“But all quarterbacks benefit from their offensive system, so assigning that label is lazy analysis.”

Chris Brown’s piece on how to evaluate quarterbacks for the NFL draft is as good as you might expect.  I really like this six-pronged test:

Accuracy: A quarterback who is not consistently accurate will never be able to survive in the NFL. While most top-tier college QBs rarely sail or one-hop throws to receivers, accuracy in the NFL is often a matter of inches, not feet.

• Arm Strength/Velocity: Evaluators should care very little about whether a QB can throw a ball 60 or 75 yards, but a great deal about whether he can throw a pass 30 yards on a line to the opposite sideline before a defender arrives. NFL defenses are fast and savvy, and while deep throws matter, the best way to stretch defenses is to make them guard the seams and deep outs in the 18-to-25-yard range.

• Anticipation/Timing: These concepts aren’t the same, but they are related. Anticipation refers to a quarterback’s innate ability to anticipate when receivers will be open and “to throw them open”; timing refers to his ability to precisely sync up his footwork and release with the receiver’s break. In other words, anticipation is what slingers hone in the backyard, while timing is what they perfect in practice drills. Great QBs possess both traits, but a passer who’s strong in one area can compensate for weakness in the other.

 Decision-making: Simply put, does the quarterback dependably know where to go with the ball, and does he avoid the killer mistake? Good decision-making requires knowledge and the ability to quickly process information while under fire, and it’s not enough to make the right decision some of the time: If the passer does the right thing four out of five times but throws a brutal pick-six on the fifth attempt, the mistake will mask the successes.

 Pocket Presence: All quarterbacks are less effective under pressure; the key is whether a given passer can hang in the pocket and hit open receivers or loses the ability to function when that pressure hits. Unlike college players, NFL quarterbacks rarely throw from an entirely clean pocket, so remaining poised is essential. And toughness means little if accuracy and decision-making falter under duress.

 Functional Athleticism: This is not the same as raw athleticism. A QB’s 40-yard dash time and max bench-press numbers matter far less than the athleticism he displays while doing QB things: Can he escape the pocket to avoid the rush and extend plays? Does he have the agility necessary to shuffle within the pocket? Is he big and bulky enough to brush off pass-rushers and withstand NFL punishment?

Sure, the NFL is a different beast than college, but that’s still a pretty good set of attributes to use for evaluation, even at the college level.  Brown analyzes four of the top QBs in the draft, but I wonder how the three contenders for the Georgia starting job fare with that list.  Obviously, this isn’t something we can answer at present, since we haven’t seen enough game action from Bauta, Park or Ramsey to fully judge.

And beyond that, keep in mind one other astute observation of Chris:

The knock on Mariota is that his immense college production stemmed from the crafty design of Oregon’s offense more than from his own ability — that he was that dreaded animal, the “system quarterback.” But all quarterbacks benefit from their offensive system, so assigning that label is lazy analysis. A QB prospect’s college system should merely be another factor in the evaluation, just like the quality of his competition or his supporting cast.

Which is why you don’t pick a starter purely on the basis of what he did in a G-Day game, QBR notwithstanding. 🙂

25 Comments

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25 responses to ““But all quarterbacks benefit from their offensive system, so assigning that label is lazy analysis.”

  1. Blasphemy.
    Anathema.
    Beyond the Pale.

    How dare you take G-dayQBR in Vain?

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  2. Cojones

    Those attributes fit a certain Georgia QB that I know who just set an accuracy record this last year and certainly has shown that he can throw the 30 yder with accuracy.

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    • A “pass 30 yards on a line to the opposite sideline before a defender arrives”? How often did you see Mason do that?

      Don’t get me wrong; he certainly checks a few boxes on Brown’s list. But not that one.

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      • Chadwick

        Not very often for Hutson. That 25 yard back shoulder throw was money for Murray, though. Two totally different QB’s.

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      • No arguing with you on his ball zip ability but he could put a ball into a tight window in 30 yards, threw a nice screen and rallied us against Tech in 2013. I was most impressed by that Tech game and the Zoo game in 2014. Look at the :37 mark. Shades of Greenie. 😉

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        • Maybe I’m missing something, but the throw at that mark goes 15 or so yards.

          There’s no shame in not meeting that benchmark. Very few QBs under Richt have had the arm strength to make that throw.

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          • Perhaps I’m just not reading it right. It appeared that he completed a diagonal pass from near the 5 yard marker all the way to the thirty. He sure didn’t get much help in that game though and 3rd and Grantham blossomed.

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            • It’s a throw from the left hashmark on about the 7 to the left sideline at about the 29-yard mark. It’s a nice throw, accurate and well timed, but it’s hardly a pass that goes 30 yards down and across the field.

              Like I said, no shame in not being able to throw that. I can’t think of too many Georgia quarterbacks under Richt who could.

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          • Will (The Other One)

            Among starters, it’s what, Murray, Stafford, maybe Shockley, and that’s it?

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  3. Great stuff. It shows how complicated a position QB is. People see a great arm like Ramsey’s and say he should be the starting QB. There’s a lot more to it than arm strength. It’s why he could not beat out Mason last year. But people still think there must have been some promise CMR made to Mason that he would be the starter no matter what. I just hope one of the three can check off most of the boxes. IMO that will be the key to our season.

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  4. Bulldawg165

    “But people still think there must have been some promise CMR made to Mason that he would be the starter no matter what.”

    These types of thoughts are some of the most ridiculous that exist among the anti-Richt crowd. No coach is going to play a significantly inferior player just because they “like him” or “promised him something.” They all want to win and, quite frankly, their jobs depend on it to a degree. You don’t get near the top of your profession by putting your friends in the most important positions instead of the most productive people for the respective job.

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    • Normaltown Mike

      Well, you’ve obviously not heard of the greatest G Day QB in the history of organized football. Rhymes with Bettenmerger.

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  5. Russ

    The “system” label matters when your team (or any team) doesn’t run that system. Which is why Tebow is still an announcer.

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  6. I may be wrong, but the only box that Mariota has proven he can check is “Functional Athleticism.” He hasn’t proven the ability to throw into NFL-sized windows nor did he have to make the NFL-style deep out throw. In my opinion, he’s the biggest known unknown in the draft. Everyone knows him as the guy who ran the Oregon offense, but no one really knows if all of that experience has prepared him to be an NFL QB.

    With Winston, his decision making both on and off the field scares the living hell out of me if I’m an NFL GM.

    If I’m at #1 or #2 overall (Winston/Mariota expected), I might trade down for additional picks. Stay in the top 10, get someone’s 2nd rounder for this year, and a #1 for next year.

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    • Puffdawg

      “If I’m at #1 or #2 overall (Winston/Mariota expected), I might trade down for additional picks. Stay in the top 10, get someone’s 2nd rounder for this year, and a #1 for next year.”

      If I’m an NFL GM, I do what you just said there EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Why wouldn’t you? As unpredictable as the draft as, why wouldn’t you increase your at bats and play the numbers. NFL GMs are stupid.

      Also, I agree with you in the specific case of these two guys I wouldn’t gamble.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Puff, I think you’re right. If you stunk the year before, use you high selection to get more picks, a lower signing bonus, and, potentially, a player of equal ability later in the 1st round.

        I just don’t see hitching my franchise’s future to either of these QBs given one is a true system QB and the other is a freaking head case. I see Winston and immediately think of Jamarcus Russell. I see Mariota and hope he’s Russell Wilson but afraid he’s not.

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    • Noonan

      I also believe that pocket presence can’t be taught : you either have it or you don’t.

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      • To a point, I agree with you. High school QBs rarely come to college with pocket presence. It’s something an OC or QB coach has to bring out in development. I think maybe a better word is poise whether in the pocket, in the huddle or on the sidelines.

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    • Sonny Weaver, Jr.

      No…that deal is now off the table. Now I want to add a special teams player. C’mon…you want this deal. You need this deal.

      Say it with me you pancake eating M_F’er!

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  7. Keese

    We are in bad shape if those attributes play out determining Georgia’s success this year….Jacob Eason can’t get here fast enough. Offense will live and die with the running game this year

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