From mobile to pocket loop
The quarterback has a primary job in the NFL, one that sounds like a coaching speech at press conferences. It’s about throwing the ball with precision and getting it into the hands of the point guards. While that may be the traditional definition of what a quarterback is, it’s easy to refer to players as the quarterback. -Baltimore Ravens guard Lamar Jackson and ask questions.
But the era of quarterbacks whose brightest spots revolve around what they can do on the field seems to be coming to an end. At least that is changing to some extent.
The trend of NFL mobile quarterbacks and what ultimately happens to the running caller
The ability to move and have a level of quickness in any position in the game of football is a plus. It’s no secret and never has been, and it’s true that players get faster at the next level. But mobility and athleticism aren’t everything. Those are certainly not the two traits that alone will turn a quarterback into a Hall of Famer down the line.
There are a number of mobile quarterbacks with all the desirable athletic traits as a runner who have been since the start of their careers. In these cases, an NFL team ends up with a quarterback trying to hone his mechanics and improve as a passer much later in his career than he ever should have.
While this is successful in some cases, the quarterback usually lags to some degree when it comes to throwing the ball. Over time, all running quarterbacks eventually slow down. And if they’re not up to snuff as passers, they often can’t even serve as a viable replacement even if they’ve achieved stardom at some point for the other things they bring to the table.
Some of the most popular names in the running quarterback trend include Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. None of these players have proven to be long-term starters.
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The greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time are pocket passers
Looking at the best quarterbacks in the NFL today and throughout history, more than the vast majority fit the definition of pocket passer. These players are precise, mechanically solid and above all can deliver a well-placed ball at all levels of the court. Any type of mobility, athletic ability, and special physical traits take a back seat.
Quarterbacks widely considered to be among the best to ever play at the top level include Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Drew Brees, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham, Peyton Manning, John Elway, Roger Staubach, Aaron Rodgers, Bart Starr, Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Terry Bradshaw.
While some of these quarterbacks had or currently have the ability to use their legs in a meaningful way, the vast majority of those on this list were very limited in that regard. For those who had it, they were known primarily for their accomplishments in the air.
Of course, it’s easy to argue that many of these players haven’t seen the time in the modern era of the NFL. But looking at the best quarterbacks in the league today, Brady still reigns supreme.
Names like Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Kyler Murray frequently accompany him on the top 10 lists. These are quarterbacks who vary in mobility types and have been most recognized for their work as passers. There’s no purely mainstream quarterback in the mix there.
Related: Ranking NFL Quarterbacks for 2022
What the 2022 Draft says about the NFL quarterback position and the state of the league
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a decision to make with the 2022 NFL Drat 20th overall pick. That decision was between going with someone who has a high floor or a high ceiling. This year, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett represented the reliable high floor while Liberty’s Malik Willis showcased an abundance of physical traits, athleticism and a howitzer for one arm. He also showed accuracy issues and some overall instability as a passer based on his college strip.
Related: Malik Willis as a legitimate NFL quarterback?
Although it must be taken into account that each team has its own way of doing things, aspects that it is built around and a coaching staff that has a certain way of dealing with its offenses. There are quarterbacks who fit in better than others. There’s also value placed on a quarterback who’s proven to be a consistently solid passer and possesses that kind of “sneaky” mobility he’s not known for. Pickett fits that mold.
Willis fell much further than expected after being projected by some as the No. 1 overall pick. Instead, he was the third quarterback in the roster to the No. 86 third-round pick by the Tennessee Titans. Although he has shown improvement throwing the ball with a touch and passing in several areas of the pitch, it’s something that needs to continue to translate. Willis has played five games in 2021 in which he hasn’t hit a 60% completion rate and three games with three steals against below average competition.
Former Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder was selected ahead of Willis. And while Ridder displayed intriguing speed at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine that leads us to believe he could become a more athletic, Marcus Mariota-style quarterback, he didn’t project himself that way in college. He was pinned as more of a game-manager than anything else.
Revisiting the 2021 NFL Drat Class and the Net Result
The 2021 NFL Draft had one of the heaviest quarterback classes featured in recent history with five quarterbacks coming off the board in the first round.
No. 1: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 2: Zach Wilson, New York Jets
No. 3: Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
No. 11: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
No. 15: Mac Jones, New England Patriots
Looking back on this class, there are quarterbacks who found themselves at a disadvantage (as so many first quarterback picks do). They are expected to take a leap and they very well might.
But the best-performing first-rounder of 2021 so far is Jones, who is a pure pocket passer. He finished the year with a 67.6% completion rate, 3,801 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions – leading his team to the playoffs in his first-ever season.
While the rest of the first-round crop has some mobility appeal, each of these players has been praised for their accuracy and ball placement throughout their college careers. Each entered the draft as a player who would be an established passer with the ability to move.
Lance, the “quarterback with a linebacker mentality,” seems like the only quarterback here outside of that mold because of everything he brings to the table physically and athletically. But he was highly regarded by his coaches and teammates for his accuracy and handling of college football – something that is reflected on the stat sheet even though he didn’t play a ton of games. due to the circumstances.
Related: Trey Lance As NFL Quarterback, 49ers Star Is Poised To Succeed
Lance finished his college career at North Dakota State with a 65.4 percent completion percentage, 2,947 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and just one interception.
It will be interesting to see how the situation continues to evolve. Trends come and go in sports. But it seems teams are starting to err more on the side of a quarterback who has the advantage as a pure passer and can run when called, as opposed to a rare general athlete.