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.