What makes the perfect NFL quarterback?

March 19, 2011 by

Around this time of year experts are always saying “oh he’s pro-ready” or “he’s not quite the prototypical NFL quarterback”. Well instead of lableing a player, why not figure out…no build the perfect NFL quarterback. Not saying oh lets combine Brady, Manning, Rivers and that’s my ultimate NFL quarterback. No, this is a comprehensive breakdown of what makes a “perfect” NFL quarterback.

Without further ado here is what I believe makes up a perfect NFL quarterback:


While it is critical to be able to throw from within the pocket, quarterbacks need to be able to allude defensive ends and linebackers to keep the play alive and move the chains. For example Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers is not a Michael Vick type of runner however he does have elusiveness, allowing him to maneuver around the pocket, buying time to make the throw either down field or to dump it off.

Especially for a rookie quarterback, being elusive is critical because most likely you won’t be protected behind an All-Pro offensive line. When scouts are making their evaluations on rookie quarterbacks one thing that will stand out is if the player can throw in the pocket, and on the run.

On a players game film there should be some eluding of a defensive player. Because even though you love to have a 6-5 230 lbs quarterback who can stand in the pocket and make all the throws. Sometimes you like having that player that can keep 3-5 plays per game alive. As Green Bay showed this season, those 3-5 plays can make a difference in an entire game.


There’s somethings that you can teach a quarterback, there’s some that you simply can’t. Accuracy is something no coach can teach. Either you have it or you don’t and often coaches will prefer a more accurate quarterback rather than a strong armed quarterback.

Coaches in the NFL would rather have you have a accurate soft arm (15-25 yard throws) and complete 25/30 rather than have just a strong arm (30-45 yard throws) and complete 18-20/35.


As I touched on in the opening, the term prototypical NFL quarterback usually will refer to one of two things. Pro-style offense in college and two size. When it comes to NFL quarterbacks the “prototypical” size is between 6-2 and 6-5 and around 225 to 230 lbs. Of course you do have the Drew Brees of the world who stands 6-0 209 lbs but that’s rare.

Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rogers, Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, Jon Kitna and Tom Brady all share one two things in common. One, they all have a height between 6-2 and 6-5 and all were in the top 10 for completion percentage in 2010.

Having a 6-2 to 6-5 quarterback benefits your offense because shorter quarterbacks (Brees, Seneca Wallace and Michael Vick among others) have a harder time seeing over offensive lineman than Manning and Co. do. When you are evaluating a college quarterback coming into the NFL size is one focal point right off the bat.

Sam Bradford (6-4, 228), Matt Stafford (6-2, 232) and Matt Ryan (6-4, 220) all fit the mold.


One intangible that sometimes can get overlooked for a quarterback is their toughness. Not just their physical toughness but also their mental toughness. As we saw even this year with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, when it mattered most his mental toughness didn’t rise to the occasion. Go back two years with Phillip Rivers’ torn ACL, his mental toughness shined brighter than the sun during summer.

Mental toughness comes in several ways. Is a player mentally tough enough to stand in the pocket and make the throw knowing they’re gonna get hit OR do they hold the ball and take the hit. Coaches want to see a player be safe, but also make the play. Any NFL coach would rather see a quarterback attempt the throw and have it go incomplete than take a sack.

However sometimes the mental toughness of one aspect interferes with another. If a quarterback is afraid of getting hit and tries to force a ball into double or triple coverage that’s another aspect of mental toughness. Now players aren’t going to be perfect, however what separates a good quarterback from a great one is knowing when to throw and sometimes when to take the hit.


Different from toughness, an NFL franchise revolves around the play of the quarterback. Thus it also revolves around the player being healthy and vertical. Frail quarterbacks are non-existent in the NFL because with the increasing talent of young defensive players if a quarterback isn’t durable he’s not going to make it in the NFL.

Simply put, if a quarterback isn’t durable he’s likely not going to make it in the NFL. Now a torn ACL, MCL or any tear or concussion is not what I’m referring to. Just being able to take a few hits and get back up.

Drive for success:

In any sport every single player should have a drive to win, if not they are in the wrong business. Something you also can’t teach is the drive for success. The player with the most drive to win will wind up coming out on top. Take Ben Roethlisberger, he might not light up the stats sheet but he does what it takes to win because his drive for success is almost unmatched.

So those six traits are what I use to evaluate every quarterback that I believe will be selected during the 2011 NFL Draft. With this list you could take a look at all 32 NFL quarterbacks that are currently starts and see if they fit the bill.

You can follow Lars at Twitter http://twitter.com/larshanson

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