Before I get into today’s blog, I just wanted to say that I noticed something. I haven’t had a single blog posted for Monday all month. Not one. I was going to try and write one Sunday night but there was just nothing there worth writing about. That’s when I noticed the “Wyman’s Time Machine,” which is the calendar on the side of the screen that tells you what blog I posted on what day so if you have one you particularly liked you can go back and check it out. Well it links the days that had blogs posted. Not a single Monday has a linked date. Just something I noticed.
Now onto the actual blog itself, ESPN posted an interesting little thing on their website that I had a good time with and I thought I’d get into myself. Here’s the link to it. Basically what it is is it gives you two quarterbacks. You don’t know who they are but what you have available is their college stats. You have to guess based on the stats who was the better pro. It gets pretty fun especially when you see a guy who sucked in the NFL put up better numbers than a future Hall of Famer. It randomizes each time you play so you can go at it a bunch. It also gives a quarterback prospect from this year’s class that compares to both players.
I’m going to do something a little similar, but I’m going to go with not only quarterbacks, but runningbacks, and wide receivers. Offensive linemen and defensive players won’t get included just because their stats tend to be all over the place and are often unreliable, particularly the tackles stat. It would just be a nightmare to try and sift through them. The point of this blog is to determine whether college stats actually matter when it comes to scouting players. Mel Kiper Jr made headlines a few weeks ago by saying he doesn’t care about Josh Allen’s completion percentage, yet earlier he had made remarks about Lamar Jackson saying he wished his completion percentage was higher. So let’s get to some blind resumes. We’re going to do 4 players for each position. Two were successful in the NFL, two were not. Let’s see if you can guess who is who.
QB1: QB1 absolutely lit up the stat sheets in college. He was a 3-year starter in college and never threw below 4300 yards in a season. His junior season was particularly incredible as he threw for over 5500 yards and 58 touchdowns, which is an FBS record. He finished third for the Heisman that year, however the fact he played at a smaller school hurt his candidacy. In his senior season, he led his team to a 12-0 record and an appearance in a New Year’s 6 bowl where they lost big to a major school.
QB2: QB2 struggled in college. While he was a part of a national championship winning team as a sophomore, he was stuck behind a guy on the depth chart who ended up playing baseball. When he finally did earn the starting job, he struggled a bit. He never threw for more than 2427 yards in a season and his TD-INT ratio for his career was 30-17. His teams were winning, though, as his school won 10 games in both of his seasons as a starter. However, scouts liked him just as much as QB1, as both were drafted in the same round (different drafts).
QB3: QB3 had a pretty successful college career. He was a four-year starter for a major college program, including winning a national championship and being the runner-up for the Heisman trophy his senior season. His passing yards totals increased every season, peaking at 3819 as a senior where he also threw a career-high 36 touchdowns, however his completion percentage was the lowest of his collegiate career that season at 60.2%.
QB4: QB4 had a very decorated career. He won a Heisman Trophy his third season, where he threw for 4699 yards and 46 touchdowns. He even won the Heisman despite the fact that he didn’t play for one of the premiere programs in college football. He put his own school on the map, though, and nowadays this school is considered one of the top mid-major schools in the country.
So. Who was good in the NFL and who wasn’t? Time to reveal the identities of each player.
QB1 is Colt Brennan. Brennan took Hawaii of all schools to the Sugar Bowl and was a 6th round pick by the Washington Redskins in 2008, however he never appeared in an NFL game.
QB2 is Tom Brady. Brady was a 6th round pick out of Michigan in 2000 and struggled to beat out Drew Henson for the starting job. He is a 5-time Super Bowl champion and shows no signs of slowing down despite being 40 years old.
QB3 is Peyton Manning. Manning was the first overall pick in 1998 and holds basically every statistical record in the NFL for a quarterback and is a 2-time Super Bowl champion as well as being the only starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with 2 teams.
QB4 is Andre Ware. Ware was a first round pick out of Houston in 1990 by the Lions and started just 6 career games in 4 NFL seasons before he was out of the league.
So now that you see how the game works, let’s get to the next position group.
RB1: RB1 had a very unimpressive first two years before exploding onto the scene in his third season. He entered his third year with just 900 career rushing yards before winning a Heisman trophy in that magical season. Many of people consider that year to be the greatest season ever by a collegiate runningback however there were concerns that he was just a one-hit wonder.
RB2: RB2 had a successful college career, particularly in his sophomore and junior seasons. He was not only a successful runner, but a successful receiver as well, as he had over 4000 yards from scrimmage in his career while also scoring 21 TD’s his junior season. He was the top runningback selected in his class.
RB3: RB3 started his career playing at an FCS school before transferring to a Power-5 school his sophomore season. He never rushed for more than 824 yards in a season and at no point did he eclipse 1000 yards from scrimmage in a season despite being a pretty good receiver, particularly in his senior season. In fact, in his senior season, he lost a lot of carries to a player who would become better known as a wide receiver at the next level. He was a late-round pick and ended up having a relatively short NFL career.
RB4: RB4 was a Heisman Trophy winner and parlayed that success to becoming a first round pick. He posted one of the best all-around seasons in college football history in his Heisman-winning season, rushing for over 2000 yards and had over 300 receiving yards.
So, who is who?
RB1 is Barry Sanders. Sanders holds the NCAA record for rushing yards in a season, a feat he accomplished in 1988 at Oklahoma State and was the 3rd overall pick of the 1989 Draft by the Detroit Lions. He is the NFL’s third all-time leading rusher and probably could have been the record-holder had he not abruptly retired while he was in his prime. In my personal opinion, I consider Sanders to be the greatest runningback of all time mainly because he was setting all these records despite playing behind an awful offensive line throughout his Lions’ career.
RB2 is Bishop Sankey. Sankey was a second round pick by the Tennessee Titans out of Washington in the 2014 NFL Draft and was the first runningback taken. Sankey lasted just 2 NFL seasons and struggled to see the field, resulting in just over 700 career rushing yards.
RB3 is Terrell Davis. Davis started his collegiate career at Long Beach State before transferring to Georgia. The runningback-turned-wide-receiver in question that Davis lost carries to is actually Hines Ward, who is the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver who had almost as many rushing yards as TD in his final season at Georgia. Davis was taken by the Broncos in the 6th round of the 1995 NFL Draft and he rushed for over 1000 yards in each of his first four seasons, including 2008 yards in 1998. He was a 2-time Super Bowl Champion, including Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XXXII. He was NFL MVP in 1998 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame this past season despite playing just 7 seasons.
RB4 is Rashaan Salaam. While Salaam did win the Heisman and ran for over 1000 yards as a rookie with the Bears, his yards per carry was an unimpressive 3.6 and that came back to bite him in ensuing seasons, as his yardage total was more than halved in each season until his career ended after the 1999 season. Injuries played a big factor in that, however one must wonder what could’ve been with the recently deceased Salaam (may he rest in peace).
WR1: WR1 set the college football world on fire. Despite playing for a smaller school in the late 1990’s, this receiver set the college football record for receiving yards in a season. He had at least 1000 receiving yards in 3 of his 4 collegiate seasons, the lone exception being his freshman year when he had over 500 yards receiving.
WR2: WR2 played in an offense that didn’t utilize his skills, yet despite this, he put up some impressive numbers. His offense was very run-heavy, but that didn’t stop him from recording at least 800 receiving yards in all 3 of his college seasons. He had a terrific scouting combine and he was taken extremely highly in the NFL Draft based mostly on potential.
WR3: WR3 played just 2 seasons of college football, yet they were tremendous. In both seasons, he recorded very similar stat lines. In his sophomore season, he caught 67 passes for 1470 yards and 14 TD’s. In his junior season, he caught 68 passes for 1351 yards and 13 TD’s. This was all done in a Power 5 conference that is known for good defense and running the football so his dominance was intensified and as a result, he was taken just as highly as WR2. In fact, both were drafted by the same organization.
WR4: WR4 actually played quarterback for a mid-major school and caught just one pass in his collegiate career, yet was drafted as a wide receiver in the 7th round. As a quarterback, he was better known as a running quarterback, since his completion percentage was never above 55.6% and he ran for over 1200 yards in that season.
So let’s see who was who.
WR1 is Trevor Insley. Insley was a receiver at Nevada and actually holds the single-season receiving yards record at 2060 in 1999. He is the only receiver in FBS or pro football history to have a 2000-yard receiving season. However he went undrafted and played just one NFL season with the Colts in 2001, where he had just 14 catches for 165 yards and one touchdown.
WR2 is Calvin Johnson. Megatron played at Georgia Tech, which is notorious for its wishbone offense that typically just has one wide receiver on the field at all times and they run the ball nearly every play. However, the 6’5 Johnson ran a 4.3 40 at the NFL Combine and was the 2nd overall pick by the Lions in the 2007 NFL Draft. He set the single-season NFL record for receiving in 2012 with 1954 yards and nearly broke the single-game record in 2013 against the Cowboys with 329 yards.
WR3 is Charles Rogers. At Michigan State, Rogers was a beast, however he was a disaster in the NFL with the Lions. He was the 2nd overall pick with the Lions in 2003 yet managed just 440 receiving yards in 3 NFL seasons before he was out of the league entirely.
WR4 is Julian Edelman. Edelman played quarterback at Kent State but was drafted by the Patriots to play wide receiver in 2009. Since 2013, after the departure of Wes Welker, he has been Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon. His absence due to a torn ACL in the 2017 preseason was very noticeable, especially early on in the season.
So do stats really matter in college? I made sure to include some guys who had big numbers in college and the pros to try and give some balance to the argument. However, my conclusion is this: stats don’t necessarily mean everything when it comes to predicting NFL success. The guy with the best single-season receiving performance in college went undrafted and didn’t really do anything in the pros. In fact, I had never even heard of him even though he held the record. Just goes to show that stats might matter, but don’t put too much stock in them. Let me know what you think of using stats to project future success in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.