The 2015 QB draft class has limited talent throughout the rounds, but the top five to seven signal callers in 2015 have a chance to get drafted, success may be another question. What the NFL, fans and the league learned in 2012 was that in order to win your division, go deep in the playoffs and have an opportunity to win the Super Bowl, the pocket passer is still a much-needed commodity. But the new wave of the dual threat quarterbacks being produced at the college level of competition will affect the NFL landscape in the very near future.
Having an elite quarterback at the helm is every franchise’s No. 1 priority. I try to avoid the comparison game. Not only will that get you in trouble, it basically gives talent evaluators a comfort zone in which they feel good about a player instead of grading them for the attributes and skill set they bring to the table and how those skills can be utilized at the next level.
This is the first position of the Top 5 by position series. I will explain in detail the critical factors and athletic skill set for each position, which is what NFL personnel men look for when grading a player’s DNA (film), and how size, speed, injuries and character issues may affect draft boards in all 32 war rooms.
Football Intelligence: Student of the game; film breakdown and playbook memorization. Football instincts with read reaction quickness and the ability to process information or situations fast. View the game like a coordinator. Help assimilate game plans.
Mental Awareness: Intelligence, ability to take hard coaching, understanding coverages and ability to read defenses on the move. Make quick and good decisions while under pressure.
Leadership: Natural born leader, most respectful leader on the team, commands respect in the huddle.
Competitiveness: A clutch player with a win-at-all-cost attitude, with a high level of intensity. He is at his best under adverse and pressure situations, with the will to win. He has confidence in himself and his teammates have confidence in him.
Toughness: This most unprotected player in the game must have a high level of toughness. A clutch player to consistently deliver under pressure with ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.
Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations and in red zone with consistent results.
Arm Strength: The ability to spin the ball with a tight spiral, good velocity and zip, with the ability to deliver underneath with touch. Has deep ball accuracy with very little air under ball.
Third-Down Efficiency: Sustain drive production, clutch situational habits under pressure to convert.
Size/Strength: Does he meet the requirements for the position? Can he take the punishment and still deliver production?
Athletic Skill Set
Athletic Ability: Quickness, speed and ability to change direction with burst. Mobility allowing production beyond the LOS.
Accuracy: Split into two categories – 1. Short: ability to stick it on the receiver, accuracy and touch is more important than strength, along with anticipation and timing of routes. 2. Long: throw to an area and allow receivers to run under the ball or the ability to hit the receiver in stride with good ball placement.
Set-up quickness: Quickness from under center in traditional offense with smooth transition to get into drops.
Ball Handling: Footwork and ball protection on play-action fakes.
Drop: Foot quickness, punch step with smooth stride tree-, five-, seven-step drops with strong anchor. Look off safety in drops with eyes, shoulders and pump fake.
Delivery: Rhythm and timing are very important, with weight transfer and foot balance (18-25) inches, any wider then that is considered over striding, which effects a quarterbacks release point and accuracy. Is follow-through like a pitcher (body weight ending over post leg)?
Poise in Pocket: Stand tall in pocket under pressure keeping eyes down field on receivers with good field vision. Chuck and duck balls under pressure, takes too many sacks, gives up on third option
Escape Ability: good feet to escape and buy time in or outside pocket. Can avoid pressure, lacks feet to escape, plotter and heavy footed, inconsistent to escape and buy time.
Release: Can throw from different platforms with release over ear, shoulder or sidearm sling, passing off one foot.
Arm Strength: Spin football with velocity, turn out zip, deep ball. Does the quarterback use a lot of hip torque or all upper body arm and shoulder thrower. Throw the ball with effortless motion.
Pocket Awareness: Feeling pressure to step up and elude outside pressure off edge or up the middle squezze.
Decision Maker: A good decision-maker from the line of scrimmage to audible out of poor situations or change plays to gain an advantage and manipulate the defense. Checks out of pressure.
Running Skills: A downfield threat with positive production, creating another added dimension for the offense. Strictly a pocket passer, limited production beyond LOS.
Protections: Recognize and identify pressure from pre snap reads vs. blitz packages from base defense and sub packages.
Clock Management: Two-minute drill, adverse situations and normal.
Voice: Strength and clarity.
Hand size: The larger the better. 9 and under is considered small by scouting standards
The listing below is not who will get picked first, second or third but how I like them as football players when I look at the big picture including athletic ability, accuracy, starts, production, intelligence, mobility, injury history along with both football and personal character.
Oregon – Marcus Mariota 6’4 – 222 (JR) Top 5
Florida State – Jameis Winston 6’4 – 231 (Soph) Top 10
UCLA – Brett Hundley 6’3 – 226 (JR) Bottom 1st Rd
Baylor – Bryce Petty 6’3 – 230 2nd Rd
Oregon State – Sean Mannion 6’6 – 230 3rd Rd
Others to watch:
Colorado State – Garrett Grayson
Southeastern Louisiana – Bryan Bennett
Prairie View A&M – Jerry Lovelocke