KCCD Staff Writer: The Film Room
First in a series of posts detailing what to look for when evaluating NFL Draft prospects, we take a look at what you should be looking for when scouting college quarterbacks.
The most important thing when evaluating a prospect is power. It’s a raw tool that typically doesn’t change throughout the development of a QB from college to the pro game. The further a QB can get the ball and the velocity a QB has is the most precious commodity when valuing a QB for the draft. As a fan you want to look for angles. If the ball is thrown on a “rope” for long distance then that is velocity. The higher the angle the more variables that the QB introduces.
Along with trajectory/angles the other thing when determining power is distance. The further a QB can get the ball to travel the more options that a QB gives a play caller. There are offenses in the NFL that require a QB to have tools that threaten a defense 30+ yards. Pittsburgh, San Diego, Oakland are a few teams that the Chiefs have faced in the past that value deep zones of the field. Power is important because it’s the number one thing that translates to any NFL playbook. Giving the QB with great power more appeal to more schemes.
Many NFL offenses today incorporate the short passing game. The second best attribute in a QB prospect is accuracy. Brees, Rodgers, Brady are QB’s who operate offenses whose route development are short and reads are quick. Accuracy encompasses footwork, arm motion, mental approach – these are mechanics which through work can be improved unlike power which is more natural. Hence why QB’s on the college level that are statistically dominant without great power aren’t valued as high.
When watching a prospects footwork, pay attention to the QB’s balance. Some QB’s do a baseball like stride when they throw the ball. More motion in the feet means more motion in the body. More motion means the QB is introducing more variables, more variances (or chance of variances) in the QB passes. Consistent feet mean a consistent throw. Arm motion follow the feet. QB’s that don’t plant and apply pressure with their feet are going to have to compensate for power in other ways. Momentum is usually the alternative to not having ideal footwork. Longer motion to generate force means the mechanism (arm) used for accuracy is the same mechanism required to generate the force. Making the ball harder to control. The most accurate QB’s generate force from both feet while the arm is simply used for accuracy.
The accurate passers have some of the shortest arm motions. Rodgers, who is one of the most accurate passers, has the most compact release. His arm motion rarely changes. This is what you want to identify second in a passer. You want to identify the wasted motion. More wasted motion equals more variables. With accuracy the QB’s with the least variables in their motion typically equal a better passer.
Size is important because of angles and durability. In history, QB’s of all sizes have had success so certainly this is lower on the list. Height does change angles for a passer, especially at the LOS when trying to hit windows. The bigger the prospect at QB the more options he has to deliver the football. Essentially, this is the main advantage that teams draft with height, the ability to have more passing angles in the passing game.
Durability isn’t exclusive to tall players, but tall players can carry more weight, at time making them comparable to the defenders that try to bring the down. You are looking for the QB that can absorb contact play to play, game to game, typically that player who can withstand the grind has to be bigger.
This is the last thing that I consider with the QB position. Speed, when used correctly, can extend plays. It can create opportunities that slower counterparts can’t. Also for young players it’s a great asset when the mechanics aren’t quite on par to that of their veteran counterparts. Speed erases mistakes in reads and play calling.
The reason I have speed as the last part I evaluate with a QB is because no matter how fast the QB is, on average, the running backs and receivers are faster. The key is to get them the ball, so evaluating speed at QB should be looked at as a bonus and nothing that should be game planned around.
If unsure about two prospects in terms of accuracy, power, size then I will use speed to seperate the two. To me it’s an asset but shouldn’t be factored until everything else the QB does is factored.