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2019 NFL Draft: Best Predictor for Murray, Haskins Quarterback Success

2019 NFL Draft: Best Predictor for Murray, Haskins Quarterback Success article feature image

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins

  • NFL teams draft quarterbacks based on arm strength, accuracy, decision-making and athleticism.
  • History suggests a better predictor of quarterback success is the age of the signal-caller when entering the NFL.

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, which means the NFL Draft is all about passers. Kyler Murray is the betting favorite (-590, DraftKings) to be the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft (Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC).

Multiple teams have an obvious need at the position and the over/under for number of quarterbacks taken in the first round this year is 3.5 (FanDuel).

After Murray, other potential prospects who hope to hear their names called by commissioner Roger Goodell include Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones, Will Grier, Ryan Finley, Tyree Jackson and Jarrett Stidham.

Each team has evaluated the quarterbacks based on numerous metrics, including accuracy, arm strength, pocket awareness, decision-making, passing under pressure, mobility, athleticism and leadership.

On their own, none of these traits can predict which QBs will have a successful career. In fact, even with all of this information the draft can be a crapshoot. But, in my best “30 for 30” voice, what if I told you the easiest way to evaluate a quarterback was by age?

Historically, younger quarterbacks have been more successful in the NFL. The table below displays Pro-Football-Reference’s weighted career approximate value (CarAV) for all quarterbacks in the past 30 years who were drafted and on a team for at least one season.

The passers are sorted based on their ages as of Sept. 1 of the year they were drafted, which is approximately when their rookie seasons began.

It is not even close. Younger quarterbacks have better careers on average than older quarterbacks taken in the draft. The 22 passers who were 21 years old when they began their careers have an average CarAV of 47.3. For every year older a quarterback there is a step down in average CarAV.

This is good news for the teams that select Murray and Haskins, two of the youngest quarterbacks in the draft — The Action Network’s Matthew Freedman projects Murray and Haskins go in the top six.

Each of these quarterbacks, along with Daniel Jones and Tyree Jackson, were born in 1997, making them 21 years old. Though, only Jackson will be 21 as of Sept. 1.

Will Grier and Ryan Finley could become draft busts. These seasoned quarterbacks are 24.

The argument for an older quarterback is that he may be more pro-ready, but history tells us a team is better off drafting young. When your favorite team selects a quarterback on draft night, check his age. The signal-caller’s birth certificate can tell you a lot about his future potential.

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