QuarterBack ~ Lamar Jackson ~ LouisVille Cardinals ~ 6021/216
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 ~ 20. His Mechanics are horrible, and his Touch, Timing, and Trajectory are woefully inconsistent. The theoretical potential is there, but Mechanics tend to be difficult to change at this advanced stage.
Pocket Presence ~ 20. Here, too, there is potential for improvement. Jackson consistently displays extraordinary spatial and temporal instincts in avoiding the Pass Rush. And he’s not afraid to stand in there, either. Mind you, he’s shown an enormous historical propensity for ducking and running, but he improved in that aspect, last year. The largest variable is of course his Processing Speed, which must improve enormously if he’s ever going to develop into an effective NFL QuarterBack, even as a Hybrid Michael Vick/Cam Newton type in a Read Option Offense.
FirePower ~ 60. Potentially 100, if only he can develop those horrible Mechanics.
I could be wrong about’m. He wouldn’t be my first miss in this High Stakes Game of Poker that is CyberScouting!!
But I see an horrifically raw QuarterBack.
Despite my loudly and repeatedly stated preference for QuarterBacks who display superior Pocket skills, I’m not actually a Dinosaur who’s addicted to Pocket QuarterBacks, In fact, I’m a huge proponent of developing an Offense built around a Hybrid QuarterBack and the Zone Option. The problem is that just about every genuine Hybrid QuarterBack who’s come down the pike has exhibited limited Pocket skills, and Lamar Jackson, it seems to me, is another such case.
I read the comparisons to Michael Vick, which sounds about right, but I don’t hold that high an opinion of Michael Vick the QuarterBack, nor of Cam Newton the QuarterBack. They’re exciting and fun, but their impacts on their Offenses were explosive only in their first campaigns, after which their Offenses settled into the middle of the pack.
For my money, Michael Vick and Cam Newton’s resumes aren’t those of the SuperStars that they’re generally held to be.
For my money, they were and are average Hybrid QuarterBacks.
Frankly, I’ve never seen what I’d call a great one.
And I don’t Grade On The Curve.
Lamar Jackson, as I see it, is an extremely raw QuarterBack who should’ve either gone back to College for another year, or, yes, listened to those who’ve been saying that he should make the switch to Split End, because his combination of Fluidity, Speed, and Field Vision ~ not be confused with a QuarterBack’s Processing Speed!! Context!! ~ would render’m a potentially magnificent threat. Even as a raw talent, I’d probably give’m a much higher grade as a WideOut.
But as a QuarterBack? Poor Field Vision, poor Processing Speed ~ from the Pocket’s Perspective!! ~ poor Precision, and horrible Mechanics, counteracted only by a great Gun and tremendous improvisational potential?
I think you know where I’m going with this…
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!!