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Evaluating NFL Draft Prospects

Scouting Quarterbacks (page 2)

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Pocket Presence - Some players just seem to have an innate ability to feel the pass rush, while others don't see it until the defender is in their face. Some guys have the ability to move around while still in the pocket, while others can't seem to get out of their own way, or their linemen's. A quarterback does not have to be blessed with great running ability to be good at avoiding the rush. The ability to move forward, backward, and side to side in the pocket can buy some very valuable time for the receivers to get open.

Poise - A QB needs good pocket presence to "feel" where the pressure is coming from, but he must also handle the pass rush without panicking under pressure. Good poise in the pocket comes from a mental toughness that some guys just seem to have while others are lacking.

Decision Making - The mental aspect of playing quarterback in the NFL is often overshadowed by arm strength, but make no mistake, it can be the difference between a success and a bust. Look for the guy that has a knack for finding the open receiver, doesn't force the ball into double coverage on a consistent basis, and knows when to throw the ball away or pull it down and run with it.

Locating receivers - The key to watch for here is whether the quarterback is able to find his second and third options when his first option is covered. You don't want your quarterback to lock onto a receiver regardless of whether he is open or not. It doesn't take long for a defense to catch on and make things miserable for a QB who makes a habit of doing so.

Leadership - I mentioned this in lesson two as a trait scouts look for at every position, but I'll mention it here again because I feel it is more important in a quarterback than any other position on the field.

Grading the Prospect - As I also mentioned in lesson two, grading prospects is a very subjective process. Qualities like arm strength, accuracy, and decision making are far more important than most other traits, so it is not as simple as assigning a number for each area of evaluation and averaging them out to get a final grade. You have to assign more weight to the areas you feel are most important before making a determination, therefore, it will take a little thought as to how you go about giving a final grade.

I like to grade each player's ability in each category with a grade from 1-5 with 5 being the best score. I then assign a percentage of weight to each category with the most important receiving a weight of 100% while other areas may get a weight of only 75% or even 50% depending on how important I feel they are to playing the position in the NFL. I then add together all the scores after factoring in the weight of each category to it's score. The total of these numbers is my final grade and it gives me an indication as to how a player stacks up against his peers. This system works well for me, but you may want to come up with a system of your own and tweak it as you feel necessary.

In lesson Four, we'll take a look at the other guys in the backfield as we analyze all the important qualities of an NFL running back!

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