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Factoid

Bo Nix

Oregon QB put up huge numbers

Dig a little into the incoming rookies from the Pac-12, and you find some eye-popping numbers. Both Oregon's Bo Nix and Washington's Michael Penix threw for over 4,500 yards last year. Their No. 1 wideouts, Troy Franklin and Rome Odunze, each went over 1,300 receiving yards and caught 14 TDs.

When these players are drafted in the first round or two later this month, teams and their fans are going to look at those stats and feel they've perhaps landed the next big star. Will they be right?

I took a look at the recent (since 2000) track record of those top college producers at quarterback. I went with all quarterbacks who threw for over 4,000 yards in their final seasons of college, then were selected in the first two rounds. It gave me a field of 26 players, which will be 28 when Nix and Penix join it.

It's a mixed bag as far as those players transitioning to the NFL. About a third of them (9) have had a top-10 fantasy season at some point (4-point TD passes, 1 point for every 20 passing yards). Two are among the league's best quarterbacks right now (Mahomes and Burrow), while three others (Roethlisberger, Ryan and Rivers) have been. Three more have at least had a top-12 season.

But two of those top-12 guys (Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield) only just did it, in their 8th and 6th seasons in the league. Both of them and another top-10 performer, Robert Griffin III, would probably be considered mild disappointments. Throwing for huge numbers in college didn't translate into them taking the league by storm or anything.

And roughly half (13) of those 4,000-yard passers haven't done much of anything at the NFL level. Most of the disappointments were selected outside the top 10 picks, which is where Penix and Nix will be drafted. They'll be beating the odds, at least among this grouping, if they ever go on to have a top-10 season. Derek Carr is probably the ceiling (and that might be fine for whoever takes them). In fairness, the guys selected at the bottom of the second round, like Brohm, Osweiler and Trask, expectations were modest all along; these quarterback will go earlier than that.

Quarterbacks who passed for over 4,000 yards in their final seasons of college and were selected in the first two rounds since 2000 are presented below. Those college stats, and the passing numbers from their best NFL season to this point, are also shown. Table sorted by fantasy performance.

COLLEGE QBS PASSING FOR 4,000-PLUS YARDS, 2000-PRESENT
DraftPkPlayerPassTDBestPassTDRk
201710Patrick Mahomes50524120225250411
200411Ben Roethlisberger44863720185129342
20191Kyler Murray43614220203971262
20083Matt Ryan45073120184924353
201712Deshaun Watson45934120193852264
20201Joe Burrow56716020224475354
20044Philip Rivers44913420104710304
20161Jared Goff47194320234575306
20122Robert Griffin III429337201232002010
20181Baker Mayfield462743202340442812
201436Derek Carr508250202148042312
200818Joe Flacco426323201036222512
200018Chad Pennington400638200836531913
20021David Carr429942200435311614
201462Jimmy Garoppolo505053201939782714
20152Marcus Mariota445442201634262614
202115Mac Jones450041202138012217
20037Byron Leftwich426830200429411518
20183Sam Darnold414326201828651724
201222Brandon Weeden472737201233851425
201257Brock Osweiler403626201629571528
202220Kenny Pickett43194220222404728
201915Dwayne Haskins48315020191365733
201422Johnny Manziel41143720151500734
200856Brian Brohm4024292009146062
202164Kyle Trask428343202223077
2024??Michael Penix490336????????
2024??Bo Nix450845????????

Of the two incoming rookies, I've been most impressed by Penix. (Side note: although Fantasy Index is based in Washington, I'm not; I have no bias.) Big arm and aggressive throwing it downfield, putting up huge numbers each of the last two years for one of the top teams in the country, doing it consistently against quality national competition -- until faltering against Michigan, anyway, as lots of quarterbacks did. Stayed healthy, important after major injuries (shoulder and ACL) wrecked each of his four years at Indiana.

Nix also put up two very strong seasons at Oregon, with last year the real standout. His first three years (at Auburn) were pedestrian, without the injury qualifier, and Oregon's offense utilizes more screens and quick, short throws (a factor in Nix completing 77 percent last year). That might be part of why he's popularly mocked to Sean Payton and the Broncos (the Raiders are also frequently connected with him; would be interesting if both quarterbacks went to those AFC West teams).

In any case, I don't think anyone should fall in love with these players based on the college stats. Roughly as many guys who put up big numbers never did much in the NFL as were breakout stars.

--Andy Richardson

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