The Combine Chronicles: Quarterback
This is the fourth in a series of articles about the NFL Combine, which begins on February 20. DRAFTMETRICS</a> won’t repeat all the introductory information from the first article, but some degree of repetition is unavoidable. All information in this article is based on the 1999-2012 Combines. The DRAFTMETRICS analysis includes the results of the following drills:
DRAFTMETRICS analysis of the Quarterback position is quite different from those for the other playing positions. Rather than trying to provide a context against which to measure 2013 results, the Quarterback analysis will focus primarily on trends at the position. DRAFTMETRICS believes there are at least two reasons why the Combine drill results are of questionable usefulness in predicting future success:
• Such important skills as touch, accuracy and arm strength are not measured by the drills
-Arguably, intangibles also play a larger role in QB success than at other positions
-This is somewhat true at other positions (e.g., a receiver’s hands are not tested in a measurable way), but more so at QB
• Different styles of QBs (e.g., pure drop-back, multiple-option, etc.) require different skill sets and, therefore, it is not feasible to construct a single set of metrics that apply to all styles of QBs, nor is it practical to construct multiple sets of metrics that fit all styles of quarterback.
There is value, though, is using the Combine results to identify and measure trends at the position. As with the other analyses, DRAFTMETRICS summarized its information by four overlapping groups of players. A player can be included in only one group or as many as all four. The groups are:
• All Combine participants from 1999 through 2012
• Combine participants who were drafted from 1999 through 2012
• Combine participants who started at least one season (starters start at least 8 games in a season)
• Combine participants who started at least three seasons
A fifth group of players has been added for this article, representing the current starters at the position. 22 of the 32 NFL current starters participated in the Combine. For purposes of this analysis we included Kevin Kolb (who participated in the Combine) as the starter for the Cardinals, Michael Vick (who didn’t participate) as the starter for the Eagles and Colin Kaepernick (who did participate) as the starter for the 49ers. Of the remaining ten starters, nine were first round draft choices that elected not to participate in any Combine drills. The other starter, Matt Cassel, was not invited. The standard table displaying the number of participants and the average for each drill follows. QBs typically don’t participate in the Bench Press, so that drill has been excluded.
The next table shows the range of results for all QBs who were starters for at least one season.
The magnitude of these ranges is exacerbated by the different styles of QBs. Tom Brady is a drop-back QB with limited mobility while Robert Griffin is a multiple-option QB with great mobility. The differences in drill results can be seen even more clearly when the analysis is brought down to the individual player level. The following table compares Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin and Colin Kaepernick.
After a season of watching RG3, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick in action, it certain seems like multiple-option QBs are the flavor of the day. Is this a trend or a fad? The more recently drafted starters, even the ones who are more traditional in their approach, tend to be more athletic than the “older” QBs. DRAFTMETRICS tested out this observation by dividing the group of 22 starters referred to above into two groups - -those drafted in 2011 and 2012 and those drafted earlier. Here is what the results look like.
This table supports the contention that 2011 and 2012 starting QBs are more athletic than their predecessors. Is this across the board or just starters? To answer this question, DRAFTMETRICS divided all Combine participants into the same Pre-2011 and Post-2011 groups with the results shown in the following table.
As you can see, the trend appears to be across the board and is something that will be followed by DRAFTMETRICS over the next few years. There is information to be gained about QBs at the Combine, but not much of it will come from the drills that produce measurable and which were studied by DRAFTMETRICS.