A few months ago, former head coaching great Bill Parcells was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, slated to be inducted this summer. If you're looking for the reasons why, there are obviously plenty -- twice named NFL Coach of the Year, twice a Super Bowl winner, three times a Super Bowl participant, 172 wins with four different teams.
As regimented and orderly a coach as you'll find, Parcells sought that same level of commitment from his players, and no individual player is ever attached at the hip to a head coach more than his quarterback.
So it's no great surprise that Bill Parcells had a very specific set of criteria when it came to identifying the optimal quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft. As you will see, they are only partially grounded in on-the-field performance, and largely based around metrics that would indicate intelligence, commitment and maturity. No 40 times, no shuttle runs, no bench presses here.
You may have seen these before, but as a refresher, we will call these the "Parcells Rules." In order to be eligible for selection by Bill Parcells, a college quarterback must:
1. ...be a senior, because you need time and maturity to develop into a good professional quarterback.
2. ...be a three-year starter, because you want to make sure his success wasn't a fluke and to know that he has been "the guy" for a significant period of time.
3. ...have 23 wins, because big numbers don't mean a whole lot if you don't win.
4. ...be a graduate, because you want somebody that takes their responsibilities seriously.
Pretty simple, but sensible, stuff.
Over the last few years, these principles have been an object of much more intense scrutiny and skepticism by some draftniks, with the thinking being that the plethora of early entry candidates at the quarterback position has basically obsoleted these rules.
In actuality, if you're looking at the last couple years, it may have only intensified their applicability. Again, these rules aren't meant to hone in on physical talent as much as they are intelligence, commitment and maturity. Not every kid who leaves school early and/or doesn't graduate is necessarily less mature, less committed or less intelligent than the ones that do, but I'm guessing if you could quantify these attributes, the three-year starter/college graduates would score higher as a group.
As for the recent translation to the next level for quarterbacks who fit the bill, while obviously not all of the fulfillers of the four statutes have gone on to professional success, it is worth noting that the most successful quarterbacks from the last two classes, by and large, fit the Parcells bill.
Last season, six rookie or second year quarterbacks led their teams to the post season. They were:
- Christian Ponder, Minnesota (2011, 1st round) - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (2011, 2nd round) - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (2011, 2nd round) - Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (2012, 1st round) - Robert Griffin III, Washington (2012, 1st round) - Russell Wilson, Seattle (2012, 3rd round)
Of those six quarterbacks, five of them pass the Parcells Rules test, and the only one that doesn't is Christian Ponder, who fell one win short (he started in 22 wins in his FSU career) of meeting the 23 win mark, a mark he'd have likely hit if he hadn't been injured in his first year as a starter.
So for all practical purposes, all six of the young postseason quarterbacks would have been on a Parcells driven big board, a fact that becomes even more relevant when you consider that the quarterbacks selected in the first and second round of each of these drafts that didn't make the 2012 postseason all failed the Parcells Rules test:
- Cam Newton, Carolina (2011, 1st round, early entry/one year starter) - Jake Locker, Tennessee (2011, 1st round, failed in "number of wins") - Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville (2011, 1st round, early entry/two year starter) - Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M (2012, 1st round, failed all but graduating) - Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State (2012, 1st round, two year starter, odd case though because of his age, 28 when drafted) - Brock Osweiler, Arizona State (2012, 2nd round, early entry/one year starter)
If anything, the last two draft classes have helped fortify Parcells' train of thought, not detract from it.
So, with that in mind, who are the 2013 quarterback prospects that line up with Parcells' criteria? The general consensus has the following ten prospects as the top ten in this year's draft class, in some order resembling this:
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia 2. Matt Barkley, USC 3. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse 4. E.J. Manuel, Florida State 5. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas 6. Zach Dysert, Miami (OH) 7. Mike Glennon, N.C. State 8. Tyler Bray, Tennessee 9. Landry Jones, Oklahoma 10. Matt Scott, Arizona
Now we play a little game of Parcells QB Rules Survivor. Who gets to stay on 2013 NFL Draft island, and who gets ruled off?
1. Must be a senior This top ten is actually a pretty senior laden group, with Tyler Bray as the only true underclassman entry. (A handful of others still had eligibility left, but were all considered redshirt seniors.) So we cross Tyler Bray off the list, and on a list that's meant to capture maturity, that does feel like the right thing to do.
2. Must be at least a three year starter Of the nine remaining quarterbacks, only five of them started at least three seasons in college: Smith, Barkley, Nassib, Dysert, and Jones. So we say goodbye and "thanks for playing" to Manuel (ironically, Ponder's backup for two years), Wilson (backup to Ryan Mallett for two seasons), Glennon (ironically, Wilson's backup at N.C. State), and Scott (backup to 2012 third rounder Nick Foles).
3. Must have at least 23 wins as a starter We are down to five quarterbacks. Here are the career win totals for the guys still on the island:
Jones, 40 wins Barkley, 32 wins Smith, 26 wins Nassib, 21 wins Dysert, 15 wins
So it's adios to Nassib and Dysert, which brings us to the final Parcells Rule, the sheepskin....
4. Must be a college graduate There are no websites to go to for graduation status like there are for things like passing yards and win-loss records, but according to stories online, all three guys have either graduated or are on track to graduate -- Barkley graduated last spring, Jones was set to graduate last December, and according to sources close to Smith, he is also on track to get his degree this spring, if not shortly thereafter.
So there you have it, the Bill Parcells QB Big Board for 2013 likely has three names:
Geno Smith, West Virginia Matt Barkley, USC Landry Jones, Oklahoma
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And we didn't even have to dig into their Wonderlic scores.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.