What’s the True Measure of a College Versus Professional Quarterback? And, What Determines a College QBs Draft Position? (Part 1 of 2)


If given the opportunity to select one of the following Quarterbacks, without concern for salary or anything else, who would you select and why? How would you measure their value? If you were looking for a Quarterback for your fantasy football team, would it be Cam Newton? Tim Tebow? JaMarcus Russell? Michael Vick? Would you use this criteria to determine whether or not you would draft a particular college Quarterback and in what round you would draft the Quarterback? What if that Quarterback were Badger QB Russell Wilson? Would you draft Russell Wilson? Which of the four (4) items listed below would you use in determining if and where you would draft Russell Wilson?

1. Would you base your selection on where the QB played in college?
2. Would you base your selection on size?
3. Would you base your selection on college performance?
4. Would you base your selection on the style of play?

The Quarterbacks and the teams they have played for, that are in our discussion, are Cam Newton, Auburn Tigers and Carolina Panthers; JaMarcus Russell, LSU Tigers and Oakland Raiders; Tim Tebow, Florida Gators and Denver Broncos; Michael Vick, Virginia Tech Hokies and the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles; and Russell Wilson, Wisconsin Badgers. Looking at the college programs that these Quarterbacks were or are affiliated with we see that they are all schools associated with Big Time college football programs, except for Wisconsin who is the new kid on the block. We have schools that have won National Championships. We have schools that have enough political clout that they can create Heisman candidates and winners based solely on the reputation of their school. We have schools that have players knocking down the doors to play for the perceived yearly opportunity at the BCS Championship game. We’re talking about the SEC powers, Pac-12, and to a lesser degree the Big Ten and a select group of schools from other conferences.

So, are you swayed by the fact that Michael Vick played for Virginia Tech?
Does it really matter that JaMarcus Russell played for LSU?
How much are you influenced by the fact that Cam Newton played for Auburn?
Do you care that Tim Tebow played for Florida?

If the school a Quarterback played for influences your selection then that selection should be based on the competition played against and the numbers put up against that competition. But even this, by itself, should not be enough of a factor to influence anyone. Think about where Steve Young, from lowly non-BCS conference school BYU, would have been drafted if his school’s name was the determining factor as to his NFL fate. As it was, in 1984 the NFL experts actually had some brains because Steve Young was drafted first overall in that year’s supplemental draft.

So, since the school a Quarterback played for should not have any major or even moderate impact on his future NFL success what about his size? The football experts associated with the NFL tell you that the prototypical 21st Century NFL Quarterback is 6’5” and everyone else is a gamble. I think the article, 6’5” or 5’ 10”, What’s in a Number, (posted October 13, 2011 by Dr. Mike) should have dispelled the belief that size determines real capability and/or greatness at the college or professional levels.

But what is the size of our Quarterbacks?

Tim Tebow is 6’2″ and 236# with 4.71 speed in the 40.
Cam Newton is 6’5″ and 248# with 4.59 speed in the 40.
Michael Vick is 6’0″ and 215# with 4.25 speed in the 40.
JaMarcus Russell is 6’6″ and 265# with 4.81 speed in the 40.
Russell Wilson is 5’11” and 201# with 4.59 speed in the 40.
Consider that Steve Young was 6’2″ and 215# with anywhere from 4.33 to 4.7 speed in the 40.

So what do these numbers tell us?

What they tell is that they don’t tell us how good or bad a Quarterback is or can be.

Compare our compact model Michael Vick with Fran Tarkenton (both around 6’0”). Both rushed for 32 touchdowns in their careers but Vick has only thrown 102 TD passes compared to 342 TD passes for Tarkenton. Do we really have to look any farther? Alright, let’s look at getting into the Super Bowl. Tarkenton played in three Super Bowls while Vick has played in, I forget, is it zero?

What about looking at the full sized models, 6’5” compared to 6’5”/6’6”? JaMarcus Russell has his picture in the dictionary, along with a few others, next to the definition for dud. As a starter JaMarcus directed the Raiders to 7 wins and 18 losses. He threw for 18 TDs but had 23 INTs and only a 52.1 completion percentage on 354 completions out of 680 attempts for 4,083 yards. JaMarcus added 175 rush yards on 40 carries (4.4 yards per carry) with 1 rush TD. Cam Newton on the other hand has pretty good numbers in his first pro season and is being touted as the next Peyton Manning, even though his team, the Carolina Panthers, is currently 2-5. Cam’s numbers are 1,847 passing yards on 134 completions in 229 attempts for a 58.5 completions percentage with 7 TD passes and 9 INTs. Cam has added 210 rushing yards on 46 carries (4.6 yards per carry) with 6 rushing TDs.

How about a look at our mid-sized model, Tim Tebow? In his first 4 seasons Steve Young had 7 wins and 18 losses as a starting Quarterback, with 24 TD passes and 24 INTs, 358 completions in 671 passing attempts for a 53.4% completion percentage. He added to those numbers with 167 rush attempts for 1,032 yards (6.2 per carry) with 8 rushing TDs. Tim Tebow in his one and a half seasons has so far gotten 2 wins and 2 losses as a starting Quarterback, with 6 TD passes and 3 INTs, 45 completions in 92 passing attempts for a 48.9 completion percentage. Tebow’s rushing numbers so far are 50 carries for 264 yards (5.3 yards per carry) with 7 rushing touchdowns.

What we see that size tells us is that size doesn’t matter. But what does?

Read Part 2 of our story What’s the True Measure… tomorrow, October 31, 2011 to find out what does matter.