Who Are The Most Similar College Quarterbacks to Geno Smith?

Given the recent scathing scouting report of West Virginia QB and likely first quarterback to be drafted Geno Smith by Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki, I was inspired to take a closer look at Smith’s college stats and then, using College Football Reference’s Play Index tool, try to determine the quarterbacks from this century who had the most similar numbers. Taking approximately ninety seconds to whip up, it’s needless to say that this research is exhaustive and thorough. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a gander at Smith’s college doppelgangers:

Rk Player From To School Att Pct Rate
1 Kellen Moore 2008 2011 Boise State 1658 69.8 169.0
2 Colt Brennan 2005 2007 Hawaii 1584 70.4 167.6
3 Andrew Luck 2009 2011 Stanford 1064 67.0 162.8
4 Case Keenum 2007 2011 Houston 2229 69.4 160.6
5 Robert Griffin III 2008 2011 Baylor 1192 67.1 158.9
6 Brian Brohm 2004 2007 Louisville 1185 65.8 157.9
7 Brandon Weeden 2008 2011 Oklahoma State 1102 69.5 157.7
8 Bruce Gradkowski 2002 2005 Toledo 1123 68.2 157.4
9 Colt McCoy 2006 2009 Texas 1645 70.3 155.0
10 Graham Harrell 2005 2008 Texas Tech 2010 69.8 154.4
11 Geno Smith 2009 2012 West Virginia 1465 67.4 153.5
12 Byron Leftwich 2000 2002 Marshall 1418 65.2 151.9
13 Ben Roethlisberger 2001 2003 Miami (OH) 1304 65.5 151.3
14 Max Hall 2007 2009 Brigham Young 1382 65.3 151.1
15 Chase Daniel 2005 2008 Missouri 1609 68.0 148.9
16 Chase Holbrook 2006 2008 New Mexico State 1566 69.4 145.6
17 Seth Doege 2009 2012 Texas Tech 1187 69.0 144.9
18 Brian Johnson 2004 2008 Utah 1017 66.2 144.2
19 Dan Lefevour 2006 2009 Central Michigan 1763 66.4 142.9
20 Taylor Potts 2007 2010 Texas Tech 1106 66.3 139.8
Passing
Rk Player From To School Att Pct Rate
21 Matt Schaub 2000 2003 Virginia 1069 67.0 138.4
22 Nick Foles 2007 2011 1403 66.9 138.2
23 Riley Skinner 2006 2009 Wake Forest 1349 66.9 136.9
24 Kliff Kingsbury 2000 2002 Texas Tech 1824 66.0 133.1
25 Dominique Davis 2010 2011 East Carolina 1103 65.9 132.9
26 Clint Marks 2003 2006 Middle Tennessee State 1012 66.0 132.5

“Att” stands for total number of pass attempts over the player’s career, “Pct” stands for career completion percentage and “Rate” stands for career passing efficiency rating (NOT the same formula as the NFL passer rating system, as you can probably tell by a few players rating above 158.3). These are the 26 quarterbacks since 2000 who have thrown at least 1000 pass attempts, completed at least 65% of their passes and had a passer efficiency rating between 130 and 170 for their college career.

If you’re looking to make the case that Smith is going to be a star quarterback in the NFL, you would probably start by noting the players who have the most similar career completion percentage include RGIII, Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub – three guys who all seem to have turned out okay. Smith’s efficiency rating is also very similar to that of Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich (hey, he was once a viable starting quarterback in the NFL! Let’s not take that away from him.). Of course, if you’re Nolan Nawrocki and you’re looking to make the opposite claim, you’d emphasize that Smith’s completion percentage is also very similar to Bruce Gradkowski, Riley Skinner and Nick Foles (who, I guess, the jury is still out on, but it’s not looking great). You’d also probably note that Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy and Chase Daniel all had more impressive career statistics playing at a time when the Big 12 was significantly tougher and none of them have exactly set the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE on fire. Personally, I’m not a diviner of the future; I have no idea how Smith is going to turn out. If I had to guess, I’d say he probably settles into a career as a Phil Simms-type who generally performs as a league-average starting quarterback, with a few seasons well above that level and some years well below as well. Whatever happens, though, let’s just happen he doesn’t go the way of Clint Marks or Dan LeFevour.

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