The 26-27-60 Rule

The NFL Draft is a crystal ball business where a team can find gold in the 7th round and fall flat on their face in the first round. To avoid the failure that comes with drafting a player that is….well, terrible, there is a series of tests and evaluations every draft prospect must go through.

For quarterbacks that includes all of their collegiate games, their performance at the scouting combine, their performance at their pro day, their performance at any private workouts, their performance on the Wonderlic test and their ability to impress teams in interviews.

Is it possible, though, that a shortcut exists that will help to bypass all these evaluations and give an accurate prediction of how good a quarterback will be in the NFL?

Well, not really. There’s never going to be a foolproof formula that will make scouting obsolete, but there is a formula that provides a decent guideline. It’s called the Rule of 26-27-60. Football Outsiders first presented the idea in their Pro Football Prospectus 2006.

Here is the gist of it: If an NFL prospect scores at least a 26 on the Wonderlic test, starts at least 27 games in his college career and completes at least 60 percent of his passes, there’s a good chance he will succeed at the NFL level. – John P. Lopez (SI.com)

Sounds simple enough, but how well does it actually work? Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Kyle Orton, Kevin Kolb, Matt Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Stafford as some of the names that have aced all three aspects of the test since 1998.

Notable prospects that failed the test include Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, Jamarcus Russell, David Carr, Vince Young, Tim Couch and Akili Smith. Basically every gargantuan quarterback bust there’s been in the last decade or so.

The notable exceptions are Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb who both failed to score 26 or more on the Wonderlic test.

So how do the quarterbacks of the 2011 Draft fit in with this rule?

Remember:
1. Wonderlic needs to be 26 or higher
2. Games need to be 27 or more
3. Completion % needs to be 60 or higher

Cam Newton – 21 Wonderlic – 14 Games Started – 65.4% Completion
FAIL – FAIL – PASS —- FAIL

Blaine Gabbert - 31 Wonderlic – 29 Games Started – 60.9% Completion
PASS – PASS – PASS —- PASS

Jake Locker – 20 Wonderlic – 40 Games Started – 53.9% Completion
FAIL – PASS – FAIL —- FAIL

Christian Ponder – 35 Wonderlic – 33 Games Started – 61.8% Completion
PASS – PASS – PASS —- PASS

Ryan Mallett – 26 Wonderlic – 37 Games Started – 57.8% Completion
PASS – PASS – FAIL —- FAIL

Colin Kaepernick – 40 Wonderlic – 51 Games Started – 58.2% Completion
PASS – PASS – FAIL —- FAIL

Andy Dalton – 29 Wonderlic – 50 Games Started – 61.7% Completion
PASS – PASS – PASS —- PASS

Those seven quarterbacks are considered by most to be the top seven in the draft and on a distinct tier higher than the rest of the quarterbacks in the draft. However, out of the seven quarterbacks only Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton pass the 26-27-60 rule. Some food for thought.

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