NFL Combine 2014: Quarterback drills

Joe Robbins

A lot of quarterbacks elect not to go through passing workouts at the combine. What exactly is it that they're avoiding?

In recent years, more and more elite quarterback prospects have elected to skip the throwing workouts at the NFL Combine. Citing unfamiliarity with receivers, high-end prospects often elect to hedge their bets and not risk damaging their stock with a few poor throws in Indianapolis. Several of this year' s top passers are considering going this route, including Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles.

While throwing at the combine comes with risk, it can also come with high reward. Just ask E.J. Manuel, the former Florida State quarterback whose strong performance at the 2013 combine jumped him from a potential third-round selection to the top quarterback off the board with the No. 16 overall pick.

So what kind of workouts do these prospects go through that have such an effect on their NFL futures? In addition to the basic drills that all other positions go through (40-yard dash, cone drills, bench press, etc.), the quarterbacks are put through a series of passing drills in which they're asked to go through three-step, five-step and seven-step drop-backs while throwing what is called the route tree. The route tree consists of a slant, an out, an in, a corner and a go. Accuracy and arm strength are two of the obvious attributes scouts will have their eye on, but footwork, arm angle and carriage (where the player holds the ball during his drop-back) are also significant factors. In fact, technique and form are more important than the final result (whether the ball is on target to the receiver). Keep in mind that the primary knock on Tim Tebow coming out of college was his low carriage point and lengthy release.

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