Random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL:

1. I’ve been talking about the draft these past few weeks, and we’ve looked at most of the positions and players the Bucs could take with the 3rd or 4th overall pick.  The one position we haven’t looked at is one where the Bucs could surprise folks if they aren’t able to make a move via trade or free agency: quarterback. Let me begin by looking at the quarterbacks taken in the Top 10 picks from 1991-2004:

1992 David Klingler, Cincinnati 6th
1993 Drew Bledsoe, New England 1st
1993 Rick Mirer, Seattle 2nd
1994 Heath Shuler, Washington 3rd
1994 Trent Dilfer, Tampa Bay 6th
1995 Steve McNair, Tennessee 3rd
1995 Kerry Collins, Carolina 5th
1998 Peyton Manning, Indianapolis 1st
1998 Ryan Leaf, San Diego 2nd
1999 Tim Couch, Cleveland 1st
1999 Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia 2nd
1999 Akili Smith, Cincinnati 3rd
2001 Michael Vick, Atlanta 1st
2002 David Carr, Houston 1st
2002 Joey Harrington, Detroit 3rd
2003 Carson Palmer, Cincinnati 1st
2003 Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville 7th
2004 Eli Manning, San Diego (NY Giants) 1st
2004 Philip Rivers, NY Giants (San Diego) 4th

2. Yeesh, I’m sorry I asked! Of the 19 quarterbacks taken in the Top 10 picks, I’d say Klingler, Mirer, Shuler, Leaf, Couch, Smith, and Harrington are outright busts. That’s seven – or 37 percent. You’d be happy if you picked McNair, Peyton Manning, McNabb or Palmer, but that’s only four out of 19 – or 21 percent. Bledsoe, Dilfer, Collins, Vick and so far Eli Manning have not been worth the money, and the jury is still out on Rivers, although he had a good first year as a starter in San Diego.

3. So, who could you have had play QB for your team outside of the Top 10 picks during 1991–2004?

2004 Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsurgh 1st
2004 Matt Schaub, Atlanta 3rd
2001 Marc Bulger, St. Louis 5th
2000 Chad Pennington, NY Jets 1st
2000 Tom Brady, New England 6th
1999 Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota 1st
1999 Matt Hasselbeck, Green Bay 6th
1998 Brian Griese, Denver 3rd
1997 Jake Plummer, Arizona 2nd
1993 Mark Brunell, Green Bay 5th
1993 Trent Green, San Diego 8th
1992 Brad Johnson, Minnesota 9th
1991 Brett Favre, Atlanta 2nd

4. Now, the hit rate is obviously much lower, but it is interesting that over one-third of the starting quarterbacks in the league weren’t drafted with a “franchise” Top 10 pick.  Nearly 20 percent of the league’s starting quarterbacks were taken in the 5th round or later.

5. So, what does this tell me about the potential to draft Brady Quinn at number three or number four (I am assuming JaMarcus Russell is taken first overall by Oakland)? Well, nothing really. Unlike many other positions, the quarterback position seems to defy probabilistic analysis. Why? Well, the jump from college to the NFL is the hardest at quarterback. You can measure a lot of things at a Scouting Combine and you can watch a lot of game film, but the reality is that the speed of the NFL cannot possibly be replicated at the college level. NFL quarterbacks need to process information and make the correct decision at an incredibly rapid rate. Then they have to execute a throw. There is just no reliable way to really measure how a college quarterback will react to the speed of the NFL. This is why while you see Peyton Manning drafted (who was genuinely debated vs. Leaf, who became a total bust) at the very top of the draft, you also occasionally see a player like Brady or Hasselbeck slip to lower rounds.

6. I know, I know, so what do I think about the odds of Brady Quinn being a hit in the NFL? No idea, but the best I could do was look at his game performances over the past two seasons against top college competition, so I compiled Quinn’s stats from six key games against big-time competition: Michigan (twice), USC (twice), Ohio State (2005 season Fiesta Bowl), LSU (2006 season Sugar Bowl).

2005 vs. USC 19-of-35 (54 percent) 264 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 7.5 yds. per att.
2005 vs. Michigan 19-of-30 (63 percent) 140 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 4.7 yds. per att.
2006 vs. Michigan 24-of-48 (50 percent) 234 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, 4.9 yds. per att.
2006 vs. USC 22-of-45 (49 percent) 274 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 6.1 yds. per att.
2006 vs. Ohio State 29-of-45 (64 percent) 286 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 6.4 yds. per att.
2006 vs. LSU 15-of-35 (43 percent) 148 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 4.2 yds. per att.
Totals: 128-of-238 (53.8 percent) 1,346 yards, 11 TDs, 6 INTs, 5.6 yds. per att.

These stats compute to an NCAA passer rating of 111 compared to Quinn’s overall rating of 152 during his two seasons with Charlie Weis.  Since many people don’t follow NCAA passer ratings, I also computed the comparable NFL ratings for these statistics, which are 72 for Quinn’s most challenging five games and 107 overall during the past two seasons.

7. So, Quinn may or may never become a great NFL quarterback, but I’m thinking David Carr for a third- or fourth-round pick looks much better to me on a risk-adjusted basis.

8. By the way, Notre Dame’s record in those six games? Just one win and five losses.

9. Gotta love Jerry Jones. Wade Phillips? Wade Phillips?!

10. Don’t you just love the local fishwraps and their Tony Dungy love affair? Now the Glazers never should have fired him. Anybody want to go back to 2001 and read the papers when all of these geniuses were running Dungy out of town on a rail because he couldn’t find an offense that could score a touchdown? Puh-leez.

11. Don’t get me wrong, I like Tony Dungy.

12. All hail, Urban Meyer!

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