Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, and the CFB QB Filter
In Part One, I looked at recently drafted quarterbacks who put up strange splits in difficult situations versus easy situations. Like most quarterback evaluations, it has sample size issues along with a host of other caveats about teammate strength, team scheme, etc. If you regularly read sites like RotoViz, you’ve got the drill down. That said, it was interesting, if for nothing else than the narrative or descriptive aspects. Today, I’m going to be looking at the 2013 Draft Class.
To do this analysis, I employed the CFB Quarterback filter and broke passing attempts into two categories. The first was 1st and 2nd down passes against defenses that register 75 or lower. Those should have been easy (relatively speaking). The second was 3rd and 4th down passes against defenses ranked 75 or better. The difficult category in terms of both attempts and adjusted yards per attempt (aya) is listed second.
This is a truly weird draft class in that a lot of players were better in what should have been much tougher passing situations.
Quarterbacks Who Were Better In Difficult Situations
|Collin Klein||Kansas State||2011||178||29||5.70||9.48||3.78|
|Mike Glennon||North Carolina State||2011||355||34||7.01||7.44||0.43|
- Collin Klein has been dismissed as a quarterback prospect, probably due to unfortunate similarities to Tim Tebow. But unlike Tebow, the K-State Heisman finalist was better in difficult situations. I was the only RotoViz ranker to include Klein in the composite Dynasty Rankings that will come out on Thursday, and this helps explain why.
- Landry Jones’ performance defies explanation. The scouting report suggests that he collapses in pressurized situations, but the stats don’t remotely back that up. In fact, Jones’ pedestrian numbers are almost entirely driven by what can almost be described as indifference against weaker teams. It’s also worth noting that our sample in drawing these conclusions about Jones is the largest we have for any QB. This helps explain why Jon Moore has Jones as the second most pro ready QB.
- Barkley resisted for a while, but with his draft stock at stake, finally threw his coaches under the bus on Monday. Like Jones, his performance in more difficult situations is strikingly better, although his ratio of easy-to-hard attempts skews heavily to the easy side. These splits explain why RotoViz has posited that Barkley may be the most clutch QB in this draft. An opposite interpretation may be equally justified. If you’re Barkley and have Marqise Lee and Robert Woods at your disposal, how do you not average more than 8.0 aya in favorable situations against weak defenses? This lends a lot of credence those who believe Barkley is only a marginal athletic upgrade on Kellen Moore. (Of course, Moore’s numbers against bad defenses are far better, and he had to keep track of where Titus Young might be lining up.)
- I’m not a Mike Glennon fan. In fact, I’m terrified the Cardinals are targeting him in the second round. But this breakdown is much more favorable for his prospects than anything else I’ve looked at. Especially when you compare it to Russell Wilson’s performance at NC State, you get the impression Glennon’s coaches may be the ones who are overmatched.
Quarterbacks Who Were Better in Easier Environments
|EJ Manuel||Florida State||2011||175||30||9.06||8.93||-0.12|
- I included Zac Dysert mostly for the heck of it. I doubt 30 passing attempts tell us much of anything at all. (And he didn’t have enough attempts in 2011 to qualify for my search.) He did struggle against better competition, but mostly he just struggled in general. I doubt he has an NFL future, but Frank has found some very positive traits in Dysert (and ones he’s actually tested for significance).
- I’ve expressed my displeasure about the ‘system’ label for Geno with some vehemence, but this is a sizeable red flag. Smith’s splits are discouraging, but it’s a positive sign that he improved in both easy and difficult situations for three consecutive seasons. His 7.5 aya in this metric is well above the levels that I pointed to as death knells for our group of historical comparisons. It’s also far better than what Andrew Luck posted as a senior.
- The concerns about Tyler Wilson continue to outweigh the positive signs by a wide margin.
- This seems like a red flag for Manuel, but his ‘easy’ split is elite while his ‘difficult’ split is fine. I’m souring slightly on his early first round potential, but he remains the second best prospect in the class.
- Renfree has generated a lot of buzz for someone with no arm strength and no collegiate success.
- In order to buy Ryan Nassib as even a middle round prospect, you’ve got to believe his Syracuse teammates were terrible, his Syracuse coaches were terrible, or his team was mostly overmatched by their opponents. Since the Syracuse coaches were hired by Buffalo and his team won a bowl game, those explanations start to look like stretches. Nassib is now rumored as the likely No. 8 pick and is the No. 1 ranked QB by Jon Gruden, Greg Cosell, and Russ Lande. To which I would just say, for every Matt Ryan there are quite a few Jimmy Clausens.
How Does This Affect My Rankings?
I like the fact that Klein, Jones, Barkley, and Glennon were comparatively strong in difficult situations, but it’s mindboggling how pedestrian these guys were in favorable situations. Out of this group, it probably improves my outlook for Glennon the most, because you can make the easiest argument for him not being supported by coaches and teammates. There’s really no excuse for Jones’ and Barkley’s numbers when you consider their schemes and teammates.
The profiles for Smith and Manuel are starting to pale slightly, but when you combine their numbers with their athleticism, they’re the easy choices as the first two quarterbacks off the board. Meanwhile, Wilson and Nassib profile as NFL backups who might emerge as game managers if you look at their results through rose-colored glasses.