Quarterback mobility was on display in the Super Bowl last month, and now it’s up to some NFL teams to show their mobility to address the position.
Are they willing to trade up for a quarterback in next month’s draft?
Can they return the exchange and still ensure good?
Are they ready to restructure the offense to suit any player?
These were the top questions at the annual scouting combine this week as the league evaluates its final picks. There is a strong possibility that at least four quarterbacks will be selected among the first nine picks in next month’s draft, with Houston (second pick), Indianapolis (fourth), Las Vegas (seventh) and Carolina (ninth) looking for answers. the position
It wouldn’t be surprising if three other teams in that stretch also signed quarterbacks: Seattle (five), Detroit (six) and Atlanta (eight).
Skilled pass rushers Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr could also get into the mix, making a murky picture even murkier. Like a deep ball, the future of Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson is up in the air.
“In an ideal world you always want to draft a quarterback — draft him, develop him and then have that guy here for five, 10 years,” Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said. “You want to have that consistency. It helps for several reasons. Monitoring your roster for salary cap reasons. There are so many benefits to sketching and development. That’s the right way.”
The top tier of quarterback prospects consists of Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis. The order there? It depends on who you ask.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. “I think everyone will look at each guy for their strengths and weaknesses and how they fit into their team. But it’s a good team.”
These four newcomers are not cookie-cutter prototypes, but individuals with distinct strengths and weaknesses.
Young went 24-3 in two seasons with the Crimson Tide, earning the 2021 Heisman Trophy and Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors. He is quite small, however, and is listed—generously, it seems—at 6 feet and 194 pounds.
Quarterback CJ Stroud was heavily backed at Ohio State.
(Danny Karnik/Associated Press)
“I’ve been this size, respectfully, my whole life,” he told reporters on Friday. “I know who I am, I know what I can do. To me, it’s fair, everyone can speculate, you asked me all the questions. I will continue to control what I control, to keep working hard. … I trust myself. I know what I can do.’
Stroud, from Rancho Cucamonga, is polished and experienced, throwing for 81 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in two seasons for the Buckeyes. While there don’t appear to be many holes in his game, he benefited from excellent pass protection at Ohio State — something he might not have with a rebuilding NFL team — and that college doesn’t have a reputation for being pumped. great pro quarterbacks.
Levis wasn’t as productive last season as he will be in 2021, and there are lingering questions about his accuracy and footwork. Kentucky went 10-3 with him starting two years ago, but 7-6 last season.
“I think this past year the season hasn’t gone as well as we would have liked,” he said. “But I learned a lot from it. Learn how to fight adversity. I faced a lot of things that were tough physically and situations, but I became a better player because I was a better quarterback.”
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis had a more successful season as a junior than as a senior.
(LG Patterson/Associated Press)
There’s a lot of buzz at the combine surrounding the 6-foot-4, 231-pound Richardson, who has less experience than many other quarterback options, but who throws scorching curls. He was a full-season starter at Florida (having tallied 39 passes in 10 appearances before that) and posted a modest 53.8% completion rate last fall.
It should be noted that Josh Allen’s completion rate out of Wyoming was slightly better at 56.2%, but he bucked the historical trend and became more accurate in the pros. The Buffalo Bills star has completed 62.5 percent of those passes in the NFL.
Richardson raised some eyebrows during his media session on Friday when he said of his college completion percentage, when he said: “I can definitely get better at passing the ball and helping my guys. But I can’t catch every pass. If I could, I definitely would.”
He later stated: “I’ve had a lot of people say that I’m throwing too hard. So when I’m trying to figure it out, it’s not as specific as I’d like. So I don’t care if someone is complaining because I throw it hard. Better catch it.’
Despite his short resume, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson exudes confidence.
(Darron Cummings/Associated Press)
While some may view such comments as innocent, others may see them as pointing a finger at the receivers. That might not sit well in an NFL locker room, especially coming from a rookie.
However, while he could have responded in a more diplomatic manner, that will have no bearing on where the draft is. In fact, some teams may see him as the type of fiery competitor they want.
Already, Richardson holds himself to a high standard and is setting himself apart. He ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, the fourth-fastest by a quarterback since 2003, broke the QB combine record with a 40½-inch vertical jump, and tied Arkansas’ Matt Jones with his 10-foot-9-inch broad jump. Best time since 2003.
“I want to be a legend,” he said. “I want to be like Patrick Mahomes. I want to be like Tom Brady. I want to be one of the greats. I will be one of the greats because I am willing to work hard and get to that point. To answer your question, I think I will be one of the greats of the next few years.’