Young QBs: Looking for Statistical Comps.

First of all, this is strictly an exercise. One of the interesting things about the NFL right now, for me, is how flush it is with young quarterbacks--both good and bad. I'm also interested in projections, as we've seen in the past. One of the flaws with my projection system for quarterbacks was that I had no informed way to project development, change, or stasis in players with fewer than 3 years of significant data.

The only way I can think to start moving in that direction is to identify statistically comparable players historically. This, at least, will make the system informed. Because of changes in the league over time and the simple fact that players are individuals, I'm not sure whether it will make it better... but I'd love to test it!

So I'm using the play index at to try to find these comps for the several quarterbacks who have either 1 or 2 years worth of stats to deal with. Essentially, this means QB's drafted in 2011 and 2012 who have started games. I'm searching the play index using a criteria that combines relative age, relative draft position, relative number of pass attempts, and relative TD%+ and INT%+ (this allows for context adjustments), and some reasonable range for AY/A+. I'm going to mix and match depending on how easy guys turn out to be to comp.

From the results, I'm eliminating the obviously crappy comps and hopefully landing on something close.

What comps actually mean is tricky. They give us ideas to work with when trying to answer a question. They do not give us answers. Please don't treat these as though I am trying to make be-all/end-all statements about these guys.

On with the show.

Ryan Tannehill: Closest comp = Rick Mirer.

Tannehill and Mirer had very similar rookie years, adjusted for league context. They both even brought a little bit of a show with their feet, which came up in the results completely by coincidence. Tannehill had, in fact, a somewhat better line than Mirer did because he threw more longer (read: higher risk) passes. So, Tannehill is better, but the comp is not favorable.

Andrew Luck: Closest comp = Joe Flacco

Huh... well... okay then. See, now, the thing about this one is that in my original breakdown, there wasn't a particularly close comp for Andrew Luck (Because of the high pass attempts, Bradford was the only guy who came close), so I had to loosen my parameters. Even so, Flacco and Luck, as rookies, display some fairly close statistical similarities. Just accept that this is a looser comp than Tannehill's simply because Luck is more of an outlier as a first year talent to begin with. That said... huh... well... okay then.

Brandon Weeden: Closest comp = hahahahahahahahaha. oh, man.

Uh... I guess that would be Phil Simms or... wow. Brandon Weeden, more than anybody, has no comparable player. Phil Simms is as close as I can get for an older rookie with production that fell on the spectrum somewhere between below average and completely disgraceful. Phil Simms is NOT close.

Interestingly, though: Simms was terrible as a second year player. If Weeden is also terrible as a second year player, I have to assume that he's also way too old to take the risk that he could possibly turn into anything resembling Phil Simms.

This comp amused me, at least.

Robert Griffin III: Closest comp = Have You Ever Wondered What Would Happen If You Combined Joe Namath's DNA with Dan Marino's DNA and Added a Motor?

Holy crap.

That seems reasonable.

Griffin doesn't appear in the results for some reason, which is probably just a data update glitch.

Holy crap.

Russell Wilson: Closest comp = Neil O'Donnell

Hahahahahahahahahaha. This comp also amuses me. I mean, it's obviously another one of those "this player has no good comp historically" things, but it's not at the Brandon Weeden level of "okay, what the hell is this?" Wilson and O'Donnell, statistically, do match up to a minimal acceptable degree. That is still, of course, damning the comp with faint praise, but I'm trying to make the point that I don't see this as an entirely dismissable comp the way I do see the Weeden one, even if it is largely dismissable.

Nick Foles: Closest comp = Tom Hodson

So... yeah. Take your pick with the Foles comps there. All of them have their merit, and I had a hard time picking the one I thought was truly closest. Jay Schroeder would be the optimitic comp (how's that for optimism!). Tom Hodson would be the pessimistic comp. And Mike Pagel would be the middle of the road choice.

In other news, I learned who Tom Hodson and Mike Pagel were today. Years from now, maybe somebody will learn who Nick Foles is this same way.

Not great indicators for Foles.

Okay, then. The 2011 draft!

Cam Newton: Closest comp = Joe Flacco or Joe Namath

Okay. Weird. But....

Newton has a few interesting comps popping up here, actually, and most of them demonstrate some kind of real career inconsistency. Most of those, though, were not as good as Newton is as young as he is. And none of them share the X-factor in Newton's game, except maybe for Donovan McNabb. But think of it this way: Flacco with legs could be a baseline comp, and Namath with legs could be an optimistic comp. Nice comps, though.

Andy Dalton: Closest comp = Matt Ryan

I'm sold.

Christian Ponder: Closest Comp = Kerry Collins or Norm Snead

Okay, so, this is an interesting list. Collins and Snead feel like decent comps, but also best case scenarios here. I don't buy Eli Manning, personally, as a good comp here, and the rest represents a bunch of failed potential.

Actually, that feels about right.

Good luck, Christian Ponder. All signs point to... "eh".

Blaine Gabbert: Closest comp = Kyle Boller

I am, once again, sold.

Jake Locker: Closest comp = Jim Everett

Well, that's way more optimistic than I was expecting. But I am, of course, a well-known Jake Locker hater. Even if you go elsewhere on that list, there's a lot of serviceable guys who comp pretty well to Locker. And I'd argue that they comp much better than any of the terrible ones on there.

Jake Locker: still probably not as terrible as I have long said.

And last but not least....



Okay. So. Kaepernick has less data to use than ANYBODY else here, so his comp list is all kinds of weird. That said....




This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.