Drafting the perfect QB. Easy to do right? Well, clearly not when you consider the number of QBs taken in the draft that flame out on the field (if they even get there). **THIS WAS WRITTEN AT THE END OF THE 2022 SEASON**
The 2022 fantasy season has come to an end for most of us and now we begin looking ahead to 2023 rookie draft season. For me, I have several leagues where I have a large amount of draft capital and these upcoming rookie picks will be crucial in determining when my team becomes a legitimate contender. In many of those leagues, selecting the correct rookie quarterback will be the make or break of my team. With such an emphasis on getting these picks right I thought I would look through the data of past quarterbacks to see if I could decipher or identify any trends that would increase my odds to hit on these vital rookie picks.
My study analyzed all 150 quarterbacks drafted since 150 and gives them a score based on five categories. Here is a breakdown of each of the five categories:
Draft Capital: Players were given a 1 if they were a top 10 pick, 0.5 if they were a first rounder taken outside the top 10 and 0 if they were taken outside of the first round. I find this to be of the utmost importance as quarterbacks taken outside the first round provided a useful fantasy season in only 7% of players. Draft Capital data can found at playerprofiler.com
RAS Score: Relative Athletic Score is a calculation of a prospects varies measurables and test scores to give a cumulative score. Players were given a 1 for any score between 8.0 and 10, they were given a 0.5 for any score between 5.00 and 7.99, and any player scoring 4.99 and under was given a 0 grade for RAS score. If a RAS score is not available due to injury or the player not testing, I grade it as a 0 as generally players avoid these tests only if they think they will grade out poorly. That may seem unfair but drafting quarterbacks is a gamble and I’d like to swing as much in my favor as possible, therefore no data is categorized as bad data because I don’t like unknowns in my rookie picks. RAS Score data can be found at rasfootball.com.
Wonderlic Score: The Wonderlic is a pre-draft aptitude test that many prospects take during the scouting combine. This measurable is also critical because intelligent quarterbacks tend
to have longevity in the NFL. Any score in the 70th percentile was
given a 1 while a score below that mark was scored as a 0. Wonderlic scores can be found at playerprofiler.com.
Breakout Age: Breakout age is the age when a college player first achieves a Dominator score of at least 20%. Any score of the 70th percentile or higher was scored as 1, any score below that mark was given 0. Both Breakout Ages and College Dominator Values can be found at playerprofiler.com
Rushing Yards/Game: I find this metric to be the least important of the five, however I included it because a rushing ability tends to give quarterbacks a safer floor and allows them more opportunities to produce. These stats can also be found at playerprofiler.com
After grading out all 150 quarterbacks from 0 to 5, I then took time to look back at the situation they were drafted into to see if their success or failure was influenced by having either a rookie coach or being drafted to a team with a losing record.
Now that we have gone through all the parameters and data used for this study, let’s look at the results. I won’t be breaking down all 150 quarterbacks individually but rather grouping them by Grade.
The Perfect 5 Stars
Marcus Mariota & Daniel Jones
Only two quarterbacks received a perfect score in the pre-draft process. Those players were Marcus Mariota and Daniel Jones. Both Jones and Mariota came into the NFL with similar circumstances but four years apart, both were drafted by teams with a losing record but by situations that were deemed to be stable.
Jones and Mariota have both shown flashes of brilliance and inconsistency through their careers, but the difference so far is that Mariota never took the next step as a passer and instead relied on rushing and forcing inaccurate throws while this season Daniel Jones appeared to take a step forward as a passer and finished as the QB8.
The five-star quarterback prospects are safe, they may never reach the pinnacle of their position, but they have all the tools, the draft capital and intelligence to succeed long term.
The difference between high end stud and serviceable fantasy asset seems to be how quickly the team they are drafted to is able to turn it around and become a contender. A five-star prospect who manages to land in a situation with a competent head coach is a sure-fire, long-term fantasy stud and must be drafted early in rookie drafts.
You’ve seen the study and I’m sure the trends here are
as obvious to you as they were to me:
1. Chase draft capital: Quarterbacks taken as top 10 picks must be rostered in your fantasy leagues, as do quarterbacks drafted at any point during the first round. Quarterbacks taken on day two should be monitored and added from time to time when the situation gives them an opportunity. I know Brock Purdy is all the range this season, but day three quarterbacks are a fool’s wager, for every Brady, Prescott and even Purdy there are hundreds of quarterbacks like Kellon Mond who will likely never start a game for your fantasy team.
2. The second thing to consider is athleticism and intelligence. The quarterbacks who are both athletic and intelligent are the ones to target. Athleticism gives them a solid rushing floor while they find their way and intelligence allows them to adapt to there situation giving them longevity at the position.
3. Team situation. It may not be as important as draft capital but a rookie coach and team devoid of weapons can kill the value of even the most elite prospect. The majority of the top 10 players on this list who were busts were drafted to situations that were a mess, situations where they weren’t given time to mature, and they were ruined as prospects.
4. Follow the pre-draft prospect profiles. Out of 150 quarterbacks scouted the overwhelming majority of successful ones came from prospects rated 2.0 stars or high, which means right off the bat you can eliminate have of the field without even looking at secondary data.
The Perfect Quarterback does exist.
Draft Capital in the top 10
RAS Score of 8.00 or higher
Wonderlic Score in the 70th percentile or higher
Breakout Age in the 70th percentile or higher
Rushing average of 25 yards per game minimum in college.
A coach with experience and a track record of success
A team with weapons and a winning history.
If any quarterback in the 2023 rookie class meets these criteria sell the farm to get him because he may be the GOAT.
*As of the release of this article (post combine, pre draft) only two quarterback I’ve studied meet the available criteria. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune and Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. They can both grade out as perfect if they receive top ten draft capital and a good landing spot. Richardson has a chance to get top ten draft capital, Tune does not.
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Image Credit: Katie Stratman – USA TODAY Sports