College Sports

What The Rule of 26-27-60 Tells Us Four-Years Later — And What It Says About Manziel, Bortles, Bridgewater, etc.

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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By John P. Lopez

Four-years ago Sports Illustrated asked me to write a piece about the NFL’s Wonderlic test — does it really work or say anything about whether a prospect can succeed in the NFL?

The Wonderlic alone, of course, couldn’t possibly be a tell-all, and a bit of research confirmed as much. But while looking at top quarterback prospects, their reported Wonderlic scores and how they fared in the NFL, I noticed a trend.

It was not an absolute. It was not a secret code, or a definitive indicator. Still, it definitely revealed a correlation between three factors:

A quarterback’s Wonderlic score, the number of games he started in college and his passing accuracy in college.

The numbers that seemed to reveal the most interesting results were 26-27-60.

Players who surpassed 26 on the Wonderlic, started at least 27-games in college and completed more than 60-percent of their passes largely had their success translate to the NFL. Here is the link to the original piece, but more to the here-and-now, what has happened to quarterbacks since that piece first was published?

Given that college offenses have become much more wide-open and spread out, do the numbers still translate?

The results are startling. Not counting the 2013 NFL draft class, since they were rookies a season ago, here are the top-six cumulative scores since the 2010 draft. I came up with a total score, which includes each players’ Wonderlic, games started and completion percentage in college:

1) Colin Kaepernick — 144.2

2) Andrew Luck — 142.0

3) Colt McCoy — 140.1

4) Andy Dalton — 139.7

5) Kirk Cousins — 137.1

6) Sam Bradford — 134.6

Those players combined have started 177-games and accounted for three different teams making a playoff appearance.

By contrast, here are the six lowest-scoring quarterbacks since 2010, cumulatively:

1) Cam Newton (a 1-year player at Auburn) — 101.1

2) Brock Osweiler — 101.6

3) Jake Locker — 110.1

4) Ryan Mallett — 113.8

5) Ryan Tannehill — 116.5

6) Jimmy Clausen — 119.6.

Combined, those quarterbacks have started 108 games — just 60 if you consider Cam Newton an outlier as a one-year player at Auburn. Newton also has accounted for the only playoff appearance among those quarterbacks.

The top-six quarterbacks also have a combined record of 94-80. The bottom-six, a combined record of 49-59 (24-36, minus Cam Newton). Perhaps it is mere coincidence, but ask most any NFL GM or head coach today and he likely would say that first group of quarterbacks rates miles ahead of the second group.

So how do the 2014 prospects compare? Here are their numbers, followed by those of every NFL quarterback drafted in the top-four rounds since 2010.

NAME                  WONDERLIC         STARTS       PASS %      TOTAL

Johnny Manziel      32                         26                68.9             126.9

Blake Bortles         28                         30                65.7             123.7

T. Bridgewater       20                         37                68.4             125.4

Derek Carr            20                         39                66.7             125.7

J. Garoppolo         24                         38                62.8             124.8

2010:

Name                    Wonderlic             Starts           Pass %        Total

Sam Bradford        36                         31                67.6             134.6

Tim Tebow           22                         41                66.4             129.4

Jimmy Clausen      23                         34                62.6             119.6

Colt McCoy          25                         51                70.6             140.1

Mike Kafka            35                         24                64.1             123.1

 2011:                                                                                       

Cam Newton         21                         14                66.1             101.1

Jake Locker           20                         36                54.1             110.1

Blaine Gabbert       42                         25                60.9             127.9

Christian Ponder    35                         34                61.8             130.8

Andy Dalton           29                         49                61.7             139.7

Colin Kaepernick   37                         48                59.2             144.2

Ryan Mallett           26                         30                57.8             113.8

2012:

Andrew Luck        37                         38                67.0             142.0

Robert Griffin        24                         40                67.1             131.1

Ryan Tannehill       34                         20                62.5             116.5

Brandon Weeden   27                         24                69.0             120.0

Brock Osweiler      25                         16                60.6             101.6

Russell Wilson      28                         44                60.9             132.9

Nick Foles             29                         35                66.8             130.8

Kirk Cousins         33                         40                64.1             137.1

2013:

Ryan Nassib         41                         38                60.3             139.3

E.J. Manuel           28                         33                66.9             127.9

Geno Smith           24                         39                67.4             130.4

Mike Glennon        26                         26                60.4             112.4

 

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