NFL Scouting: Quarterbacks

Quarterback is probably the most difficult position to evaluate.  This is due to the complexity of the position and how much the surrounding factors impact performance.  A great quarterback on a terrible is likely to have some success, but will have to deal less time in the pocket due to a weaker offensive line and missed passing opportunities due to less skilled receivers (lack of ability to create separation).  While a quarterback on a great team will have the benefit of a clean pocket to throw from as well as receivers who are able to create significant separation, as well as create yardage after the catch.

How should we judge quarterbacks and what attributes should we look for?

When evaluating QB’s: Pocket Poise, Read Progression, Arm Strength, Anticipation, Accuracy, and Mobility

Pocket Poise
This refers to the players level of comfort in the pocket.  Are they able to stay in the pocket until it breaks down, or do they immediately become inaccurate if the pocket isn’t perfect.  The ability of the player to step into a throw a pass, knowing that they are going to take a hit.

Read Progression
When the first read is covered is the quarterback able to go through their progressions in an efficient manner to find the open player.  This is important to watch for on elite teams as the receivers may be so good, that they are almost always open.  In the NFL the first read is often not open, so this is an essential ability.

Arm Strength
A quarterback needs to be able to stretch the field and provide a downfield threat.  If a quarterback lacks this ability, it decreases the amount of the field that the defense has to defend.  In certain offensive schemes a player with limited arm strength, may still succeed if they have all the other traits, but it still limits the offense.

The ability of a player to throw a receiver open.  In the NFL the windows are much smaller than in college and the receivers often don’t look open, but a quarterback needs to throw to a spot (where the receiver will be).  Some quarterbacks are hesitant to throw unless they see the receiver open, this does not work in the NFL.

One of the most neglected aspects of quarterback evaluation.  In order to be successful on a consistent basis a quarterback must be accurate on a consistent basis.  Arm strength doesn’t matter if you aren’t accurate, really nothing else does.

This refers to two different types of mobility, first within the pocket and then outside the pocket.  Mobility within the pocket, is the ability of a player to feel pressure in the pocket and evade it (within the pocket).  This is a trait that all elite quarterbacks have and it allows them to extend the play and create big gains.  Mobility outside the pocket is the ability of a player to extend the play by evading a pass rusher and stepping outside of the pocket and getting to the edge.  True mobile quarterbacks will look to throw before tucking the ball and running, Russell Wilson is the most mobile quarterback in the NFL right now.


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