In the NFL, the quarterback is the most important position on any given team. As a result of the position’s high importance, it’s absolutely imperative that an NFL team is able to secure the right quarterback; otherwise that team is destined for mediocrity. The NFL Draft is the best way for teams to snag their quarterbacks, and that is why every single year there seems to be a run on quarterbacks at some point in the draft. That said, what goes into scouting the most important position in football?
First off, the most desirable trait in any quarterback is accuracy. There’s a reason that guys like Kellen Clemens have never been consistent starters in the NFL, and it’s because guys like Clemens can barely hit the broadside of a barn. The thing about accuracy is this: Accuracy isn’t just a quarterback’s completion percentage; as a matter of fact, it goes far beyond that. Accuracy is also how the quarterback puts a ball in a space where only his receiver can catch it. Accuracy is how well a quarterback can not only put the ball in a receiver’s hands, but also how well they can put their pass catcher in a position to make a play after the initial catch. Simply put, a quarterback’s accuracy is easily the position’s most crucial trait.
Next up, arm strength. While it’s true that the a quarterback’s arm strength is one of the most overrated things in the NFL, that’s not to say that it isn’t an important characteristic. With that said, like accuracy, arm strength goes far beyond just being able to throw the ball 50 yards down the field — just ask JaMarcus Russell how much arm strength meant to his career. Rather, a quarterback’s arm strength is the amount of velocity the quarterback can put on the ball. The ball needs to travel fast enough to elude defenders but not so fast that it’s impossible for the receiver to make the catch, and that’s usually where quarterbacks with big arms struggle the most.
Then we have leadership and intangibles. Although an overrated measurable, intangibles are still a big part of any potential NFL quarterback. There are exceptions such as guys like Tim Tebow, who while great leaders, didn’t pan out in the league; but for every Tebow, there are five quarterbacks with great leadership qualities that can make it in the pros. Overall, while it may not seem like it, intangibles could be the difference between a Peyton Manning and a Ryan Leaf.
All in all, the quarterback position is perhaps the most difficult position in football to accurately scout. The fact is, not every player that plays the position is going to make it in the NFL; that’s just the nature of the business.