The third installment of projecting the quarterbacks for next season includes the three younger Super Bowl winners, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger, after looking at Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning last week. I’ve also looked at five quarterbacks who were rookies in 2011. You’ll want to go look at those to see some of what I’m doing.
Today’s quarterbacks are all in their prime, between ages 29 and 31 this year, and so the number of potential comps is greater. With the older Hall of Famers, I just looked at the overall quality of those still playing, since the numbers were smaller. At ages 29 to 31, though, I went into how they played, looking at interception rate, yards per attempt, completion percentage, touchdown rate and sack rate differences. I’m also using “league adjusted” numbers, so that while completion percentages have been climbing and interception rates falling since the 1970’s, I’m comparing players to others who ranked in the same range.
For all three of today’s quarterbacks, I used their most recent season, and then also used a similarity score for the previous two seasons combined as well to get a career curve. For example, Ty Detmer actually shows up as similar to Ben Roethlisberger at age 29 (pretty good YPA, average TD and interception rates, mediocre sack numbers), but only through 16 passes the previous two years. He gets knocked off the list, properly, by including the two prior years.
Let’s get to it.
Not surprisingly, Rodgers’ comparables show up as guys who had all-time great seasons at age 28: Manning in 2004, Montana in 1984, Warner in 1999, McNabb in 2004 as the Eagles reached the Super Bowl, and Favre in the last of his three MVP seasons in 1997.
Also, not surprising, a lot of those guys regressed from those insane numbers a year later but were still very good, so while projecting Rodgers to duplicate last season would be optimistic, he should still project, along with Drew Brees, as one of the best candidates to win MVP this season.
Rodgers most similar players, age 28: Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Joe Montana, Donovan McNabb, Kurt Warner, Boomer Esiason, Brett Favre, Dave Krieg, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger
Rodgers’ 2012 Projection:
15 Games Started, 344 of 510 (67.5%), 4,340 passing yards (8.5 YPA), 36 TD, 12 INT
36 Sacks Taken, 45 Rush Attempts, 225 Rushing Yards and 3 Touchdowns
Eli Manning provides someone with a high yards per attempt, and a very good sack rate, at age 30. His list of comps feature some elite quarterbacks plus others who posted good yards per attempt figures but were average at avoiding interceptions and perhaps struggled with that in the previous two years, but avoided sacks.
Eli was better than his group of comps collectively at age 30, particularly at yards per attempt. Expect some drop back (Cruz may not get those elusive 90+ yard touchdowns this year) in that category, but still a very good performance as Eli is still in his prime.
Eli’s most similar players, age 30: Phillip Rivers, Dan Marino, Kerry Collins, Brett Favre, Elvis Grbac, Jake Delhomme, Dan Fouts, Matt Hasselbeck, Steve McNair, Stan Humphries
Eli’s 2012 Projection:
15 Games Started, 318 of 525 (60.5%), 4,000 passing yards (7.6 YPA), 27 TD, 16 INT
26 Sacks Taken, 25 Rush Attempts, 50 Rushing Yards and 1 Touchdown
Roethlisberger’s 2012 Projection:
14 Games Started, 314 of 490 (64.0%), 3,970 passing yards (8.1 YPA), 23 TD, 14 INT
38 Sacks Taken, 30 Rush Attempts, 90 Rushing Yards and 2 Touchdowns
[all data via pro-football-reference.com, images via US Presswire]