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How does rule of 26-27-60 apply to this year’s QB class?

03.20.14 at 12:55 pm ET
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Johnny Manziel figures to be an early pick in this year's NFL Draft. (AP)

Johnny Manziel figures to be an early pick in this year’s NFL Draft. (AP)

History tells us that trying to find a franchise quarterback can be a bit of a crapshoot, but there are a few guidelines you can use along the way to figure out what sort of success a college signal-caller might have at the next level. One of those guidelines is the rule of 26-27-60.

The rule has been knocking around for a few years — Football Outsiders wrote about it in its 2006 edition of the Pro Football Prospectus, and in 2010, Sports Illustrated writer John Lopez expanded on the idea. Simply put, it states that if a quarterback scored at least a 26 on the Wonderlic test, started at least 27 college games and completed at least 60 percent of his passes as a collegian, there’€™s a good chance he will succeed at the NFL level.

No formula is perfect, but it’€™s been a pretty fair barometer of success over the last decade or so. Since 1998, here’€™s a look at who has passed and who has failed.

Pass: Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III.

Fail: Ryan Leaf, David Carr, Akili Smith, JaMarcus Russell, Tim Couch, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Jake Locker.

No formula is perfect, as there are exceptions to the rule: Tom Brady, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger all fell just short in one of the three categories. Brady fell one short when it came to starts (he had 26 instead of 27, but that could be blamed on the shortsightedness of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr), while Roethlisberger posted a 25 on the Wonderlic and Flacco made 26 career starts. Between the three of them, they have six Super Bowl rings. And Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb fell short when it came to their Wonderlic scores.

Conversely, there are quarterbacks who have passed all three categories relatively easily, only to come up lacking at the NFL level, including Matt Leinart, Greg McIlroy, Brandon Weeden and Christian Ponder.

However, the formula also serves as some measure of validation for some of the under-the-radar draftees. In 2012, five of the top seven quarterbacks in the draft that year passed, including Wilson and Foles, two third-round picks who have gone onto exceed expectations in their relatively short time in the NFL.

Without the benefit of this year’€™s Wonderlic scores, we can’€™t get a completely accurate picture of how this year’€™s class stacks up. But armed with starts and completion percentage, here’€™s a breakdown of 10 of this year’€™s quarterbacks.

Aaron Murray: 52 starts, 62.3 percent completion rate
Chase Rettig: 46 starts, 55.2 percent completion rate
Jimmy Garoppolo: 45 starts, 62.8 percent completion rate
Tajh Boyd: 40 starts, 64.3 percent completion rate
Derek Carr: 39 starts, 66.7 percent completion rate
A.J. McCarron: 39 starts, 66.9 percent completion rate
Teddy Bridgewater: 34 starts, 68 percent completion rate
Blake Bortles: 27 starts, 65.7 percent completion rate
Johnny Manziel: 25 starts, 68.9 percent completion rate
Zack Mettenberger: 25 starts, 61.8 percent completion rate

There’€™s no magic formula when determining what quarterbacks will succeed or fail when they get to the NFL. But history tells us that more often than not, the rule of 26-27-60 provides us a small measure of insight as to what the future might hold for a collegiate signal-caller at the next level.

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