NFL DRAFT 2012 - QB

By R.C. Fischer
Release Date:
1/11/2012

NFL Draft 2012:  Statistical Analysis of Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

"The QB prospect that will become the hot sleeper of 2012, but should he?" 

When the focus turns away from the 2012 NFL playoffs, and the 2012 NFL Draft talk heats up...Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler is going to become a name we are all going to get very familiar with. Osweiler is a Junior QB that has declared early for the NFL Draft, and currently is projected as a 2nd-4th round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. I would stop about one (baby) step short of guaranteeing that Osweiler will be the "it" QB prospect of February/March 2012...potentially rolling that into April, and onto Draft Day possibly as a 1st or 2nd-Round selection.

The race for the third-ranked QB prospect (behind Luck and Griffin III) in the 2012 NFL Draft, is going to be like the current Republican chase for the Presidency. Several candidates had moments where they "got hot," only to lose the steam weeks later...and faded away. There will be no real argument in the media for Luck then Griffin III, but we think that there will be a revolving door of consolation prize QBs that will get and hot & cold for the 3rd-ranked QB spot in 2012. Eventually, we think Osweiler is going to have his "hot" moment.

Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill currently holds the media's #3 QB prospect spot, but much like the Republican race for the White House...we think Tannehill might go the way of the early lead/buzz prospect, then fade way into the background when people get more dialed in. Arizona's Nick Foles is likely to be bandied about as that hot #3 QB as well. Brandon Weeden might catch a ride on the "sleeper-express" too. The 2012 X-factor QB (we think) is Osweiler.

When it is all said and done, Osweiler is going to pass the "eye-test" with flying colors. Osweiler is not your run of the mill looking QB; he is going to captivate our eyeballs, and he will make scouts drool, and make NFL Draft commentators coalesce to be on the bandwagon quickly. It would not shock me if Osweiler was taken in the top 15-20 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. It would also not shock me if Osweiler fades into the 5th-7th rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft. Osweiler may be the most interesting 2012 QB prospect to us right now, from the sheer standpoint that he could go anywhere from the 1st-Round to the 7th-Round...and that is a very unusual situation.

The question for us to examine is, "is Brock Osweiler talented enough to become a 1st-Round Draft pick QB/become an elite NFL QB?" First, we will examine Osweiler's unique path to the 2012 NFL Draft, and then we will break down what our computer model sees in the data.

 

Osweiler's journey from Gonzaga...

Osweiler began his college journey on the hardwood, as a scholarship basketball player for Gonzaga. The 6'6"-6'8" (we'll see at the NFL Combine) Osweiler was recruited in the 8th grade...and locked in early on Gonzaga. Osweiler became unlocked in 2009, leaving Gonzaga and heading to Arizona State to play football. It appears no one cares why he left Gonzaga, as nothing reliable is written about it...but it has us scratching our heads (more on that come).

Osweiler sat for most of his first season at ASU in 2009, getting into one game in relief (vs. USC...11-27, 153 yards, 1 TD/1 INT). In 2010, the Osweiler story took the next step...mostly sitting, but then jumping into two games late in the season and posting two wins with 5 TD/0 INT and 323.5 passing yards per game. The Arizona State football excitement level was now cranked up behind Osweiler.

In 2011, Osweiler threw for 4,036 yards and 26 TD/13 INT...and rushing for another 3 TDs. There were big expectations for ASU in 2011, and they started out (6-2)...but lost their last 5 games in-a-row, including getting walloped by Boise State in the 2011 Maaco Bowl. The 2011 season did not play out as expected, but 2012 looked promising with the hopes of an additional year experienced Brock Osweiler at the helm...only Osweiler semi-shocked Sun Devil fans by declaring for the 2012 NFL Draft.

 

Brock Osweiler, Through the Lens of our QB Scouting Algorithm

There is no doubt that Osweiler is going to pass all the physical measureable tests, for anyone. He is at least 6'6, and has a rocket for an arm. Not only does he look the part of a great passer; he is very mobile...probably average agility for a big-time college basketball program, but is very graceful when comparing to college QBs on film. He is not a Robert Griffin run/pass type of QB, but he is more like an Andrew Luck/Ben Roethlisberger/Aaron Rodgers...they subtly avoid trouble with their feet...and can sometimes kill you with 10-15 yard scrambles.

Osweiler is solid across the board in our advanced passing metrics. We do not see a single, obvious red-flag with his passing as we scrutinized it considering the strength of opponent. Against Utah, Missouri, and USC...Osweiler was (3-0), passing for 8 TD/0 INT and 300.3 yards per game. In those three games, he also had a monster 70.3% Completion Percentage as well. Subtract out those three great games, and Osweiler threw for 18 TD/13 INT in the remaining 10 games...and that's troubling.

Most of the QBs that we study in our mathematical models will fail against tougher opponents, and thrive on the lesser talented opponents...Osweiler is almost the opposite. Osweiler struggled to some degree against Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona, and Cal. Osweiler had several multiple INT games in 2011 (5 of them) including against weaker Oregon State (3 INT) and Arizona (2 INT). In Osweiler, we get a decent overall statistical picture, but it's more of a "Jekyll and Hyde" variance within that which scares us a bit.

Osweiler can move the ball in the air...13 games played in 2011 with only 1 game with under 250 passing yards (223 vs. USC). Osweiler racked up big passing yardage in 2011, but he also made a ton of throws in 2011 with just under 40 pass-attempts average per game. When we look at Osweiler's performance on a per-attempt basis, adjusted for strength of the opponent...Osweiler grades out good/solid, not spectacular.

If we were to look at Osweiler as a nice Junior QB, going back for his Senior season...we would be excited to see what he might produce in 2012, and we would plunk down a $1 on him as a prediction for the 2012 Heisman trophy winner. That's not what we are about to get with Osweiler though...in reality, we are getting a QB that has great potential/measureables, but is also a QB that is leaping (to us) too quickly into the NFL Draft; and we think that is a red-flag on his decision making (more detail on that in a moment).

If you watch tape, YouTube, etc. on Osweiler...you will fall in love. Osweiler is tall, agile, and has a rocket-arm...all the things we love to see on the visual. There is another type of tape/YouTube that we think that is more of concern...the kind of video that most people aren't going to watch, the ones where Osweiler is interviewed. We only get so many clues to scouting college prospects, and I don't have the luxury of sit-down, lengthy job-interviews with the Draft prospects like the NFL teams are afforded. We look heavily at the stats to formulate scouting projections, and we don't pay as much attention to the "eye-ball" tests or media hysteria...but with Osweiler, we are making a small exception.

 

Osweiler on Dr. Phil's couch...

Before Dr. Phil became Dr. Phil, he was Phil McGraw...highly successful evaluator of jury pool individuals. Essentially, it was his job to observe prospective jury members to rule them in or out, based on the type people/individuals his firm's clients thought would be favorable to their desired verdict outcomes. Phil McGraw had limited information, and had to make quick personality/character profiles based on all the limited clues he could see/sense/hear in a very short time frame. I'm going to do the same with Brock Osweiler, and you can decide to take the "snapshot" analysis seriously or not...or ignore.

Without having ever met Brock Osweiler, and just making a quick observation...something doesn't seem consistent/stable in his leadership/decision making. Let's examine the clues of Osweiler's pattern of decision making, and things that we think we know:

  • An elite/highly recruited athlete in grade school, offered a scholarship in the 8th grade. Possibly, a pampered athlete right out of the gates.

  • He committed to playing basketball at Gonzaga a few years before he even graduated High School, but quickly left for a different college, and switched to a whole other sport. I find no listing of Osweiler in Gonzaga's basketball statistics from the years that he would have been there. I get the sense that things didn't work out the way Osweiler had hoped...the quick and easy way; and then he bolted to another school, and to play football instead.

  • If I see the story correct, Osweiler contemplated/decided to play basketball at ASU as well at one point, but I don't see any evidence that he really did. I get the impression that Osweiler is not focused/dedicated to one path...and/or he is constantly searching for adoration.

  • Osweiler has a nice Junior season in 2011; he does an exploratory look at his NFL Draft stock and from several reports, it came in projecting him as 3rd-5th Round prospect. Instead of smartly returning for a draft stock improving Senior season, Osweiler leaps into the 2012 NFL Draft.

It seems to me that Osweiler is constantly on the move, in search of...I don't know what? He is barely 21 years old, and if you watch him in interviews...there is a definite vibe of immature, playful, and a lot of "ums" and smirks. It will not shock me if he bombs the Wonderlic, but I have no concrete evidence of his mental acumen. I think if/when the NFL spotlight hits him...he might crumble, or run away quickly (as it appears that he has from most everything). This is not a QB that I would hand the keys to my NFL franchise over to. I see no leadership traits or stability; I think he may get eaten alive in the NFL...off-the-field.

 

The NFL QB that Brock Osweiler most compares to statistically in college, within our system:

We don't plan it this way, but this is another situation where our computer surprises me with its intuitiveness. As I was doing the research, a "poor man's" Ryan Mallett is what started to come to mind...and "bingo," our computer program has Mallett as a match for Osweiler as well. Both QBs are physically big, great tools, look the part...but have issues off the field. Not criminal issues, just a troubling immaturity...the kind of immaturity that will be difficult to overcome when a lot of money and freedom are thrown into the equation.

Mike Hartline didn't come to my mind...but it fits. Hartline had immaturity issues along with great physical tools, and nice passing metrics...but ultimately, Hartline was dismissed from his team before his final game of 2010, and seemed often in trouble at Kentucky.

  

Adjusted College Performance Profiles:

Metrics P-ScoreQBYrCollegeHWadj Comp PctAdj Yds per Compadj Pass per TDadj Pass Per INTxYds per game 35 AttTDs per game 35 AttINTs per game 35 Att
0.739Osweiler, Brock2012Arizona State79.224064.5%11.718.040.5 263.51.90.9
0.649Mallett, Ryan2011Arkansas78.824860.5%15.016.022.8 316.72.21.5
0.650Hartline, Mike2011Kentucky77.021967.6%10.718.635.9 252.41.91.0

*the "adj" above, means "adjusted' output in our system...based on strength of opponent

 

Brock Osweiler Overall Metrics Scouting Score = 0.739 ("C" grade level prospect)

*A score of 0.850+ is where we see a stronger correlation of QBs going on to become NFL great/elite; a score of 1.000+ is rarefied air in our system

 

2012 NFL Draft outlook...

I mentioned before that I could see Osweiler as a 1st-Round Draft pick...or even a 7th-Rounder; and anything in-between. I do believe that Osweiler is going to catch a media/draftnik buzz early on, and possibly sneak his way into some 1st-Round mock drafts. For those who do little homework, and/or fall in love with measureables and highlight clips, and/or have no sense of the role of character in the QB scouting equation...Osweiler is going to be a "hot" NFL Draft sleeper. My guess would be that once teams start to interview Osweiler, his stock will fade for a few smarter evaluators.

However, if I know the poker game known as the NFL Draft..."smart" teams are going to bait "dumb" teams to take Osweiler higher in the NFL Draft. You are going to hear a lot of descriptions on Osweiler's "upside," "youthful exuberance," "raw," and a lot of blathering on how he was a scholarship basketball player...it's a sucker's play, somewhat like how Jacksonville got conned on Blaine Gabbert. The "smart" teams will play Todd McShay, and all the usual media suspects, like a violin. If Osweiler can get on the Jon Gruden bus and get a non-sensical "this guy's just a football player" type of scouting...it is not out of the question that Osweiler goes 1st-Round/early 2nd-Round.

Alternatively, I think it would be a very smart/cheap gamble for any team to take a 3rd-4th round draft pick look at Osweiler. There are several things to absolutely love about Osweiler as a passer/athlete, you just have to reel in the immaturity...or take an inexpensive chance on attempting to. 

As a 1st-Round draft pick; as a quick turn-around the franchise type of bet...this is a disaster, in my opinion. As a later rounds pick, it's a smart, intriguing gamble. Ultimately, I think Osweiler will go in the early 2nd-Round, because I sense a team with a semi-established QB (Buffalo, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Seattle, etc.) will catch a "man-crush" on Osweiler, and make a hasty plunge. This has a Seattle Seahawks/Pete Carroll feel to it.

If Osweiler has a low-pressure chance to mature with the right NFL franchise, he could be the best QB in this draft. If he is rushed too quickly (and oh how we love instant results), or he fails to give the effort...he will be placed into the dustbin of history. A talent like Osweiler is very rare, but very fragile. Worth the gamble, but being cautious not to pay too much for it...this play will need to time to age to perfection, if it is even possible.