First, I'm going to let readers know that the 2009 drive stats have been posted. Alabama was rated as the top team for the 2009 season. Florida was a close second. Georgia Tech had the most efficient offense, which pretty much proves that any offensive scheme can work with the right coaches and personnel. Nebraska had the best defense. For those that may not remember, this was the Nebraska defense that basically played its base defense out of the dime and had an otherworldly force at defensive tackle in the form of Ndamukong Suh.
Also, the link to the dropbox folder hadn't been linked correctly. That has now been fixed.
My curiosity and allegiance to the Chiefs compelled me to study the incoming class of quarterbacks available in the draft. This group was somehow more unimpressive than I had anticipated. I'm going to take a second to inform those unfamiliar with the Chiefs abysmal history at quarterback. The Chiefs have not drafted a quarterback in the first round of the draft since 1983. (Link)
Kansas City hasn't won a playoff game since Joe Montana and the Chiefs beat the Houston Oilers on January 16th, 1994. For those who have forgotten how long ago this was, here is a link to the singles chart nineteen years ago. And for those too lazy or apathetic to click on the link, Ace of Base had two singles in the top fifty. Shaquille O'Neal and Tupac Shakur made the list too. I should also point out that Kurt Cobain was still breathing and that Forrest Gump would win Best Picture two months later. That's enough pop culture references for one post on this blog. The quarterback conundrum in Kansas City is a simple problem with no obvious or immediate solution, but solving this problem is the only path for the Chiefs to experience any type of playoff success.
I compiled drive data for quarterback prospects in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 drafts. I only included games against the top quartile of defenses in the country during the final two seasons of a quarterback's collegiate career. John Skelton and B.J. Coleman could not be included in this study because they were FCS quarterbacks. Chandler Harnish of Northern Illinois didn't face one single defense that was in the Top 25% of college defenses in his junior and senior seasons. Harnish consequently had to be omitted from this study. Nathan Enderle of Idaho had such a small sample size in blowout losses to Nebraska and Boise State that he also had to be omitted. This only includes quarterbacks that went on to be drafted. The quarterbacks with the highest likelihood of being selected this year were included for the 2013 class.
Here is the Google Docs link for those interested in sorting. It also examines each offense's performance from 50, 60, 70, and 80 plus yards away. Here is the Dropbox link to the files containing the drive data for each individual prospect. These files can also be accessed through the Dropbox link located at the top of this site's left side panel.
Here are some things that caught my eye:
- Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin unsurprisingly separated themselves from every other prospect during the past three seasons.
- Is Matt Scott entirely the product of Rich Rodriguez's offense like Pat White? If Scott proves himself to be a capable passer, he could very well emerge as the one of the more productive quarterbacks in this draft.
- Based on the data posted above, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill have likely exceeded expectations relative to their college production against the top quartile of FBS defenses. (Link) However, it should be noted that Texas A&M had the ninth best offense in 2011 while scoring 33.8 adjusted points per ten drives. Michigan State had the fifteenth best offense in 2010 while scoring 29.9 adjusted points per ten drives. This information tells me that Tannehill and Cousins likely feasted on weaker foes in college.
- The "Bell-dozer" accounted for five of the touchdowns that Landry Jones was credited with in this study. These drives have an asterisk placed next to them in the Landry Jones file. The fake field goal that gave Michigan State the win over Notre Dame in 2010 also has an asterisk next to it in the Kirk Cousins file.
- Ryan Lindley's stronger than expected performances against the top 25% of FBS defenses looks to be an aberration. San Diego State's adjusted offensive efficiency in 2010 was 39th while scoring 24.5 points per ten drives. In 2011, the Aztecs finished 69th adjusted offensive efficiency while scoring 18.8 adjusted points per ten drives. Five of his thirteen touchdowns came against Utah in 2010.
- The performances of Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert in the NFL have been as underwhelming as their play in college.
- There seems to be a consensus among scouts that E.J. Manuel failed to perform against the best defenses on Florida State's schedule, and they look to be correct in that assessment. Manuel's tantalizing physical ability will get him drafted, but a player with his raw talent should have overwhelmed most teams on the Florida State schedule. Manuel's inability to get his offenses to score when starting on Florida State's side of the field should concern many NFL teams.
- If the Chiefs draft Mike Glennon, they can probably expect to be making another appearance at or near the top of the draft within the next few seasons. Mel Kiper loves Mike Glennon and routinely includes him as a candidate for the first round. He's one of those prospects that talent evaluators fall in love with because his size and arm strength. I realize his receivers may not have been particularly good, but the same thing could be said for the ACC and the majority of teams on NC State's schedule over the past two seasons. In fairness to Glennon, the starting field position in the games included in this sample placed him in a tough situation. He only had one drive that began in opponent territory, and his team did score a touchdown on that one opportunity with a short field. On average, Glennon's starting field position was five yards further away from the end zone than any other quarterback listed. The scariest fact about Mike Glennon's offenses in Raleigh may be the fact that NC State finished 75th in adjusted offensive efficiency in 2011 and 96th in 2012. The F/+ ratings at Football Outsiders that combine play data and drive data were less harsh than my rankings when evaluating NC State's offense in those two seasons, but they still indicated an underwhelming performance for an offense led by a highly regarded prospect. I don't doubt that Mike Glennon has first round talent. I'm just skeptical that he provides first round value.
- While I'm on the topic of former NC State quarterbacks, Russell Wilson was clearly the best quarterback when it came to converting a short field into touchdowns. He had twenty-two drives that began in opponent territory in his junior and senior seasons, and his offenses scored nineteen times. Fifteen of those scoring drives were touchdowns. It should be noted that this production wasn't entirely the product of his season in Madison behind an exceptionally talented offensive line. Even in Raleigh, Wilson's offenses had eight scores on eleven drives beginning in opponent territory. Six of those were touchdowns. Here were Wilson's drives inside fifty yards in 2010 and 2011 against the top quartile of college defenses:
- Even with a relatively small sample, Colin Kaepernick performed at a high level against some of college football's best defenses. Kaepernick made the most out of opportunities in three of his four games against the top 25% of college defenses during his final two seasons in Reno. Two of these games were against Boise State. One was against Cal. The other was against Boston College The Eagles' defense led by Luke Kuechly was the one opponent that Kaepernick truly struggled against.
- The one apparent red flag with Matt Barkley would be that his offenses at USC struggled to score when given poor starting field position. Only Zac Dysert had a lower touchdown percentage than Barkley when starting eighty plus yards away from the end zone, and Dysert's offenses at Miami (OH) failed to score a single touchdown with this criteria for field position and competition. Barkley should have been more productive with the best combination of receivers (Marquise Lee and Robert Woods) west of the Mississippi. When evaluating his entire body of work at USC, Barkley was more productive than Geno Smith against elite competition and has the added benefit of having played in a pro style offense. Barkley's anemic performance with poor field position may be an aberration created by a limited sample size. Most offenses have a higher yards per play with more of the field in front of them, but USC's offenses with Barkley defied this trend. Here are Barkley's drives when starting eighty plus yards away from the end zone while facing the top quartile of college defenses:
- The games where Geno Smith posted gaudy statistics often came against less than stellar competition. For example, Smith threw for 407 yards while completing 23 of 24 passes against Kansas. It should be noted that Charlie Weis has publicly stated that the Jayhawks lacked enough quality cornerbacks to line up in the dime. (Link) Unlike Barkley, his offenses did exhibit an ability to score when given poor starting field position. He was only intercepted on roughly 6% of his statistically relevant drives against the top quartile of college defenses.