By Wayne B. Jones for TonySoftli.com

The 2016 National Football League Draft is rich in defensive lineman, cornerbacks and offensive tackles. But the quest for the elusive franchise quarterback is still at the top of most team’s draft lists. Between 1998 and 2010 about 50% of all quarterbacks drafted in the first round were either a failure or bust. For every Peyton Manning there was a Ryan Leaf. For every Donovan McNabb there was an Akili Smith. The quarterback position is the most important in team sports, but it is also the most difficult to evaluate and project from the college level to the pros. Finding one is difficult, it is akin to searching for gold but ending up with fool’s gold.

Evaluating an NFL quarterback prospect is an art, not a science. There is so much more to the process then analyzing stats, height and arm strength. The prospects transition from college football to the NFL is significant. The majority of today’s college offenses use some form of the spread, a system in which the quarterback usually reads only half the field on a given play. A quarterback in the NFL is asked to do many things in a short period of time.

To be a successful quarterback in the NFL, you have to have outstanding instincts. A good quarterback has to anticipate what’s happening on the field and understand the nuances of football better than anybody else on the team.

The best quarterbacks are:

Great leaders and extremely competitive people. They hate to lose in anything they do. They love to compete and give their teammates the feeling they can get the job done when the game is on the line.

Accurate passers. Accuracy/ball placement is very important when evaluating a quarterback. In high school and college football, the window to complete a pass is usually five to fifteen yards. In the NFL it is a lot tighter, even to one yard. Quarterbacks with good ball placement skills will not only consistently put the ball in an area where the defender can’t get to it, but they will also throw the ball where the receiver has a chance to do something with it after the catch.

Mentally sharp. The ability to process information quickly is a key component to success. Most NFL defenses are designed to attack the pocket. A top quarterback must be able to make proper reads and make them fast. If he makes poor decisions with the ball, he will not play. Just because a person is smart doesn’t mean he can make decisions under pressure.

QB Carson Wentz   North Dakota State  (6’5”, 237, 4.71)

Strengths:

Wentz has excellent size and mobility. Sets up quickly, has a strong arm and quick release. Mobile in the pocket, can extend plays with his feet. Throws a catchable ball, good touch pass. Has enough athleticism to keep plays alive.

Weaknesses:

To wide of a base, does not transfer weight well on throws. Footwork is inconsistent, throws off of the wrong foot. Deep ball floats. Needs to add more muscle to body frame. Ball placement is poor when under pressure. Does not pick up the blitz well.

Summation:

Wentz is a big strong arm quarterback with a quick release. He can make all the throws required to play in the NFL. He is talented and has an upside but the lower level of competition he played against is a major red flag. His footwork and accuracy needs to improve. After taking a solid hit he becomes skittish in the pocket. He should sit and learn for a year. If he has to start right away, it could be a disaster. He is a 3rd to 4th round talent but he will get drafted high in the 1st round.