After surveying the landscape, and seeing yet another discussion of how many first round busts there have been (particularly at the QB position) but no QB in current crop of potential first rounders being labeled as the potential bust, I thought I would take up the mantle of uncertainty in the NFL draft.
As a believer in on field performance above all else (pro day work outs, combine performances etc) I dug into the on field performances of all the QBs that received a draft grade of 2 or higher from Sports Illustrated in order to see which player's performance might have the highest probability of being a mirage. The most direct numerical way to look at this is to build the 95% confidence interval around a QB's completion percentage. Using a player's number of attempts with their completion percentage, I calculated a range of values for each QB's "true" completion percentage. The wider the range, the riskier the pick is.
Based on this admittedly crude measure we can see that Cam Newton has the highest level of uncertainty around his college completion percentage. In his career, Cam completed 65.4% of his passes, but due to the small sample of passes attempted, his "true" completion percentage is somewhere between 59.9% and 70.9%. This is a fairly wide range of potential values, which suggest that we likely do not have enough information to properly evaluate Cam at this point. To be clear, I do not mean that statisticians do not have enough information, but that talent evaluators of all types, do not have enough information to determine Cam's true level of performance.
Cam has the highest standard error in this group at +/- 5.5% while the standard error of the next highest QB to receive a draft grade higher than 3 is Ryan Mallet with a standard error of +/- 3.1%. This suggests that the evaluations of players like Mallett and Gabbert are more likely to be accurate that the evaluation of Newton. This is not to suggest that Cam will not be a successful NFL AB, but that NFL teams should be careful to factor in the high level of uncertainty when drafting him relative to the other highly regarded QBs.
|Jeff Van Camp||Florida Atlantic||2.14||57.2%||61.4%||53.0%||4.2%|
|Ryan Colburn||Fresno State||2.11||62.1%||65.8%||58.4%||3.7%|
|Jordan La Secla||San Jose State||2.1||59.1%||62.7%||55.5%||3.6%|
|Tyrod Taylor||Virginia Tech||2.36||57.2%||60.5%||53.9%||3.3%|
|Christian Ponder||Florida State||2.83||61.8%||64.9%||58.7%||3.1%|
|Jerrod Johnson||Texas A&M||2.33||58.6%||61.5%||55.7%||2.9%|
|Taylor Potts||Texas Tech||2.22||66.3%||69.1%||63.5%||2.8%|
|TJ Yates||North Carolina||2.38||62.3%||65.0%||59.6%||2.7%|