I don't know about you, but as a huge fan of the NFL I like to absorb as much information as I possibly can. Fortunately, at this time of year there are endless amounts of information out there that can be learned from and soaked up like a sponge.
One of my favorite things to do is read different scouting reports on a variety of prospects that might be of interest to the Dallas Cowboys, but I found the variety of opinions on players somewhat frustrating.
This frustration has led me to attempt to scout players on my own, and let me tell you it's been a learning process.
I by no means consider myself an expert in this area, more like an amateur scout or hobbyist, but I thought I would share with you what I look for at different positions when scouting these NFL hopefuls.
This will be the first of a 10 part series that will focus on the quarterback position, and then be followed by other NFL positions that pertains to the Dallas Cowboys.
First and foremost, you have to understand that film study, background checks, and pre-draft workouts are all part of the puzzle that ultimately make up the scouting reports.
Secondly, the tape doesn't lie. Film study is your most important asset when scouting different prospects. Not a blazing fast 40 yard dash time or some other scouting drill that gets blown out of proportion. It may cause you to go back and study a player more, but if a player can play he will show up on tape.
Game film can be difficult to come by, so look anywhere and everywhere to try to obtain the best information possible.
So, without further ado here's some of the things I look for when scouting a NFL hopeful at the quarterback position.
Accuracy is the ability to consistently deliver a pass to the right location time and time again. It sounds simple right? A QB just needs to throw the ball where it needs to be thrown on a consistent basis and that's the main basics of their job.
I believe that accuracy cannot be fixed. A QB is either accurate throwing the ball to his receivers or he's not. It's as simple as that.
There are however those who believe that a quarterbacks completion percentage and accuracy directly correlate, but I'm not one of those people. If a QB is consistently checking down his passes within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage(LOS) the majority of the season his completion percentage is understandably going to be better than a quarterback that makes throws down the field more often.
One of the things I like to do when watching game film of the QB prospect is to keep track of the throws he makes using a grid system. I like to mark down every throw he makes to the right, left, and the middle of the field within 10 yards of the LOS, 11-19 yards of the LOS, and then 20+ yards of the LOS.
This will give you better understanding of the QB's accuracy based on the types of throws he's making all over the field.
It's my personal opinion that accuracy is one of the most important traits to look for in a QB prospect because I don't believe it can be coached and it might be the one trait you can't live without.
Being able to see the field might just be the second most important trait to look for in a QB prospect. If a QB is unable to find the receivers, then he's not going to have much success in the NFL.
Part of what goes into a QBs vision is properly identifying the different defensive alignment pre-snap and making proper adjustments to the offense.
Are they going to blitz? What coverage is a secondary in?
Some of the best QB's in the NFL are superb in this area and it can actually help improve their accuracy because they know where to go with the ball.
Leadership might be most important trait to have for the quarterback position, more than any other position in the NFL.
When things break down and are going bad, the team often looks to the quarterback to provide some inspiration and get them out of trouble. That is why quarterbacks are the first players blamed if things go wrong, whether it was there fault or not.
You don't want a quarterback that hangs his head every time he misses a throw or makes a mistake. You want an optimistic player that can rally the team in the blink of an eye and inspire his teammates, no matter the situation.
There are a lot of different things to look for when trying to measure the arm strength of a QB prospect.
Honestly, I don't really care if they QB can throw the ball 70 yards down the field. I'm much more interested in the velocity he throws the ball with for the intermediate routes and the touch he is able to put on the ball for the deeper throws.
I want to know if he can put the ball in tight windows, because at the NFL level you're rarely going to have wide-open receivers to throw the ball to.
I like QB prospects that can make all of the throws it takes to become successful in the NFL, no matter where the receivers are located on the field.
To me, a quarterbacks pocket presence is one of those traits that many people seem to overlook and I think that is a mistake.
They don't have to be the next Michael Vick or Cam Newton. They just need to be aware of their surroundings and how to avoid pressure when it's applied.
Tony Romo would be a really good example of having better than average pocket awareness. He knows how to slide around in the pocket to buy extra time or he knows when to step up the pocket to avoid the pass rush.
If a defense knows that a QB doesn't have very good pocket awareness they can try to pinpoint their blitzes and coverages so that they are more effective at disrupting the offense.
Measuring a college quarterbacks anticipation is kind of difficult because more and more teams at the collegiate level are operating a spread offense and incorporating more screen passes in their passing game.
It's not very difficult to anticipate a screen pass when you know exactly where the receiver will be.
What I try to look for when analyzing is if a QB can use his accuracy to throw his receivers open or if he is mainly just going to the wide-open receiver.
The throwing lanes and windows at the NFL level are going to be smaller to fit the ball in, so anticipating throws becomes that much more important.
A college quarterbacks mechanics isn't that big of an issue for me personally, because I'm of the believing that mechanics can be taught in time. It really just depends on whether or not a team is looking for developmental quarterback or a QB to step in immediately and be a starter.
I like to look at their throwing motion to see if they're throwing the ball over the top or if they have a side-arm delivery. I want to see a smooth throwing motion all the way through the delivery. The front foot should be pointed towards receiver and the back foot should swing through the throw.
Since more and more collegiate programs are running the spread offense, college quarterbacks have to learn the footwork needed to play from under center and when making their drops depending on the routes that are being run.
Three step drop, five-step drop, seven step drop, or a rollout pass?
The proper footwork can go a long way in helping with mechanics and even improving the prospects accuracy.
All of this should be teachable depending on how quickly you want the quarterback to develop.
Typically, NFL teams seem to have a baseline that they prefer for their quarterbacks and I would say it's somewhere around 6'2" tall and 220 pounds. There are however exceptions and we have seen smaller quarterbacks succeed in the NFL.
For example, Drew Brees has arguably had a Hall of Fame career as a shorter quarterback, but if you have ever watched him you've seen him struggle to see over his linemen and often times forced to make throws on his tippy toes.
A quarterbacks size shouldn't affect his draft stock, but it usually does.
I'm of the thinking that if you can play I don't care how tall or short you are. As long as the quarterback is able to find his receivers and create throwing lines, then he can be successful.
There really is no proven scientific method to scouting any position and that is especially true for quarterbacks. For every JaMarcus Russell there is a Russell Wilson and vice versa.
Of course, if a collegiate quarterback possesses the majority of these traits mentioned he has a better chance to succeed at the next level.
A quarterback prospect that has become one of my "pet cats" of the 2016 draft class is Louisiana Tech's Jeff Driskel.
He has a lot of the traits that are listed, but like the majority of the quarterbacks in this draft class, he needs time to develop.
I personally think that the Dallas Cowboys could be the ideal place for him to sit behind Tony Romo and work on his craft.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys Mock Drafts Address Needs at 3 Different Positions
"Tier two" of NFL Free Agency is here, meaning the Dallas Cowboys can set their sights on adding depth and filling the holes left by departed FAs Anthony Hitchens and Jonathan Cooper.
It may take another week for mock drafts to reflect the losses of both starters by the Cowboys, but the ongoing draft process does not slow down at any point. A few of the names the Cowboys will bring in for pre-draft 30 visits have already been released, and this week's roundup of national mock drafts continues to address the overall needs on this Dallas roster.
CBS Sports: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama
"Ridley's stock is down after an unimpressive combine, but the Cowboys decided to use one of their predraft visits on the talented wideout, who might not fall any further than this pick. Considering wide receiver is one of the team's biggest needs, they could jump at the chance to draft Ridley, who could eventually take over the No. 1 role if the Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant next offseason, which would save them more than $12 million on the cap."
The Dallas Cowboys will be meeting with free agent WR Allen Hurns today, a tangible second receiver that could immediately upgrade Terrance Williams' position. Hurns, unlike the lesser-known pass catchers the Cowboys looked at previously in free agency, may have enough talent entering his fifth season to take Calvin Ridley out of consideration in the first round.
For now, Ridley should absolutely remain in the conversation as this draft's top receiver. Frequently finding his way to the Cowboys in many post-Combine mock drafts, the Alabama star is just getting started in reaching his football potential and becoming an option for Dak Prescott on the outside.
Draft Wire: Vita Vea, DT - Washington
"Vea could realistically go higher than No. 19, but there may not be a ton of teams willing to draft a nose tackle early on in the draft. Vea’s much different from the average nose tackle, though, which is something the Cowboys would see firsthand if they were to pick him."
The hype for Vita Vea as a prospective Dallas Cowboys target has died down ever since Stephen Jones mentioned the team's preference to find 1T DTs with the traits to also rush the passer as a 3T. Simply being "different from the average nose tackle," as Infante writes here, may not be enough for Vea to be selected at 19th overall by the Cowboys.
Should the Cowboys be surprisingly wiped out at both guard and linebacker on their board, considering a rare prospect like Vea and the impact he could make in Rod Marinelli's scheme could become much more realistic though.
An investment like Vea at nose tackle feels like the safest way for the Cowboys to protect their franchise tag investment on DE DeMarcus Lawrence - while also potentially boosting the play of Maliek Collins and David Irving inside at DT.
Drafttek: Isaiah Wynn, G - Georgia
"... Isaiah Wynn played LOT for the SEC Champion and National Champion runner-up Georgia Bulldogs. Bill O'Brien's South coaching staff moved Wynn inside and he was easily the most impressive interior OL prospect during practice sessions..."
This would be one of the highest value picks the Dallas Cowboys could make at 19th overall. As it stands today, this team is in need of a starting left guard they can trust, which Isaiah Wynn can be from day one at the next level.
Despite their clear need up front, using another first round pick on an offensive lineman will surely generate some eyes rolls around Dallas on draft night. As if his mauling style of play and NFL-ready build aren't enough for the Cowboys to sell their fans on Wynn, his flexibility to provide needed depth at OT puts this Georgia product over the top.
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Recent trades by the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills to shake up the draft order may just be scratching the surface for the run of quarterbacks that takes place annually atop each draft. With as many as five QBs coming off the board prior to the Cowboys' first pick, their ability to add a quality starter at a position of need looks good.
Exactly what these positions of need will be by the end of free agency, and which prospects fill needs in Dallas, will update weekly as we continue to prepare you for the 2018 NFL Draft here at Inside The Star.
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