In a wonderful article featured in this weeks issue of ESPN Magazine, our friends at Football Outsiders have detailed a historical statistical comparison for 35 current QBs in the NFL.
The criteria for the comparison (quoted from ESPN Magazine by Peter Keating):
For each of these QBs, Outsiders looked at the 3 most recent seasons, then identified past QBs with the most similar three-season span since 1978 (when the league liberalized passing rules and expanded its schedule to 16 games). Then Outsiders projected career totals for these 35 quarterbacks, based on how their historical doppelgangers went on to perform.
The top 10:
1. Peyton Manning (Brett Favre 2000-02, Trent Green 2001-03, Dan Marino 1990-92)
2. Brett Favre (Warren Moon 1993-95, John Elway 1994-96, Dan Marino 1996-98)
3. Drew Brees (Tom Brady 2005-07, Peyton Manning 2001-03, Dan Fouts 1979-81)
4. Tom Brady (Peyton Manning 2002-04, Daunte Culpepper 2002-04, Trent Green 2002-04)
5. Carson Palmer (Peyton Manning 2000-02, Tom Brady 2003-05, Jim Everett 1988-90)
6. Donovan McNabb (Mark Brunell 1998-00, Vinny Testaverde 1994-96, Dave Krieg 1988-90)
7. Jay Cutler (Joe Montana 1980-82, Peyton Manning 1998-00, Brett Favre 1993-95)
8. Kerry Collins (Bobby Hebert 1994-96, Greg Landry 1977-79, Mike Tomzack 1994-96)
9. Philip Rivers (Tom Brady 2002-04, Danny White 1980-82, Drew Brees 2004-06)
10. Ben Roethlisberger (Ken O'Brien 1985-87, Jim Zorn 1978-80, Troy Aikman 1990-92)
The study lists Jay Cutler as #7 out of 35. And for humorous comparison sake, it lists Kyle Orton as #32. Football Outsiders predicts Peyton Manning will finish his career as the all-time passing leader in yards and TDs. Not a very surprising prediction, especially after looking at the numbers myself in my own recent comparison study - By the numbers: How Cutler stacks up to the NFL's All-Time best
Comparisons on Jay Cutler
The QB with a three-year stretch most similar to Jay Cutler's career through 2008 was Joe Montana from 1980 to 1982. That's a pretty amazing comp. Cutler's other two closest comparisons were Peyton Manning from 1998 to 2000 and Brett Favre from 1993 to 1995. These comparisons are simply incredible. Cutler's doing right now, what the best of all-time have done in the beginning of their careers. Outsiders predicts Cutler will play for 11 more seasons and throw for roughly 44,000 yards in his career.
Projections: 190 GS | 3,997 COMP | 6,341 ATT | 234 TD | 188 INT | 62.7 COMP%.
Bottom Line: Look on my works, ye Broncos, and despair.
Comparisons on Kyle Orton
Orton's closest comps were Rex Grossman, Steve Pelluer, and Chris Chander. Not exactly dazzlers. They predict Orton will play for 6 more years and throw for roughly 12,000 yards when he's done.
Projections: 73 GS | 1,135 COMP | 1,963 ATT | 63 TD | 50 INT | 57.8 COMP%.
Bottom line: Low yards per attempt (5.8) not a promising sign of future success.
Here's the magazine cover