The great group of analysts over at LSU site And The Valley Shook hosted a fantastic roundtable yesterday on the topic of quarterback skills and the role they play in recruiting. Here's Paul Crewe on the role that arm strength plays in the recruitment of quarterbacks and whether too much focus on arm strength can get a coach in trouble:
Hell, I can cite another Mack Brown example: Major Applewhite. All Applewhite did in his career was succeed, yet he was displaced by a "more talented" Chris Simms, who was never able to match that success. The talent seduction.
Realistically though, we're getting at one point here, and that's coach-ability. I think any great QB needs to be a bit cocky. That will get them in trouble sometimes, but it will also win them games and the respect of their teammates. It's cliched to talk about, but the truth is, any player with the bare basic tools can excel if they let themselves be coached up. That doesn't mean, "be a yes man." Again, you have to have a bit of that ego about you. *knock on wood* But it's one of the things I most loved about Mettenberger already. He's scrapping with defensive linemen in practice. He's organizing workouts with his wide receivers in the winter, right after the National Championship debacle. But maybe my favorite sign of his "chest" was calling his own number and trying to score against Ole Miss. Les was content to run the clock out and show mercy against a clearly outmatched opponent. Mett had other ideas. I like a little of that in your QB. Les "punished" him by making him kneel on the one, but you know deep down he was smirking.
To play QB you have to be there mentally, both from an understanding of the game and composure standpoint. Jordan Jefferson never made strides in reading and understanding the defense. Jarrett Lee never made strides at keeping his composure and maintaining cool under times of duress. Those are two of the primary reasons neither advanced beyond what they were. If you make a mistake, shuck it off and come right back out there like it never happened. Don't keep making the same mistake, but at the same time, don't be afraid of making the same mistake twice. It's a tricky balance.
And quite honestly, it's almost impossible to gauge. Some respond, some do not. Kyle Boller had every appearance of this ability. He was bright (went to Cal), had a power arm, and gave off the air of confidence (his workout showoffs routinely consisted of him bombing it 60 yards from his knee). Yet, he was a miserable failure at the professional level. Cam Newton got booted from one school and played in an option offense which required him to make very simplistic reads. He put in the time and effort - he was coachable. He, more than anyone else, knew he needed work. He turned it into a Rookie of the Year award and threw for over 4,000 yards. The question is, how do you gauge that, especially in a recruiting setting where you can't sit and grill a player for hours on end in professional style interviews. The answer is, you can't really. So like Billy said, you pick the guy with the most talent.
The piece is quite long and a great read.