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By The Numbers

NFL Draft Analytics for QB

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: February 28, 2019, 1:24 am ET

Before you look at all the data below, remember that the sample is looking at NFL seasons two through four. This isn’t analyzing entire NFL careers. This is just designed to find the best quarterbacks for their rookie contracts. It’s up to you if you want to extrapolate the data to either rookie seasons or seasons after the rookie contract. I’m guessing the data would be pretty similar, but the exact correlations will be different.

What has height told us about a quarterback?

 

Nothing. This myth needs to go away, especially with how quarterbacks are being used today. Shorter quarterbacks aren’t forced to stay in the pocket and throw over their tall lineman. Instead, these smaller quarterbacks are often the quarterbacks who can create throws out of the pocket or move around inside the pocket to find an open window. Examples include Russell Wilson (71 inches and 1.7%) and Deshaun Watson (74 inches and 1.8%). I have a few more graphs to really drive my point home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has hand size told us about a quarterback?

Whoa. Hand size has a (moderate to weak) negative relationship with YPA, AYPA, and TD%, meaning that the bigger the hand size, the smaller the yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, and touchdown rate. This is myth-busting since it’s an important aspect of the NFL’s quarterback evaluation apparently.

 

Even better evidence that hand size does not matter is pulled from this article where coaching legend and modern genius Hue Jackson claims that hand size does, in fact, matter.

What has ball velocity told us about a quarterback?

The biggest takeaway from analyzing ball velocity was the negative relationship with interception percentage. Of the quarterbacks in the sample with a ball velocity of 54 mph or slower, 8-of-11 (72%) had a 3.0 INT% or worse -- the exceptions being Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, and Hue Jackson sweetheart A.J. McCarron. For reference, the NFL INT% average was 2.3% during the 2018 season. Meanwhile, the quarterbacks with a ball velocity of at least 55 mph had an INT% above 3.0 just 5-of-26 times (19%). All of this data makes sense to me, as quarterbacks need to have a strong enough arm to make throws to the perimeter or risk getting picked off.

What’s been correlated to NFL Fantasy Points Per Game for quarterbacks?

The overall draft pick has an R-squared of 0.21, but here are the rest:

1. College Fantasy Points Per Game (R-squared = 0.18)

2. College Passing Touchdowns (0.14)

3. College Passing Yards (0.12)

4. College Passing TD/G (0.10)

5. NFL Combine Speed Score (0.08)

6. College Passing Y/G (0.08)

7. NFL Combine Broad Jump (0.08)

What’s been correlated to NFL Passing Yards Per Game?

1. College Passing Touchdowns (R-squared = 0.17)

2. College Passing Yards (0.16)

3. College Passing TD/G (0.15)

4. College Passing Y/G (0.13)

5. College Fantasy Points Per Game (0.09)

6. NFL Combine Ball Velocity (0.07)

What’s been correlated to NFL Passing TDs Per Game?

1. College Passing Yards (R-squared = 0.19)

2. College Passing Touchdowns (0.18)

3. College Y/G (0.17)

4. College TD/G (0.16)

5. College Fantasy Points (0.12)

6. NFL Combine Ball Velocity (0.08)

What’s been correlated to NFL Rushing Yards Per Game for quarterbacks?

1. NFL Combine Speed Score (R-squared = 0.47)

2. NFL Combine 40-Yard Dash (0.43)

3. College Rushing Y/G (0.40)

4. College Rushing TD/G (0.37)

5. College YPC (0.36)

6. NFL Combine Broad Jump (0.32)

7. NFL Combine Agility Score (0.29)

8. NFL Combine Cone Drill (0.27)

9. NFL Combine Vertical Jump (0.22)

10. NFL Combine Shuttle (0.17)

11. College Fantasy Points Per Game (0.16)

12. College Rushing TD% (0.11)

What’s been correlated to NFL Rushing TDs Per Game for quarterbacks?

1. College Rushing Y/G (R-squared = 0.23)

2. College Rushing TD/G (0.20)

3. College YPC (0.19)

4. NFL Combine Speed Score (0.18)

5. NFL Combine 40-Yard Dash (0.14)

6. NFL Combine Broad Jump (0.13)

7. NFL Combine Hand Size (0.09)

8. NFL Cone Drill (0.08)

9. NFL Combine Vertical Jump (0.08)

10. NFL Agility Score (0.07)

What else is coming?

1. Correlation columns for the rest of the positions (RB, WR, and TE coming this week)

2. Minimum Thresholds for each position, and which 2019 prospects pass the tests

3. Post-Combine Positional Rankings

4. Lots of other interesting columns

5. Analytics Top-300 Big Board

Plus things on Twitter (@HaydenWinks).