A Scout's Guide to Grading Quarterbacks

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterFebruary 20, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Giants won 21-17.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Having a great quarterback is the difference between a Super Bowl and a failure to make the playoffs. Since the 2003 Super Bowl, every team that has won the Big Game has had an upper-level quarterback. The importance of the position cannot be underestimated.

So what makes a QB tick? The answer is the basis of the criteria we chose to rank players at the position for the B/R NFL 1,000.

Quarterbacks must have an ability to lead and must be able to stay calm under pressure. It is the difference between a Ryan Leaf and a Peyton Manning

While it may be impossible to scout personalities and character, we are able to look at what makes a great quarterback in terms of mechanics and ability. Here are B/R NFL 1,000 criteria for scouting a quarterback—we rated each quarterback on a scale of 1-10 in each category.

Accuracy Short

Put simply, how accurate is a quarterback on routes and passes under 15 yards? In this area, we are looking for ball placement and control of the football. Can the quarterback put the ball on an outside shoulder to keep defenders from jumping the route? Is the football delivered in an area that allows the receiver to run after the catch? 

Accuracy Outside the Pocket

As the game increasingly demands versatility, more teams are asking their quarterbacks to throw outside the pocket. A quarterback must be able to move outside the pocket and reset his body to throw accurately. How well does the passer control the destination of the ball when throwing outside the tackle box? This shouldn't be confused with mobility. 

Accuracy Deep

On those passes thrown more than 25 yards down field, how accurate are the passes? Is the ball delivered up-field so the receiver can run under it? Does the quarterback lead the receiver to the sideline when needed?

Arm Strength

There are two types of arm strength—velocity and being able to throw the ball far. We're looking at both. How much spin does the ball have and at what speed is it delivered (velocity), and then the good ol' factor of how far can a player throw the ball in a game situation.


Clutch can be looked at in a broad sense, like what the quarterback does when the game is on the line, but we also looked at what the quarterback does when pressured on individual plays. 

Decision Making

Decision making is the ability of the quarterback to see the defense and make the best decision on where to deliver the football. If the quarterback throws into triple coverage and ignores a wide-open player on the other side of the field, that's not what we want to see.


Mechanics can be subjective, but the basics are: balanced footwork when moving away from center, a controlled throwing motion that is consistent and delivers the football at a height that will prevent batted passes, and a release that includes follow-through of the back leg and a whip of the wrist.


How well does a player move, both in and out of the pocket? Mobility isn't just how fast a player is, but how elusive he can be. While speed does factor in, being able to slide up and out of the pocket—even with a 5.0 40-yard dash time—is factored in, too.

Pocket Presence

Feeling the blitz is something you hear often during games. This is the judge of that. How well does the quarterback feel pressure? On top of that, how well does he move away from the pressure? Can he deliver the ball under pressure?


Health is simply how it sounds. How affected was the player's season by injury? This does not factor in past injuries or future availability.


The cumulative score of the 10 traits above, all wrapped up in one score. This sets the player's place in the position ranking and, ultimately, in the B/R NFL 1,000 ranking across all positions.