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Finding the Best Value Quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft

Is Adam Froman the Fourth Best Quarterback in the Draft?
Is Adam Froman the Fourth Best Quarterback in the Draft?

I first wrote about the combine invitee quarterbacks over at One-Handed Grab. As there were no Big East quarterbacks invited, I've revised that post for BECB by including Louisville's Adam Froman and Connecticut's Zach Frazer. I used the Positive Impact Factor (PIF) for this article so make sure you check out this article if you aren't sure what that means. Below you'll find the complete ranking list of the 18 combine invitees, Froman and Frazer. Click here to see the full data sheet. Further, analysis of these quarterbacks follows the jump.

Career College Career Positive Impact Factor
Rank Quarterback Team Touches Total TD Neg Play XNeg Play XPos Play PIF
1. Cameron Newton UF/AUB 579 55 22.5 15.3 9.5 71.8
2. Colin Kaepernick NEV 1872 142 32.4 13.4 7.6 61.8
3. Pat Devlin PSU/Del 945 49 34.4 12.4 5.2 58.4
4. Andy Dalton TCU 1731 93 33.6 16.7 5.4 55
5. Tyrod Taylor VT 1366 67 36.2 14.4 4.9 54.3
6. Josh Portis Ca. (PA) 980 72 39.4 14.2 7.3 53.8
7. Blaine Gabbert Mizzou 1155 48 36.8 14.4 4.2 53
8. Greg McElroy Bama 722 41 36.3 17.8 5.3 51.3
9. Jerrod Johnson Tex A&M 1442 83 38.6 17.8 5.8 49.3
10. Jake Locker Wash 1603 82 39.1 19.4 5.1 46.6
11. Adam Froman Louisville 502 19 39 19.5 3.8 45.2
12. Scott Tolzien Wis 690 35 34.6 25.6 5.1 44.9
13. Christian Ponder FSU 1243 59 36 25 4.7 43.7
14. T.J. Yates UNC 1497 64 40.7 21.8 4.3 41.8
15. Ryan Mallett MI/ARK 1090 76 44.3 22.2 7 40.4
16. Ricky Stanzi Iowa 1068 58 41.5 29.5 5.4 34.5
17. Ryan Colburn Fresno St 826 47 39.6 31.9 5.7 34.2
18. Zach Frazer UConn 617 15 46.7 23.2 2.4 32.6
19. Jeff Van Camp FAU 641 33 44.8 28.2 5.1 32.2
20. Nathan Enderle Idaho 1656 77 47.5 25.5 4.6 31.6

Matt Waldman at the New York Times' Fifth Down says Adam Froman is the fourth-ranked quarterback in the draft. Waldman thinks Froman "will be considered a bargain three or four years from now". As you can see, Froman is listed 11th overall in career PIF. In addition, there were only six quarterbacks on this list who played their best PIF season in their last season: Blaine Gabbert (54.4), Tyrod Taylor (58.5), Scott Tolzien (57.7), T.J. Yates (50.1), Pat Devlin (68.1) and Zach Frazer (43.8).

I used at five components from PIF data (Incompletion %, INT/Incompletion %, Fumble Lost %, Turnover %, and negative play %) to determine who is the best value quarterback in the Draft among the twenty that I looked at. The reason you will not find Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick talked about below is that they rushed way too much. Newton ran with the ball on 47.1% of his touches and Kaepernick rushed on 30% of his touches. Those are both higher than the maximum rushing output of any starting quarterback for a single season in the previous decade.

Best Value: Pat Devlin

I think that Pat Devlin is the best value quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft. I'm not saying an NFL team should pick him in the first round, but that he's got a good chance to be a successful later round pick. Devlin played most of his career for FCS Delaware. He has NFL size so that's not an issue. How does he measure up in each of the five PIF components that I tracked? Devlin was the only quarterback to rank in the top five of each category. Devlin was best at INT/incompletion percentage with 4.4%. The average NFL starter over the past decade averaged 7.6% in this category. The average NFL starter turned the ball over on 3.16% of their touches. Devlin only turned the ball over on 1.59% of his touches. Even in his worst categories, incompletion percentage and negative play percentage, Devlin was easily better than the NFL average. Devlin's most promising category is percentage of fumbles lost. A propensity for losing fumbles is a weakness that the NFL exposes (ask JaMarcus Russell). Luckily for Devlin, his rate of losing fumbles was only 1.8% in college. The average in the NFL over the last decade was 9.4% (the adjusted average with sacks counted as rushing attempts was 5.3%).

Most Overrated: Jake Locker

Locker ranked second to last in incompletion percentage. Only Zach Frazer threw a higher percentage of incompletions in his career. The NFL starters averaged 39.6% incompletions over the past decade. Locker rushed on 24.9% of his touches (Mike Vick had the highest average in 2004 at 27.2%) while the NFL average was 7.15% (this percentage has dropped from a high of 9.7% for the year 2000). Locker's fumble percentage was at 3.1% in college which is lower than the NFL average (and 10th place on this list of quarterbacks) but still is a cause for concern. In every other category Locker finished worse than 10th. I would under no circumstances spend a draft pick on Locker.

Biggest Bust Potential: Ryan Mallett

The only thing that Mallett does at the NFL decade average is run. Mallett is able to produce touchdowns at a very high rate but he throws incompletions at a higher rate than 13 other quarterbacks on the list above. He also lost fumbles at nearly the adjusted NFL average in college. The most concerning category for me was negative play percentage. Mallett threw an incompletion, took a sack, or fumbled on 44.3% of his touches. His incompletion percentage did improve under the guidance of Bobby Petrino, but without the right coach, Mallett could regress and be out of the NFL quickly.

The Big East's Own: Adam Froman

Froman only ranked in the top ten in incompletion percentage (10th) at 39% and percentage of interceptions thrown on incompletions 5.6% (7th). Froman ranked slightly better than Locker in every other category except percentage of fumbles lost. Matt Waldman had Froman just ahead of Locker in his rankings. The PIF numbers agree with that ranking.

Feel free to chime in below in the comments.