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National Signing Day is Just the Beginning

Tyler Raborn —  Wednesday, February 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

Earlier today, J.J. Watt tweeted this motivational tweet:

J.J. Watt Tweet

The All-Pro defensive end makes a good point— a player’s college or pro football success doesn’t depend on how highly touted a player is coming out of high school. Hard work, good coaching, and a few lucky breaks significantly weigh into a recruit’s eventual performance on the field.

For proof, just look at the 2012 NFL All-Pro Team and how many stars they had from Scout and Rivals coming out of high school (players that graduated high school before 2002 are not in the database):

Position

Player

Scout

Rivals

QB Peyton Manning
RB Adrian Peterson 5 5
RB Marshawn Lynch 4 4
FB Vonta Leach
WR Calvin Johnson 5 4
WR Brandon Marshall
TE Tony Gonzalez
OT Duane Brown 3 3
OT Ryan Clady 2 2
G Mike Iupati 2 2
G Jahari Evans
C Max Unger 2 3
DE J.J. Watt 2 2
DE Cameron Wake
DT Geno Atkins 3 4
DT Vince Wilfork
OLB Von Miller 4 4
OLB Aldon Smith 3 3
ILB NaVorro Bowman 4 4
ILB Patrick Willis 2 3
CB Richard Sherman 3 3
CB Charles Tillman
S Earl Thomas 4 4
S Dashon Goldson 3 4
KR Jacoby Jones 2 2

So, more than likely, there’s a 2-star player signing somewhere today with little to no media attention that will one day be an All-Pro NFL player.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

Top 5 Sports Apps

Tyler Raborn —  Tuesday, February 5, 2013 — 4 Comments

Odds Insider5. Odds Insider – Live Sports Betting Odds: This is one of several sports betting apps in the App Store. I love this app for its simple user-friendly interface and its “line tracking.” This app will keep up with the changes in spreads until game time, and you can set alerts for it to tell you when the line has hit a certain point. Odds Insider has NFL Football, College Football, NBA Basketball, NCAA Basketball, MLB Baseball, NHL Hockey, and Soccer, and a variety of different “books” to choose.

SFTC

4. ESPN Streak for the Cash: (DISCLAIMER: You’re not going to ever win.) This is just one of those fun games that sports geeks play where you have the chance to win ~$50,000. The object of the game is to pick a “Streak” of questions correctly and eventually have a long enough winning streak to cross a certain threshold. But trust me, picking 27 or 28 of these questions in a row are hard. For instance, here’s one of the questions for today: “NCB (#10 Ohio State @ #3 Michigan): Which side will record a HIGHER TOTAL? Deshaun Thomas (OSU): 1st Half Field Goals Made or Michigan: Halftime lead or Tie?

Sporcle

3. Sporcle: I know, I know. Sporcle isn’t technically a “sports” app. But used correctly, it can be. Sporcle has some of the best sports trivia games on the internet, and they’re highly addictive. The app doesn’t have quite as many quizzes as the website, but it’s still great to have on your phone to pass some time.

Watch ESPN

2. Watch ESPN: This is one of the greatest deals ever. You can watch dozens of sporting events everyday on your phone or tablet with the Watch ESPN app. I know I sound like a commercial, but this really is that great. All you have to do is select your cable provider and input your online account sign in information. I highly recommend downloading it for college basketball season.

Score

1. theScore: This is my go-to sports information app. If I want to know any scores or statistics, theScore is my favorite app to use. A lot of people use ESPN’s app or Yahoo’s Sportacular app, but neither of those is quite as informative and easy to use as theScore. Everyone most likely already has their app they like to use for scores and stats, but if you haven’t tried this one, I’d highly recommend downloading it and seeing if you like it better.

*One last note, just for the record, I think Twitter is the greatest app ever for sports, but it was to broad to include on this list (It’s great for any topic). That being said, I felt compelled to explain why Twitter wasn’t on this list because I can’t being to tell you how much my viewing experience has improved being able to watch games and read informative, critical, and humorous tweets about it. A world without Twitter would have been really boring during that blackout in the middle of the Super Bowl.

Article of the Month: January 2013

Tyler Raborn —  Tuesday, February 5, 2013 — 3 Comments

There was never a doubt as to who would win January’s “Article of the Month” award. This story chronicling the Manti Te’o debacle from Deadspin.com may be one of the most monumental pieces in sports writing history.

No. Not because of the subject matter. Yes, the entire ordeal was Lifetime movie-esque, but that’s not why this article deserves so much recognition. The significance in Deadspin posting this masterpiece is this:

It’s a new age in sports journalism. 

No longer do you need an Ivy League journalism degree to make it as a sports writer. No longer is it necessary to read the “mainstream” sports media outlets to gain access to intellectually written, well-crafted sports columns. And no longer does “potential” have to go by the wayside due to a few unlucky breaks.

It’s a new age in sports journalism. 

So thank you Deadspin for your fantastic journalism. Thank you Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey for your hours of research on a hunch. And thank you Manti Te’o for making this all possible.

Click here to read “Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax” by: Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey

Top 5 Super Bowl Commercials

Tyler Raborn —  Monday, February 4, 2013 — 12 Comments

Here’s my top 5 Super Bowl commercials…

5. Mercedes-Benz, “Soul”

4. Tide, “Miracle Stain”

3. Budweiser, “Brotherhood”

2. NFL, “Leon Sandcastle”

1. Dodge Ram, “Farmer”

Top 10 Tweets: Super Bowl Edition

Tyler Raborn —  Monday, February 4, 2013 — 5 Comments

Here’s my top 10 tweets of the night from the Super Bowl, in chronological order:

Anytime a major news source shows a personality, you’ve got to appreciate it… especially when they poke fun at Roger Goodell:

IMG_1054

Halftime begins; men go to the restroom and cooler, while women giddily gather around the television:

IMG_1051

For the millions who googled “members of Destiny’s Child,” here’s what you were really thinking:

IMG_1052

The blackout begins:

IMG_1039

America got a chance to witness New Orleans’ distaste for Entergy firsthand:

IMG_1050

Oreo winning the “real-time” advertising game:

Oreo

You knew it was coming, a Katrina joke:

IMG_1040

…and another:

IMG_1049

Larry Fitzgerald explains why Joe Flacco has been willing to heave the ball up into any type of coverage this postseason:

Larry Fitzgerald

And finally, we now have proof that Les does know how to read a game clock:

IMG_1053

Gavin Dickey was a promising 5-star quarterback prospect from Tallahassee, Florida in 2002. The state of Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year was “[a] four year starter for a Tallahassee Lincoln program that won two state championships and compiled a 45-5 overall record in his four years as the signal caller.”

But Dickey never lived up to the hype. In 2004 he served primarily as a backup to Chris Leak and eventually saw action at 3 different positions (quarterback, running back, and wide receiver). During his tenure at Florida he attempted a total of 15 passes, completing 11 for 127 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

Dickey is just one of the many high school football phenoms to never make it professionally. In fact, of the 408 quarterbacks to be rated a 3-star or better between 2002 and 2007, only 45 of them were selected in the NFL draft. The other 88.97% of those quarterbacks continued on to live out the NCAA moto and went “pro in something other than sports.”

The questions this article seeks to answer are:

What is the percentage chance a 5-star quarterback eventually gets selected in the NFL draft?

What is the percentage chance a 5-star quarterback eventually gets selected in the 1st round of the NFL draft?

What about quarterbacks that have a 4-star or 3-star rating— what are their chances to be selected in the NFL draft? What about the 1st round?

To answer these questions, we’ll apply all available complete data. Scout, Inc. ranks athletes according to a star rating system that rates players as 5-stars, 4-stars, 3-stars, 2-stars, and NR (Not Ranked), with 5-stars being the highest ranking a player can receive. The following table illustrates the number of 5-star, 4-star, and 3-star quarterbacks in each recruiting class year from 2002 to 2007:

Year

5-Stars

4-Stars

3-Stars

Totals

2002

5 29 37 71

2003

4 23 45 72

2004

4 15 37 56

2005

4 21 36 61

2006

4 18 46 68

2007

6 31 43 80

Totals

27 137 244 408

As illustrated in the table above, a very small portion of the quarterbacks each year receive Scout’s 5-star rating. An average of 68 quarterbacks a year between 2002 and 2007 received a 3-star rating or better. And of those top 68 quarterbacks in the country, only between 4 and 6 received a 5-star rating. Further, on a macro level, of all of the quarterbacks that received a 3-star rating or better between 2002 and 2007, 6.62% of them received a 5-star rating, 33.58% received a 4-star rating, and the remaining 59.80% received a 3-star rating.

Summarized: It’s tough to get 5 stars.

But what do these ratings truly represent? Since Scout’s recruiting rankings database starts in 2002, we are just now beginning to get a large enough sample size to analyze this rating system. So of the 408 quarterbacks in our sample, here’s a table with the 45 quarterbacks that were eventually drafted, segmented by their Scout Star Ratings, with the round they were taken in the NFL Draft:

Round

5-Stars

4-Stars

3-Stars

Totals

1st

5 5 4 14

2nd

2 2 1 5

3rd

2 1 1 4

4th

0 2 1 3

5th

3 2 4 9

6th

2 2 2 6

7th

0 2 2 4

Totals

14 16 15 45

While the number of 5-star, 4-star, and 3-star quarterbacks taken in the NFL draft were relatively even, this number is misleading. As discussed earlier, a much smaller portion of high school quarterbacks received a 4-star rating than a 3-star rating, and an even smaller portion received a 5-star rating.

Here are the 27 quarterbacks to receive a 5-star rating from Scout from 2002 to 2007 with the round and year they were drafted in (if applicable):

Recruiting Class

Quarterback

Draft Round

Year Drafted

2002 Vince Young 1 2006
2002 Trent Edwards 3 2007
2002 Ben Olson N/A N/A
2002 Reggie McNeal 6 2006
2002 Gavin Dickey N/A N/A
2003 John David Booty 5 2008
2003 Kyle Wright N/A N/A
2003 Chris Leak N/A N/A
2003 JaMarcus Russell 1 2007
2004 Rhett Bomar 5 2009
2004 Xavier Lee N/A N/A
2004 Anthony Morelli N/A N/A
2004 Chad Henne 2 2008
2005 Mark Sanchez 1 2009
2005 Ryan Perrilloux N/A N/A
2005 Jonathan Crompton 5 2010
2005 Joe Ayoob N/A N/A
2006 Mitch Mustain N/A N/A
2006 Matthew Stafford 1 2009
2006 Tim Tebow 1 2010
2006 Brent Schaeffer N/A N/A
2007 Jimmy Clausen 2 2010
2007 Ryan Mallett 3 2011
2007 Aaron Corp N/A N/A
2007 Tyrod Taylor 6 2011
2007 Kodi Burns N/A N/A
2007 Pat Bostick N/A N/A

So, as this table illustrates, 14 of the 27 quarterbacks were selected in the NFL Draft. And 5 of these 27 quarterbacks were taken in the 1st round. Thus, 51.85% of quarterbacks to receive a 5-star rating from Scout were eventually taken in the NFL draft. Accordingly, 18.52% were taken in the 1st round.

The following table shows the percentage chance that quarterbacks with a certain star rating from 2002 through 2007 would eventually be drafted into specific rounds. Further, the final row of the table, titled “Any,” represents the percentage chance for a certain star rating to be drafted in general, while the last column, titled “All,” represents the percentage chance that one of the 408 quarterbacks in our sample would be taken in a particular round.

Round

5-Stars

4-Stars

3-Stars

All

1st

18.52% 3.65% 1.64% 3.43%

2nd

7.41% 1.46% 0.41% 1.23%

3rd

7.41% 0.73% 0.41% 0.98%

4th

0.00% 1.46% 0.41% 0.74%

5th

11.11% 1.46% 1.64% 2.21%

6th

7.41% 1.46% 0.82% 1.47%

7th

0.00% 1.46% 0.82% 0.98%

Any

51.85% 11.68% 6.15% 11.03%

So returning to the questions this article sought to answer…

What is the percentage chance a 5-star quarterback eventually gets selected in the NFL draft?

Given our available data, a quarterback that received a 5-star rating from Scout had a 51.85% chance to eventually be selected in the NFL draft. That number is simply astounding. Over half of the quarterbacks given 5-stars were eventually taken in the NFL draft.

What is the percentage chance a 5-star quarterback eventually gets selected in the 1st round of the NFL draft?

A 5-star quarterback had a 18.52% chance of eventually being selected in the 1st round.

What about quarterbacks that have a 4-star or 3-star rating— what are their chances to be selected in the NFL draft? What about the 1st round?

Quarterbacks that were given a 4-star rating from 2002 through 2007 had a 11.68% chance of eventually being drafted and a 3.65% chance of that draft pick coming in the 1st round. And finally, quarterbacks with a 3-star rating had a 6.15% chance of eventually being drafted and a 1.64% chance of that draft selection being in the 1st round.

Overall, the probability that a high school quarterback is eventually selected in the NFL draft is astronomically higher if he’s been given a 5-star rating.

Looking ahead to the recruiting class of 2008, here’s the list of quarterbacks that received a 4-star rating or better, with the round and year they were drafted in or their current college:

Star-Rating

Quarterback

Draft Round (Year) or Current College

5-Star Terrelle Pryor 3 (2011)
5-Star E.J. Manuel FSU
5-Star Dayne Crist Kansas
5-Star Andrew Luck 1 (2012)
5-Star Kevin Craft N/A
4-Star Mike Glennon N.C. State
4-Star Landry Jones Oklahoma
4-Star Blaine Gabbert 1 (2011)
4-Star Tommy Dorman N/A
4-Star Nick Crissman N/A
4-Star Sean Renfree Duke
4-Star Star Jackson N/A
4-Star Robert Griffin 1 (2012)
4-Star Kyle Parker N/A
4-Star MarQueis Gray Minnesota
4-Star Darron Thomas N/A
4-Star Jacob Bower N/A
4-Star Dax Crum N/A
4-Star Greg Alexander N/A
4-Star David Pittman N/A
4-Star Boo Jackson N/A
4-Star Tyson Lee N/A
4-Star Greg Cross N/A
4-Star Jacory Harris N/A

If you don’t get anything else out of this article, please simply get this:

Somewhere out there, there’s a guy named Boo, and that’s what keeps me going.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

Site of the Month: January 2013

Tyler Raborn —  Friday, February 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

spotrac

For our inaugural “Site of the Month” winner, we’ve selected a website that specializes in providing detailed contract information about professional athletes. Spotrac.com boils down complex financial information from the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLS into user-friendly summaries. For the especially nerdy sports fans, such as myself, Spotrac.com offers a premium membership that gives the subscriber access to historical contract information and a plethora of other sortable data. This website is both interesting and informative, and that’s why it’s our Site of the Month for January 2013.

Hypothetical: If you had been given the opportunity to start an NFL expansion team before the 2012 season, how would you allocate your $120.8 million salary cap to your new roster? Would you use $13.25 million (nearly 12%) on a wide receiver, like the Cardinals? Or $19.035 million (over 15%) on a defensive end, like the Colts?

Strategically structuring contracts to maximize the talent on NFL rosters is an art in itself. Each owner, general manager, and coach have their own opinions on how money should be spent. Yet, most teams seemingly agree that the quarterback position should have the most money per player allocated to it.

Yet, how do you evaluate the success of an investment in a quarterback?

You evaluate quarterbacks relative to their peers, and you pay them according to that success relative to their peers.

The quarterback is the most highly valued position in the game, and thus, quarterbacks are paid on average more than any other position in the league. Fortunately, due to the NFL’s salary cap rules, teams may sign players with a signing bonus that may be prorated across the life of the contract. Thus, the amount of money allocated to the salary cap is not always the amount of money a player was actually paid that year. This allows teams to offer players a large sum of money up front without the salary cap taking a “hit” for the signing bonus in its entirety. For example, in July of 2012, Drew Brees signed a 5-year contract worth $100 million with a $37 million signing bonus. Here is what Brees is scheduled to actually receive each year under this contract:

Year

Base Salary

Signing Bonus

Workout Bonus

Total

2012  $3,000,000 $37,000,000  $0 $40,000,000
2013  $9,750,000 $0  $250,000 $10,000,000
2014  $10,750,000 $0  $250,000 $11,000,000
2015 $18,750,000 $0  $250,000 $19,000,000
2016 $19,750,000 $0  $250,000 $20,000,000

But, since the Saints may prorate the signing bonus across the life of the contract, here’s the actual “hit” the Saints’ salary cap is taking from Brees’ contract:

Year

Base Salary

Signing Bonus

Workout Bonus

Cap Hit

2012  $3,000,000  $7,400,000  $0  $10,400,000
2013  $9,750,000  $7,400,000  $250,000  $17,400,000
2014  $10,750,000  $7,400,000  $250,000  $18,400,000
2015  $18,750,000  $7,400,000  $250,000  $26,400,000
2016  $19,750,000  $7,400,000  $250,000  $27,400,000

This mechanism allows teams to maneuver contracts and “even” out the Cap Hit to fit the salary cap. The 2012 NFL salary cap was $120.6 million. Thus, the Saints had $110.2 million to allocate to the rest of the team for this past season. Keep in mind that if the Saints were forced to use the amount they actually paid Brees in 2012, it would remove $40 million from the team’s 2012 salary cap instead of $10 million.

The reason the Cap Hit is more important in this analysis than (1) the amount a player was actually paid or (2) the average salary they will be paid over the course of a contract is that the Cap Hit is specifically representative of the cap room a player is taking up in a given year. Thus, it informs us as to the amount of money that is available to allocate to other players on a specific team.

So, now that we’re all salary cap experts, let’s talk about a valuation process for the most pivotal position on the field: the kicke… quarterback. The Quarterback.

There is no exact method in determining a quarterback’s performance over the course of a year. In 1971 the NFL came up with the “Passer Rating,” which rated quarterbacks on a scale of 0 to 158.3. The formula for this rating was:

Passer Rating = [ (4.16667 x [ ( 20 x Completions ) + Yards + ( 80 x Touchdowns ) - ( 100 x Interceptions ) ] ) / Attempts ] + 2.083

This rating system contained some major flaws. To illustrate these flaws, here’s 3 examples:

1. Quarterback A throws 10 passes. He completes 5 of the passes for a total of 100 yards with 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

A's Passer Rating = [ (4.16667 x [ ( 20 x 5 ) + 100 + ( 80 x 0 ) - ( 100 x 0 ) ] ) / 10 ] + 2.083

A's Passer Rating = 85.4 (Rounded to the nearest tenth)

2. Quarterback B throws 10 passes. He completes all 10 of the passes for a total of 50 yards with 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

B's Passer Rating = [ (4.16667 x [ ( 20 x 10 ) + 50 + ( 80 x 0 ) - ( 100 x 0 ) ] ) / 10 ] + 2.083

B's Passer Rating = 87.5 (Rounded to the nearest tenth)

3. Quarterback C throws 10 passes. He completes 8 of the passes for 90 yards with 1 touchdown scored on a 62-yard screen play to the running back and 2 interceptions, which both are returned for touchdowns.

C's Passer Rating = [ (4.16667 x [ ( 20 x 8 ) + 90 + ( 80 x 1 ) - ( 100 x 2 ) ] ) / 10 ] + 2.083

C's Passer Rating = 97.9 (Rounded to the nearest tenth)

At a glance…

QB

Comp.

Att.

Yards

TD

Int.

Rating

A 5 10 100 0 0 85.4
B 10 10 50 0 0 87.5
C 8 10 90 1 2 97.9

As is evident in the examples, this passer rating gives too much weight to completion percentage. It also accounts for specific occurrences that are not attributable to the quarterback, such as an on-target pass that goes through the hands of the receiver and is intercepted or an 80-yard touchdown that was scored on a shovel pass to the running back.

So in an effort to create a more reliable quarterback rating system, ESPN teamed up with AdvancedNFLStats.com and FootballOutsiders.com to create the Total Quarterback Rating (“QBR”). QBR takes into account the “contexts and details of throws” and is scored on a scale of 0 to 100, where the average NFL quarterback would be a 50. While QBR is not perfect, it is a far better representation of a quarterback’s performance than the classic passer rating, so we’ll use it to measure quarterback performance.

Here are the 36 quarterbacks that played enough during the 2012 NFL season to qualify for ESPN’s QBR, along with their respective cap hits:

PLAYER

QBR

Cap Hit

Peyton Manning 84.1  $18,000,000
Tom Brady 77.1  $8,000,000
Colin Kaepernick 76.8  $1,164,610
Matt Ryan 74.5  $12,990,000
Aaron Rodgers 72.5  $9,000,000
Robert Griffin III 71.4  $3,839,836
Alex Smith 70.1  $9,500,000
Russell Wilson 69.6  $544,850
Drew Brees 67.9  $10,400,000
Eli Manning 67.4  $9,600,000
Andrew Luck 65.0  $4,015,000
Ben Roethlisberger 62.8  $9,895,000
Tony Romo 62.7  $8,469,000
Matt Schaub 62.6  $11,700,000
Matthew Stafford 58.9  $9,842,083
Cam Newton 54.2  $5,005,659
Christian Ponder 53.8  $2,308,795
Josh Freeman 53.1  $7,915,000
Ryan Tannehill 52.3  $2,302,500
Jay Cutler 51.9  $9,600,000
Sam Bradford 51.6  $15,595,000
Andy Dalton 50.7  $1,185,045
Matt Hasselbeck 48.5  $7,500,000
Jake Locker 48.1  $2,860,455
Joe Flacco 46.8  $8,000,000
Michael Vick 46.0  $13,900,000
Ryan Fitzpatrick 45.8  $6,000,000
Nick Foles 45.3  $525,812
Carson Palmer 44.7  $4,716,667
Blaine Gabbert 40.9  $2,727,647
Philip Rivers 40.6  $15,310,000
Matt Cassel 36.5  $7,575,000
Chad Henne 29.9  $2,600,000
Brady Quinn 27.4  $1,500,000
Brandon Weeden 26.6  $1,469,500
Mark Sanchez 23.4  $7,853,125

Logically, the best quarterback in the league is worth the most money, so a team should be willing to allocate the highest percentage of their salary cap to the best quarterback. Along the same logic, in a perfect world the second best quarterback should have received the second highest salary (or respective cap hit). But it’s not a perfect world, so in order to illustrate this relationship, I ranked 2012’s highest QBRs and Cap Hits from 1 to 36:

Rank

QBR

Cap Hit

1 84.1  $18,000,000
2 77.1  $15,595,000
3 76.8  $15,310,000
4 74.5  $13,900,000
5 72.5  $12,990,000
6 71.4  $11,700,000
7 70.1  $10,400,000
8 69.6  $9,895,000
9 67.9  $9,842,083
10 67.4  $9,600,000
11 65.0  $9,600,000
12 62.8  $9,500,000
13 62.7  $9,000,000
14 62.6  $8,469,000
15 58.9  $8,000,000
16 54.2  $8,000,000
17 53.8  $7,915,000
18 53.1  $7,853,125
19 52.3  $7,575,000
20 51.9  $7,500,000
21 51.6  $6,000,000
22 50.7  $5,005,659
23 48.5  $4,716,667
24 48.1  $4,015,000
25 46.8  $3,839,836
26 46.0  $2,860,455
27 45.8  $2,727,647
28 45.3  $2,600,000
29 44.7  $2,308,795
30 40.9  $2,302,500
31 40.6  $1,500,000
32 36.5  $1,469,500
33 29.9  $1,185,045
34 27.4  $1,164,610
35 26.6  $544,850
36 23.4  $525,812

Using the table above, I created a scatter plot, with the X-axis representing QBR and the Y-axis representing the Cap Hit. Once all of the points were on the chart, I had excel create a “trend line” to represent the average relationship between Salary Cap Hit and QBR. Interestingly, an exponential relationship exists between Cap Hit and QBR. This is due to teams’ willingness to pay exponentially more money for the more elite quarterbacks. The trend line can be seen in the scatter-plot chart below:

Salary Cap Hit and QBR Relationship

As you can see, the trend line’s formula in the chart is:

y = 3,214.6(x)2 - 51,907x - 419,885

To demonstrate the applicability of this formula, here’s an example:

In 2012 Jake Locker had a QBR of 48.1. Since QBR is the X-axis of the chart, we’ll plug Locker’s QBR into the formula to determine how large of a salary cap hit his performance warranted:

Salary Cap Hit = (3,214 x (48.1)2) - (51,907 x 48.1) - 419,885

…I hate to ruin the fun as you scramble to find your old TI-83 calculator, but here’s the answer:

Salary Cap Hit = $5,360,489

In other words, relative to other quarterbacks in the NFL, Jake Locker’s performance at quarterback was worth a team taking up to a $5,360,489 cap hit for him, thus I deemed this amount a player’s “Cap Hit Value” for a given year. Here’s the “Cap Hit Value” for all 36 quarterbacks in 2012:

PLAYER

QBR

Cap Hit Value

Peyton Manning 84.1  $18,790,761
Tom Brady 77.1  $15,526,756
Colin Kaepernick 76.8  $15,393,910
Matt Ryan 74.5  $14,394,647
Aaron Rodgers 72.5  $13,553,369
Robert Griffin III 71.4  $13,101,627
Alex Smith 70.1  $12,577,781
Russell Wilson 69.6  $12,379,195
Drew Brees 67.9  $11,716,024
Eli Manning 67.4  $11,524,509
Andrew Luck 65.0  $10,627,615
Ben Roethlisberger 62.8  $9,837,993
Tony Romo 62.7  $9,802,841
Matt Schaub 62.6  $9,767,753
Matthew Stafford 58.9  $8,514,685
Cam Newton 54.2  $7,049,863
Christian Ponder 53.8  $6,931,755
Josh Freeman 53.1  $6,727,542
Ryan Tannehill 52.3  $6,498,012
Jay Cutler 51.9  $6,384,790
Sam Bradford 51.6  $6,300,549
Andy Dalton 50.7  $6,051,297
Matt Hasselbeck 48.5  $5,463,938
Jake Locker 48.1  $5,360,489
Joe Flacco 46.8  $5,031,383
Michael Vick 46.0  $4,834,257
Ryan Fitzpatrick 45.8  $4,785,618
Nick Foles 45.3  $4,665,146
Carson Palmer 44.7  $4,522,702
Blaine Gabbert 40.9  $3,674,304
Philip Rivers 40.6  $3,611,279
Matt Cassel 36.5  $2,807,930
Chad Henne 29.9  $1,741,750
Brady Quinn 27.4  $1,411,026
Brandon Weeden 26.6  $1,313,681
Mark Sanchez 23.4  $965,448

Obviously, some of these quarterbacks were paid much less than their Cap Hit Value, while some were paid much more. I’m going to call the difference between a player’s Cap Hit Value and their actual Cap Hit “Net Value.” While the Cap Hit Value represents the average amount teams paid for a particular QBR, the Net Value represents whether teams actually gained money or lost money on their investment.

For instance, the Seattle Seahawks took a $544,850 Cap Hit for Russell Wilson, yet he played up to the market value of a quarterback worth $12,379,195. Thus, his Net Value for the Seattle Seahawks was $11,834,345. While on average other teams had to pay an additional $11.8 million in 2012 to receive the caliber of play Russell Wilson provided the Seahawks with, Seattle was able to use that $11.8 million elsewhere. In essence, Net Value is simply how overvalued or undervalued a quarterback was in a particular year.

Here’s all 36 quarterbacks in order by their Net Value in 2012:

Player

QBR

Cap Hit

Cap Hit Value

Net Value

Colin Kaepernick* 76.8  $1,164,610  $15,393,910  $14,229,300
Russell Wilson* 69.6  $544,850  $12,379,195  $11,834,345
Robert Griffin III* 71.4  $3,839,836  $13,101,627  $9,261,791
Tom Brady* 77.1  $8,000,000  $15,526,756  $7,526,756
Andrew Luck* 65.0  $4,015,000  $10,627,615  $6,612,615
Andy Dalton* 50.7  $1,185,045  $6,051,297  $4,866,252
Christian Ponder* 53.8  $2,308,795  $6,931,755  $4,622,960
Aaron Rodgers* 72.5  $9,000,000  $13,553,369  $4,553,369
Ryan Tannehill 52.3  $2,302,500  $6,498,012  $4,195,512
Nick Foles 45.3  $525,812  $4,665,146  $4,139,334
Alex Smith 70.1  $9,500,000  $12,577,781  $3,077,781
Jake Locker 48.1  $2,860,455  $5,360,489  $2,500,034
Cam Newton 54.2  $5,005,659  $7,049,863  $2,044,204
Eli Manning 67.4  $9,600,000  $11,524,509  $1,924,509
Matt Ryan* 74.5  $12,990,000  $14,394,647  $1,404,647
Tony Romo 62.7  $8,469,000  $9,802,841  $1,333,841
Drew Brees 67.9  $10,400,000  $11,716,024  $1,316,024
Blaine Gabbert 40.9  $2,727,647  $3,674,304  $946,657
Peyton Manning* 84.1  $18,000,000  $18,790,761  $790,761
Ben Roethlisberger 62.8  $9,895,000  $9,837,993  $(57,007)
Brady Quinn 27.4  $1,500,000  $1,411,026  $(88,974)
Brandon Weeden 26.6  $1,469,500  $1,313,681  $(155,819)
Carson Palmer 44.7  $4,716,667  $4,522,702  $(193,965)
Chad Henne 29.9  $2,600,000  $1,741,750  $(858,250)
Josh Freeman 53.1  $7,915,000  $6,727,542  $(1,187,458)
Ryan Fitzpatrick 45.8  $6,000,000  $4,785,618  $(1,214,382)
Matthew Stafford 58.9  $9,842,083  $8,514,685 $(1,327,398)
Matt Schaub* 62.6  $11,700,000  $9,767,753  $(1,932,247)
Matt Hasselbeck 48.5  $7,500,000  $5,463,938  $(2,036,062)
Joe Flacco* 46.8  $8,000,000  $5,031,383  $(2,968,617)
Jay Cutler 51.9  $9,600,000  $6,384,790  $(3,215,210)
Matt Cassel 36.5  $7,575,000  $2,807,930  $(4,767,070)
Mark Sanchez 23.4  $7,853,125  $965,448  $(6,887,677)
Michael Vick 46.0  $13,900,000  $4,834,257  $(9,065,743)
Sam Bradford 51.6  $15,595,000  $6,300,549  $(9,294,451)
Philip Rivers 40.6  $15,310,000  $3,611,279  $(11,698,721)

*Made playoffs as a starting QB (Alex Smith made playoffs, but not as a starting QB)

The most fascinating part of this chart is that every one of the top 8 quarterbacks, with respect to their net value, made the playoffs. This illustrates the principle that teams who effectively evaluate talent and draft or sign quarterbacks (or really any position) for lower than their eventual performance on the field have more money to spend in other areas, and thus, more overall talent on their roster. While this conclusion is a simple generalization, common sense seems to deem it meritorious.

To close quite simply, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Tom Brady, and Andrew Luck gave their teams the most “bang for their buck” in 2012, while Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez, Michael Vick, Sam Bradford, and Philip Rivers played far below their pay grade.

But Philip Rivers, if you’re reading this, don’t despair… in 2010 Jamarcus Russell did not play a down for the Oakland Raiders and was paid $19.92 million for a Net Value of $(19,919,100), all of which was applied to the cap (thankfully for the Raiders, it was an uncapped year). Let’s just hope Jamarcus Russell makes this return he’s talking about, so that I can do this next year, and he can shatter any semblance of a record low that you may currently hold, Philip.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

Many fans believe that recruiting is the key to success in college football.

Is that the case? Is college football strictly dictated by recruiting? Are teams’ accomplishments directly related to their recruiting classes?

Umm… kinda, sorta, and maybe.

After 10-20 hours of research and building an excel file that would make Nate Silver proud, those are the answers I came up with— total indecision.

But what my research did determine was data showing the most overachieving and underachieving teams of the past 7 years.

The terms “overachieving” and “underachieving” are in regards to the relationship between the amount of talent on a given team and their actual performance with that talent.

So what defines a team’s “talent”?

I used the most objective formula that I could come up with to determine talent. And while I know this method has several exceptions and is extremely broad, it is the most effective method that I could come up with, without doing individual team analyses. So, keep in mind, this is all done to give a broad picture of a general idea— not a detailed team-by-team analysis.

First, I collected all of the recruiting data available from two of the most respected sources in the college football recruiting industry: Scout, Inc. and Rivals. Both Scout and Rivals’ data goes back to 2002, so I collected all of the team rankings in recruiting from 2002 to 2012 from each site and inserted them into an excel file. Then, I averaged the rankings together to come up with an objective “composite score” to represent each team for each year.

For example, in 2003 Scout ranked Florida State’s recruiting class 12th in the nation, while Rivals ranked them 21st in the nation. Thus, their composite score was a ranking of 16.5.

Next, I devised a formula to account for all of the recruiting classes on an individual team. After examining several depth charts, I determined the following weights for each class:

Freshman- 12.5%
Sophomore (or Redshirt Freshman)- 22.5%
Junior (or Redshirt Sophomore)- 25%
Senior (or Redshirt Junior)- 27.5%
5th Year Senior- 12.5%

So,the formula to determine, what I will call, the “talent quotient” on a particular team is:

( .125 x Composite Score of Freshman Class ) + ( .225 x Composite Score of Sophomore Class ) + ( .25 x Composite Score of Junior Class ) + ( .275 x Composite Score of Senior Class ) + ( .125 x Composite Score of 5th Year Senior Class ) = Talent Quotient

For instance, to determine the talent quotient of the 2006 Florida State team, we simply need to plug in the composite scores of each recruiting class into the formula. Here’s Florida State’s 2002 – 2006 recruiting class ranks:

Year

Scout, Inc.

Rivals

Composite Score

2002 6 4 5
2003 12 21 16.5
2004 4 3 3.5
2005 3 2 2.5
2006 12 3 7.5

So, inputting the 5 composite scores into the formula would give us the following:

( .125 x 7.5 ) + ( .225 x 2.5 ) + ( .25 x 3.5 ) + ( .275 x 16.5 ) + ( .125 x 5 ) = 7.5375

Thus, the 2006 Florida State team had a talent quotient of 7.5375, which was the 5th lowest score in the nation. Hence, according to the formula, the 2006 Florida State Seminoles had the 5th most talented team in all of college football.

Once I had determined the talent quotient for every team in the FBS for the 2006 season, I ranked each team by their talent quotient, with the lowest score ranked number 1, the second lowest ranked number 2, and so on. Then, I repeated the process for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons.

The logic behind this process is simple: the teams with more talent should beat the teams with less. So, the higher ranked “talent quotient,” the more talent a team can field in a game. In other words, the number 1 ranked team in talent, all other things being equal (they’re not), should beat the number 2 ranked team in talent.

After ranking every FBS college football team from 2006 until 2012, I compared these ranks to how the teams finished in the final college football polls. In an effort to make this process more objective, I averaged the final AP polls with the final USA Today polls to determine a general end of the year ranking for each team. The purpose of this method is to compare how a team performed relative to the talent on the team.

So after inventing a “talent quotient,” ranking teams by that invented number, comparing those ranks to the ranks of plausibly inaccurate year end poll rankings, I came up with the most overachieving and underachieving college football programs over the last 7 years…

*Drumroll*

The Most Overachieving Programs

Four teams stood far above the rest in regards to their ability to play at a level far above what the talent on their team would indicate they were capable of. Fans and analysts offer up a multitude of reasons for these teams’ success, such as: coaching, strength of schedule, and a plethora of other factors, both negative and positive, in an attempt to explain these teams’ habits of winning seemingly far beyond their talent level. Yet, no matter what your biased opinion may be, you have to admit, what these 4 teams have done with the talent on their rosters is nothing short of impressive.

BYU

4. BYU

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 59th 15th*
2007 59th 14th*
2008 59th 25th*
2009 56th 12th
2010 54th NR
2011 53rd 25th*
2012 51st NR

Cincinnati

3. Cincinnati

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 91st NR
2007 88th 18th
2008 80th 17th
2009 74th 8th
2010 67th NR
2011 59th 25th
2012 57th 24th

TCU

2. TCU

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 62nd 21st*
2007 62nd NR
2008 68th 7th
2009 71st 6th
2010 74th 2nd
2011 65th 13th
2012 53rd NR

Boise State

1. Boise State

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 75th 5th
2007 67th NR
2008 67th 12th
2009 68th 4th
2010 70th 8th
2011 73rd 7th
2012 71st 16th

And onto the more entertaining part of this column…

The Most Underachieving Programs

A.K.A. the laughing stock of college football. These teams recruit some of the most talented players in the country year in and year out, but over the past 7 years, they’ve had an extraordinarily hard time making that talent translate to success on the field. An important factor to take into consideration is that I have adjusted the formula that I used to determine these rankings to add more weight to higher ranked teams. The logic behind this adjustment is simple. Without the adjustment, a team that finishes the season ranked 67th and has a talent quotient ranking of 49th is a bigger letdown (or “underachiever”) than a team that has the number 1 ranked talent quotient and loses 3 games to finish the season ranked 17th. And, in my opinion, the team that has the most talent in the country, but manages to lose 3 games and wind up out of the top 15, is a bigger underachiever than a team with mediocre talent performing a little less than mediocre. Thus, this adjustment gives much more weight to teams with higher ranked talent quotients. So, without further ado, here’s your top 7 most underachieving college football programs over the last 7 years…

Notre Dame

7. Notre Dame

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 15th NR
2007 19th NR
2008 14th NR
2009 9th NR
2010 9th NR
2011 10th NR
2012 12th 3rd

Tennessee

6. Tennessee

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 9th 24th
2007 10th 12th
2008 11th NR
2009 14th NR
2010 14th NR
2011 14th NR
2012 13th NR

Georgia

5. Georgia

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 3rd 25th
2007 3rd 3rd*
2008 3rd 12th*
2009 3rd NR
2010 6th NR
2011 6th 20th*
2012 7th 5th

Michigan

4. Michigan

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 8th 9th*
2007 4th 19th*
2008 4th NR
2009 6th NR
2010 8th NR
2011 12th 11th*
2012 11th 25th

FSU

3. Florida State

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 5th NR
2007 7th NR
2008 7th 22nd
2009 12th NR
2010 13th 17th*
2011 9th 23rd
2012 5th 9th

USC

2. USC

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 1st 4th
2007 1st 3rd*
2008 1st 3rd*
2009 1st 21st
2010 1st NR
2011 2nd 16th
2012 3rd NR

Miami

1. Miami (FL)

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 4th NR
2007 8th NR
2008 9th NR
2009 11th 19th
2010 12th NR
2011 13th NR
2012 15th NR

*Rounded numbers

One last interesting fact to consider is that no team in the past 7 years has won a National Championship without a talent quotient ranking below 10th. So, while it is very possible for teams to crack the Top 25 without Top 25 talent, it is much more difficult to make it to, and win, the National Championship without elite talent.

So, in conclusion… as if you didn’t already whine about your college football team enough, I hope that I’ve provided you with further information to sulk about— the 7 years of your life that you’ve been continuously letdown as a fan.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

In honor of Ray Lewis’ impending retirement, for the next five days, I’ll be posting one inspirational video a day.

Video #1: Al Pacino’s Inspirational Speech in Any Given Sunday