Good morning everyone on this wonderful Super Sunday. I hope your day has been enjoyable so far. The game has brought something to the forefront, the need for a franchise QB to be successful. Both teams have average run games, the Saints have a decent ground attack, not on the same caliber as a team like Carolina or the Jets, but very serviceable. The Colts are just bad on the ground, but they do have the edge on defense. Both D's are a little soft, the Colts can be run on, the Saints can be passed on. The thing that gave them the edge over the rest of the NFL was a guy taking snaps who could execute their schemes and get it done in the clutch. That's how I define franchise QB, not an All-Star like Manning or Brees, but a guy who is competent in your scheme, can make the throws necessary, and who can be trusted to deliver with 1 minute left down by four. With that in mind, let's move on to the checklist I use to grade prospects coming out at QB.
Arm Strength: This is one of the major components to being a successful. It isn't an end be all, Jamarcus Russel and Jeff Garcia are the two extreme examples of that, but the arm to stretch the defense and fit a pass into tight windows is a trait that is invaluable to an offense. It isn't an attribute that can be taught, it's something you either have or don't. The ability to deliver a pass with zip and velocity at the second level of the defense is a skill that separates many of the greats from the not so greats.
Accuracy: You have to be able to aim your cannon. Putting the ball where only your guy can make the play on it is an invaluable asset to have. But being spot on isn't the only factor, timing is a key component. Anticipation of the coverage and when the receiver will get into his break is something that many successful QB's have had. It's the key to Bill Walsh's success and the West Coast offense's success over the years. Good accuracy is also a sign of good mechanics as well.
Mobility: There is a common misconception about mobility and QB's. Many casual fans, and some hardcore ones, mistake running ability for mobility, a la Michael Vick and Vince Young. But the most mobile QB in the NFL isn't Vick or Young or even Ben Roethlisberger, although Big Ben is very good. Peyton Manning is, IMO, the most mobile QB in the NFL. He has a sixth sense for the rush, and he can navigate to a clear area in the pocket and deliver the ball. That's what real QB mobility is, the talent of evading the rush and delivering the ball where it needs to go.
Size: Heighth, weighth, and durability all fit under this category. This is one of the more overrated attributes, just look at Drew Brees. Despite that, it does help to see over the guys blocking for you. ;) And as a QB, you will take a pounding, you have to be able to get up and show that you are still in control.
Intangibles: This is possibly the most important attribute to have. God-given talent like arm strength, mobility, and size is something you either have or don't. But intangibles are what makes the position. A great work ethic can make up for your deficiencies, or propel you over everyone else who has the same talent as you do. Being a QB requires more work than any other position, those without the desire to work at their problem areas will not last long. Confidence in yourself and your abilities is needed. You have to be able to inspire your teammates and make them believe that you can get the job done. That's what all the great clutch QB's have, an unshakable faith in their own ability to make a play, and that faith carries over to their teammates.
System QB?: See below.
That's what I look for in a QB, but there are other criteria I use to decide whether I should draft that particular QB, if I draft a QB at all. I call this the Bust List.
1. Intangibles; Again, this is important. He could of shown good intangibles at the college level, but really only a sit down interview will answer that question. Being clutch at the college level doesn't gurantee success in the pros. And a good work ethic is a must, just ask the Raiders.
2. Offensive Line; You could be the prototype for the position, but if you don't get any protection you won't succeed. David Carr and Joey Harrington could have been good if they could have avoided those seventy sack seasons. And eventually after you take that much of a pounding, you become gun shy and unable to succeed.
3. System QB?; This isn't an end be all, you can learn an NFL offense. But being in a pro style system in college really reduces the transition. You have practice with pro style routes, reading the defense as you drop back, going through reads and progressions, etc. Shotgun spread QB's have more of a learning curve, which while it isn't insurmountable, it still is sometimes too much for some guys.
So there you have it, I hope this answers some of your questions about the QB prospects coming out this April.