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Stats Say Kellen Clemens is a Keeper

Jane McManus talked to a football statistical expert who believes Kellen Clemens will develop into a quality pro quarterback.

Barnwell, a number cruncher who majored in communications, said there are only two relevant numbers when you are looking at whether a QB who goes in the top two rounds of the NFL draft will become a good starter.

The first number is career starts as a collegian, and the second is completion percentage. Clemens had a 61 percent completion percentage in 32 games, which Barnwell said gives him the potential to be in the top 10 NFL quarterbacks in his peak season.

Sanchez had a 64 percent completion percentage, but in just 16 games.


As for Clemens’ lackluster string of eight starts, Barnwell said the number of games is too small to statistically gauge Clemens’ potential. He said there are other QBs, such as Peyton Manning, who would have looked mediocre if judged on their first eight games as well.

It would oversimplify things to say only two numbers matter. It would make sense, though, that those two stats tell us a lot about quarterback play. Completion percentage tells us about accuracy, one of the most important qualties for passers. Games started tell us how refined a quarterback's game might be, how far along a player is in development. There are other factors such as the type of offensive system and quality of opponents that could distort those numbers. Every quarterback also has a different learning curve. Some might struggle in college and have it click in the pros.

The last point might be the most convincing. It's not just that a lot of great quarterbacks have gone through growing pains. Eight games isn't enough of a sample size to judge anybody fully. I think of a guy like Kordell Stewart who played like an MVP over a few eight game stretches. Was he a great quarterback?