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Comparing multi-year starting QBs’ college stats to their NFL stats: up, down or flat?

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Diving into how starting NFL quarterbacks improved or regressed once they moved on from college to the pro level.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, you know that our starting QB in 2017 (and in 2016) was almost out of football and believed that he had no chance of being drafted.

One of the reasons for this was his injury, but the other reason was that his college stats were horrible in comparison to his peers. With numbers that bad, I figured that Trevor Siemian would have improved upon his college career numbers as an NFL rookie.

I focused on two stats - completion % and TD/INT ratio. Trevor improved dramatically (as I expected) in TD:INT ratio, but he was actually a little worse in completion %. I fully expect his completion % to improve this year.

Here is how his numbers compare to other multi-year starting QBs in the NFL from this century (multi-year is roughly 32 starts - a couple of guys were included despite less than 32 starts).

So let’s start off with the “bad:”

Completion % change in the NFL relative to college

NFL Career College Career Comparison (+ is good)
QB COMP% College/Univ COMP% COMP%
Kyle Boller 56.7% California 47.8% 8.9%
Josh McCown 59.1% Sam Houston St. 51.2% 7.9%
Drew Brees 66.6% Purdue 61.1% 5.5%
Tyrod Taylor 62.3% Virginia Tech 57.2% 5.1%
Matt Ryan 64.9% Boston Col. 59.9% 5.0%
Jay Cutler 61.9% Vanderbilt 57.2% 4.7%
David Garrard 61.6% East Carolina 57.0% 4.6%
Matthew Stafford 61.5% Georgia 57.1% 4.4%
Trent Edwards 60.6% Stanford 56.3% 4.3%
Russell Wilson 64.7% Wisconsin 60.9% 3.8%
Derek Anderson 54.2% Oregon St. 50.7% 3.5%
Carson Palmer 62.5% USC 59.1% 3.4%
Chad Pennington 66.0% Marshall 63.6% 2.4%
Tom Brady 63.8% Michigan 61.9% 1.9%
Kirk Cousins 65.9% Michigan St. 64.1% 1.8%
Colin Kaepernick 59.8% Nevada 58.2% 1.6%
J.P. Losman 59.2% Tulane 57.8% 1.4%
Aaron Rodgers 65.1% California 63.8% 1.3%
Andy Dalton 62.7% TCU 61.7% 1.0%
Joey Harrington 56.1% Oregon 55.2% 0.9%
Philip Rivers 64.4% North Carolina St. 63.6% 0.8%
Kyle Orton 59.5% Purdue 58.8% 0.7%
Marc Bulger 62.1% West Virginia 61.6% 0.5%
Ryan Tannehill 62.7% Texas A&M 62.5% 0.2%
Michael Vick 56.2% Virginia Tech 56.0% 0.2%
Quincy Carter 56.5% Georgia 56.6% -0.1%
Trevor Siemian 58.7% Northwestern 58.9% -0.2%
Chad Henne 59.3% Michigan 59.7% -0.4%
Eli Manning 59.7% Mississippi 60.8% -1.1%
Ben Roethlisberger 64.1% Miami (OH) 65.5% -1.4%
Josh Freeman 57.6% Kansas St. 59.1% -1.5%
Christian Ponder 59.8% Florida St. 61.8% -2.0%
David Carr 59.7% Fresno St. 62.7% -3.0%
Matt Schaub 63.9% Virginia 67.0% -3.1%
Teddy Bridgewater 64.9% Louisville 68.4% -3.5%
Robert Griffin 63.3% Baylor 67.1% -3.8%
Vince Young 57.9% Texas 61.8% -3.9%
Jason Campbell 60.3% Auburn 64.6% -4.3%
Alex Smith 61.7% Utah 66.3% -4.6%
Blaine Gabbert 56.0% Missouri 60.9% -4.9%
Marcus Mariota 61.6% Oregon 66.8% -5.2%
Sam Bradford 62.3% Oklahoma 67.6% -5.3%
Rex Grossman 55.2% Florida 61.0% -5.8%
Derek Carr 60.9% Fresno St. 66.7% -5.8%
Jameis Winston 59.6% Florida St. 66.0% -6.4%
Nick Foles 60.4% Arizona 66.8% -6.4%
Blake Bortles 58.8% Central Florida 65.7% -6.9%
Cam Newton 58.4% Auburn 65.4% -7.0%
Byron Leftwich 57.9% Marshall 65.1% -7.2%
Mark Sanchez 56.7% USC 64.3% -7.6%
Andrew Luck 59.2% Stanford 67.0% -7.8%
Geno Smith 57.9% West Virginia 67.4% -9.5%

Note that two guys with huge improvements in completion % in the NFL were horrible at completing passes in college - Kyle Boller and Josh McCown. Other notable QBs who have shown dramatic improvement in the completion % in the NFL are Drew Brees, Tyrod Taylor, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson. It should be noted that Wilson was deadly accurate in his final year in college, completing more than 70 percent of this passes.

On the flip side, you have guys who were in very “completion-friendly” systems in college who were unable to sustain that level of completion % in the NFL. These guys include Geno Smith, Andrew Luck, Mark Sanchez, Byron Leftwich, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow (not shown in the table - he is negative 18.5% - hitting 66.4% in college and 47.9% in the NFL).

TD:INT ratio in the NFL relative to college

Now the good, at least for Trevor. Here are the comparative data for TD:INT ratio NFL relative to college. Keep in mind that some of the really highly drafted QBs in the last five or six years have come out of systems where they have put up obscene TD:INT ratios

NFL College Change (+is good)
QB TD/INT College/Univ TD/INT TD/INT
Tom Brady 3.0 Michigan 1.8 1.2
Aaron Rodgers 4.1 California 3.3 0.8
Trevor Siemian 1.8 Northwestern 1.1 0.7
Matt Ryan 2.1 Boston Col. 1.5 0.6
Tyrod Taylor 2.6 Virginia Tech 2.2 0.4
Josh McCown 1.1 Sam Houston St. 0.8 0.4
Matthew Stafford 1.7 Georgia 1.5 0.2
Carson Palmer 1.6 USC 1.5 0.1
Drew Brees 2.1 Purdue 2.0 0.1
David Garrard 1.6 East Carolina 1.5 0.1
Nick Foles 2.1 Arizona 2.0 0.0
Josh Freeman 1.2 Kansas St. 1.3 -0.1
Jay Cutler 1.4 Vanderbilt 1.6 -0.2
Trent Edwards 0.9 Stanford 1.1 -0.2
Derek Anderson 1.0 Oregon St. 1.4 -0.4
Ryan Tannehill 1.6 Texas A&M 2.0 -0.4
Michael Vick 1.5 Virginia Tech 1.9 -0.4
Marc Bulger 1.3 West Virginia 1.7 -0.4
Jason Campbell 1.5 Auburn 1.9 -0.4
Kyle Boller 0.9 California 1.3 -0.4
Kirk Cousins 1.7 Michigan St. 2.2 -0.5
Quincy Carter 0.9 Georgia 1.4 -0.5
Christian Ponder 1.1 Florida St. 1.6 -0.6
Ben Roethlisberger 1.9 Miami (OH) 2.5 -0.6
Andy Dalton 1.8 TCU 2.4 -0.6
Vince Young 0.9 Texas 1.6 -0.7
Matt Schaub 1.5 Virginia 2.2 -0.7
Philip Rivers 2.0 North Carolina St. 2.8 -0.8
Kyle Orton 1.5 Purdue 2.3 -0.8
Jameis Winston 1.5 Florida St. 2.3 -0.8
Russell Wilson 2.8 Wisconsin 3.6 -0.8
Eli Manning 1.5 Mississippi 2.3 -0.8
Colin Kaepernick 2.4 Nevada 3.4 -1.0
Blaine Gabbert 1.0 Missouri 2.2 -1.2
Rex Grossman 0.9 Florida 2.1 -1.2
J.P. Losman 1.0 Tulane 2.2 -1.3
Chad Henne 0.9 Michigan 2.4 -1.4
Mark Sanchez 1.0 USC 2.6 -1.6
Blake Bortles 1.4 Central Florida 2.9 -1.6
Joey Harrington 0.9 Oregon 2.6 -1.6
Teddy Bridgewater 1.3 Louisville 3.0 -1.7
Andrew Luck 1.9 Stanford 3.7 -1.8
Byron Leftwich 1.4 Marshall 3.2 -1.8
Chad Pennington 1.6 Marshall 3.6 -2.0
David Carr 0.9 Fresno St. 3.0 -2.0
Derek Carr 2.6 Fresno St. 4.7 -2.1
Cam Newton 1.7 Auburn 4.3 -2.5
Robert Griffin 1.6 Baylor 4.6 -3.0
Sam Bradford 1.7 Oklahoma 5.5 -3.8
Geno Smith 0.8 West Virginia 4.7 -3.9
Alex Smith 1.7 Utah 5.9 -4.1
Marcus Mariota 2.4 Oregon 7.5 -5.1

The guys on the top of this list are some good company for Siemian to be keeping: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.

There is some concern that Trevor’s TD:INT ratio was artificial last season because of interceptions that were dropped by defenders. I remember many of those throws (they were scary, so they tend to stick in my memory), but I haven’t gone back and analyzed how many picks he “got away with” in 2016. I think footballoutsiders.com analyzed this, but I may be mistaken. EDIT:Here’s the link to their data.

That being said, I he can maintain his 1.8:1.0 TD:INT ratio he will have greatly improved on his college numbers (which were admittedly horrible). Keep in mind that there were 786 passing TDs in the NFL in 2016 and only 415 interceptions, so league-wide the TD:INT ratio was 1.89:1.00. In other words, despite Trevor’s improvement relative to his college numbers, he was still below league average in TD:INT ratio.

Poll

What is most likely to happen in 2017 for Siemian?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Large improvement in completion %
    (111 votes)
  • 36%
    Small improvement in completion %
    (169 votes)
  • 3%
    no change in completion %
    (16 votes)
  • 1%
    Small or large regression in completion %
    (5 votes)
  • 14%
    Large improvement in TD:INT
    (67 votes)
  • 13%
    Small improvement in TD:INT
    (63 votes)
  • 2%
    No change in TD:INT
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    Small regression in TD:INT
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    Large regression in TD:INT
    (11 votes)
458 votes total Vote Now