Quarterbacks don't always throw at the NFL Combine but, in a year that the top names aren't receiving much fanfare, expect to see nearly all of them throw the ball at the combine this year. Top-rated quarterback prospect Geno Smith will go through a full workout and most others are expected to follow suit.
In addition to the standard drills that all players can take part in, quarterbacks also can take part in a number of throwing drills. Traditionally at the combine, quarterbacks run through a series of three, five, and seven step drops and in each instance go through what is called the route tree. At each drop they will throw a slant, an out, an in, a corner, and a deep route.
In the past, quarterbacks have declined the opportunity to throw at the combine, instead waiting until their pro day when they can throw to receivers they are familiar with. However, coaches and scouts are not focused on a quarterback's completion percentage at the combine, but rather his technique (footwork, throwing motion, arm strength, etc.).
Like any other player, a strong performance at the combine can greatly improve a quarterback's draft stock. One quarterback who flew up the draft board thanks to his throws at the combine was Joe Flacco. The Ravens selected Flacco with the 18th pick of the 2008 NFL Draft, and now he is in line to be one of the highest-paid players in the NFL after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII victory.
Players to watch
--Geno Smith, West Virginia--Smith has already confirmed that he will throw at the Combine, perhaps calming fears after he sat out the Senior Bowl. He's one of the more polished passers in this draft class, but he faces significant questions about his throwing technique and footwork.
--Matt Barkley, USC -- Barkley's senior year was derailed by a dysfunctional USC offense and a torn labrum that cost him several games. Still, he fits the mold as a pocket passer and can make all the throws. His arm strength will be a question mark going forward.
--Ryan Nassib, Syracuse -- Nassib's accuracy is one of the biggest question marks right now. He is capable of threading the needle, but is jittery in the pocket and tries too hard to force the throw.. Capable talent, but one of the bigger unknowns in the QB class.
--Tyler Wilson, Arkansas -- After a disastrous senior year with the Razorbacks, Wilson gets to start a clean slate with scouts, who considered him one of the best QB talents in this draft before the season started. He still has plenty of time to reclaim that status, and could be a surprise first rounder in April.
--Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio) -- Dysert tore a hamstring and won't be participating in the Combine, but he will be on hand for interviews. This is a discouraging setback for a QB already facing an uphill road from a mid-major conference.