Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Apr 2009

Mark Sanchez: Quality Over Quantity

The penultimate PreDraft prospect profile for the Washington Post goes in depth with the USC quarterback. We talk about small sample size, coming back from upset losses, undersold arm strength, and much more.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 21 Apr 2009

18 comments, Last at 25 Apr 2009, 9:41am by roguerouge


by AlanSP :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 1:16am

Quality really doesn't make up for low quantity when you're trying to evaluate someone. B.J. Upton's monster performance in the playoffs last season doesn't make me believe he's a big-time power hitter, no matter how big the stage was. The fundamental problem with small sample size is noise; you don't know if that great season was a fluke or something indicative of his actual ability. The fact that they were big games does nothing to address that problem.

That said, I still think Sanchez is the best bet at QB in this class, partly because the rest of the class looks so bad and partly because there's not a lot to criticize about Sanchez's play other than the relatively small amount of it. If I'm picking between two guys that each had only one good season in college, I'm going with the one who didn't also have two crappy seasons preceding it.

by Jerry :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 2:10am

You may prefer the guy without the crappy seasons, but you probably don't want to spend a first round pick and first round QB money on him. That's some of what we've learned from Dave Lewin's research.

by Whelk :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 10:43am

People don't believe that BJ Upton is/will be a big time power hitter because of his monster performance in the playoffs last year. They believe it because of his swing (which scouts predicted would produce power), his minor league numbers, his ridiculous HR/FB ratio two years ago, and the fact that he was playing with a shoulder injury last year which helped explain his lack of power. The postseason explosion was merely a reassurance that the expected power was still in there somewhere.

The same logic can be applied to Mark Sanchez. While 16 starts isn't enough to declare him a sure bet, success in a small sample size is much more noteworthy and reassuring when combined with a quality arm, good footwork and other fundamental skills.

by Harris :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 11:34am

Except that, under Carroll, USC has produced a lot of players, especially offensive players, who look incredible in college only to under-perform in the NFL. I'm not saying Sanchez will necessarily follow that pattern, but it's something to consider.

Hail Hydra!

by tuluse :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 5:05pm

However, USC quarterbacks have looked pretty good. Except Leinart, but he still looks like he could be good.

by AlanSP :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 10:02pm

Which is to say that Carson Palmer has looked good. Booty hasn't played and Cassel is sort of irrelevant to the discussion because he basically never got to play QB at USC (33 passes in a 4 year career there).

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Thu, 04/23/2009 - 2:06pm

True USC has lots of overrated players playing in the pros under carrol. Carson Palmer is terrible, troy polamalu is ghastly, lofa tatupu is no good, lendale white and reggie bush definately arent even close to starter material (oh wait they still are useful offensive players), Cassel didn't just get franchised, Steve Smith isnt gonna be a starter next year, and deuce lutui didnt block for one of the best offenses in the league last year. Last year sam baker had nothing to do with the falcons running game taking flight. Keith Rivers is definately a bust because he got his jaw broken.

My next post i will leave my name, number, serial number, how tall i am, and whether i am susceptible to any diseases so that you guys can give me whatever you all are smoking!

by AlanSP :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 10:17pm

My point with Upton was that if you just watched the playoffs last year, you'd think that he's one of the top power hitters in the game (not that he will be or can be; that he is). The "quality over quantity" argument that was being advanced with regard to Sanchez is that big games (like the playoffs) mean more, which I think is silly. If you want to argue from his performance in previous years or in the minors, that's fine, because then you're looking at a decent-sized sample.

by roguerouge :: Sat, 04/25/2009 - 9:41am

A better example for the idea that you're talking about would be Jerome James, one of the worst free agent signings ever.

"James has averaged 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 358 career games (180 games started). James played well for the Seattle SuperSonics during the 2005 NBA playoffs, averaging 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 11 games against the Kings and San Antonio Spurs. After the 2004-2005 season, he signed a 5-year $30 million free-agent contract with the Knicks. He arrived at his first training camp out of shape and in his first season he only averaged 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9 minutes per game."

While James had a large sample size that was ignored, making it not a precise match to Sanchez, it does illustrate the perils of over-reactions based on small sample size.

by dadmg (not verified) :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 4:15am

While I think Sanchez has the most NFL ready skillset in this year's class (good decision maker, good footwork, works through his reads, etc.), I would have to be ultra-convinced of his character from background checks. From what I've read regarding his sexual assault charges (which, to be clear, were dropped) and a few other incidents, he'd be red-flagged off my board entirely unless the background reports were quite convincing. Should be a damn good player, but i wouldn't want him anywhere near my team.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 8:33am

So you mean Jemarcus Russell and a stacked LSU team crushing Brady Quinn and a Notre Dame team that fell apart the following year shouldn't have been viewed as the most important single game in those players careers and used as a direct comparison???

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 8:42am

"Well, as you said, the footwork really helps in the pocket," he said. "It's about being quick, not fast, and moving in that five- to ten-yard box in the pocket. Your feet are really your base in whatever you're doing, and they set you up for the rest of the throw and the rest of the play.

If I am the Jags, Jets, Redskins, Broncos, Seahawks or any team drafting Sanchez, I am not even thinking about playing him in year 1, and maybe having him sit year 2 as well. I'd much rather have Sanchez after his 5th year, but he decided to come out now.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 8:43am

dadmg- What "other incidends" do you speak of? I also agree with everything you said.

by parker (not verified) :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 11:28pm

Please stop posting (qb name redacted) and Redskins in the same post. We don't want him. And by we, I mean me.

by parker (not verified) :: Wed, 04/22/2009 - 11:30pm

I think this 1st round will be full of good/great players save from the qb position. The Skins really can't do wrong. All they have to do is not take a qb or anyone last name Pettigrew. How hard is that?

by AlanSP :: Thu, 04/23/2009 - 8:39am

Oh, there are plenty of ways the Redskins could go wrong, as there will be plenty of busts from other positions. I would be stunned if Robert Ayers was successful in the NFL, for example.

by R O (not verified) :: Thu, 04/23/2009 - 3:45pm

I thought this was going to be some sort of stats based scouting report. That's the kind of information I want to see and be linked to on FO.

I give less than a crap about interviews. Who cares? Of course the kid think's he's good and will try to sell it. Is that news or even interesting?

Personally I say no.

by Josh :: Fri, 04/24/2009 - 2:41pm

I wouldn't take either Sanchez or Stafford, but, if forced to chose, I think Sanchez would be less harmful.