FanPost

The 26-27-60 Draft Rule Applied to the 2011 QBs

A while back I had a post on the success and failures of first round QBs and how each NFL team chose to acquire their current starter.  In that post I linked to Kevin Ewoldt's Hogs Haven post on the 26-27-60 rule for NFL QBs.  An SI.com report from last year by John Lopez covered this in-depth here.  The sum of it all (emphasis mine):

If an NFL prospect scores at least a 26 on the Wonderlic test, starts at least 27 games in his college career and completes at least 60 percent of his passes, there's a good chance he will succeed at the NFL level.

Lopez also compiled a list of the QBs that did and did not pass the rule.  Here are the results:

Passed

Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Kyle Orton, Kevin Kolb, Matt Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Stafford.

Failed

Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, Michael Vick, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Daunte Culpepper, David Carr, Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell.

That first list looks a LOT better than the second.  There were a few notable exceptions: Ben Roethlisberger (one point short on the Wonderlic), Jay Cutler (below completion percentage) and Joe Flacco (not enough starts) all did not pass the rule and all have enjoyed some measure of success in the NFL.  Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre are two of the 'headliners' that also did not pass the rule.  Matt Leinart passed the rule but obviously has not found success in his pro career.

With most of the Wonderlic scores coming in, we can now apply the rule to the 2011 QB class (at least the highly ranked ones).  If more scores come out, I will update the post.  However, most of the QB scores I am waiting on will not have an impact on their final pass/fail outcome, so I feel confident in posting this now.  The final results are:

Note: Kevin failed to take into account games started and instead used games played, which is why he and I have different results for some players. 

Blaine Gabbert:
Wonderlic: 42
Games Started: 26 
Accuracy: 60.9% (career- all of the following accuracy results are also for the QB's career).
Result: Failed.  Gabbert falls one game short of reaching the 27 game threshold but I'm not sure that should be a major issue.

Cam Newton:
Wonderlic:  21.
Games Started: 14
Accuracy: 65.4%
Result: Failed.  Newton fails miserably because of the small sample size, something that should not be overlooked when drafting him.  A larger sample size not only gives the QB a better chance to hone his craft, but also a chance for defenses to adapt- which in turn gives scouts a chance to see how the QB reacts to those adaptations. The Wonderlic score is also something to be concerned with.

Jake Locker:
Wonderlic: 20
Games Started: 40
Accuracy: 53.9%
Result: Failed.  Locker fails the rule miserably because of his low accuracy and because of his very low Wonderlic score.  Locker's got a lot of "upside" that the scouts like to mention but his accuracy should be a major red flag. 

Ryan Mallett:
Wonderlic: 26
Games Started: 29
Accuracy: 57.8%
Result: Failed.  Like Locker, Mallet fails because of his accuracy.  He falls just before the 60% threshold.  If you include only his Arkansas career, he does barely meet the 60%, so he may warrant consideration.

Christian Ponder:
Wonderlic: 35
Games Started: 34
Accuracy: 61.8%
Result: Passed. Five QBs later and we finally have one that passes the rule.  Ponder is definitely a QB we should be interested in at pick 39, if he lasts that long.

Ricky Stanzi:
Wonderlic: 30
Games Started: 37
Accuracy: 59.8%
Result: Failed- but high enough to be considered a pass.  Stanzi falls 0.2% short of passing, but its high enough to squeeze him through.

Colin Kaepernick:
Wonderlic: 38
Games Started: 50
Accuracy: 58.2%
Result: Failed.  Another guy who's close but doesn't make it over the bar.  He may get a look at the 39th spot.  His accuracy over his final two years was over 60%.

Andy Dalton:
Wonderlic: 29.
Games Started: 50
Accuracy: 61.7%
Result: Passed.  Dalton passes with flying colours.  His accuracy is almost identical to Ponder's, but he has started more games.

Now, I stated in an earlier fanpost that since Drew Brees was taken in the second round of the draft in 2001, nine second round QBs have been drafted- none of which are considered the future starter for their team.  I went back and applied the 26-27-60 rule to the 9 QBs drafted.

Passes: Pat White, Brian Brohm, Kevin Kolb, John Beck and Drew Stanton.
Fails: Jimmy Clausen, Chad Henne, Kellen Clemens, and Tarvaris Jackson.

What does this tell us?  First, that the rule is best used to show who not to pick.  Passing the rule does not equal success but failing the rule is likely to result in a bust.  Essentially, passing the rule should be a requirement for a QB.  If they pass (or are extremely close), you take them into consideration.  If they fail, it would be smart to stay away.  Secondly, it shows us that the Wonderlic should not be overlooked.  Clausen, Henne, and Jackson all scored below 26, and Clemens toed the line with a score of 26.  I have for years (after a certain QB scored a 15) maintained that the Wonderlic is almost completely pointless but when you really examine the data, it definitely has some importance.   

Taking a QB high is a gamble that we are all aware of, but there are ways to reduce that risk.  One of them is to consider this rule when looking at who to draft.  We should be leery of players who have not played many games (hello Cam Newton) or struggle with accuracy (that's you, Locker).  The rule is not so much about absolutely, specific, finite numbers (obviously we will not eliminate Stanzi from discussion over just 0.2%) but rather it is more about taking a proven commodity over an unknown.  Players with high accuracy, lots of game film and high intelligence are more likely to pay off than selecting someone with a rocket arm or a lot of SportsCentre highlights.  Its not much of a surprise, but the QBs who best fit this criteria are Christian Ponder, Ricky Stanzi and Andy Dalton.  The Titans should absolutely consider any of those three to fill their QB void.  There is a second tier of QBs that don't pass but may be looked at because they were close.  They include Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick and Ryan Mallett (in that order).  Obviously the risk of choosing one of those three QBs is greater than if we select one of the top three QBs listed.  Finally, Cam Newton and Jake Locker both fail miserably and selecting either is taking on the biggest risks in the draft.

Hope you guys enjoyed the post.  Here's to hoping Reinfeldt and Munchak find us a QB of the future and set us up to compete for years to come.

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