There's been a lot of talk about how hard it is to predict when a college QB will be a stud in the pros. Football Outsiders put together a model to predict NFL success for college QBs. To summarize how it works, they start by noting that if you just use completion percentage and games played, you're most of the way there. Those two stats alone are pretty good, but less so in recent years. Building on that, FO used recent data to make the model better at describing the last 15 years or so of QBs. Now, the model uses: games played, completion percentage (though now you get more of a penalty for dropping from 50% to 48% and less reward for going from 70% to 72%), change in QB rating from junior to senior year (which is really important, apparently, cause a big drop means you have flaws that people have figured out), BCS-level schedule, and run to pass ratio (to punish running too much and taking sacks). That's the gist of the article, but it's worth a read, and at the end, it shows the top five best and worst of all time, as well as predictions for last year's crop of QBs (hint--it doesn't look good).
Last year, Andy Dalton was number 1. After his sophomore year, Andrew Luck was about where Dalton was. Now he has a ton more games played, and his career looks basically like Drew Brees', but with a better completion percentage. As such, I imagine he'll be up there with dudes in the top five of all time (Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Peyton, and Chad Pennington, in that order).
Two takeaways here and one caveat:
1) This tells me that Andrew Luck is, in fact, better than most 1st picks. He's more likely in Phillip Rivers territory than Drew Bledsoe/Vinny Testaverde territory, though you still never know.
2) As Nate said, "once in a generation" QBs actually come around every two years or so. Given that, the Colts should probably trade Luck for many picks and wait to get players with similar stats but with later picks, like Drew Brees or Andy Dalton. Even if Luck looks better than every other 1st pick, he's not so much better that he's worth multiple first round picks.
1) I can't overstate how important this is: FO's model is descriptive, not predictive. Anyone can look at 10 years of QBs and making a fancy model to predict the best ones--you can always look backwards and craft a story that "explains" everything. If you keep fiddling with the numbers, you'll end up with a "perfect" model. So don't salivate over seeing Luck with Brees/Manning/Rivers. If FO couldn't come up with a model to show that, they wouldn't have published it. That said, I think this still bodes well for Andrew Luck. I might do another post soon with the other QBs this draft.
I think the desire for Luck for many is having the best change of Elite (top 2-3 QB in game) quarterback play rather than finding an Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, decent but not start caliber QB. The type of guy you can certainly win with but not a QB that can carry a team like Manning / Rodgers / Brady. Andrew Luck has far better odds of becoming a top 2-3 QB in the game than anyone else in quite some time. Will he become that? Far from a sure thing but if I had to put money on someone to be one of the best 2-3 QBs in the game 5 years from now Luck is at the top of my list.
Without any data to support my opinion, it seems that the average tenure of starting QBs in the NFL today is lower and lower, which would agree with the notion that franchise QBs do come around every 2-3 years and not only once in a generation as many are saying. And, really, a "generation" in todays football and media cycle is down to about 3-4 years anyway.
I think the only option is to take Luck. People talk about "waiting 2 years for the next once-in-a-generation QB", but who's to say we will have the pick to take that person?
As they say, a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the tree. We don't know what bird Luck is, but there's nothing to say he's any worse than the next guy 2 years from now.
Keep the pick and draft Luck. Yes, I have held all season that the Colts should trade the pick, but with the Polians gone, all signs are that the Colts are in rebuilding mode, which means Peyton's future is more in doubt than ever. The only way* that the Colts can rebuild quickly is to take advantage of this now, draft Luck, and hope he's as good as the hype machine paints him to be.
*Using hyperbole is always a bad idea, so take that with a grain of salt.
You always have to be very careful about calling any model "predictive" simply because there are always outlier events that will blow up your model. The best you can ever accomplish is back testing your model against history and getting it as close to descriptive as possible, then while it is in use as the model breaks down you attempt to "fix" it, rinse and repeat ad nauseam.
Given that this is the best model I've seen, I tend to trust it when it says that about every 2 years a franchise caliber QB comes up (it doesn't hurt that this seems to match anecdotal evidence). The real problem is how many times will that QB come around and our team have the first round pick?
In the end, I believe that if we trade the pick away for a lot of value now, we are only borrowing value from the future, as we will likely need it once Manning retires (IE if we get 6 picks from someone for Luck, we will probably need to spend 6 picks in the future to get the next best QB prospect once it is a true need). Contrary to popular opinion borrowing now for the future is a perfectly good strategy if you have a special opportunity in the present that won't be around in the future. I believe (big caveat) that if Manning is healthy we have just such a special opportunity, and borrowing draft value now makes perfect sense.
As a final off topic thought: I am in no way a college football expert and have watched exactly 2 college games this year (Stanford v USC & stanford v OSU ). In both of those games he looked good (even very good). But he didn't look like the best player on the field in either (Barkley & Blackmon looked better to me). Anybody that is going to be called a true "once in a generation" talent, should jump off the field in every game they play, at least in my opinion.
I am firmly behind keeping the first pick and taking Luck. He is a unique talent like Manning and Elway. I don't believe the Colts are as awful personnel-wise as others seem to think. With Powers, Nevis, and Ijalana among others back from IR, the Colts have good overall talent. Letting oldsters like Wayne, Brackett, and Saturday go along with Peyton will open up substantial cap space to sign talented, younger free agents. All is not doom and gloom my fellow Colts fans.
The only question we really need to answer in my opinion is what the other picks would look like, and do they have enough value in the next two years to be better than one great QB (assuming the Rivers/Brees/Manning comparison holds). If, for example, we get the #4 and #24 pick from Cleveland, is this draft class deep enough that there are players of worth at each of those positions that we also NEED to make the trade a viable option?
We will not fully know the options until the playoffs are finalized, the GM and coaching staff are in place, and the team makes a decision about Manning's 28 million. However, this was a great place to start considering the alternatives.
I'm really hoping Luck becomes a star because I assume he'll be a Colt in a few months. But realistically, it still makes sense to me to trade him, even if you know he'll be a star. If we can get 4-6 picks from the top 3 rounds for him, I just think it's stupid not to take that trade. With 4-6 guys, maybe none of them are as likely to become a star but chances are several will be important starters. Also, with just Luck, one bad injury and the whole pick is wasted, whereas with 4-6 guys, one injury still leaves us 3-5 guys.
Moreover, we could just as easily end up with a top QB with a different pick. Rodgers, Brees and Brady were all taken outside the top 20. Can you imagine if the Colts traded for several picks and still ended up with a top level QB? How much better would this team be?
I assume we're going to end up with Luck and I am already mentally preparing to hope and hope that he becomes a star. But I'll also be nervous as hell that the next 10-15 years of this franchise comes down to one guy.
@JohnGibson I agree with everything you say. Luck is the best chance at a HOF QB in the next 5 years and rebuilding around him makes a lot of sense. My issue or worry about that strategy is that even if Luck is the best chance at being elite, that chance is still very low. Truly great QBs seem almost impossible to predict. Of the four HOF level QBs in the game now (Manning, Brees, Brady, Rodgers) only one had people talking about the possibility before he was drafted.
@BMS Do people really think there won´t be a single QB capable of very good play at the NFL level in the next 4 drafts? I really don´t get that part. When Manning retires, the Colts will undoubtedly suck enough to be in a good draft spot. I can understand people wanting Luck, but I despise the made up catastrophist assertion that it´s either him or 15 years of being horrid.
@omahacolt Oh sure they do. Peyton Manning was drafted in 1998, Tom Brady in 2000, Drew Brees in 2001, Philip RIvers and Eli Manning in 2004, Aaron Rodgers in 2005, Matt Ryan in 2008, Matt Stafford in 2009, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton in 2011. Ten franchise QBs in under 15 years (not even counting McNabb, Vick, or Bradford).
Also, with having future #1 draft picks of the team that would take Luck puts the Colts in a position to possibly be in the top 1-5 draft picks of future seasons since A) the team that trades for Luck probably sucks now anyway and B) that team will continue to suck since current and future high draft picks are surrendered.
So it isn't unrealistic to predict that the Colts might be in position to draft another franchise QB in 2-4 years no matter how successful the Colts are in their own seasons during that span.
@kasey_junk Late to the party, but that was a great comment, kasey_junk. I thought the same thing about Luck watching him play (except I saw him against Oregon and OSU). He´s really good, but I didn´t get that "This is it" factor. Only oment when I was really excited was that sweet 2nd quarter pass against OSU.
@TrueBlue Except that there is no such thing as talented younger free agents. There are talented older free agents, and untalented younger free agents, but the sweet spot is not available. This is why building from the draft is the only way to win consistently in the modern NFL.
@mattshedd I'm actually doing a short write-up including various picks from several mock drafts that include the colts and take into consideration a trade, if it were to happen. I'll post it when done. Suffice it to say that there are many players who I feel could fill holes, but it all depends on your outlook and if you buy into those guys as being, at the very least, good role players.
@psvirsky I believe I may have found my doppelganger (minus the guitar). I couldn't have put into words more accurately how I feel and have felt for the past few months. Just this morning, I found myself staring at savepeyton.com trying to figure out if I was going to buy a shirt or not.
But your last sentence is so unbelievably ironic though, don't you think? Not that I disagree, at all, but consider the past 10-15 years. The fate of this franchise has basically come down to, you guessed it, one guy.
@psvirsky I think that it will interesting to see that if the Colts do trade the Luck pick for a barrage of draft picks, how the media/fans will view the careers of those picks. Will those picks be forever compared with the performance of Andrew Luck? Will there be more pressure on those picks to perform well, or will most of the pressure be on Luck to be deserving of those picks?
@psvirsky Yeah, I'm nervous too. On the other hand, if we end up with a dumb GM who important stats and likes Blaine Gabbert more than Andy Dalton, the upside is that if he picks Luck, our draft position protected him from making a truly franchise crushing mistake. What that says about the next few years/decade is ugly, though...
Amen to that. That's why I have been in favor of trading the pick if Manning is healthy. Luck will be good, I'm sure he will. But it seems like a new team wins the Super Bowl every season anyway and I seriously doubt that Luck is going to be the new Montana. I can guarantee he won't if the Colts (snakebitten franchise) draft him.
@DuqJames let me rephrase that
franchise qb's arent available to teams every 2 years. little early to call newton and dalton franchise qb's.
@DuqJames Why you had to be smart about it? That's too much information to process. LOL
Exactly. And if the nerve regeneration is complete, or is close enough for Manning to be considered healthy and will continue to improve over the next season and into the future, Manning would be able to play out his contract, which gives an additional 4 years.
Nerve regeneration and arm strength should be the only concerns here. Sure they are huge concerns, but if his strength is back then he is no more of a liability than any other QB when discussing his current health and prognosis.
A solid backup could be drafted this season, doesn't have to be Luck, and they can get the next generational QB in 4-5 seasons when Manning has retired. BUT now the team will have more young talent due to the high draft picks received from the Luck trade out.
@BMS@kasey_junk Makes me wonder what Belichick would do (as I throw up in my mouth) if the Pats were in this boat. Not that the Pats are the model franchise when it comes to drafting -- but you could argue they're the model franchise in accumulating draft picks.
I don't know that you can compare an ACL (or anything) to neck nerve regeneration, but I feel confident that he'd trade the pick for as much as he could.
@kasey_junk Same 'logic' I've been using - with all that's been written/said about him, I expect to be able to turn on a game and instantly see impact. I know that's a lot and that we're talking about 'the eye test' here, but the amount of hype Luck has received has brought me here...
I beg to differ. Johnathan Joseph, Paul Posluszny and Tyson Clabo are among the examples from last year. Marshon Lynch, DeSean Jackson, and Carl Nicks are among free agents this year. Many test free agency after their rookie contracts expire. Sure, they aren't 23, but many are still in their playing prime with 4+ very good years remaining. Lack of cap space prevented the Colts from pursuing the highest value free agents in the past. They should have more opportunity this year IF they part with some of their long-in-the-tooth veterans.
@matt_has If it helps complete the doppelganger-ness, I'll teach you a little guitar (or actually bass, that's what I've got in the picture).
As to the last sentence, yeah, you're right. But I moreso meant that I'll be nervous about the next 10-15 years, but not necessarily during those years. Once we knew Peyton was great, I wasn't nervous about the franchise depending on him. It's more the thought that if we take Luck and he's a bust, it sets us back significantly. Hopefully in 5 years we'll laugh at the thought of him being a bust (assuming he's a Colt).
I don't think so, because that means that Manning is still playing and Manning is all we will care about going forward until he retires. If Manning is able to win another SB, then his legacy is further cemented and the team is still in position to contend at some level after Manning retires because of the influx of young talent and likely having a higher quality backup QB or potential for future drafted QB there.
@Scott VanDyke@psvirsky That's another interesting part of the equation--how much pressure you put on the players you keep. If you draft Luck, he has to replace Manning, a pressure he wouldn't feel elsewhere.
As to your point, I see more pressure on Luck, a la Ricky Williams or Julio Jones. It's just cognitively easier to point to one guy and say "Is he worth all these picks? Is he worth [name] + [name]?" then to track down everyone drafted and do it in reverse--"Is [name] worth a fraction of Luck?" Just a gut feel, but I feel like the 1 guy in the trade gets more scrutiny.
@dansvirsky In that case, Luck would be the next Dan Marino. No trophy. Not exactly exciting.
@omahacolt What I am arguing is that while good QBs may not be super easy to find ( as I am sure Oakland, Miami, and Washington would agree) its also not a once in a blue moon event. I feel that many people are putting forward the argument that not drafting Luck means waiting five to ten years to have another shot at a good QB and that is clearly not the case.
He would draft Luck, then play him enough to let other teams see him in action against NFL competition (like in the preseason and at the end of blowouts) during his rookie season. Then, he would trade him for a boatload to a desperate team.
This is another option I would like to see the Colts consider. Luck would be an excellent insurance option in case something catastrophic happened to Manning (like an ACL or other freak injury), but if Manning proved to be back to a high level, Luck could be traded and the future QB could be drafted in the future.
@BMS@dansvirsky@matt_has@kasey_junk The biggest reason for luck never throwing downfield is Stanford has exactly one receiver who is any type of deep threat at all. (Montgomery) The rest of his offense is basically slower guys and tight ends-- they have at least 3 who are regular receiving threats. Picture peyton with say a garcon and 3 dallas clarks as his best weapons (and even that's a stretch-- I doubt all of luck's TEs are near Clark's skill level) and you can see why he's not throwing down the field as much. From what I've seen he does have a very good control over the offense, and when he throws the deep ball he has done it well. With better weapons in the NFL I think he is able to be a dangerous, all-around QB even if his completion percentage drops slightly from the astronomical levels he's had in college.
That said, Luck is the best college QB I have watched this season. He never looks to the sideline for plays and he looks to his 2nd and 3rd receivers which isn't something you see often in college QBs. My biggest issue with him has always been his arm angle. He crouches slightly when he throws; I would like him to throw more over the top like Manning does. But Manning wasn't perfect as a rookie either.
You're not going to get numbers or stats out of me, sorry. I've only watched Stanford games this season so I can't compare Luck this season to Luck last season. As time has gone on, I've become more and more objective when I watch Luck because he may end up being the QB of the Colts so I don't want to have a negative bias.
@BMS@dansvirsky@kasey_junk That's a very interesting observation -- I'd love to see it backed up with numbers/stats if possible. Do you think you've watched enough Stanford games to say this with confidence? And, maybe more importantly, are you being 100% objective and keeping emotion out of the evaluation?
Every once in a while, ESPN classic would show old Manning games at Tennessee. While he was flawed as all college QBs are, and with the knowledge we have today of how good he became, you could still tell that he had special qualities about him. The biggest thing I have noticed comparing Manning at Tennessee and Luck at Stanford is that Manning had complete control over the offense just as he does today and he was also more aggressive in his pass attempts compared to Luck, who rarely throws the ball downfield and uses the checkdown and short rollout pass as a primary means to sustain drives. That also explains Luck's "accuracy" and completion percentage.
@matt_has@kasey_junk I'm with all of you. I have only seen some Luck, but it was all just very good, no great moments. However, we can easily turn that around the opposite way. If a guy is getting drafted #1 and hyped as the next GOAT based on the "it" factor and popping off the screen, it's probably more of a shallow diagnosis. If a guy is getting drafted #1 and hyped as the next GOAT based on solidly consistent play, maybe that's much more of a sustainable thing.
First guy that comes to mind for this is Vince Young - he was drenched with "it" factor and really popped off the screen. I mean, he was AWESOME in the championship game. Obviously that didn't work out. Maybe if you're getting ready to draft your next franchise QB, you actually want a guy who rarely wowed people in college. Instead you want the most impressive characteristic to be consistency - a guy who is always very good although never seems great.
In fact, thinking of the top NFL QB's right now, that's probably a good way to describe them. The NFL QB's that pop off the screen most in recent years and make the most amazing plays are Roethlisberger, Vick, Favre, etc. The crazy thing to me when watching Peyton, Brees and Brady is that rarely does any one play seem impressive on its own - they're just always making great accurate passes without being fancy (Rodgers does seem to have more of that play making ability). What makes these guys great is avoiding mistakes, doing all the little things right and consistent accuracy.
Okay enough theorizing, I should probably do some work today.
(yes I'm rationalizing and just trying to find ways to be happy no matter the outcome of this offseason but I also think this is an interesting hypothesis that I hadn't considered before)
Look...good scouting is a prerequisite for both free agents and the draft. The Colts passed on Ryan Leaf and Rickey Williams but a few picks later another team was not so fortunate with their scouting. Sticking with only your own free agents isn't necessarily a winner either...Kelvin Hayden. I'm not proposing that the Colts be like the Skins and try to build their entire team through free agency. Just utilize it more at this particular time when much of their salary cap is tied up in aging veterans, many of which they should consider parting ways with if they truly view the need to rebuild as opposed to swing for the fences the next year or two.
If the new regime wants to stick entirely with the draft, it would be a very lengthly and painful process to change offensive or, especially, defensive philosophies. Maybe Jim Irsay likes the idea of sticking with the base Tampa 2 with fast, undersized players. Maybe he'll impose that restriction on the new GM/coach. I see defensive schemes that I like better than the Tampa 2 but require different player skill sets. Changing over would require many, many painful (tweener) years without the use of free agency to speed it along.
@TrueBlue Ok I apologize, I read an implied definition into your statement that you wanted talented, young, COST EFFECTIVE free agents. If what you mean is talented, young OVER PRICED free agents, I agree they do come around occasionally but it is not a good strategy to go sign them because they are mixed in with the untalented, young overpriced free agents and the talented old overpriced free agents and teams have done a historically bad job determining which is which.
I don't need to have lunch with the Polians to know that they don't want to pay high priced outside free agents when they say "from time to time they were putting a priority on signing their own free agents". They said it in public repeatedly. You got the cause and effect backwards. It wasn't that they couldn't get free agents because they only paid their own, it's that they didn't want free agents because they could better spend the money on their own draftees.
The reason building through the draft is better than free agency isn't that all of your own free agents are better than outside free agents, it's that it is very hard to separate the good pick ups from the bad. A team has much better information about their own players than other teams, and when you are making big decisions that will impact your salary cap for years all the information you can get is important. Meaning that spending on your free agents has an inherent advantage.
So, you have come off of your first position that: "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TALENTED YOUNGER FREE AGENTS". Good for you. Will you now come off of your second position that "the reason the Colts haven't gone after high end free agents isn't that they didn't have the cap space for it"? How in the world would you know that??? Do you have lunch with one of the Polians on a regular basis? They have said from time to time that they were putting a priority on signing their own free agents, which they have to some lucrative contracts. Doing that, they have always been short of cap space to go for top tier free agents. All I am saying is they should expand their horizons more and look at the free agent pool as a whole with Garcon and Mathis thrown into the mix. I believe l that the best free agents aren't always the Colt free agents.
@TrueBlue Um, Tyson Clabo is 30 years old and just signed a 26 million dollar deal with nearly half of it garaunteed. This is precisely the kind of contract you want to avoid in free agency. His cap hit this year is between 5-7 million.
Johnathon Joseph who I will grant has had a great year signed a deal for 48 million, 23 of it guaranteed, 12 of that was in a signing bonus. His cap hit is between 9-13 million this year.
Posluzny signed for 6/42 15 guaranteed. His cap is going to be between 7-9 this year.
Conversely, Reggie Wayne's numbers for this year were 6, Saturday's was 2.4, and Bracketts was 2. Next year Brackett is scheduled to make 5 and I've heard but not confirmed that cutting him saves less than a million in cap space. Basically for 3 older home grown all star performers you can get 1 younger free agent (and that's assuming you aren't resigning any of your own important free agents like Mathis or Garcon).
This doesn't account for all the bad FA signings you could make. I notice you didn't mention Steve Breaston and his 5/25 with 9 guaranteed, Cullen Jenkins 5/25 or Davin Joseph's 7/53.
The reason the Colts haven't gone after high end free agents isn't that they didn't have the cap space for it, it's that it doesn't work very often. It is an unsustainable model.