Samuel Darnold ~ Southern California Trojans
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 ~ 75. Poor Mechanics, but good and potentially great Timing, Touch, and Trajectory despite his strange, long motion. That may forever hold’m back, though, as Mechanics tend to be fundamentally locked in by this point.
Pocket Presence ~ 25. Potentially as high as 80, 90, or even 100, if he develops his Processing Speed. He’s tough, but he showed way too much tendency to bail out’f the Pocket. Pockets, mind you, weren’t that easy to come by in LA’s backfield, which surely tempted’m to exacerbate that habit. But even in clean Pockets, his execution was abysmal.
FirePower ~ 60. Potentially 100. Tremendous Velocity and outstanding Arm Strength. With quality Time & Training and intensive work on’is Mechanics, he could be terrifying. That seems like a long shot, though.
As I see it, the comparisons are very appropriate. But I don’t see discounting that tendency at all. I called Jameis Winston highly overrated when the Buccaneers drafted him #1 overall in 2015, and as I see it, I was spot on: He’s still a loose cannon that, like overrated Arms like Jay Cutler before’m, is riddled with destructive tendencies.
That isn't what you should be spending the #1 overall Pick on.
Samuel Darnold is impressive, but not as impressive, in my view, as generally perceived to be.
I make allowances for the fact that he’s only 20 ~ he turns 21 in June ~ by which I mean that I anticipate more cerebral evolution than I would for an older prospect. And he is by all accounts very intelligent.
But that cuts both ways. I believe that Darnold made a serious mistake in coming out this year. I believe that his game is still very raw, and that he would’ve benefited immensely from developing for another campaign or two in the relative cocoon of college. He’s going to be facing live bullets, now, unless the team that drafts him sits him for a year or two, and with his game being at a developmental stage, his growth as a QuarterBack is going to be imperiled.
Were Darnold coming out two years hence, I might very well perceive his Services as being worth not only the #1 Pick in the Draft, but a couple extra 1st Rounders on top’f it. And I believe that there’s every possibility, in the right situation, of his developing into the kind of QuarterBack whose Services would indeed fully justify that price. But I also believe that he entered the draft a year or two prematurely, and in so doing infused his future and the value of his Services with an enormous influx of Risk ~ risk of stunting his growth as a young, raw QuarterBack, or even damaging it.
With that elevated risk of failure, I see his Draft Value as being far, far less than that which is generally ascribed to it.
But here’s hoping that he finds the right situation and successfully develops his enormous potential.
Thank you so very much, Draft BreakDown, without whom my Work would be virtually impossible.
Please also note, Fellow FootBall Fiends: These CyberScouting Reports are not intended as predictions of success or failure, but as assessments ~ ludicrously amateurish assessments ~ of potential success. FootBall is a rough and often unfair business, and many a worthy Prospect has fallen far short of his potential, sometimes not because of his own failings, but because of those of coaching, scheme, timing...or because huge investments were made on other Prospects.
In other words: If any of my Super Dooper Deeper Sleepers ever fail to fulfill their vast potential, I’m confident that it goes without saying that it wasn’t their fault…or mine!!...Yes, I think that I'm being funny.
In other words: Caveat Emptor, Fellow FootBall Fiends!!
Enter at your own risk!!