Every year during the NFL draft, a lot of talk circulates about quarterback prospect being “consistent”, especially from week to week. Nobody wants a quarterback that they can’t rely on to put up good outings every week, so they look at how consistent that player was in college from week to week to determine if that player will be consistent in the NFL like Tom Brady and Alex Smith have been, as opposed to inconsistent in the NFL like Geno Smith and Andy Dalton have been.
Unfortunately, very few attempts have been made to quantify that consistency, and equally few have been made to see how consistency in college translates to consistency in the NFL. I set out to determine if consistency in college has any correlation to consistency in the NFL, and found out that it not only strongly correlates with NFL consistency, but to my surprise, almost equally strong with a high NFL passer rating.
For my study, I looked at every FBS quarterback who was taken in the first or second round since the 2001 NFL draft, because that is how far back I could get college game logs from. The only requirements aside from draft slot, year, and college division were that the quarterback threw at least 200 passes in his final season of college and that they have started at least 3 NFL games, so that they provided me enough data to work with. This only eliminated a few guys, including Brian Brohm and Sam Bradford.
To measure consistency, I looked at the variance of the players’ passer ratings in their final year in college (ignoring any games against FCS opponents). The more inconsistent they were, the higher their variance. I did the same for their 2015 NFL season to determine pro consistency because I began this study during the 2016 season. I also gathered their passer ratings from their final years in college, and their passer ratings from their entire careers as pros. Variance values in college were higher because the college passer rating scale yields higher values, as well as a larger range,
The Dalton Dilemma
Of the 49 quarterbacks involved in my study, I had one outlier. As you can probably guess from the title of this section, that quarterback was Andy Dalton. While I will get to the findings in the next section, here is the data when you include Andy Dalton.