Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and Jay Cutler

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by maverick4, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    I know this doesn't concern the Pats, but I have found this year's draft regarding QB's really interesting, and it's given me some distraction from Patriots discussions about various 2-year free agent contracts. Just click back if you don't care about the top of this year's NFL draft.

    I just spent the past half hour checking out the Jets and Titans message boards, and I'm surprised at the thoughts over there. The majority of Titans fans seem to want Vince Young as the top pick, and Jets fans either 1. have no faith in their FO, 2. think picking QB's is a crapshoot so they either want Mario or Ferguson, 3. Equally want Young, Leinart, or Cutler for mostly random non-football reasons.

    I want to make a case that picking Matt Leinart first among QB's is a NO BRAINER. Forget all the press/hype he has gotten, the Heisman, and his two championships. I went through the numbers of the top three QB's, and this is what they have done the past three years:

    Matt Leinart:
    2003 255 402 3556 63.4 38 9 15
    2004 269 412 3322 65.3 33 6 24
    2005 283 431 3815 65.7 28 8 17
    Vince Young:
    2003 . 84 143 1155 58.7 6 . 7 10
    2004 148 250 1849 59.2 12 11 9
    2005 212 325 3036 65.2 26 10 13
    Jay Cutler:
    2003 187 327 2347 57.2 18 13 16
    2004 147 241 1844 61.0 10 5 24
    2005 273 462 3073 59.1 21 9 23

    1. What immediately jumps out to me is the interception statistic. Leinart is the stingiest QB at throwing picks, even though he has faced top competition all year, every year for three years.
    2. Speed for a quarterback is not important; From Brady, we've learned that the important factors are quick decisions and little sidestep movements in the pocket to buy seconds. Leinart actually had less sacks than Cutler, so mobility, speed, and escapability is not an issue, in my opinion.
    3. In terms of composure and heroics, what Young did in the title game was amazing, but people forget that Leinart also kept bringing USC back in the title game as well. Also, who can forget Leinart's last-second audible on fourth down in the 4th quarter against Notre Dame? The guy has as much ice in his veins as Young does, but he is by far the more cerebral and aware passer.

    Just for kicks, here are Peyton Manning's numbers at Tennessee, and Carson Palmer's numbers at USC (final three years)...
    Peyton Manning:
    1995 380 244 2,954 64.2% 22 4
    1996 380 243 3,287 63.9% 20 12
    1997 477 287 3,819 60.2% 36 11
    Carson Palmer:
    2000 415 228 2,914 54.9% 16 18
    2001 377 221 2,717 58.6% 13 12
    2002 489 309 3,942 63.2% 33 10

    Again, Leinart has superior interception and completion% numbers to Manning and Palmer. Leinart has had three seasons comparable to Palmer's very best season. So basically, I think Leinart is as good, if not a better prospect than Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning were when they came out.

    Thanks for reading, and for letting me vent my frustration at people (mostly at Titans and Jets fans) who don't see what I am seeing - the best QB prospect to come out in the past few years.

    Leinart highlight clip that BoxoRocks posted awhile ago:
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2006
  2. PatsSaintsSox

    PatsSaintsSox Practice Squad Player

    wow, great post, i agree 100%
  3. drewdagreat

    drewdagreat On the Game Day Roster

    Leinart is the best QB to come into the draft in quite a few years. Better than Palmer IMO.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2006
  4. nickw308810

    nickw308810 On the Game Day Roster

    I would take Leinart first of the three as well, but the difference between him and Palmer and Manning is that he doesn't have the big arm that they possess.
  5. MoLewisrocks

    MoLewisrocks Supporter Supporter

    There is something about Lienart that just leaves me cold. Maybe it's the California disconnect attitude, the concussion history or that fact that dispite childhood corrective surgery he's borderline cross-eyed. He was also at the helm of a fairly established college offensive dynasty and his own HC swears it was a virtual tossup between him and our own Matt Cassel in 2003-2004. I think Palmer was the pick of the USC litter, he got it started, and I'd take Cassel in the 7th round to Lienart in the top 5 of the first round. I really think the transition from college to the NFL is that difficult to predict for QB's.

    That said, I'd take him if I had to over Young who will be a project if he does succeed, and Cutler doesn't even belong in the first round. Give me a guy who faced adversity and competition and battled his way to the post season because he was determined to play against the big boys in the deep grass and prove he could win. Vanderbilt??? They don't even play a competitive schedule and still they lose. I watched Cutler at the senior bowl and he didn't impress. I watched him at the combine too, but only because I was bored. I think the combine is an over hyped, measurables driven waste of time (much as BB believes).

    Because they apparently do need a QB and with the Chow connection Tennessee is probably a better than average fit for Lienart. If I were the JETS I'd take Ferguson this year and maybe even Mangold to replace Mawae (or a pass rusher to help replace Abraham or a RB to replace Cumar) with my second first round pick and hope that by next season I'd have a team with a fighting chance of keeping a franchise QB upright for more than a year. Then skip a Young or Cutler and shoot for another Weis tutored kid named Brady in 2007, even if I had to throw my meaningless 2006 season to take him with the first or second pick of the draft. He could probably help Mangini get an offense installed. Unfortunately few HC's or GM's or owners would have the stones to take that approach. I bet JETS fans would actually buy in though. They know that team isn't going anywhere anytime soon regardless of what Tangini says. Better to get it right for a change. They've got so many holes at this point QB is the least of their worries. Let Ramsey or Pennington or Bollinger absorb the punishment in transition.
  6. PatsFanInEaglesLand

    PatsFanInEaglesLand In the Starting Line-Up

    #37 Jersey

    I could not disagree any more about Cutler, Jay Cultler probably faced the same if not tougher competition than Young or Lienart did in the regular season. When Cutler went out he did not have running backs, receivers or lineman who were vastly superior to the other teams talent. He produced with less talent. His arm strength is so far ahead of Lienart and Young. Don't get me wrong I think Leinart will be a great pro, but I think Jay Cutler could be John Elway reincarnated.
  7. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned


    That argument is double-edged. Some QB's play against the best while having talented teammates, and others play on a bad team while facing mediocre talent. The last time I checked, arm strength was down the list among important QB attributes.

  8. PatsFanInEaglesLand

    PatsFanInEaglesLand In the Starting Line-Up

    #37 Jersey

    I am not saying arm strength is the be all end all, I believe if you combine that with his mobility, smarts and accuracy he is on par with Lienart, and far ahead of Vince Young for a pro style offense.
  9. MoLewisrocks

    MoLewisrocks Supporter Supporter

    Accuracy is not his strong suit. And he has a troublesome gunslingers mentality as so many strong armed QB's, so smarts may also come into question. And his mobility didn't keep him upright or translate into many W's for the Commodores.
  10. tombonneau

    tombonneau In the Starting Line-Up

    Can't comment on Cutler as I've never seen him play, but living in LA I've seen plenty of Leinhart. I can remember his first season thinking that he was the next Brady. Just really smart with the ball. Which really doesn't come across in stats. But the guy just doesn't make dumb throws.

    That is probably THE most critical atribute a QB must have: Don't make dumb throws. Its what separates the Bledsoes & Collins from a Brady. The former have better arms and average (at best) heads. Then you have your Brady's, who average arms but superior smarts.

    Give me a $1.00 arm and $10.00 head for a QB anyday of the week.

    IMO, Leinhart fits this mold. Another thing to like about him is he has played well in big games. Also, he is already well-used to the spotlight and being "The Man", which IMO is going to have him adjusting better to the pro game.

    While some may argue Leinharts canoodling with the Jessica Simpsons of the world is detrimental to his game, let's not forget who Brady was dating. ;)
  11. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned


    Agreed that Vince Young has a long way to go as a pocket passer, but that was never his allure. As for Jay Cutler, his scouting reports say his strengths are a strong arm, strong legs, and accuracy. His weaknesses are reading defenses, bad footwork, and forcing the ball into coverage. Based off his penchant for risky throws, I think he'll be an average NFL QB at best, because I think the number one QB attribute is making good decisions, and avoiding stupid picks.

    Cutler and Leinart are light years apart. Even if we ignore their differences in strength of competition, I think certain statistics can be very telling and predictive of future performance. For example, in baseball, you can identify players by using personal stats (avg, obp, k's per walk, whip), and filtering through team-influenced numbers (rbi, runs, pitching wins). Similarly, I believe some football statistics, especially interceptions and completion%, are telling numbers, and Leinart is by far the best QB prospect to come out in several years in these areas.

    Here are more random old college stats from another QB. I won't name who, but this player is the NFL all-time playoffs leader in TD/INT ratio, as well as ATT/INT, I believe. The traits/stats in college predicted similar future NFL success:
    1998 350 214 61.1 2636 15 12
    1999 341 214 62.8 2586 20 6
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2006
  12. ilduce06410

    ilduce06410 Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    gotta be able to make all the throws

    there are a number of throws nfl teams want to try -- flag patterns, short curls, tough passes to sideline, deep out, post, etc. i don't pay close attention to this anymore but last time i read about this the only QBs who could make all the throws were drew bledsoe and michael vick. this is a parcells/disciples thing mickey herskowitz., houston chronicle.

    of one thing i am sure: vince young will not run the ball for more than 3 years. nfl hits will do to him what they've done to vick. linebackers and safeties salivate when they see the QB out there running free. may not see QB get blown up, that doesn't have to happen. hard hits on hips, legs cut out from under, about 20 hard shots to the chest. mcnair was known for taking tacklers on. rest my case. so when young takes enough hits and injuries to be confined to the pocket then we'll see. vick is confined this season. we'll see how good of a passer he really is when he can't pull the ball down any time he wants.
  13. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    Maverick4 - Thanks for taking the time to do the homework !! Always appreciated and makes for interesting reading.

    In a very friendly vein and for discussion:

    If we look at QBs drafted very high with great college stats, I'm not sure we even get 50% who would be regarded as making it to the top 1/3 of NFL QBs. College football is so different than the NFL. And college team composition in terms of other offensive players who are very dominant in college (but who also have a low success rate in the NFL) makes it even tougher to evaluate. So, while I am very interested in the stats, I don't put much value on them. Just me.

    Young is unlikely to ever be a QB who can take a team deep into the playoffs. It is my impression that with his running option that he essentially cherry picked possible receivers. If he didn't find a really open receiver, he just ran the ball. So his completion percentage doesn't tell us a whole lot, maybe, in terms of being able to read routes and coverages in TIGHT NFL receiver situations. There are obviously some interesting questions about his passing mechanics. I finally found a media reference (sorry, don't have the URL) that identified his running style as leisurely. That is my impression also. He took advantage of loose or poor or slow defense when he ran. With MUCH faster and aggressive OLBs and CBs in the NFL, he's going to have a tough time making yardage.

    Comments have been made about arm strength not be all that much of a factor in the NFL. I just simply have to disagree. I think Leinart is going to have a significant problem. His strength and accuracy would have to improve. I'm not at all sure they can improve enough. Low interception rate is a very important stat. But college receivers are one HECK of a lot more open than in the NFL. It has amused me to look at college games and think what Brady's completion rate would be if he were playing QB. Some games, I have a feeling it would be upwards of 90%. But, of course, that's after a lot of development in the NFL envirnonment. But the crucial question is, do QBs like Leinart have the potential to learn to hit receivers in tight routes and coverage. I have my doubts.

    I think Cutler has the best chance to be a starting NFL QB. He has the passing capability. Perhaps the most important is that this kid is serious. He intensely WANTS to do well. He will be coachable and will learn NFL skills. No guarantees no matter what, but some team is going to be very pleased with him.
  14. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    I guess I always thought that Bledsoe had some real problems with the screen passes and shorter sideline passes. On the other hand, I'm not sure I have seen anyone with his ability to throw bullets down the middle of the field and zip them thru traffic. Also some post patterns.
  15. Alk

    Alk In the Starting Line-Up

    If I pretended to be a draft expert, I would rank them like this.

    1. Vince Young
    2. Matt Leinart
    3. Jay Cutler
  16. the taildragger

    the taildragger Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    I definitely don't want to bash Matt Leinart, as he's the most successful college QB of all time. But I do have some reservations about taking him at the top of the NFL draft (which to me should be reserved for sure bets rather than gambles or guys you're not 99% sure of).

    The arizona state game made it pretty clear Leinart has major issues with getting hit in the mouth. Even whined after the game that the fans cheered when he got sacked...thought it showed a lack of class. If he shies away from pressure or hits in the NFL this could be a MAJOR issue which would affect his decision making, mechanics, delivery, etc.

    "experts" question his physical toughness (along with work ethic and competitiveness). I guess it's hard to say since he didn't take many hits in college. I don't know if he's really a softie, but if he has any issues behind the best pass protection in NCAA, just wait til he gets to Tennessee or Houston or NYJ.

    It's impossible to factor out the impact of all the weapons he had on his overall success, but the truest measure of any QB is their record in close games, and Leinart is 2-3 in games decided by a TD or less (and let's not forget that Bush was clearly the star of that ND game). That final drive in the Rose Bowl was pretty embarassing too.

    People don't like to talk about intangibles but they're not always difficult to identify.

    His teammates respect him -- he's been a good leader in college -- seems to be a likeable guy -- but I have no idea if his personality will translate well with jaded NFL vets. Guys who know him all confirm he's the most laid back guy they know, but the NFL is the most intense game around and it requires an intense -- almost psychotically competitive -- leader. Please don't mistake intensity for a lack of poise -- apples and oranges. the most successful QBs all had a chip on their shoulder and honestly I can't think of a more pampered college QB in history...he may yet develop that chip like Elway did, but who knows how long that'll take.

    I have to disagree with folks who don't think arm strength is important, or those who might suggest that Tom has an "average arm." Leinart has great touch which is an even more prized commodity, but he definitely has a way to go in the strength department...without a stronger arm he'll see a lot of zone coverage and he'll throw picks, believe me. but I don't see that affecting his position in the draft very much -- he's tall and he can build up his arm (though it won't help if he's starting games in 06).

    None of these guys are worth the signing bonuses they're going to get...and there doesn't seem to be much depth in the draft at QB for the bargain hunters either. All three will likely go early because we're talking about desperate clubs here, but boy it sure is nice to sit back and worry about other positions than QB.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2006
  17. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned


    Points all very well taken. I agree it is hard to take stats at face value because football is such a team game, but for some reason I get the feeling that football still relies too much on 'seeing with the eyes', physique, NFL combine measurables, and not who can play or past performance on the field.

    I think there's something really wrong when guys like Tom Brady and Joe Montana fall through the cracks of the current scouting system and aren't identified as high potential players coming out of college because they are 'too skinny', 'too weak', or 'bad armed'. We are talking about two of the most successful, winning QB's in history. Drafts should identify these guys early, not have them be the exception.

    It's like the NFL is a generation behind baseball in evaluating players by relying too much on human scouts and eyes. The best analogy I can give is: baseball pitchers used to be drafted much like NFL players are drafted today. Scouts devalued statistics, because they said wins and stats were based on how good the catcher, offense, and the defense behind the pitcher was. While that is true, there are also objective numbers which indicate how good a pitcher is and can be. Guys like Tim Hudson (physique), Roy Oswalt (short), and Greg Maddux (fastball) wouldn't have been given a chance in the old days. I think a similar approach, to a less degree, applies to football. The key is finding out which numbers matter; nobody knows that yet.

    Some comparisons for thought between pitcher measurables and QB's:
    - Strikeout/Walk ratio versus TD/INT
    - Fastball speed versus arm strength
    - Strikes-thrown % versus completion %
    - WHIP versus interception rate
    - Number of good pitches versus number of throws able to make
    - Pitching record versus team record
    - K/9 versus TD's or Yards per game
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2006
  18. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned


    Well, even Brady had a relatively even record in close Michigan games, because like Leinart, there were times when he brought back the team but still lost the game by less than 7. That stat is slightly misleading and also incorrect, because Leinart only lost 2 games in his entire college career (37-2 overall); I think it actually shows that Leinart is very consistent/competitive in every game, and doesn't get blown out. I truly believe that if Vince Young hadn't come back at the very end to cause one of Leinart's two career losses, there wouldn't even be a QB debate.

    As for the ND game, let's not forget the 4th and 9 play with 1:30 left in the game. Leinart had the balls (the size of bowling balls) and intelligence to audible, because he recognized a blitz coming to his blind side, and completed a 40 yard play with everything on the line on national television. If that isn't calm and relaxed under pressure, I don't know what is.

    By the way, the stats I posted on page 2 of the anonymous player (NFL all time playoff leader in TD/INT ratio) was, you guessed it, Tom Brady!!

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2006
  19. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    Good stuff. I am absolutely with you. The 'shortcomings' that were 'perceptions' of scouts in baseball were pretty certainly not helping pick pro level capability.

    However, let me give you something to ponder perhaps. If you look at a players pro stats over a couple three years, that seems provide some solid data which can be projected to future years (probably with the exception of pitchers and quarterbacks - or steroid issues). Ala James in baseball and Belichick/Pioli in football. However, I'm not so sure college or minor level stats are very good for predictions without more specific micro analysis.

    If I were looking at hitting stats in the minors, I would only look at the stats for a batter versus pitchers that are the top prospects, or better, against pitchers that have already made to the circus and are doing well. If I were looking at pitchers in the minors, I would, conversely, only look at how they were doing against top hitting prospects and, again, preferably against hitters who have gone up the majors and are able to hit there. After all, what is important is how the players will do at the pro level.

    If I am trying to evaluate a college QB to guess whether he can be an NFL QB, I would throw out any passing stats that were passes where the receiver was wide open. Or passes where the QB had more than NFL level time in the pocket. Or passes where the receiver was completely covered but was able to win a jump ball (not a good plan for the NFL unless you are Culpepper/Moss or McNabb/Owens). I would REALLY look to see if the QB can compete passes where he makes the pass before the receiver is into his final cut. Or hitting receivers over the shoulder running full out. Or accuracy and timing on receiver specific routes. Or apparent ability to complete passes to secondary or tertiary receivers. A classic example of all of these issues was Rohan Davey. I didn't follow his college games at all, but I did slo-mo his NFLE games in some detail. His stellar stats were exactly the scenarios I mentioned above. You could watch his passing and see that he never passed until a receiver was into his final cut. He simply did not read routes and coverage. He had tall receivers (eg Gessner) who would win one-on-one battles with CBs who weren't able to play in the NFL. He was the beneficiary of any number of passes where the coverage was so poor that the receiver was wide open for a couple seconds. I remember one TD pass he threw where the receiver was already standing flat footed in the end zone when Davey threw the ball !!

    So that's why I'm not so sure how much weight to put on college overall stats. Just my take. I'd be interested in your thoughts.
  20. the taildragger

    the taildragger Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    my bad: Leinart was 3-2 in close games, not 2-3. Bottom line is that he's only had 5 close games in three seasons...he didn't carry those teams or find a way to win, he suited up.

    Since you mention Tom, it's worth comparing their UM Tom was 10-2 in games decided by a TD. the two losses were defensive meltdowns. one of the two losses featured an insane 4th-quarter run by Tom (240 yds, 21 pts) against the best defense in the big ten. He had 8 fourth-quarter comebacks in two seasons...recording two extraordinary comebacks in bowl games. Leinart lost a bowl game and won the other two in blowouts.

    the problem with the 4th and 9 throw is that it's become the sole basis for Leinart being portrayed as a sort of comeback artist...which is TOTALLY innacurate.

    Leinart "made the play needed to win" against ND, but the question scouts are going to try to evaluate is: if he doesn't get 300 rushing yards, does he still make the plays needed to win? yeah, great throw at the end (which arguably would've been picked in the NFL), but he didn't play well overall (and was in fact outplayed by Quinn)...he did not show poise in that game outside of that throw and in fact was the reason his team had to fight so hard at the end and nearly lost the game.

    The fresno state game was all bush/white, and the defense (4 picks) comeback there. leinart choked at the end of the Cal game and lost despite the fact that Aaron Rodgers had been benched early in the game. Cal's kicker was the MVp of that game.

    again, I don't want to bash leinart, but let's forget about the brady comparisons.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2006

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