Scouting the Quarterback

Currently, Quarterback scouting and evaluating is a 50/50 process. The NFL shows flashes of getting it right but the collegiate and scouting world continues to miss on the not so “prototypical” type QBs frequently.

Russell Wilson signed an 87 Million dollar contract. Why was he only an unranked 2-star prospect out of high school and only received two college offers? He has already won a  Superbowl and lead his team to two.

Johnny Manziel was a 3-star Quarterback that wasn’t missed by all the major colleges but was completely missed by all major recruiting services and outlets. How does arguably the most exciting college Quarterback of all time get missed and not ranked as a 5 star?  Braxton Miller is now a WR for Ohio St and was ranked as the number one dual threat QB in the 2011 class according to rivals. Manziel was ranked 14th.

Jeff Driskel was the Number One ranked QB for that class overall and nationally ranked as the 32 players overall in the class. What happened from his high school career to college career that changes his ability to make plays. Injuries? Bad luck?

The answer is nothing. He clearly shouldn’t have been ranked as high as he was. But why was he?

Here are some of the factors that are valued too high in the scouting process.

1. Height

Being tall helps… it helps a lot. What if we evaluated every recruit only for their skills and not their height. Should we bench Drew Brees because he’s not tall enough? No that would be insane, yet he was an unknown that landed at Purdue. Ironically a school and staff with a history for scouting QB’s well.

Tall QB’s get more access because we pick them more. They get better training, they get more chances, they are privileged because of what they can become rather what they are currently.

Imagine if we evaluated every QB at 6ft even, would that change your opinion on prospects?  I think it would, in fact I know it would. Malcolm Gladwell writes how height does matter and is more desirable for leadership roles. We as humans are innately attracted to height.  http://gladwell.com/blink/why-do-we-love-tall-men/

Try this…put two identically built QB next to each other, one is 5’10 and one is 6’5. Which one will you select if you were not allowed to see them throw but you had to commit to building your organization on? You knew the both started on their football teams. If you could see them prior to the throwing, I guarantee you will be inevitably swayed towards the taller QB, just and only because he is taller. Even if the short QB threw a better ball, it’s hard not to move past the issue of height.

What you will find is that you are always pulled in the direction height regardless of what their skill sets are. Even if you see them throw and the shorter QB throws a better ball, you will still envision the potential or what the tall kid could one day be if he just got it right.

Aaron Rodgers in high school was 5’10 and completely missed by everyone except Butte. Matt Gutierrez was 2 hours and 37 mins away at De La Salle HS and was not missed at all. Signed with Michigan and went on to an NFL career. How is it now that AROD is one of the top 5 QB’s to ever play the game but went under the radar. Because…..

….height matters. I don’t disagree that it helps to be tall, but to think that it makes a player more skillful because of his height alone is a grave mistake.

2. Arm Strength

Arm strength matters too. But at what point is it irrelevant. Once you have enough, it becomes about your ability to anticipate and be accurate. In terms of grading the QB’s ability to throw one trait can not be separated from the other. You must combine it the ability to throw in one and not in pieces. Arm strength is useless without accuracy. Accuracy is useless without arm strength. These are both useless without anticipation. You can lack anticipation and make up for it with a little arm strength to a point. Eventually, you have to throw on time. Or the strongest arms would be the best QB’s every single time.

More times than not, a QB with elite arm strength will lack the discipline to throw on time because they do not need to at the lower levels. They train themselves to throw when they feel they should, not when they should. This works in high school to a certain point, but alway catches up with them.

Having more than 75 yards of arm strength vs 65 is the difference between being having a 10 billion dollars in assets and 20 billion. You can buy everything you need with 10 Billion.

At the end of the day, it always comes down the QB that can make the plays at the right times. It’s never about that he’s 6’5 or that he runs a 4.4, it’s that at that given time, he’s clutch enough to make the play that wins the game.