What do we look for when scouting college quarterbacks? How often exactly do the statistics lie? Anyone can be an armchair GM and tell you if a guy is going to be good in the NFL, right?
Not so fast.
Here are a few key things you should consider when evaluating collegiate quarterbacks, and whether or not they can translate and be effective at the next level.
1. Poise, both on and off the field
2. The ability to lead
3. Can they throw the ball?
4. What are coaches saying about them?
5. How effectively do they spread the ball around?
6. Do they have the measurables?
8. Consistent improvement?
9. Off-field habits
10. Athletic ability
These 10 qualities were abundant in the class of 2012, when Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson took the NFL by storm. All three players were quality prospects in their own respects, and all three in some way or another have found the secret formula for what it takes to be a franchise NFL quarterback. Let’s dig a little deeper.
We all know how impressive a prospect Robert Griffin III was back in his 2011 Heisman campaign, but you look back and see him making plays like he did in this Texas A&M game, and you can’t help but be overly impressed. On the second play from scrimmage, RG3 takes a broken play and turns it into a really solid first down gain. He was able to create something out of nothing, but Griffin didn’t just take off running. He went through his reads and progressions, and actually started running a different direction before he eventually found some green, made two players miss, and then drew a late hit penalty.
Fast forward to 13:19, and walk through this play with me. RG3 has just taken a huge sack in the later portion of the third quarter, putting his team in a horrific down and distance trailing the Aggies by 13 points. The play again breaks down after A&M sends only four and tries to prevent the big play, but Griffin sees another first round pick in Kendall Wright break free ever so slightly and he knows he has a window in which to throw the ball, but it’s closing fast. He sneaks a dart past the A&M defender, and Wright is able to wriggle free for a first down.
This play was created by RG3′s ability to see the field after the play broke down, and he used his arm strength and accuracy to make a throw that had NFL scouts drooling.
In this game against Oklahoma, you’ll see what pretty much became RG3′s Heisman moment. He brings the Bears all the way down the field with under a minute left in the game, and he seals the deal with some clutch playmaking. We’ve already seen Griffin’s ability to thread the needle, his ability to improvise, and his excellent arm strength. Now we can see it all in the same game, on one very critical drive.
Fast-forward that video to 10:05, and take a look at this final drive with me. After a couple of nice pickups via the run, Griffin hits Kendall Wright for a first down, stopping the clock in time enough for them to set for another play. Without timeouts, Griffin scrambles a little too much as the clock winds down under 20 seconds, and he moves to his left and rocket fires a pass across his body in an awkward way. He was able to just barely set his feet, and he threw the ball flat-footed more than 40 yards.
The ball reaches Terrance Williams in the end zone, leading him perfectly between two defenders. Call it luck, call it whatever you want, but this defining moment in RG3′s college career really cemented his status as the #2 or #1b prospect in the 2012 Draft behind Andrew Luck.
In RG3′s case, the numbers don’t lie either. His completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions consistently improved over the course of his time at Baylor, and significantly in his two years as the #1 QB there.
Griffin’s intelligence off the field is well-documented, including graduating from college a year early and contemplating law school, as well as coming back from a major injury and testing his mental and physical toughness.
How about athletic ability? Well, RG3 is the ideal size for an NFL quarterback at roughly 6’3″ 225 pounds, or thereabouts. He recorded a 4.33 second 40 yard dash at the Combine, a staggering number that’s pretty much unheard of for a quarterback, and we saw that on display last year a variety of times.
His athletic ability, swagger, and poise were just three of the many positive traits that made RG3 an exciting collegiate prospect, and a budding NFL superstar.