I am starting a new series of posts where I break down for you what you should look for when watching college football games to evaluate whether or not the players you are watching are NFL worthy. I am going to go position by position and explain what you should look for when watching each position. The first position we are going to start with is the toughest position on the field to scout, the quarterback.
The quarterback has the most going on with his position, and it is one of the hardest to evaluate because there is so much to look at. But I will try to point out the more important things to observe when watching a game.
Does the QB look at the entire field?
One thing that most people don’t realize about colleges is that some teams don’t let their QB play the whole field. There are some coaches who know their QB’s limitations and they will design plays to allow their quarterback to throw on just one side of the field. They are given a play where their reads are given on the right side or the left side of the field. How do you notice this? Well, it’s honestly pretty easy to point out.
First, watch the position of the QB. When he drops back into the pocket, does he look to only one side of the field? Watch the receivers. If there is a receiver that does not seem to be running really hard, then it is a possibility that the play was called to the other side of the field. This is an extreme red flag for scouts. Ia t shows that the QB they are looking out is not trusted with the whole field, therefore he loses draft value.
Look at tendencies!
Second, I watch for tendencies in throwing to different receivers. Whenever I sit down to watch a game I write down each receiver the team has and I watch how many times those receivers are targeted. What I am looking for while doing this is whether he throws an exceedingly large amount of passes to one specific receiver.
If this trend continues over several games then it becomes a red flag because he doesn’t know how to spread the ball around. Look at the best QB’s in the game and you will notice that they spread the ball around. If the corners shut down their best receiver, it’s okay because they have another receiver that they can throw to. But if a QB has one target that he throws to a lot, defenses can exploit that and force interceptions or make the QB get uncomfortable and target other receivers he would rather not throw to.
Does the QB have the ability to put touch on the ball?
Third, does the quarterback have touch? So you have a QB who has a strong arm and he can fit the ball into a tight window before a QB can blink, or he can launch a ball sixty yards with the flick of the wrist. So what? That’s great and all but I look to see if the QB has touch. Arm power and putting speed on the ball is great but it can only get you so far. I want to see if the QB can throw the ball on those deep corner routes and still hit his man with a corner underneath and a safety up top.
Can he lob the ball and hit his man in stride? Can he throw the ball just out of the reach of a defender and still hit his man? For example, my biggest critique of Cam Newton has always been his lack of being able to put touch on the ball. He definitely has the arm to be able to throw the deep ball and he has always had the ability to put a high bit of speed on the ball, but his touch has always been severely lacking. Many Carolina fans can remember games where he had the wide open receiver and he overthrew them because he lacked touch.
Stats don’t lie
Fourth, take a look at the statline. Websites like:
These are great sites that give individual game logs and they give you the splits for the QB. It really helps show you how different scenarios affect the QB. Is he better on turf or grass? Does he do better during night games or day games? Does he get progressively better as the game goes on or does he get worse as the game goes on? Is there one quarter where he is better or worse than other quarters? These are questions that can be answered by the stat line.
Now there are around thirty or more characteristics that need to be looked at in regards to the quarterback position, but I have essentially given you the Readers Digest version of what I believe are the most important things to look at when it comes to the QB position.
What do you guys think of my list? If you have any disagreements or things you would like to add, feel free to let me know on Twitter!