Breaking Down the Skill Set of a Prototypical QB Recruit
If you've followed me as a writer for Bleacher Report then you probably know that my background is strong in evaluating and scouting. Most of my pieces are evaluation-based reads and we here at B/R hope to bring more in-depth scouting type of content to you and the rest of our great readers as we move forward.
So with that said, how about we take a look at the initial critical skills that scout's look for when evaluating a QB prospect. Every program wants the the "prototypical QB" recruit and this piece will tell you and show you what the prototype QB must have.
Now, not all QB prospects are dominant in each of these categories, but the following skills are what the prototype will have and excel at. These are tangible skills that the prototypical and ideal QB recruit will have, as leadership, moxie, preparation and other intangibles are another part of the evaluation process for QB recruits.
So come on and come check out what scouts look for, as their quest for finding the prototypical QB prospect is always ongoing.
Awareness, Command and Ability to Quickly Make Pre-Snap Adjustments
After the QB receives the play call and spews out the language in the huddle, breaks and approaches the line of scrimmage, he has a ton of stuff to do before the ball is even snapped.
The QB must first locate the "Mike" LB to set the protection for the offensive line, check the defensive line's alignment, then scope out the defensive backfield. He has to be aware of all threats, alignments, potential blitzes and many other things all as the play clock is winding down.
Depending on the game plan for that week, the QB has to remember what shifts, motions, audibles, check-with-me's, opposite calls and all kinds of other adjustments must be made based on reading the defense before the snap.
The best in the business at this is none other than Peyton Manning. Last year, Max Browne was a QB prospect who regularly showed this skill.
Drop Quickness, Set-Up Quickness and Pocket Mechanics
The prototypical recruit will also have excellent mechanics in the pocket.
First, he can't be slow in his drops from the center. He must be quick in this department so he reaches his last step as fast as possible so he is ready to throw as quickly as possible.
Next, the prototypical recruit will have outstanding set-up quickness. This is the ability to quickly be ready to make any throw at the top of a QB's drop while remaining balanced and maintaining a good base.
Here's a good clip on the excellent mechanics Drew Brees plays with. In 2013, the QB I was most impressed with in this department was Shane Morris, as he could set up very quickly.
Anybody who wants to be a QB must be a great ball-handler. You can't play this position without working on your ball-handling skills.
Ball-handling at the QB position consists of receive snaps from center, having soft hands to catch gun snaps, being great handing off the football to RBs and, most importantly of all, selling play-action fakes.
Scouts will look at the general ball-handling skills of a QB, but QB coaches will scrutinize it more heavily.
Here's a good example of a selling play-action run fakes. The top ball-handler last year, based on my evaluations, was Zach Greenlee.
Field Vision and Decision Making
The prototypical QB recruit will also not be limited in his ability to see all areas of the field, nor will he be a bad decision-maker. Max Browne was tops in this department in 2013.
Scouts want to see a QB take a snap, drop back, set up quickly and see his head swivel across the field, scanning his options and quickly making the correct read and right decision.
If a QB is staring down receivers, not going through his reads/progressions and throwing into double coverages, being too careless with the football and trying to fight balls in tight windows too constantly, then he's going to be a turn-off to scouts.
Here's a clip showing exactly what I'm talking about...
Delivery/Release Quickness and Ability to Throw from Various Slots & Platforms
When it comes time to throw the football, the prototypical will not have a wind up motion with wasted movement. It will be short, compact and downright wicked.
The longer it takes to throw the football the more reaction time the defense has to get a jump on the ball to make a play on it and the less room the pass-catcher will have to make a play after the catch.
The prototypical QB will also be able to throw from various slots and platforms too. The pocket isn't always going to be clean and he's going to have to change his release angle/slot to make sure the ball gets pass DLs trying to swat balls down.
The best QB who does this is Tony Romo, as his release is extremely quick. Christian Hackenberg has a pretty quick release when throwing.
Accuracy and Ball Placement Skills
Some say this is the very most important skill a QB must have and the prototypical QB prospect will be a deadly striker as a thrower. He will have outstanding throwing accuracy and ball placement skills.
The ability to deliver the ball to his targets is one thing, but the ability to deliver the football in proper spots to his targets is another.
Scouts look for if a QB sprays the ball all over the place or does he place the football on time and accurately to his receivers. Drew Brees is the most accurate QB in football and has exceptional ball placement skills.
Kellen Moore was also on another planet at Boise State with his accuracy. In 2013, Kevin Olsen and Max Browne had great accuracy and ball placement skills.
Arm strength is a bit overrated, but it is needed and is something that scouts definitely look for. You don't need a big cannon blaster to be great at the QB position, but those who have one and use it properly have an advantage.
The ability to attack all levels of the football field from the QB position is ideal. Having a QB who can push the football downfield and with velocity through intermediate windows gives offenses another dimension of their attack.
QBs like Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick and Matthew Stafford all have great arm strength and have had it since their prep days. Arm strength can improve over time, as an immediate example of that is the development Drew Brees has shown from his days with the Chargers to the Saints.
Max Staver and Cooper Bateman are 2013 QB recruits who show outstanding arm strength.
Mobility and Escapability
The last thing the prototypical QB recruit must have is mobility. He can't be a stick figure back there in the pocket and must be a solid athlete who can escape traffic and get out on the move.
Big stationary throwers are the thing of the past these days, as with defenses blitzing so often now a QB must be able to elude the rush, maneuver around the pocket and be able to make throws on the run.
If his receivers aren't open, the prototypical and ideal QB has the speed to become a great running back and eat up chunks of yardage with his legs.
Top QB recruits from the 2013 class like Shane Morris, Ryan Burns and Asiantii Woulard all are above adequate in this area.
Not every QB is going be blessed with the mobility and running ability of Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Michael Vick, Steve Young or Cam Newton, but being able to get away from the rush to not give up sacks is a desired ability.
Here's a clip that shows outstanding mobility and escapability.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.