Bad NFL Scouting Report Match GameCan you connect these terrible player evaluations to their matching quarterbacks?
We’d like to think that NFL prospects are evaluated fairly, judged only on the merits of their on-field skills and how those translate to pro careers. But scouting is an inexact science, no matter how much the TV talking heads insist that it’s not. The reality for prospects, especially quarterbacks, is that they’re evaluated on almost everything else, too — the way they smile, how they respond to dumb questions, the color of their skin, and more.
Here are 20 examples of real things said about quarterbacks, past and present, during the draft process. Can you tell which QB the “experts” are talking about?
Give it a try!
“Three years from now you could be looking at a guy that’s certainly one of the elite top five quarterbacks in this league. ...You’re talking about a 2-3 year period once he’s under center. Look out because the skill level that he has is certainly John Elway-like.
Missing on Russell sent shockwaves through the draft industrial complex just as it was taking off. Professional pundits and NFL teams raved about his arm and a magical pro day performance, but they overlooked the slightest possibility that he lacked the maturity to carry the expectations heaped on him. It’s a cautionary tale about overrating raw talent against all the other things a franchise QB has to do. Unfortunately, it’s also shaped how teams and the commentariat set forth different expectations for QBs based on the color of their skin.
“Not only can he be a competent backup and change-of-pace quarterback, but I think someday he can be a starting-quality player.
At 5’11, Wilson didn’t, ahem, measure up to the standardized checklist the media uses to evaluate quarterbacks. It’s also another reminder the brand name draft experts weren’t — and still aren’t — equipped to process dual-threat quarterbacks.
“I think an H-back, tight end projection, like we’ve had quarterbacks move to wide receiver in the past. That’s what I think he will be. … [Player] can have a very successful career in the NFL, but not at quarterback.
Mel Kiper was half right about Tebow. Despite somehow getting repeated chances to try, he never made it as a quarterback. He never switched positions either. Now he’s a baseball player, kind of.
“I think [Player] has that blue-collar, gritty attitude. I think his teammates will love him. I think the city will love him. He’ll say the right things. He’ll come in and represent well.
Jim Mora was specifically talking about Darnold being a great fit in Cleveland, a city that in Mora’s mind is apparently populated entirely by dreary factory workers who will only accept a football player willing to toil in anonymity. Where a player’s from shouldn’t matter, but it’s worth noting that Darnold is from a beach community in Southern California.
“He is a big-time leader who rarely gets rattled. [Player's] athletic ability will be a concern to some, and some project him as a ‘game manager’ type. But his skill set speaks for itself, so he should be at least a serviceable starter at the next level.
Nothing that was said about Foles here is wrong, per se. Instead, he’s a good example of just how much a player can benefit from smart coaching and playing in an offense designed to fit what he does well and what he doesn’t. Unfortunately for a lot of quarterbacks and NFL fans in general, smart coaching is in short supply.
“You have to look beyond the stats. The kid won. You say what was his record? When he was out there, they won football games. The stats, a lot of guys have stats and can’t get their team over .500.
Allen has the arm and the look that draft pundits and teams tend to fall in love with (like JaMarcus Russell). But even setting aside Kiper’s dubious claims about stats not mattering (they do), he struggled against Power 5 teams — and a 15-9 record against FBS schools doesn’t exactly square with Kiper’s hype.
“Spread quarterbacks have had limited success as have small quarterbacks. Having complete command of [his college] offense isn’t an automatic precursor for NFL success, but [Player’s] ability to process, extend plays and throw with accuracy give him a good shot. He’ll be somewhat scheme-dependent so whoever takes him will need to be willing to build their offense around his strengths.
Implicit bias against shorter quarterbacks (Mayfield is 6’1) and “spread” offenses. The experts have been wrong on both counts before, several times.
“Carries spindly legs and a thin base. Slightly built for punishing hits he takes from pocket and as a runner. Must learn to slide. Lackadaisical in setup. However, he has rare speed and athleticism and can single-handedly win games.
Raise your hand if you thought the only thing pundits were saying about Jackson was that he should convert to wide receiver. Critics have pointed to the size of players’ body parts before, everything from their knees to their hands. It’s something the other three players listed on this question have dealt with, too.
“He’s a system quarterback. 3-, 5-, 7-step guy. Can’t create on his own. Panics under pressure. Gets flustered easy.
Nobody’s really sure what exactly a “system” guy is. For some scouts, it’s a fancy way of saying they don’t think a guy will play well taking snaps under center. However, the lines between pro and college offenses are blurry and don’t easily fit into one system or another. Rodgers is his own system, and it seems to be working out OK for him.
“Possesses ideal size, athletic ability, intangibles and enough arm strength to develop into an upper-echelon quarterback. Is not yet a franchise quarterback, but has all the physical ingredients to become an outstanding NFL starter and his arrow is very clearly ascending. Warrants top-10 consideration.
Every year draft pundits fall in love with a white quarterback who can throw the ball at least 60 yards through the air without much effort — accuracy and stats be damned.
“[Player] is a magician on the field ... eats, sleeps and drinks football 365 days a year. To me, he can be a very good to great player in the NFL. Today’s NFL kind of suits his skill set very effectively and very well.
Kiper and his peers have questioned the ability of dual-threat quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton to adapt from spread offenses to the NFL. Those guys turned out fine. Manziel might have too, but his tendency to “eat, sleep and drink” everything but football got in the way.
“You can mold him into something really special. He’s raw, but he’s that piece of clay where you take him and you can turn him to what you want.
Manuel proved to be more difficult to mold than anticipated. The Bills’ former first-round pick is a backup in Oakland now.
“Possesses the physical tools to eventually earn an NFL starting job in a rhythm passing game with continued refinement but is more of a caretaker than a game changer and will require some patience adapting to the NFL game.
Garoppolo is now one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, thanks to his excellent work as a caretaker for a struggling 49ers team last season. In seven career starts, he’s never lost a game.
“He has more training and game time in a pro system than any quarterback in the draft. I will agree that [Player] may have some A-hole in him but he is extremely talented. He has a strong arm and is very accurate. Plus he has played a lot in a pro system.
Thanks to his work in Notre Dame’s pro-style offense, he was considered by some to be a can’t-miss NFL star. He slid into the second round in 2010, where the Panthers took him. He got replaced the next year by “system” quarterback Cam Newton.
“The leadership factor weighs heavily into his evaluation and although the second round is littered with failures, he might be an exception. Teams have to love that he might have had a future in baseball yet stuck with football which clearly illustrates his passion for football.
Like the other three players here, Kaepernick opted for the NFL instead of a pro baseball career. Also note “the leadership factor,” which is something his former teammates with the Niners have endorsed despite unofficial totally not collusion-based efforts to paint his anti-discrimination protest as selfish.
“There are red flags in that you have to try to figure out if you can coach him, if he’s coachable and what kind of teammate he’s going to be.
Rosen has been labeled this year’s uncoachable quarterback. He’s even been accused of being too smart, which only makes sense in the world of draft analysis. Based on how that’s turned out for the other QBs on the list, Rosen should be just fine.
“Hard to find an NFL comp for [Player] because he’s built like Donovan McNabb, but lacks McNabb’s ability and polish. [He] has NFL size, mobility and enough arm, but the tape shows a player who must improve his mechanics, poise and quickness through his progressions if he is to become a full-time starter in the NFL. Until then, a team would be wise to utilize him on short-yardage packages.
The Cowboys used Prescott in short-, medium- and long-yardage situations as a rookie. He was good enough at all of them to win the Rookie of the Year award, so his mechanics and poise must have improved pretty quickly (unless they were actually fine to begin with). Over his first two years in the league, Prescott has thrown 45 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 6,991 yards, 7.4 yards per attempt and a 95.5 rating. McNabb threw for 29 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 4,313 yards, 5.5 yards per attempt and a 73.0 rating in his first two seasons.
“He’s got a great arm, big balls and he’s mobile. He is going to drive his head coach crazy for the first couple of years and there is no getting around that. If it clicks for him and he’s coachable, I think he could become a special quarterback.
He does have the arm, but we can’t vouch for his balls. As for whether or not he’ll drive Andy Reid crazy in Kansas City remains to be seen, but the Chiefs wisely let him sit for a year before building the offense around him, a strategy more teams should probably follow.
“He’ll be a gunslinger in the NFL capable of huge games and some big mistakes, but with a good team around him [Player] could be a Pro Bowl quarterback and a long-term fixture for a franchise.
“Gunslinger” is a nice way of saying that a guy throws into coverage when another receiver is wide open somewhere else on the field. It worked for Brett Favre. But Gabbert’s gunslinging was mostly a series of misfires. He’s a long-term fixture as a backup.
““[Player] is cerebral, great football IQ like Tom Brady. He’s got the big hands, which indicates his arm could get stronger once he’s in the league, as Tom Brady’s did.”
There we go sizing up body parts again. Peterman gets a plus here from Kiper for his “football IQ,” a test Peterman may want to take again after his five-interception debut with the Bills last season.