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Bo Nix

How much does college completion percentage matter?

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix might be a first-round pick in next month's draft. He put up unreal numbers last year, including a 45-3 TD to interception ratio, while completing over 77 percent of his passes -- highest of any first-round quarterback in the past 20 years.

Should it matter?

As a predictor of NFL success, completion percentage doesn't look overly useful. These guys are playing in different offensive systems against different opponents, with different skill players around them. We can look at past flops who have put up poor numbers in this regard -- I remember dinging Josh Freeman, who completed only 58 percent of his passes in his final year of college -- but also find plenty of guys with similar or worse percentages (Matt Ryan, Josh Allen) who have turned out just fine.

And there are several guys with Nix-level numbers who have struggled as pros, especially recently.

In the last 20 years, there have been 11 other quarterbacks drafted in the first round who completed at least 70 percent of their passes in their final year of college. I count three great pros -- Joe Burrow, Andrew Luck and (maybe too early, but I'll be generous) Tua Tagovailoa. Maybe Robert Griffin would have been great, had he been able to stay healthy. Teddy Bridgewater has been serviceable at times, but never great. It looks like Baker Mayfield has rebounded as a solid NFL starter, but it took him several years and several teams to get there.

A majority (and arguably a vast majority, depending on where we're putting guys like Griffin and Bridgewater) of those guys quickly washed out of the league or seem to be headed that way. Mac Jones, Zach Wilson, Brandon Weeden, Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields.

Those favorable TD-Int ratios don't look particularly informative either. Haskins, Mariota, Wilson and Brady Quinn were also great in that area. Matt Ryan and Jordan Love were not (Jameis Winston wasn't, and that's been an accurate predictor at least). Joe Burrow (60 and 6) was stellar, but so was Teddy Bridgewater, and he's been just mediocre as a pro, throwing 47 interceptions while starting 65 games.

In general. I look at and weigh college numbers when evaluating incoming rookies, but best not to overrate them. Easy to find huge successes and bitter failures from guys who put up either favorable or unfavorable numbers in both areas.

Table shows all first-round picks (and anticipated 2024 first-rounders, in bold) from the last 20 years, sorted by completion percentage their final year of college, with yards, touchdowns and interceptions that year also shown.

1ST-ROUND QUARTERBACKS, 2005-2024
DraftPkPlayerSchoolComAttPctP YdsTDPInt
2024??Bo NixOregon36447077.44508453
202115Mac JonesAlabama31140277.44500414
20201Joe BurrowLouisiana State40252776.35671606
20212Zach WilsonBrigham Young24733673.53692333
201222Brandon WeedenOklahoma State40856472.347273713
2024??J.J. McCarthyMichigan24033272.32991224
2024??Jayden DanielsLouisiana State23632772.23812404
20122Robert Griffin IIIBaylor29140671.74293376
20205Tua TagovailoaAlabama18025271.42840333
20121Andrew LuckStanford28840471.335173710
201432Teddy BridgewaterLouisville30342771.03970314
20181Baker MayfieldOklahoma28540470.54627436
202110Justin FieldsOhio State15822570.22100226
201915Dwayne HaskinsOhio State37353370.04831508
201422Johnny ManzielTexas A&M30042969.941143713
200525Jason CampbellAuburn18827069.62700207
20211Trevor LawrenceClemson23133469.23153249
20191Kyler MurrayOklahoma26037769.04361427
2024??Caleb WilliamsSouthern California26638868.63633305
20152Marcus MariotaOregon30444568.34454424
20172Mitchell TrubiskyNorth Carolina30444768.03748306
201316EJ ManuelFlorida State 26338768.033972310
20071JaMarcus RussellLouisiana State23234267.83129288
201025Tim TebowFlorida21331467.82895215
20143Blake BortlesCentral Florida25938267.83581259
20051Alex SmithUtah21431767.52952324
202220Kenny PickettPittsburgh33449767.24319427
201712Deshaun WatsonClemson38857967.045934117
20213Trey LanceNorth Dakota State19228766.92786280
20206Justin HerbertOregon28642866.83471326
201626Paxton LynchMemphis29644366.83776284
20232C.J. StroudOhio State25838966.33688416
200524Aaron RodgersCalifornia20931666.12566248
20111Cam NewtonAuburn18528066.12854307
20095Mark SanchezSouthern California24136665.832073410
200610Matt LeinartSouthern California28343165.73815288
201710Patrick MahomesTexas Tech38859165.750524110
2024??Michael PenixWashington36355565.449033611
20151Jameis WinstonFlorida State30546765.339072518
20063Vince YoungTexas21232565.230362610
20231Bryce YoungAlabama24538064.53328325
20161Jared GoffCalifornia34152964.547194313
200818Joe FlaccoDelaware33152163.54263235
201110Blaine GabbertMissouri30147563.43186169
2024??Drake MayeNorth Carolina26942563.33608249
20183Sam DarnoldSouthern California30348063.141432613
201810Josh RosenUCLA28345262.637562610
20162Carson WentzNorth Dakota State13020862.51651174
202026Jordan LoveUtah State29347361.934022017
200722Brady QuinnNotre Dame28946761.93426377
20128Ryan TannehillTexas A&M32753161.637442915
201112Christian PonderFlorida State18429961.52044208
20091Matthew StaffordGeorgia23538361.434592510
20196Daniel JonesDuke23739260.52674229
20083Matt RyanBoston College38865459.345073119
200611Jay CutlerVanderbilt27346259.13073219
201832Lamar JacksonLouisville25443059.136602710
200917Josh FreemanKansas State22438258.62945208
20101Sam BradfordOklahoma396956.556220
20187Josh AllenWyoming15227056.31812166
20118Jake LockerWashington18433255.42265179
20234Anthony RichardsonFlorida17632753.82549179

--Andy Richardson

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