Football Outsiders Career forecast: R.Wilson highest ever

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  • LCF stands for Lewin Career Forecast. This is a quarterback projection system created by Football Outsiders to predict the success of future QBs in the league. It does not consider height in it's projections. Before the draft, Wilson rated as the highest in the history of LCF- much higher than Luck and 100 points higher than RG3. In the article they call him the asterisk. It is clear that the reason for this is because they didn't think it was possible for a 3rd round QB to actually be better than two of the most highly touted QB prospects in history. In fact, they didn't even include him on the main chart of the article.

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/nfl-draft/2012/lewin-career-forecast-2012

    I would check out the whole article, but here's what they had to say about "The Asterisk". I don't know about you but I sort of like that nickname. He's one in a million. He's the exception to the rule. He's the Asterisk.


    Player Year LCF
    Russell Wilson 2012 2650
    Robert Griffi 2012 2530
    Philip Rivers 2004 2476
    Drew Brees 2001 2190
    Colt McCoy 2010 2092
    Carson Palmer 2003 1973
    Peyton Manning 1998 1784
    Andrew Luck 2012 1749
    Chad Pennington 2000 1678
    Brady Quinn 2007 1518
    Jason Campbell 2005 1506


    The Asterisk
    Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: 2,650 DYAR
    Important stats: 48 games started, 60.7% completion rate, senior passer rating rose 64.1 points.
    I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the ridiculous projection that the Lewin Career Forecast spits out for Russell Wilson. Yes, that projection is even higher than the one for Robert Griffin. No, it doesn't particularly mean that Wilson is a sleeper prospect. There are a few things going on here that the LCF is just not designed to account for.
    First and foremost, the change in Wilson's passer rating between his junior and senior years is insane. Remember that earlier I noted that Griffin had a larger senior year passer rating increase than any quarterback in our data set? Well, Wilson's senior year passer rating increase is 40 percent larger than Griffin's. But does it matter when the quarterback is playing in a completely different offense for a completely different school in his last year of college eligibility? At Wisconsin, Wilson got to pick apart defenses that were concentrating on stopping Montee Ball. At North Carolina State, I doubt opponents were quaking in their boots at the thought of Mustafa Greene and Dean Haynes. It goes without saying that there isn't another quarterback in the LCF data set who transferred between his junior and senior years.
    There's also the issue of height, another data point where there's nobody in our data set that can be compared to Wilson. At first, it seems strange that LCF doesn't include a variable to discount short quarterbacks, but when you look at the data set that went into creating LCF the reasons are pretty clear. There's no penalty for being 5-foot-11, like Wilson is, because there are no quarterbacks in the data set who are shorter than 6-foot-0. There's no penalty for being only 6-foot-0 because the two quarterbacks who are 6-foot-0 are Drew Brees and Michael Vick.
    Quarterbacks who are Wilson's height simply don't get drafted in the first three rounds of the draft, period. The FO master database only includes three quarterbacks who are below six feet tall: Seneca Wallace, Joe Hamilton, and Flutie. That's a fourth-round pick, a seventh-round pick, and an 11th round pick from 25 years ago. Even if we go all the way back to 1991, the only quarterbacks taken in the first six rounds at 6-foot-0 or shorter were Vick, Brees, Wallace, Joe Germaine (fourth round, 1999), and Troy Smith (fifth round, 2007).
    Wilson too will probably be drafted on the third day of the draft, round four or later, which would render his absurdly high LCF moot.
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  • Extremely interesting read. Even before people thought he had a shot, the machines already predicted him.

    They said the machine cant account for height and that because of his height, they thought the machine was wrong. Priceless.
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  • That's pretty cool but Colt McCoy was projected a better career than Peyton Manning?
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  • If machines are so great why don't they play quarterback!? HUH!?
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  • So the forecast says one thing and they discount it because of bias over height, pointing to batted balls, etc. Funny, then that Wilson had such a low batted ball count in college and continues to have the lowest batted ball count in the NFL.
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  • The problem with that system is taking into account how a staff uses them and what type of offense they run. Guys with high ceilings can fail based on the team around them and the system used and how coaches want them to play.

    It's nice to see that on paper that he has high possibilities though.
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  • And there is Russell Wilson's nickname: "The Asterisk".
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    The player formerly known as Russell Wilson
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  • Wilson isn't called "The Asterisk" in the Lewin Career Forecast because of his height. It's because a huge part of the LCF is the change in production between the players' junior and senior seasons, and Wilson transferred schools between those seasons. I remember this article from before the draft, and it's cool that Wilson had a higher score than anyone else, but when one of the main factors in the evaluation is improvement in stats between junior and senior seasons, that evaluation won't say a whole lot about someone with a variable like transferring schools after the junior year.
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  • jewhawk wrote:Wilson isn't called "The Asterisk" in the Lewin Career Forecast because of his height. It's because a huge part of the LCF is the change in production between the players' junior and senior seasons, and Wilson transferred schools between those seasons. I remember this article from before the draft, and it's cool that Wilson had a higher score than anyone else, but when one of the main factors in the evaluation is improvement in stats between junior and senior seasons, that evaluation won't say a whole lot about someone with a variable like transferring schools after the junior year.


    Actually you are incorrect. The asterisk is twofold: 1) Transfer 2) Height. The transfer one is ridiculous to me: NC State and Wisc are both big team school who face top teams on a regular basis.

    There's also the issue of height, another data point where there's nobody in our data set that can be compared to Wilson. At first, it seems strange that LCF doesn't include a variable to discount short quarterbacks, but when you look at the data set that went into creating LCF the reasons are pretty clear. There's no penalty for being 5-foot-11, like Wilson is, because there are no quarterbacks in the data set who are shorter than 6-foot-0. There's no penalty for being only 6-foot-0 because the two quarterbacks who are 6-foot-0 are Drew Brees and Michael Vick.
    Quarterbacks who are Wilson's height simply don't get drafted in the first three rounds of the draft, period. The FO master database only includes three quarterbacks who are below six feet tall: Seneca Wallace, Joe Hamilton, and Flutie. That's a fourth-round pick, a seventh-round pick, and an 11th round pick from 25 years ago. Even if we go all the way back to 1991, the only quarterbacks taken in the first six rounds at 6-foot-0 or shorter were Vick, Brees, Wallace, Joe Germaine (fourth round, 1999), and Troy Smith (fifth round, 2007).
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  • jewhawk wrote:Wilson isn't called "The Asterisk" in the Lewin Career Forecast because of his height. It's because a huge part of the LCF is the change in production between the players' junior and senior seasons, and Wilson transferred schools between those seasons. I remember this article from before the draft, and it's cool that Wilson had a higher score than anyone else, but when one of the main factors in the evaluation is improvement in stats between junior and senior seasons, that evaluation won't say a whole lot about someone with a variable like transferring schools after the junior year.


    but hes hardly the first player to do that.
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  • Cam Newton....EDIT - transferred Sophmore to Junior and didn't play senior season
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  • lukerguy wrote:Actually you are incorrect. The asterisk is twofold: 1) Transfer 2) Height. The transfer one is ridiculous to me: NC State and Wisc are both big team school who face top teams on a regular basis.

    The LCF calculation doesn't include height. I took the article's mention of height as an aside about why Wilson might be drafted lower than his LCF number suggested he should, but it was not a factor in his number being inflated like transferring was.

    Cartire wrote:
    jewhawk wrote:(transferring)


    but hes hardly the first player to do that.

    The LCF only includes QBs drafted in the first 3 rounds. Had any other QBs ever drafted in the first 3 rounds transferred after their junior years?
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  • Just to clarify: I'm not knocking Wilson or the methodology of the LCF. I just think when a projection system of college-to-NFL QB prospects uses a change in QB rating between junior and senior seasons as one of its main points, you can throw out the results of any QB with such a significant variable as transferring schools between those seasons. That's not a knock on Wilson and doesn't lower what I would project for his career, but this particular model is not very relevant for someone with a variable like transferring after the junior year.
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  • He still was at a major college program and increased his production tremendously. Moreover, his production was amazing in absolute terms. You might be able to make the case that the model's predictive ability is somewhat diminished, because it hadn't been tested for this scenario, but to discount it entirely? That's bizarre. Not even a sleeper? Before this result, you could have said Lewin was unpredictable for this case. Now we have more information. Now we know that you COULD NOT throw out Wilson's results. We now know that the rationalizations to do so were absolutely incorrect. They were laughable on the face of it and now empirically wrong.

    The thing about height is important because you have to understand why the author was so eager to rationalize away an unexpected result. The rationalization (transfer) was poor, so there must be more to it. And, of course, that's the height and especially the loud "expert" opinion regarding height's impact.

    I went back and looked at public comments on the draft cards for Wilson, and it was incredible the things NC State fans and Wisconsin fans were saying. Someone said, right after he was drafted, "Wilson will be the opening day starter for Seattle." The people who watched him week in and week out knew exactly what Wilson was capable of...and they've been proven irrefutably right.
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  • I am one of those that did watch him throughout NC State and then kept following him at Wisconsin. But I don't think you can ignore the fact that he changed schools.

    Lets go to the extreme - ever see Georgia Tech play football? They don't throw the ball more than a few times. So someone going from that to USC would have amazing jump regardless of how successful they were.

    Not as much difference between NC State and Wisconsin but still a huge difference

    WITH THAT SAID

    I knew RW would be special when he came back to NC State after playing baseball and he was significantly better than the season before. It absolutely stunned me. I expect him to suck the first game but he just kept getting better and better. His work ethic is the foundation for his success and we are seeing it yet again. Good for him and I hope he stays healthy until the big pay-day comes in 3 years (I hope for more but for HIS sake I hope he gets the $60-100 million contract)
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  • formido wrote:He still was at a major college program and increased his production tremendously. Moreover, his production was amazing in absolute terms. You might be able to make the case that the model's predictive ability is somewhat diminished, because it hadn't been tested for this scenario, but to discount it entirely? That's bizarre. Not even a sleeper? Before this result, you could have said Lewin was unpredictable for this case. Now we have more information. Now we know that you COULD NOT throw out Wilson's results. We now know that the rationalizations to do so were absolutely incorrect. They were laughable on the face of it and now empirically wrong.

    You're misunderstanding my point. My entire point was that this model's predictive ability with regards to Wilson was diminished (I would probably say diminished more so than you would). I wasn't saying throw out his results as meaningless. You're obviously right that his tremendous production at a major college program was a huge part of his pro prospects - I was talking only about this particular model for projection. Just because Wilson is doing very well doesn't mean that every predictive statistical model before the draft that projected big things from Wilson was a good one. FWIW, I was very, very high on Wilson leading up to the draft (at the time, I considered him the 3rd best QB prospect in the draft) and have been one of his biggest supporters this year, so I'm not trying to be critical of him in any way. I'm just pointing out that the LCF is going to be skewed for any QB who transferred after his junior year.
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  • We discussed this a lot between the draft and the preseason, but definitely worth another discussion. Wilson has definitely shattered pretty much every realistic expectation.
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  • I mean, what does it mean to throw out Wilson's results because he transferred anyway? He broke the major college record for passing efficiency. Is a player more likely to do that after transferring? Clearly not. In fact, it's if anything MORE IMPRESSIVE that Wilson did it after having to learn a new system.

    I guess his delta between two years could be artificially improved if he moved from a team with no weapons to one with a good offense. On the other hand, let's repeat: He broke the major college record for passing efficiency! Either he was going to have a nice delta between seasons no matter where he played or he was going to play at an all time level for two straight seasons. Very hard to make the case he should be discounted either way.

    Aside from all that, the author didn't even say, "Well, Wilson might be a good QB, but this model can't predict it." He actually said he wasn't even a sleeper! That's how much rationalizing away the result was going on. If he was taking a high-minded, scientific view of the result, that's one thing. He should have still said, well, Wilson did break the major college record for passing efficiency, so he's got to be on your radar even though this model can't handle it. Instead, we know that this dude was so biased against Wilson, he didn't even think he belonged in the conversation to begin with. And that attitude is a much better explanation for his rationalizing away Wilson's result than any supposed methodological flaw. If there is a model flaw in transfers, it's that Lewin would be much likelier to undervalue a QB after a transfer, not overvalue him.

    That's a major problem with how statistical models are used by the way. "Oh, I don't like this result. There must be something wrong with the model."

    Wilson has that one intangible which separates all time greats. He gets better. He significantly improves with deliberate practice. We know this. It's demonstrated. Not everyone can do it. Very few can do it to the level he's shown to do it. Getting better with deliberate practice is a property of the elites in every field of human endeavor. I think unadjusted Lewin was spot on and I'd take Wilson every day over Luck and Griffin. I thought so in the middle of preseason, when all I knew about him was his couple games, and after doing more research, I'm more confident than ever.
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  • jewhawk wrote:
    lukerguy wrote:Actually you are incorrect. The asterisk is twofold: 1) Transfer 2) Height. The transfer one is ridiculous to me: NC State and Wisc are both big team school who face top teams on a regular basis.

    The LCF calculation doesn't include height. I took the article's mention of height as an aside about why Wilson might be drafted lower than his LCF number suggested he should, but it was not a factor in his number being inflated like transferring was.


    The original argument was that the asterisk was solely to do with the fact that he transferred school. I disagree. If that was the only reason, then they wouldn't have started the part regarding his height with
    There's also the issue of height
    . The words ALSO and ISSUE do not lead the reader to believe that this is an issue "aside about why Wilson might be drafted lower than his LCF". Rather, they lead the reader to believe that the entire LCF score has an asterisk for two reason- one of them being transfer, and the other being height.
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  • There is a limited data set for quarterbacks to try and do this level of analysis, so this rating system is not well thought out in the first place.
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  • formido wrote:He still was at a major college program and increased his production tremendously. Moreover, his production was amazing in absolute terms. You might be able to make the case that the model's predictive ability is somewhat diminished, because it hadn't been tested for this scenario, but to discount it entirely? That's bizarre. Not even a sleeper? Before this result, you could have said Lewin was unpredictable for this case. Now we have more information. Now we know that you COULD NOT throw out Wilson's results. We now know that the rationalizations to do so were absolutely incorrect. They were laughable on the face of it and now empirically wrong.

    The thing about height is important because you have to understand why the author was so eager to rationalize away an unexpected result. The rationalization (transfer) was poor, so there must be more to it. And, of course, that's the height and especially the loud "expert" opinion regarding height's impact.

    I went back and looked at public comments on the draft cards for Wilson, and it was incredible the things NC State fans and Wisconsin fans were saying. Someone said, right after he was drafted, "Wilson will be the opening day starter for Seattle." The people who watched him week in and week out knew exactly what Wilson was capable of...and they've been proven irrefutably right.

    You should post more.
    The interview of Wilson's college coach right after he was drafted was like those public comments. He said that in an open competition, Wilson would win the job straight up over anyone else, but that the first time he met Wilson, he wondered where the rest of the guy was. It took all of one practice before he forgot about the height.

    Russell says it all the time, "My height does not define my skill set".
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  • I would think that his transfer would be more heavily (+) weighted in their equation(s). The ability to move from one system to an entirely different one would lead me to believe that its a pretty good indicator of that players ability to adapt to the pro game in general, and a particular teams personnel and offensive scheme in particular. Interesting article though.
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  • lukerguy wrote:
    jewhawk wrote:Wilson isn't called "The Asterisk" in the Lewin Career Forecast because of his height. It's because a huge part of the LCF is the change in production between the players' junior and senior seasons, and Wilson transferred schools between those seasons. I remember this article from before the draft, and it's cool that Wilson had a higher score than anyone else, but when one of the main factors in the evaluation is improvement in stats between junior and senior seasons, that evaluation won't say a whole lot about someone with a variable like transferring schools after the junior year.


    Actually you are incorrect. The asterisk is twofold: 1) Transfer 2) Height. The transfer one is ridiculous to me: NC State and Wisc are both big team school who face top teams on a regular basis.

    There's also the issue of height, another data point where there's nobody in our data set that can be compared to Wilson. At first, it seems strange that LCF doesn't include a variable to discount short quarterbacks, but when you look at the data set that went into creating LCF the reasons are pretty clear. There's no penalty for being 5-foot-11, like Wilson is, because there are no quarterbacks in the data set who are shorter than 6-foot-0. There's no penalty for being only 6-foot-0 because the two quarterbacks who are 6-foot-0 are Drew Brees and Michael Vick.
    Quarterbacks who are Wilson's height simply don't get drafted in the first three rounds of the draft, period. The FO master database only includes three quarterbacks who are below six feet tall: Seneca Wallace, Joe Hamilton, and Flutie. That's a fourth-round pick, a seventh-round pick, and an 11th round pick from 25 years ago. Even if we go all the way back to 1991, the only quarterbacks taken in the first six rounds at 6-foot-0 or shorter were Vick, Brees, Wallace, Joe Germaine (fourth round, 1999), and Troy Smith (fifth round, 2007).


    It's also based on the fact that they figured he wouldn't be in the top 3 rounds. LCF only accounts for guys that were taken in rounds 1-3. They had Wilson pegged as a 4th or lower. If you go through and read the comments on the article there were a lot of people asking if Schatz was going to update the list to include Wilson since he was a 3rd round pick.
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