The 26-27-60 Rule, The Formula For Success As An NFL Quarterback

Posted: August 28, 2011 in NFL

So I’m just getting all worked up about this 26-27-60 rule. I don’t know exactly when I became a number stats dork – perhaps when I first learned about sabermetrics years ago, but I’m totally into it and I’m going to give Sports Illustrated some credit here. Its the26-27-60 rule for quarterbacks and it just works! So if you have a 26 on your Wonderlic – that’s a test that all NFL players take to show their academic level and can they quickly make decisions – let’s be honest, quarterback is a quick decision position. If you’ve got 27 starts in college and if you completed 60% of your throws in college, it pretty much predicts that you’re going to succeed in the NFL.

Now, there are guys who have succeed with 2 of the 3 and that are borderline on the 3rd…those guys have shown to succeed as well, Big Ben and Jay Cutler are 2 of those guys. What’s interesting is – one of the young quarterbacks, who is blowing up right now and people have a lot of love for is Colt McCoy. The thing about McCoy, and it’s something that nobody has ever talked about – McCoy started 53 games in college, conversely Cam Newton only 14 and Mark Sanchez 16. Now, Sanchez is a great athlete, he was the #1 high school athlete in California…no one doubts that. Mark started half the games you should be starting in college before making the step to the NFL. He had a good Wonderlic, he completed a good number of his throws, so on 2 of the 3, Mark does it though he does have a great coach, the Jets are a good team, so Mark will succeed and I’d say he’s already succeed to a certain degree.

With Cam Newton it’s very interesting, he fails on the Wonderlic and he fails on the starts – he’s only half way there on the starts, so he fails 2 of the 3 indicators. So that’s for real concern with Cam Newton, in my opinion. He’s 1 of 13 so far in the pre-season when throwing to receivers, he hasn’t converted a 3rd down…not one and he’s completing only 45% of his throws. He fails on the Wonderlic, he fails on the college starts…it’s a big concern. Now, he is so brilliant athletically, many believe that he’ll overcome that, but I don’t know. Here’s what’s interesting on this 26-27-60 rule.

Since 1998, here are some of the NFL quarterbacks who aced all 3 – Wonderlic, college starts and percentage passes in college, here are the guys who aced all 3: Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Drew Breese, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Kyle Orton, Matt Ryan and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now Fitzpatrick is not obviously a star, but Buffalo has got no talent (sorry Mike). They’ve got like 1 elite player on the roster, so in reality he is elevating, otherwise, a cruddy bunch of teammates. Here are the guys – highly touted prospects, who failed at least one part of the formula: Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Dante Culpepper, David Carr, Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell. Also in that list is Michael Vick, but Sports Illustrated says “he’s so spectacularly athletic, he almost plays the position differently than everybody else plays the position, he’s the exception”

Here’s a couple of guys who succeed on  2 of the 3, but on the 3rd of the 26-27-60, miss by an inch: Jay Cutler and Big Ben,  whose largely had the Steelers’ first few years of his career, has had to carry them but since then, has become a good quarterback, but here’s what’s really really interesting to me. Of the 4 guys last year who were drafted – Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow and Jimmy Clausen, who is the only one to ace all 3 of the 26-27-60 rule? Sam Bradford…easily the best out of four quarterbacks. Who has looked second best? Colt McCoy…easily the 2nd best of the bunch, he’s 2 of 3 on the rule and is right on the Wonderlic score.

Now, here’s what’s frightening – if you look at the guys drafted this year, the scary one is Jake Locker – he failed the Wonderlic by a large margin and was way below the completion percentage in college. So only the indicator of college starts was Locker even passing. So he, like Cam Newton, fails on 2 of the 3 but who did pass all 3? The backup for my Jets, Greg McElroy…he passed with flying colours. So the backup for the Jets has a better shot at succeeding in this league than big money guy Jake Locker…how about that! Use that for insight for your fantasy info as you wish…keep your eye on him. I buy into it, I think this stuff matters. I think what’s happened in sports is that the stats are being evolved by smart people, fans are getting smarter, it’s got more people talking about sports, sports is bigger now in the country and if you start digging deep…watch Greg McElroy, backup for the Jets, have a better career than Jake Locker. It doesn’t make any sense right? “Oh come on Andrew…” hey, these numbers don’t lie; Sports Illustrated did the work last year.

  1. Mike Crack says:

    True, it’s an interesting correlation, but I guess it’s hard to truly pick cut-offs that aren’t arbitrary. It seems like it’s a pretty good predicto, but without a denominator of all the QBs who fill the three criteria, it’s hard to say how well it works. Also, it seems as if Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Aaron Rodgers didn’t fulfill those requirements.

    Further, with the spread offense becoming increasingly prevalent in the college game, and the subsequent inflation of completion %, will a new completion % mark have to be made?

    I’ve heard a lot about Greg McElroy, some people saying he could be the next Tom Brady due to his intelligence and such. He’s a solid player, and his main weakness at this time is arm strength, which was one of the knocks on Tom Brady coming out. It’s one of the most correctable deficiencies a QB can have, so I guess he does have a chance to be good, especially if he can play for a team like the current Jets. He won’t have to put the “team on his back”, so to speak.

    Lastly, it’s interesting that the Raiders newest draft pick, Terrelle Pryor fills the three criteria. He reportedly scored a 27 on the Wonderlic, and exceeds the other two criteria.

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