm have a tendency to give NFL scouts complete amnesia and hypnotize them into thinking "we can make something of this kid!". I won't bite. Allen will bust.

Why can't these guys learn?

 

 

On the flipside, for the sake of Part 1 of this article, in which the argument is simply "Is he the best QB in the class or is he not?", I'd argue that Allen is one of like 3 guys that has a legitimate chance of being the best in this year's class.

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12 minutes ago, Gugny said:

History tells us that, no matter what, talking heads are going to find 5-6 QBs to talk about every single year in order to generate interest.

 

The bottom line is that there simply aren't that many people on the planet who are capable of being great QBs in the NFL.

I think that phrase has become trite hyperbole in the sports talk world. Odds are there are a fair amount of people on the planet that are capable of being great QBs. Just not that many of them that are playing college football in the USA. 

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1 minute ago, DCOrange said:

 

On the flipside, for the sake of Part 1 of this article, in which the argument is simply "Is he the best QB in the class or is he not?", I'd argue that Allen is one of like 3 guys that has a legitimate chance of being the best in this year's class.


You're right. Unfortunately, I also feel as though he is one of like 3 guys that has a legitimate chance of being the WORST in this year's class.

Classic Boom or Bust. I'm still siding with "Bust", but I'm just a fan, not a professional evaluator. Glad I'm not the one that has to make this decision for real.

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1 minute ago, Boatdrinks said:

I think that phrase has become trite hyperbole in the sports talk world. Odds are there are a fair amount of people on the planet that are capable of being great QBs. Just not that many of them that are playing college football in the USA. 

 

I guess that would make those people incapable, then.

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I think a lot of it also has to do with properly developing these guys as well. You might get the best guy but if you don’t make it easy for them, they can struggle and flop. Look at guys like Goff, Wentz & Watson. I think a big reason for their success has been that all those teams are installing some portion of what worked for them in college. Or in the case of Goff/McVay, the Coach is calling audibles to the QB during pre-snap through the QB’s ear piece. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Boatdrinks said:

It's not that they haven't gotten better at evaluating QBs. They've gotten the measurables down as much as possible. There is so simply no way to evaluate the most important traits a QB must have to succeed at the next level. You can't tell the all important " processor speed" in their head while NFL speed bullets are flying around them. There is no way to do that. You can get a gut feeling as to what makes them tick, what drives them. That's about it. Then throw in external variables like fit , scheme and coaching along with the talent around them. You can determine to a degree which prospects have the best chance to succeed, it still doesn't mean they cannot fail. There is no such thing. Barnwell opines that the NFL is " terrible" at doing the impossible. 

Now you're talking.  I assume you include as part of "processor speed," instincts.

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2 hours ago, Gugny said:

 

I guess that would make those people incapable, then.

It wouldn't make them incapable. They may very well be able to achieve greatness as an NFL QB. They are simply doing something else, somewhere else on planet earth. It's a hackneyed statement that's almost certainly inaccurate. If the argument is that there are few people playing QB in American college football capable of NFL greatness, that's a statement that's likely true. Decades of evidence supports this. On planet earth though? It's hyperbole and probably not true. 

3 minutes ago, Formerly Allan in MD said:

Now you're talking.  I assume you include as part of "processor speed," instincts.

Yes, I believe instincts would factor into it. If the instincts are not great, it probably lead to slower decision making, and poorer. We've seen plenty of QBs that had the physical traits, but played the game a half beat slow in the NFL. I like to reference Rob Johnson when discussing this, but there are certainly others. He looked the part, and his " arm talent" as it's called these days could wow you in practice. When the red jersey came off though, he was transformed. Perhaps exposed is more accurate. That's why it's so hard to evaluate these players. The game is just faster and more complex. 

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2 hours ago, BadLandsMeanie said:

This is sobering in a way so don't read of you are over anxious already!


 

History tells us the NFL is terrible at evaluating quarterbacks

 

 


Bill Barnwell
ESPN Staff Writer 

 

We could come close to an NFL record this year before any players take a snap. There are five quarterbacks who could come off the board on Day 1 of the draft, which would tie the 1999 draft for the second most since the merger. The only draft to post six first-rounders is the legendary Class of 1983, which delivered a trio of Hall of Famers in John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

As much as the league seems to be struggling to pick between the prospects in this year's class, though, the coaches and executives of 1983 weren't able to separate the wheat from the chaff until well after the fact. Elway was the first overall pick, but the Chiefs still managed to draft Todd Blackledge seven picks before Kelly. Blackledge threw 29 career touchdowns. Kelly topped 29 in 1991 alone. Tony Eason was taken one pick after Kelly and 12 picks before Marino, who would post the greatest passing season in league history to that point during his second campaign.

A league full of coaches and personnel executives who had spent and would go on to spend the majority of their lives working in the game of football were not able to pick between a trio of future Hall of Famers and two guys who would fail to make a single Pro Bowl. (Ken O'Brien, drafted after Eason and before Marino, at least made two Pro Bowls over his 10-year career.)

 

Thirty-five years later, I'm not entirely convinced we've gotten much better at evaluating quarterbacks. The league has access to more information than ever before, but the job has become tougher. A wider range of passing offenses at the collegiate level have made it more difficult for obstinate coaches to translate amateur success into bland professional schemes. Passers come better prepared for the pre-draft process than ever before and are far more selective about throwing at the combine.

As a result, the range of opinions -- anonymous and otherwise -- we hear about these players before they enter the league is truly remarkable. The error bars are impossibly large. Ask around about Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen and you'll hear that he'll turn into budding MVP candidate Carson Wentz or Titans washout Jake Locker. You'll hear that Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield will turn into either Johnny Manziel or Russell Wilson. This doesn't happen in other sports. Jaylen Brown didn't enter the NBA draft only to be compared to both Jimmy Butler and Bill Murray in "Space Jam."

 

More at http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/23039883/history-tells-us-nfl-terrible-evaluating-quarterbacks-means-2018-draft-prospects

 

I disagree with Barnell.  All things considered, NFL scouts do a pretty good job of evaluating Quarterbacks.

 

For QBs, the college game is almost a different sport from the NFL.  Not only is the competition bigger, fast and smarter, but the offensive schemes are different and more complicated.  Instead of getting by on athletic talent alone, it requires the ability to quickly process the field and make split second decisions.

Despite this, NFL scouts are remarkably strong at predicting which QBs have the best chance at success.

 

Any draft study will show that Top 5-10 picks having a MUCH higher percentage of success than picks 11-32... which have a higher percent than 2nd Round Picks... which have a higher pct. than 3rd Round Picks... etc., etc., etc.  If NFL scouts were absolutely "terrible" at their jobs, this would not be the case.  Every team would have just as much luck drafting a QB in the 7th Round or signing an UDFA, as they would drafting a guy in the Top 3.

 

The NFL Draft also cannot be compared to other sports.  Because no other sport has a SINGLE POSITION that makes as much difference as the Quarterback.  So QBs will always be overdrafted.  That's not because teams are terrible at evaluating.  It's because they are willing to take a higher risk with QBs than other positions.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Marv's Neighbor said:

Terrible QB evaluations???  Dennis Shaw, James Harris, RJ, Losman, Trent Edweards, EJ, etc., etc.  What could possible go wrong here?

It started in year one.  A number of the new teams came up with good quarterbacks; we wound up initially with Bob Brodhead, as I recall.

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