Revisiting the Five-Star Quarterback Argument


Last week I wrote a piece on Mississippi quarterback commit Shea Patterson titled, “Lets Pump the Brakes on Shea Patterson”.  Patterson, a five-star quarterback committed to the Rebels last week and my piece was not written to discredit Patterson the person or Patterson the player.  The intent, which was missed (not surprisingly), was to say let’s slow down before we anoint these high school kids as the biscuits and gravy of college football.

You can read that piece right here.  Of course the aftermath was as expected.  Let me give a big shout out to NAFOOM – I’m glad I could help drive your internet traffic last week and I do expect a check off that.  Plus I will give a free fitness and crossfit consult to any of your members.

Most of the comments towards me were expected and calculated, and then there were some that were fun, and with good banter.

One of the arguments made towards me comes from some numbers established by Rivals about five star quarterbacks and I received several tweets like this one.

The basis of THIS article is not to continue to discuss Patterson or Ole Miss – it is to really break down the five – star quarterback.  Let’s get this out of the way before we go any further, yes everyone would take a five-star quarterback as on paper they are the closest thing to sure money – wait – or are they?

Without question 80% of five-star guys in the NFL from 07-13 is impressive, but the problem with this stat is that it’s simply fuzzy math; it doesn’t tell the whole story on five-star guys and it’s numbers established to fit an agenda or argument.

So let’s take a look at the five-star quarterback and talk real numbers.

Brett Weisband who writes for Saturday Down South did a fantastic piece on this very topic back in January in an article titled, 5-star QBs over the last Decade: Stars and Busts dot the Rankings.

In this article, Weisband breaks down 23-five star quarterbacks over the last decade and breaks them into categories.  He puts them into “Lived up to the Hype”, “Mixed Reviews”, “Busts” and “undetermined”.

Per his findings there are nine quarterbacks that lived up to the hype, while there were seven busts, three that had mixed reviews and four that were undetermined.

If you go by only the “lived up to the hype and busts”, only 56% of those five-star guys made good on their rankings and if you take the entire allotment of 23-guys, that percentage drops to 39% which is getting closer to the argument I made just last week.

Another argument that was posed to me went something like this.

Again this is just a bogus argument and totally not true as five-star quarterbacks do NOT own NFL presence by a large margin.

Creg Stephenson, who writes for did a piece back in the early part of February titled, “Current NFL quarterbacks weren’t all big names on National Signing Day”.

Stephenson does a great job breaking down the 53-men who started at least one game at quarterback in 2014 in the National Football League.

Stephenson says, and I quote:

"Eight of 53 were 5-star recruits coming out of high school"

"This group accounts for right at 15 percent of the total. It includes one all-time great (Peyton Manning, 1994), two established starters (Carson Palmer, 1998; Matthew Stafford, 2006) and two former USC Trojans whose careers have been up-and-down (Matt Cassel, 2000; Mark Sanchez, 2005). Then there are the journeymen — Chad Henne (2004), Jimmy Clausen (2007) and Ryan Mallett (2007). Those three combined for six NFL starts in 2014."

Let me type this again – 15% of the total quarterbacks who started a game in the NFL at quarterback this past year were five –star guys.

You can see a full list of every quarterback in the NFL that started in 2014 and their corresponding rankings by clicking right here.

What you will find, like the above mentioned that eight quarterbacks were five-star recruits, there were 13-quarterbacks listed as four-star or could be considered four-stars, 19-quarterbacks were labeled as three-stars,  and 13- were two-stars or ranked “undecided”.

If you run the numbers and call the “undecided” players 2-stars to stay consistent or label them as such, what you come up with is the average star rating in the NFL at quarterback comes out to be (3.3 on a 5-star scale).  For simplicity you can just say the average quarterback in the NFL is in fact a 3-star recruit.

And the reasoning on this trend or why the NFL is this way, is pretty simple when you think about player development and evaluation of quarterbacks.

After the Peyton Manning’s and Andrew Luck’s of the world are off the board, it’s tough to tell what these guys are going to do.  There are way more Tony Romo’s and Shaun Hill’s of the world than Chad Henne’s and Ryan Mallet’s.

What kind of competition did they play in high school, were they men amongst boys and already peaked come their freshman year of college, are several questions that come to mind about why so many five-star players never make good on their rankings; while most three star guys have hardly hit their stride and they continue to develop and typically reach their potential later in their careers.

It’s truly a crap shoot when you talk about quarterbacks and who will and will not pan out.

So be careful how you figure numbers, percentages and stats.  While 80% sounds great when talking about success rates of five-star quarterbacks, it’s totally fabricated and not true.  Let’s look at the true story, the entire picture.  I think when you do, you find out that quarterback is in fact the hardest position to evaluate and project.

Does this mean you shouldn’t take a five-star quarterback?  Absolutely not, but what this does mean is let’s again be careful before we anoint someone based on a star rating, because a five-star rating at quarterback is hardly a sure thing. When you look at the entire story the numbers don’t lie and back this up every time.