SportsProf

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Why Young NFL QBs Fail so Much

A close friend who lives out West heard Steve Young on the radio the other day, and the relay of Young's analysis was quite good. Young's premise is that young QB's either start, get overwhelmed and don't take the time to study properly (after all, they're starting, so why need to prepare so much?) or are back-ups, get bored out of their skulls, don't like to study, and therefore aren't ready when it's their time to start. As a result, most young QBs fail because they're not properly prepared to do the jobs they're asked to do.

He and I discussed our premise, which is that too many times players still get drafted because of their promise than their actual performance. In our view, players who have a demonstrated record of making the plays and have demonstrated a solid work ethic in the past project out well for the NFL, even if they're not the fastest or have the strongest arms. We don't have empirical evidence that this is the case, of course, but they're have been one-season wonders who've been drafted too high and who have failed miserably. Akili Smith comes to mind, of course, but we're pretty certain that they're are others.

You would think that with all of the money NFL teams have at their disposal, some data crunchers (and there might be some who are not actually working for Mitt Romney's campaign) could do a Moneyball-type of analysis to help predict the success of college players in the pros. With the skill positions (and kickers and punters), you can rely on numbers that are readily kept. With the non-skill positions, detailed film work will tell you what you need to know. Then, teams need to assess the kid's work ethic, focus and commitment to the game.

Should it be that hard to maximize your draft picks? Should it be that hard to put enough effort into finding a good quarterback? After all, he's the centerpiece of your team, so you'd think that each team would do the type of analysis necessary to make the choice stick, namely -- can he make the plays at our level, and will he study enough to make the right decisions?

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