Player Profile: David Fales

Categories: NCAA FBS, NFL Draft, Statistics
Comments: No Comments
Published on: December 18, 2013

Player:  David Fales

School:  San Jose State

Year:  Senior

Career CAA:  29.2

Predicted 4-Year NFL Passer Rating:  74.7

Predicted 4-Year ANY/A:  4.76*

Finally, a player with some actual buzz.  David Fales is a very interesting prospect to me, mostly because he stretches the bounds of what my prediction model can say about a prospect.  Of all the quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, I think Fales is one the model will be the most wrong about.  The thing is, I don’t know in which direction the model will be wrong, which makes Fales even more interesting to watch.  You could tell me that, four years from now David Fales will have a career passer rating of 80 and take a team to the playoffs two years running and I’d believe you.  Or you could tell me that David Fales won’t start a game in the NFL and I’d believe that too.

So why so much uncertainty around David Fales?  A number of reasons come to mind.  First there are the standard problems of not playing a full career at the FBS level.  I’ve only got two years of data on Fales when I have three or four on many other quarterbacks.  But there is an extra problem with the situation that surrounds David Fales that makes his future outcomes even more difficult to predict.  Nothing breaks my prediction model faster than constant changes to the offensive system.  Changing receivers is good, changing quarterbacks in the same offensive system is good, but as soon as the offensive system starts changing rapidly, the numbers go haywire.  And San Jose State has seen its fair share of change in the offensive system during the tenure of David Fales.

During Fales’s first year (2012), a new offensive coordinator was brought in.  This means that most of what we knew about San Jose State’s offense can be thrown out the window.  Not everything of course, because the head coach was still the same.  We can imagine that Mike MacIntyre had a particular philosophy in mind when hiring Brian Lindgren that wouldn’t be much of a change from previous offensive systems.  But we don’t know much about whether this new guy has a system works the same way, features the same personnel, or uses the personnel they have in the same way as the previous system.  This problem gets compounded when the head coach lands a new job for 2013 and takes the offensive coordinator with him.  Now we not only have a new head coach but another new offensive coordinator, which really throws everything out the window.

You can see this in the large variability in Fales’s numbers from 2012 to 2013.  During the 2012 season, Fales is third in the country on my metric (35.6 CAA).  In 2013, he’s 126th (-6.4) and below average (0 is perfectly average).  Part of the reason for this massive change is that the model is trying to account for circumstances like offensive system.  In this particular case it’s having a really difficult time calculating a precise number to put on those circumstances.

At the end of the day, it would be really nice if Fales had another year of eligibility so we could get additional information about his on field performance.  However, NCAA rules being what they are, we just aren’t going to get that.  Without more data, the prediction model can only throw up its hands and say “Might be great, might never work out.  Can’t tell you which one based on what I’ve got.”  It’s possible the 2012 numbers are the true David Fales, or it’s possible the 2013 numbers are the true David Fales, or it’s possible that neither is the true David Fales.  Everywhere we look with this guy, the future is cloudy.

Take Home Point

If I was working for a team, this is one I’d turn the Fales tape over to the highest paid scout they have and say “You deal with this one.  My skills are pretty useless here.”

Do you draft him?

Ask a scout.

* I’ve added a prediction of Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (ANY/A) for the advanced stats buffs out there.  Career CAA predicts ANY/A after 4 years in the league according to the following equation Y = 4.27 + 0.0167*Career CAA.  The equation was generated using Bayesian analysis assuming a t-distribution for the dependent variable.

Player Profile: Corey Robinson

Categories: NCAA FBS, NFL Draft, Statistics
Comments: No Comments
Published on: December 11, 2013

Player:  Corey Robinson

School:  Troy

Year:  Senior

Career CAA:  43.8

Predicted 4-year NFL Passer Rating:  76.8

Corey Robinson Quarterback Corey Robinson #6 of the Troy University Trojans throws a pass during the game against the Ohio University Bobcats during the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on December 18, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

I mentioned Corey Robinson already in my mid-season profile.  At the time he was having a very productive season, and he finished the season as productive as he started.  If you look at the Season Numbers page, you’ll see Corey Robinson listed at #9 in the country in Completions Away from Average, finishing his Senior season with 21.7.

I would be more comfortable picking up Corey Robinson as a career backup than I would be Andrew McDonald, who I profiled last week.  The reason is that Robinson has shown a consistent ability to be above average.  He’s a four year starter that has only dipped below average once, during his sophomore season.  Other than that one blip, he has been a consistent performer showing steady improvement from season to season.  This consistency gives me a lot more confidence that this guy has what it takes to learn the position and perform at the next level.

Ultimately, I’m predicting that Robinson would be an adequate backup quarterback – someone you could put behind a franchise quarterback as a stop-gap measure if things ever went horribly wrong.  A 4-year passer rating of 76.8 may not be out of this world, but you could do much worse with an undrafted free agent.

Player Profile: Andrew McDonald

Categories: NCAA FBS, NFL Draft
Comments: No Comments
Published on: December 4, 2013

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

Year:  Senior

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.

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