Monday, March 31, 2014

First-choice versus second-choice QBs.



It is nearing NFL draft day.  Today’s question analyzes the advantage (if any) of getting the first QB in the draft compared to getting the second QB in the draft.

Questions:  The table below contains information on the number of career touchdown passes made by the first QB selected and the second QB selected in every NFL draft spanning the 1970-2002 period.   (I did not include QBs chosen after 2002 because a large number of such QBs have not yet completed their careers and I wanted to focus on QBs that had completed or had almost completed their career.)

What is the average, median, minimum, 25th percentile, 75th percentile, maximum and the standard deviation of career touchdown passes for the first QB choice and the second QB choice?

How many first-choice and second-choice QBs had very short careers?

What do these differences suggest about the value of obtaining the first QB chosen compared to the second QB chosen?


  Data: 


Touchdowns for First QB Picked and Second QB Picked
Year
First QB Chosen
# of Touchdowns
Second QB Chosen
# of Touchdowns
2002
David Carr
65
Joey Harrington
79
2001
Michael Vick
128
Drew Brees
363
2000
Chad Pennington
102
Giovanni Carmazzi
0
1999
Tim Couch
64
Donavan McNabb
234
1998
Peyton Manning
491
Ryan Leaf
14
1997
Jim Druckenmiller
1
Jake Plummer
161
1996
Tony Banks
77
Bobby Hoying
11
1995
Steve McNair
174
Kerry C ollins
208
1994
Heath Shuler
15
Trent Dilfer
113
1993
Drew Bledsoe
251
Rick Mirer
50
1992
David Klinger
16
Tommy Maddox
48
1991
Dan McGwire
2
Todd Marinovich
8
1990
Jeff George
154
Andrew Ware
5
1989
Troy Aikman
165
Mike Elkins
0
1988
Chris Chandler
170
Don Mcpherson
0
1987
Vinny Testaverde
275
Kelly Stoufer
7
1986
Jim Everett
203
Chuck Long
19
1985
Randall Cunningham
207
Frank Reich
40
1984
Boomer Essiason
247
Jeff Hostetler
94
1983
John Elway
300
Todd Blackedge
29
1982
Art Schlichter
3
Jim McMahon
100
1981
Rich  Campbell
3
Neil Lomax
136
1980
Marc Wilson
86
Mark Malone
60
1979
Jack Thompson
33
Phil Simms
199
1978
Doug Williams
100
Matt Cavanaugh
28
1977
Steve Pisarklewicz
3
Tommy Kramer
159
1976
Richard Todd
124
Mike Kruczek
0
1875
Steve Bartkowski
156
Steve Grogan
182
1974
Danny White
155
David Jaynes
0
1973
Bert Jones
124
Gary Huff
16
1972
Jerry Tagge
3
John Reaves
17
1971
Jim Plunkett
164
Archie Manning
125
1970
Terry Bradshaw
212
Mike Phipps
55




 Descriptive Statistics:

Below are descriptive statistics pertaining to the first and second draft picks for the 33 draft years considered in this post.



First QB
Chosen
Second QB
Chosen
Average
129.5
77.6
Median
124.0
44.0
Min
1.0
0.0
25th Percentile
33.0
11.0
75th Percentile
174.0
125.0
Max
491.0
363.0
STD
109.3
87.2
#  of QB S with fewer than
25 career TDs
8
13



Some Quick Observations:  


Mean career TDs thrown and median career TDS thrown are much higher for the first QB chosen than the second QB chosen.

13 second-choice QBs had fewer than 25 TD passes compared to 8 first-choice QBs.


The difference between the mean TD passes and the median TD passes for the second-choice QB is larger than the difference for the first-choice QB.  In other words, career TDs are positively skewed for second-choice QBs.



Concluding Thoughts:

Basically, while some second-choice QBs became great players and often surpassed the first-choice QB there were a larger number of second-choice QBs with short careers.

Some analysts have argued that many NFL teams tend to overpay for the right to pick early in the draft.   Sometimes the second QB chosen does surpass the first QB chosen.  However, this work suggests that there is a potentially large advantage in getting the first rather then second QB.


Additional Work:

This post looks at career TDs for first and second choice QBs.  Many NFL analysts prefer to judge QBs based on the NFL career rating.   This is a harder task because some QBS with extremely short careers may have a decent rating.   (It would be misleading to rate a QB with a 75 rating who had one season over a QB with a 65 rating who had 10 seasons.)

This post does not consider whether the observed differences between first-choice and second-choice QB touchdowns are statistically significant.   This very interesting question will be considered in my next post.

I will soon branch out and analyze differences between first-choice and second- choice picks at different positions.


Previous posts on QB issues:


Interested readers may want to look at these two other QB rating posts.

Manning versus Wilson:



Manning, Roethlisberger, and Rivers:




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