QuarterBack ~ Davis Webb ~ California Golden Bears ~ 6045/228
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?
I understood that Webb had started for parts of two Years in the Texas Tech Air Raid Offense, which had given'm a leg up on winning the Job when he transferred to California this Year, as they too feature the Air Raid. I also read from Draft Experts who resoundingly denounced his Field Vision, his Processing Speed, and his tendencies to lock onto Targets, stare'm down, and all to often make rash and destructive Decisions, based on his Red Raider Tape.
It will be interesting to see Game Tape from later in the Season, once Defensive Coordinators have had a Chance to study his Game Tape from earlier on, and devised more elaborate ways to combat him and the Golden Bear Offense. But against a ferocious Aztec Defense that's been absolutely obliterating Offenses, Webb was routinely looking in one direction and then throwing in another, often scanning the whole Field, and usually making wise Decisions.
There were certainly Mistakes, a couple of which proved fatal against a savage and opportunistic Aztec Defense. But Risk is a part of this Game, of course ~ even the very best at the next level throw a few bad Passes every Sunday.
Taken as a whole, I found this Tape very impressive.
* April Update: I'm upgrading'm to exceptional, and with tremendous Potential. Trying to carve out a Career after developing in an Air Raid Offense is of course an enormous Handicap, and Webb was indeed sporadic in this regard, mixing in Flashes of Brilliance with boneheaded Mistakes or simply locking up...but the mental Potential is there.
Precision: Exceptional. Webb's Tracking, Timing, and Trajectory against a swarming Aztec Defense was consistently remarkable, and he'd often hit tough Targets in tight Traffic, repeatedly exhibiting Pin Point Precision.
* April Update: I'm downgrading'm to Competitive, though with excellent Potential. His Timing, Touch, and Trajectory are at times extraordinary, but he's riddled with Inconsistency and shaky Mechanics. He'll need some Work.
Pocket Presence & Poise Under Pressure: Impressive. He definitely blew it Under Pressure on a Pick Six that put San Diego State up, 28-21, but for the vast majority of the Snaps I watched, he was unflappable, delivering Strikes with Precision and Accuracy in the face of Heat on most such Plays, and making good Decisions.
* April Update: Marginal. Marginal Spatial & Temporal Instincts and inconsistent Precision Under Pressure. He did, in fact, get a lot more Pressure in'is Face as the Season progressed and as Defenses become more familiar with'm, as I'd forecast, and he became increasingly inconsistent in response. He's got a lot of Work to do, here.
FirePower: Exceptional. Terrific Snap to'is Delivery, and both his Velocity and DownField Precision are, yes, exceptional.
* April Update: Tremendous!! Terrific Precision and Accuracy DownField!!
I'm confident that Draft BreakDown ~ my beloved source of Game Tape ~ will manage to crank out another couple Games or more, but if they don't, there are other Resources ~ though far, far less efficient than Draft BreakDown!!
I will also add that it would've been far more revealing of the Potential of Davis Webb to succeed at the next level were it possible to see how successfully he'd respond next Year with the Golden Bears, in the context of opposing Defenses having an entire OffSeason ~ and not just MidSeason Practices ~ to study'm, discern his Tendencies, and thence to develop appropriate Tactics to use against'm. QuarterBacks previously perceived as 1st Round Talent, and even as Consensus #1 Picks, have gotten thus exposed many a Time, and seen their Market Value collapse.
Having said that, and thus acknowledged that even my final Scouting Report on Davis Webb is likely to be necessarily more speculative than that of a Prospect who's played in a given System for 2, 3, or 4 Years, I will say that this here preliminary Scouting Report reads highly in'is favor: The Command of the Field that he displayed in that Game ~ his propensity to routinely scan the whole Field and repeatedly throw to a different Receiver ~ and with consistently impressive Accuracy ~ than he was initially looking at, speaks volumes to me about his Processing Speed and Field Vision.
And to do so against a ferocious and swarming Aztec Defense ~ though perhaps one admittedly not yet in top form that early in the Season ~ was even more remarkable: His Poise Under Pressure was mostly terrific.
Should the rest of his Tape back up what I saw against San Diego State, he could prove to be a big Surprise.
* April Update: I consider Davis Webb to be a very High Risk Prospect, due to the mentally crippling Liability that Years of Air Raid Training impose on its QuarterBacks. But I am extremely impressed both with Webb's Intelligence and voracious Drive, and I believe that he has illustrated a remarkable level of Processing Speed already, despite having had little Opportunity to develop it. That convinces me that if he gets the right coaching ~ not by any means a certainty!! ~ with enough Time & Training before getting thrown into the Fire, he could develop into an All Pro QuarterBack.
Trajectory: Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Potential/Risk.
There is all sorts of Risk, there, but with the right Coaching Staff ~ a patient Coaching Staff ~ not only is the Sky the Limit with this tremendous Talent, but the Risk of Failure is far, far less, I believe, than most are suggesting.
Rank & Grade? No Change!!
Thank you so very much, Draft BreakDown, without whom my Work would be virtually possible.
This is not is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning: Caveat Emptor!!