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Trade for Nick Foles or draft a 2013 QB?
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Image by by Matthew Straubmuller

When Chip Kelly took the Eagles head coaching job people immediately began to wonder  about Nick Foles’ future. In his rookie season, Foles was pressed into action for seven games after a Vick injury. It seems as though he showed enough to be given further consideration as a long-term franchise leader, whether that’s in Philadelphia or elsewhere. But given his limited athleticism, is he a fit for Coach Kelly’s offense? If not, does it make sense for a QB-deficient team to trade for him a la Matt Schaub or Matt Cassell? Or, would it make more sense for that team to just draft a 2013 QB? Let’s examine Nick Foles against the top three prospects of the 2013 QB class.

First, we will check on their measurables. Because of limited data on the 2013 class, we cannot compare their drill performances. I would probably classify Foles and Barkley as similar athletes, and then pair E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith together. It’s interesting to note the enormous frames on Foles and Manuel.

QB Elig. Season College Ht. Wt. Hand Arm
Foles, Nick SR 2011 Arizona 77.0 243 10.6 34.3
Smith, Geno SR 2012 WVU 74.4 227 9.3 32.5
Barkley, Matt SR 2012 USC 74.5 218 10.1 30.6
Manuel, EJ SR 2012 Florida St 76.6 237 10.4 35.0

When projecting a college quarterback, we want to see how they fare against the best competition on their schedule in their final collegiate season. Who cares what numbers they put up against the Jacksonville States of the world? From here on out, we will isolate on games played against competition that ended the season with a .500 or better record. Note that Foles played the most ‘tough games’ while also managing to match Geno Smith with a high propensity for throwing touchdowns. Barkley achieved multi-touchdown games less often, but when he did, he went big.

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The quantity of pass attempts isn’t an indicator on its own. However, it is interesting to see that Foles and Geno threw the ball most in big games, while also managing to complete passes at the highest rates.

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On a per-attempt basis, all four players are gaining 7+ yards/att, which is solid. Note that Manuel and Barkley push the ball farthest downfield, while also being most prone to interceptions.

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Overall, all four players grade very similarly, with Geno coming out on top due to his ability to protect the ball.

QB NCAA QB rtng NFL QB rtng*
Smith, Geno 148.4 106
Foles, Nick 144.4 98.2
Manuel, EJ 143.1 93.9
Barkley, Matt 143.1 91.1

*final college season numbers applied to NFL formula

(Note that these four are a cut above Ryan Nassib, Jake Locker, and Christian Ponder)

Throughout this exercise, Nick Foles held his own against the best QBs of 2013. So, pretend you’re an NFL team and could acquire Foles for a second round pick. Why wouldn’t you trade for him? He is a comparable prospect that can be had at a relative discount. Plus, he’s a known commodity that you can scout against NFL competition, rather than project college tape. It makes sense for the Eagles too because they’d be exchanging a 2012 3rd round pick for a 2013 2nd round pick, which would be valuable to a rebuilding franchise. The fact that this makes so much sense, but the Eagles haven’t done it, leads me to believe that they think Foles can be a franchise quarterback in Chip Kelly’s system.

“I’ll tell you what; I’m glad Nick Foles is graduating. I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes. … Nick is a hell of a football player. That kid’s a warrior. He’s as good as anyone in the country.”

Chip Kelly, September 2011, after having coached against Nick Foles on three occasions, and Andrew Luck twice.

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