Box Score Scouting a Pre-NFL Tom Brady


Image via Keith Allison/Flickr

After a recent foray into a Buffalo Bills forum, I received the following comment in response to my Ryan Nassib article :

“I wonder how good ol’ pudgy, college back-up Tom Brady would fit onto that list.”

I interpreted this to mean “your system is stupid and you would have missed Tom Brady using this method.” Fair enough, although it’s worth noting that even if my box score scouting did miss Tom Brady, that would only make it about equal to the scouting departments of 31 NFL teams (and possibly 32 teams as it’s not like the Pats’ selection of Brady late in the draft really implies that they knew what they were getting).

But would I have missed him? Only one way to find out. Let’s get in the Delorean and go back to the spring of 2000.

As we all know, Tom Brady was a 6th round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. There were four QBs drafted before round six: Chad Pennington, Chris Redman, Giovanni Carmazzi, and Tee Martin. We have access to data for everyone but Carmazzi.

As usual, we will isolate on games played against .500 or better competition. We don’t learn anything from watching a guy beat up on the Coastal Carolinas of the world.

The biggest thing that jumps out is the fact that both Brady and Redman threw 2+ touchdowns in every key game. Of the 300 college quarterback seasons I’ve studied, only 14 players have accomplished that feat. Yes, tt would have been nice to see Brady have more 3+ touchdown games, but that’s hardly a deal breaker.


It’s interesting to note that Brady and first-round pick Chad Pennington have almost identical passer profiles against their top opponents. They each threw about 35 passes per game while easily surpassing the 60% completion threshold.


On a per-pass basis, Pennington leads the way with the highest yards/attempt. Brady carries the day with his propensity for throwing touchdowns and not throwing interceptions.


On their own, these metrics may be tough to process, so we will roll them into a pair of well known formulas and see that Brady and Pennington were neck and neck, while clearly separating themselves from the others.

QB NCAA QB rtng NFL QB rtng*
Brady, Tom 144.6 98.5
Pennington, Chad 149.3 98.3
Redman, Chris 134.4 88.7
Nassib, Ryan 131.5 86.5
Martin, Tee 121.8 76.9

*College numbers in key games, applied to NFL formula

“I wonder how good ol’ pudgy, college back-up Tom Brady would fit onto that list.”

It looks like the answer to that question is that Tom Brady was a far superior prospect compared to Ryan Nassib. In fact, Brady’s performance in his senior season was almost identical to Chad Pennington who was selected 181 picks ahead of ol` pudgy Tom. This isn’t to say that I have a quarterback crystal ball. What it does seem to say is that sometimes our eyes and the numbers don’t line up. In the case of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, there was something more than what met the eye. And because the Patriots were willing to follow the scent, they were rewarded with one of the all time greats.

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By Jon Moore | @HelloJonMoore | Archive

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