I’m starting a new feature on the website today. Every Wednesday until the NFL draft, I’ll post a profile of a particular draft eligible player. Many of them will be quarterbacks, but as I work through the next six months, I’ll also work in some receivers. Receivers require a different method of evaluation that I’m still working hard to improve, so they will come later.
The first player profile may seem like it comes out of left field a bit because I haven’t heard this player’s name anywhere else. No one is watching this player. In fact, the students at this player’s university don’t even watch this player. Administration had to set up an incentive program to get students to attend a free football game. So it’s not surprising that scouts haven’t attended the games. They wouldn’t get much use out of the parking permit anyway. So who is this mystery quarterback?
Player: Andrew McDonald
School: New Mexico State
Career CAA: 37.2
Predicted 4-year NFL Passer Rating: 75.9
Andrew McDonald won’t get a lot of attention for a variety of reasons. First, he’s only started for one year. This is a reasonable reason to be worried about him for two reasons. First, and probably pretty obviously, as a player gains experience with pass plays, they get better. More experienced quarterbacks typically do better in the transition from college to the NFL. Unfortunately, McDonald simply hasn’t had the time to become a truly seasoned passer. So, we’re expecting him to be raw coming out of college. We should also be worried about his starting experience because we can’t know if this year’s success is a flash in the pan or part of a more sustained pattern. We can’t be sure if the important habits have become ingrained and that his success this year will carry over from year to year. Experience will be a legitimate problem for him if he is to become an NFL quarterback.
He also won’t get a lot of attention because his team isn’t a winner. New Mexico State finished the season with a final record of 2-10, and they only won two games because their last game was a futility bowl against two teams that were both 1-10 before the game started. Their only other win was against FCS level Abilene Christian. Many people pump up players that are “winners” (see Tebow, Moore, McCarron, etc.), and discount players that played on losing teams. I’m not particularly interested in wins and losses when I evaluate a quarterback. Records in football are dependent on so many factors that it isn’t fair to assign a win and loss entirely to a quarterback. McDonald will fight this headwind, but it’s not one I’m worried about. Ryan Griffin of Tulane had a similar problem last year, and he is currently on the Saints active roster.
We’ve talked about the negatives. But I wouldn’t be talking about him when no one else is if I didn’t think he had talent. My metric for evaluating quarterbacks is career Completions Away from Average (CAA) which is a number that indicates how many more or fewer completions this quarterback has compared to what we would expect a perfectly average FBS quarterback would have on this particular team. Andrew McDonald is actually leading all of FBS in CAA for 2013 with 37.2. This means that my model predicts that a perfectly average quarterback dropped onto the New Mexico State team would have 195.8 completions instead of the 233 Andrew McDonald actually has. Given my handy dandy regression equation for predicting 4-year passer rating I can predict that Andrew McDonald would have a passer rating of approximately 75.9 after four years in the NFL. While this might not be a lofty number, I think it is high enough to warrant a look at a little noticed player from New Mexico State.