1. How difficult is it to find a franchise-caliber quarterback in today's NFL?
The difficulty level has risen based on the pressures of the position and its impact on the decision makers. When QBs were expected to sit/learn for 2-3 years before being given the keys to the franchise, expectations were lower and development at the position was the most important trait. Now, the 15 or so teams that know they do not have “THE” guy are almost desperate to find someone that can execute the functions of the job, which include:
- Physical traits needed to win: Height, hand size, arm strength, physical toughness
- Mental traits needed on field: Pre snap processing, Audibles/checks, Post Snap processing, understanding of protections, understanding of coverages, decision making, anticipation, poise under duress
- Technical needs: Pocket mechanics, footwork, throwing mechanics, touch
- Mental traits needed off field: Classroom learning, Concept memorization
- Character traits needed: Poise vs pressure/media, leadership, discipline
There are more QB camps, gurus, and development in the pipeline earlier (High School/College) and that should produce more viable QBs. Unfortunately, finding someone with both the physical and mental pieces needed is tremendously hard. It also does not help that lower level programs run concepts that make life easy on the QB, which is rarely the case in the NFL where defenses can dictate.
2. How focused are teams - that do not have a franchise quarterback - on finding one (In other words: How desperate or relaxed are they?)??
If you have 3-5 more expected years from a top QB (GB, IND, SEA, BLT, PIT, DAL, NYG, DET, ATL, CAR) or you just invested in one (MIA, CIN, JAX, KC, OAK, MIN, SF) you may be comfortable. The other 15 teams are looking for a QB, either to start now, or to take over where their current guy is done. Those 15 are not relaxed at all and depending on the pressure the owner is placing on the decision makers, they may be desperate.
3. How much does it hurt a team in the years to come IF a high-profiled investment (like a first round pick) does not pan out? And why?
Missing on a top pick in general hurts just do to how valuable picks have become. Cash is not king in the NFL as every team has to spend to a certain floor. As such, picks are the premium currency and teams need to execute early and often to build a sustainable winner. Now if you invested a premium pick in a position like QB and it does not work out or you gave up multiple picks to do so (WAS – RG3), then it could really hurt/set you back years. The reason teams expect 1st/2nd round picks to become starters is that they cannot always afford to resign their players when contracts expire and they need a pipeline of players to restock, even at positions of strength.
4. Some say that the talent pool from college football is weak these years. Do you agree?
As I said before, I think programs like Elite 11 and coaches like Tom House have created opportunities for a larger pool of players to gain mastery of QB concepts and techniques. The problem is, the QB position is not solely physical and player’s with elite arms or athletic ability do not have a linear progression to the top. It takes large qualitative leaps to go from High School to College, or College to the NFL and the pressure that a top pick has to turn a franchise around is unbelievable. There are expectations from the GM to Head Coach to local beat writer and if the player does not come out and win right away, the narrative immediately becomes that they are a bust and that can ruin a player’s confidence. I hope people understand that a lack of confidence can ruin technique and competitive toughness, which will negatively impact the player more. So the game today requires a unique set of mental and physical skills that VERY few people on the planet possess.