This is the first in a series of posts linking to semi-interactive scatter charts made in an attempt to illustrate the value of players selected in the NFL draft, vs. the slot in which the player was drafted. Here is a screenshot of the chart, with a special line drawn on it: the Cutler Line.
You don’t want to be below the Cutler line. Here is the full chart.
Cutler joking aside, it is nice how some convenient quarterback tiers emerge from this chart. Here’s how I break them down:
There are only three quarterbacks above the 20 line. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. This seems about right to me.
The next tier is generally guys you’re quite happy to have as your quarterback. Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Russell Westbrook are at the top of this tier, and Eli Manning and Andrew Luck are at the bottom. Dak Prescott’s rookie year places him solidly at the bottom end of this tier.
“This is Our Guy….Right?” (10-15)
Jay Cutler resides near the bottom of this tier. If your quarterback is down there with him, you’re not a happy camper. You’ve got the kind of quarterback who needs a superior supporting cast to go particuarly far in the playoffs. So below Cutler are guys like Marc Bulger and Ryan Tannehill. Near Cutler we see Joe Flacco, who’s been the beneficiary of some great Ravens teams, Alex Smith, and Ryan Tannehill. Higher up in this tier are some young quarterbacks getting acclimated to the NFL, and guys that really fit the bill like Matt Stafford and Andy Dalton.
Suspects Who Played (5-10)
Players below 10 on this chart are mostly journeymen, or flashes in the pan. There may be some ascendant quarterbacks down here, like Kirk Cousins or perhaps Tyrod Taylor, but this is mostly full of Kyle Ortons and Ryan Fitzpatricks.
Here Be Scrubs (0-5)
This is the graveyard where most quarterbacks, even 1st round picks (a plurality of them anyway), end up. It’s first overall flameouts, late rounders who never took a snap, and assorted 22nd overall quarterbacks drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
How Player Value is Calculated
Player Value primarily uses ProFootballReference.com’s Approximate Value metric. The value of a player is the player’s career AV, divided by the number of seasons he’s played, plus a little special sauce added in to reward player longevity and league honors. This metric is not perfect, but it gives a good idea of relative player value. It underrates quarterbacks who do not spend their entire career as starters, or suffer season-long injuries. For example, Kirk Cousins, who spent 3 years largely as a backup, is rated rather poorly by this metric due to those three seasons.