QuarterBack ~ Cody Kesslar ~ Southern
California Trojans ~ 6012/220
But I believe not only that Pocket Passing remains the Heart & Soul of successful QuarterBacking, but that the capacity of Speed QuarterBacks to master Pocket Passing can be and often is crippled by the Siren Song of Scrambling: A QuarterBack who has always had that "out" is far less likely to develop the skills that really matter.
Power QuarterBacks ~ The Men with the Golden Arms ~ are equally susceptible to falling Prey to the seductive allure of their own physical Talent: The more powerful their Cannons, the more likely I believe it is that they persistently depend upon that crutch as a Get Out Of Jail Card, and thus fail to develop a more comprehensive Skill Set.
And thus I perceive a Great Irony, one that continues, astonishingly, to elude most: The more explosive a Scrambler that a QuarterBack is, or the more powerful an Arm he boasts, the less likely that he is to achieve Greatness.
Conversely, it's the boring guys who consistently Move The Chains that give you the best Chance to win.
After New Year's Day, when The Only Games That Really Matter are played, History has been relentlessly savage to Power QuarterBacks and Speed QuarterBacks who failed to develop their Games: Once the weaker Teams have been eliminated, the PlayOff Defenses have invariably proven far too much for the Unprepared.
And if you're not prepared to compete after New Year's Day, why play at all??
In consideration of these thoughts, which, like many of my thoughts, fly in the face of what is amusingly considered to be Conventional Wisdom, this is how I break down the Criteria that I focus on, when evaluating QuarterBacks:
1 ~ Processing Speed
2 ~ Precision
3 ~ Pocket Presence
4 ~ FirePower
Processing Speed or Diagnostic Velocity is about how quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape. It's crucial at all 22 Positions, but utterly vital for a QuarterBack to succeed...or to even survive. Reading Coverages, working through Progressions, and selecting the best Receiving or Running Option.
Precision speaks above all to Mechanics: A QuarterBack's consistency with his Stance, his Set Up, and his Delivery. I refer to consistent Accuracy in the Short & Intermediate Zones, where the best Offenses all make their Bread & Butter. In breaking it down, I'm looking at Timing, Touch, and Trajectory: Leading Receivers to DayLight.
Pocket Presence & Poise Under Pressure is about Poise, or how one's Processing Speed and Precision stand up Under Pressure, and about one's Temporal & Spatial Instincts in navigating an often chaotic Pocket.
FirePower is a Category that I value, though not as much as others. I refer to Velocity and to DownField Precision, which I don't consider as crucial to Success as Short & Intermediate Precision. DownField Precision makes for tremendous HighLight Footage, but it's Short & Intermediate Precision that Moves The Chains and wins Championships.
Please note, if you will: I don't list 40 Speed among crucial Attributes at all.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Please Note: This is entirely about how rapidly the QuarterBack scans the Field and makes successful Decisions.
* Many College Offenses feature simple Offenses that make this challenging to evaluate.
* It is, nevertheless, far and away the most crucial Aspect of QuarterBacking.
* Accuracy ~ Placement that maximizes the Receiver's Advantage and minimizes that of the Defender.
* Timing ~ Being temporally In Sync with the Receiver. The Ball arriving precisely when the Receiver does.
* Touch ~ The right Speed for the right Play. Only throwing FastBalls when FastBalls are warranted.
* Trajectory ~ Being spatially In Sync with the Receiver ~ enabling him to catch the Ball In Stride.
* Processing Speed Under Pressure.
* Precision Under Pressure.
* Spatial & Temporal Instincts.
* Velocity, irregardless of where he's throwing it: How fast is'is FastBall?
* DownField Precision ~ can he through the Bomb accurately?
Precision: Excellent. His Mechanics can improve, but his Accuracy is outstanding. His Timing & Trajectory need Work.
Pocket Presence & Poise Under Pressure: Extraordinary. Outstanding Spatial & Temporal Instincts and Tough as Nails. He's tremendous both at sensing and evading Pressure and staying poised and focused DownField.
FirePower: Marginal. Yeah, there's the Rub. Both his DownField Precision and his Velocity are deficient.
Mind you: The Gutters are littered with the Careers of perennial Reserve QuarterBacks whose Potential I considered far higher than the League did...But of course it doesn't necessarily follow that they were right and I was wrong: Lack of Opportunity ~ lack of Snaps ~ has wasted the Potential of countless Prospects over the Years.
I did get carried away with a Projection or three, especially in 2013, when I first started cranking out full Scouting Reports, and I believe that I did place a bit too much emphasis on Processing Speed and not enough on FirePower.
But I believe the League as an whole continues to err in the opposite direction, and dramatically.
Cody Kessler is not going to terrify Defenses with his Arm, and his inability to stretch the Field Vertically is obviously a Liability: If Defenses know that they're up against a QuarterBack with dubious DownField Accuracy, they're more able to afford to deploy RoverBacks and CenterFielders more aggressively in Run Support and Double Coverage in the Short and Intermediate Zones. And if he doesn't develop better Core Power and Mechanics, he's going to have big Problems.
But there it is: Kessler is by all Accounts a ferocious Competitor who does whatever it takes and always has. Whatever Potential there is to improve his DownField Precision and his Velocity by developing his Core Power and improving his Mechanics, I have every Confidence he'll attain it. Hell, he already specifically addressed his lack of FirePower and his Efforts to overcome it in a Pro Day Interview. He's very Smart, he's very Focused, and by God he is Driven.
"Trajectory > A Philosophical Formula that calculates a Prospect's Potential & Risk, based on perceptions of Talent, Intelligence, Passion, and Work Ethic: Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Potential/Risk."
Kessler, of course, has minimal physical Talent, but oozes cerebral Talent. And his Intelligence and Drive are extraordinary.
I will be very surprised if a kid of his Intelligence and Drives fails to improve his FirePower.
Mediocre Arm Strength was what they said 15 Years ago about Tom Brady...and about Drew Brees.
I'm not suggesting that he'll become either. But I do believe that he'll become all that Cody Kessler can be. And if he can develop enough Velocity and DownField Precision to compete ~ to compel Defenses to deploy themselves more conservatively ~ watch out, because his capacity to tear apart the Short & Intermediate Zones is elite.
Put another way: If he had Connor Cook's Arm, he'd be worth the #01 Pick and multiple 1st Rounders.
Most Years, when I'm not getting such a ridiculously late start, I define Market Value as my best assessment of what the InterNet tells me, employing the Columbia BroadCasting System, DraftSite, and other Sites.
This Year, as this and most of my Scouting Reports are being written after the Draft, I've usually used the actual Draft Position. But that was a Judgement Call. And I hope my Fellow FootBall Fiends will indulge me for making an Exception: Cody Kessler actually went in the 4th Round, of course, a Pick that confounded the FootBall Universe, which naturally went right ahead and criticized the Pick all to Hell and back. To pay due Homage to the Balls that the Browns exhibited, I will therefore designate his Market Value according to what it was before the Draft and Browns's ballsy Pick!!
Thank you so very much, Draft BreakDown, without whom my Work would not be possible.
This is not is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning: Caveat Emptor!!