Designing the Ultimate NFL Quarterback

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Designing the Ultimate NFL Quarterback

The game of professional football has changed.

Offenses are more complex, with more athletic weapons spread more widely across the field. Pass-rushers come around both corners and through every gap in the line. Tight ends and running backs are receivers, not blockers, and beating modern hybrid-front defenses with athleticism is a necessity, not a luxury.

More than ever, wins are built on the back of the quarterback. As evidence, look at Andrew Luck, who in one season transformed the Indianapolis Colts from 2-14 league backmarkers to an 11-5 playoff squad.

Quarterbacks can't just look the part anymore. It's not enough just to have the "right stuff."

To have all the qualities required to succeed in the NFL, a quarterback has to be almost superhuman. Better than he's ever been before. Bigger, faster, stronger. The ultimate quarterback.

We can build him. We have the technology.

 

Drew Brees' Feet

We build, like a quarterback's throwing motion, from the ground up.

Drew Brees has outstanding footwork, which is the foundation of everything a quarterback does. Whether he's under center or in shotgun, Brees has a lightning-fast, silky-smooth dropback that always ends in a firm back-leg plant. He's then up on the balls of his feet, ready to move or throw.

Watch this bomb to wide receiver Devery Henderson:

From the shotgun, Brees takes deep steps backward. He stays smooth, plants firmly and then shuffles forward with a wide base.

Here's the crucial part: From that wide base, Brees plants firmly with his front leg and transfers all his weight onto it. It's that weight transfer and resistance that lets his 6'0", 209-pound body generate enough torque to put NFL zip on deep throws like this.

Keep watching that highlight reel, and focus on just Brees' feet. You'll see over and over again how Brees is quick, light, nimble, smooth and strong—and how quickly transferring all of his weight from back leg to front keeps his passes fast and accurate from sideline to sideline, near or far downfield.

 

Russell Wilson's Legs

There are a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL who could provide us with dangerous wheels. Russell Wilson's legs can do it all, though: great pocket movement to avoid the rush, flushing and rolling to turn broken plays into big plays and flat-out burning a defense for yardage.

Having a sprinter's speed can be a fantastic weapon against modern zone defenses. As they're spread out to handle wide-open offenses, quarterbacks can often slice through the spaces in the front seven—or back seven.

As Michael Vick learned, though, and Robert Griffin III is finding out, using a quarterback's legs as a featured offensive weapon comes with risks. Depending on how the quarterback runs are designed and how defenses game-plan for the quarterback, running may or may not be effective. Worse, the quarterback is exposed to harder hits.

Watch Wilson—in one play—use his athleticism in every way a quarterback can:

He sees the rush, steps up in the pocket, flushes away from pressure, looks downfield, pump-fakes the pass and runs for a touchdown. What defense can hope to stop that?

 

Cam Newton's Torso

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Cam Newton has a nearly ideal quarterback's body as it is. From him, though, we'll take his robust upper body. Newton's 6'5", 248-pound frame carries little extra weight; his combination of lean size and core strength make him incredibly difficult to bring down with one tackler, whether on the run or in the pocket.

 

Aaron Rodgers' Throwing Arm

Andy King/Getty Images

When it comes to "arm strength," most fans think about how far a quarterback can throw the ball. 

In reality, almost all NFL quarterbacks can throw the ball more than far enough. The question is how quickly the ball gets to where it's going.

NFL receivers don't often get wide open, so quarterbacks have to quickly deliver the ball through a tiny window. If the ball takes too long to get there, a defender will slam that window shut.

Of course, the quarterback can rocket the ball downfield at 200 miles per hour, but if it's not placed within that window, the pass is just as incomplete.

Accuracy is vital to success in the NFL. Accuracy doesn't just mean keeping the ball off the ground, but placing the ball where a receiver can effortlessly catch it in full stride. If a receiver has to stop, twist, jump or dive for a pass, it might be complete—but yards or even touchdowns that would otherwise follow those catches could be lost.

Aaron Rodgers' arm has the strength to put more than enough zip on every throw, even if he's on the run or off-balance. Rodgers also has the accuracy to consistently put the ball in receivers' hands, regardless of distance or velocity.

Watch Rodgers on this rollout:

The throw is "only" 30 yards downfield, but it's on the move and from the hash to the sideline. Rodgers launches a tightly spun bullet right from his hand to receiver Randall Cobb's; a few inches in any direction and the pass is likely incomplete.

Instead, it's a touchdown.

 

Matthew Stafford's Throwing Hand

Matthew Stafford weighed in at the 2009 NFL combine at 6'2" and 225 pounds, per NFL.com. That's three inches shorter and 23 pounds lighter than Newton, he of the prototypical size, whose torso we're borrowing for our ultimate quarterback.

Yet Stafford's 10-inch hands are one-eighth of an inch bigger than Newton's. To further improve his ease and confidence in handling the ball, Stafford does extensive weight training with his throwing hand and arm:

Stafford's disproportionate hand size and strength not only allow him to quickly and easily launch passes from any arm angle, but it greatly improves his ball security. Despite dropping back to pass more often than anyone else, Pro-Football Reference notes Stafford had only the 20th-most fumbles of any quarterback in 2012.


Colin Kaepernick's Non-Throwing Arm

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It's the most awesome non-throwing arm in football.

 

Ben Roethlisberger's Ampullae of Lorenzini

Perhaps Ben Roethlisberger is not hiding ampullae of Lorenzini under his beard. However, like the sharks and other sea predators that possess these electric field-sensing pores, Roethlisberger can detect living things around him without seeing them.

Roethlisberger's ability to sense and escape the pass rush borders on the magical. Watch him elude and evade most of the Baltimore Ravens front seven while keeping his eyes downfield. He could have just gotten away, but instead he throws a touchdown:

This is critical for modern quarterbacks.

In today's NFL, more pass-rushers are coming from more places on the field, and fewer backs and tight ends are being kept in to block them. Quarterbacks have to be able to keep themselves clean with their ability to get rid of the ball—and their ability to keep the defense from touching them.

For quarterbacks to not only keep the offense moving but also keep themselves upright, they need the ability to feel the rush and keep away from it.

 

Peyton Manning's Head

To top it all off, there's only one choice: Peyton Manning's head.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Not the Twitter parody account, but the eyes and brain of the greatest field general of his generation—maybe ever.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Manning has an uncanny ability to break down a defense before the snap. As Chris Brown of Grantland explained extensively, Manning's offense uses a small set of plays designed to key off a defense's alignment and attack accordingly. When Manning gets to the line, he not only knows how he wants to attack the defense, he knows how the defense is going to eventually adjust—and he knows how he'll attack them when they do.

Manning stays two steps ahead of defenses by being a student of the game and a film-room fanatic.

Howard Mudd, the legendary offensive line coach who worked with Manning in Indianapolis, talked to Michael Marot of The Associated Press (via the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel) about Manning's intense study habits.

"[Manning's] preparation has never wavered," said Mudd. "Every single year, his intensity, his preparation is exactly the same—or greater. To me, that is his brilliance.”

 

The Ultimate Quarterback

With Drew Brees' footwork, Russell Wilson's mobility, Cam Newton's core strength, Aaron Rodgers' throwing arm, Matthew Stafford's throwing hand, Colin Kapernick's non-throwing arm, Ben Roethlisberger's senses and Peyton Manning's head, we have built the ultimate quarterback.

David Rappoccio of TheDrawPlay.com has provided an artist's conception of this space-age composite:

Special thanks to TheDrawPlay.com's David Rappoccio for this illustration.

Perfectly evolved to attack modern NFL defenses, our apex predator will be impossible to stop. Unfortunately for our salary cap, he's going to cost a lot more than $6 million:

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