QuarterBack ~ Christian HackenBerg ~ Penn State Nittany Lions ~ 6042/224
But I believe not only that Pocket Passing remains the Heart & Soul of successful QuarterBacking, but that the capacity of Speed QuarterBacks to master Pocket Passing can be and often is crippled by the Siren Song of Scrambling: A QuarterBack who has always had that "out" is far less likely to develop the skills that really matter.
Power QuarterBacks ~ The Men with the Golden Arms ~ are equally susceptible to falling Prey to the seductive allure of their own physical Talent: The more powerful their Cannons, the more likely I believe it is that they persistently depend upon that crutch as a Get Out Of Jail Card, and thus fail to develop a more comprehensive Skill Set.
And thus I perceive a Great Irony, one that continues, astonishingly, to elude most: The more explosive a Scrambler that a QuarterBack is, or the more powerful an Arm he boasts, the less likely that he is to achieve Greatness.
Conversely, it's the boring guys who consistently Move The Chains that give you the best Chance to win.
After New Year's Day, when The Only Games That Really Matter are played, History has been relentlessly savage to Power QuarterBacks and Speed QuarterBacks who failed to develop their Games: Once the weaker Teams have been eliminated, the PlayOff Defenses have invariably proven far too much for the Unprepared.
And if you're not prepared to compete after New Year's Day, why play at all??
In consideration of these thoughts, which, like many of my thoughts, fly in the face of what is amusingly considered to be Conventional Wisdom, this is how I break down the Criteria that I focus on, when evaluating QuarterBacks:
1 ~ Processing Speed
2 ~ Precision
3 ~ Pocket Presence
4 ~ FirePower
Processing Speed or Diagnostic Velocity is about how quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape. It's crucial at all 22 Positions, but utterly vital for a QuarterBack to succeed...or to even survive. Reading Coverages, working through Progressions, and selecting the best Receiving or Running Option.
Precision speaks above all to Mechanics: A QuarterBack's consistency with his Stance, his Set Up, and his Delivery. I refer to consistent Accuracy in the Short & Intermediate Zones, where the best Offenses all make their Bread & Butter. In breaking it down, I'm looking at Timing, Touch, and Trajectory: Leading Receivers to DayLight.
Pocket Presence & Poise Under Pressure is about Poise, or how one's Processing Speed and Precision stand up Under Pressure, and about one's Temporal & Spatial Instincts in navigating an often chaotic Pocket.
FirePower is a Category that I value, though not as much as others. I refer to Velocity and to DownField Precision, which I don't consider as crucial to Success as Short & Intermediate Precision. DownField Precision makes for tremendous HighLight Footage, but it's Short & Intermediate Precision that Moves The Chains and wins Championships.
Please note, if you will: I don't list 40 Speed among crucial Attributes at all.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Please Note: This is entirely about how rapidly the QuarterBack scans the Field and makes successful Decisions.
* Many College Offenses feature simple Offenses that make this challenging to evaluate.
* It is, nevertheless, far and away the most crucial Aspect of QuarterBacking.
* Accuracy ~ Placement that maximizes the Receiver's Advantage and minimizes that of the Defender.
* Timing ~ Being temporally In Sync with the Receiver. The Ball arriving precisely when the Receiver does.
* Touch ~ The right Speed for the right Play. Only throwing FastBalls when FastBalls are warranted.
* Trajectory ~ Being spatially In Sync with the Receiver ~ enabling him to catch the Ball In Stride.
* Processing Speed Under Pressure.
* Precision Under Pressure.
* Spatial & Temporal Instincts.
* Velocity, irregardless of where he's throwing it: How fast is'is FastBall?
* DownField Precision ~ can he through the Bomb accurately?
Precision: Horrible. He'll tantalize, sporadically, with beautiful Throws, but his Shaky Mechanics, combined with inconsistent and often horrific Timing, Touch, and Trajectory need serious, serious Work.
Pocket Presence & Poise Under Pressure: Bad. He's generally very stout in the Face of Pressure ~ and he's got the Sacks to prove it ~ See What I Did There??? ~ but impressive Courage is far less advantageous when it's hindered both by deficient Spatial and Temporal Instincts for the Pass Rush and of course that hideous Processing Speed. Once the Pressure comes, HackenBerg's Game routinely falls apart and his Decisions go horribly awry.
FirePower: Exceptional and potentially extraordinary. The raw Power is definitely there. If he can develop those Mechanics, the DownField Precision to match his raw Power is certainly possible. This is by far his best Trait.
Had he been eligible for the Draft 2 Years ago, he probably would've gone #1 Overall.
Yet had he not preceded the last two disastrous Campaigns with that magical 2013 Campaign under former Head Coach Bill O'Brien, we might very well be talking about'm as a UFA right now...As it is, his Stock's dropped considerably.
Or at least it had until his sterling Performance at this Week's PennSylvania State's Pro Day.
What Evaluators are trying to decide now is which Campaigns are more indicative of HackenBerg's true Prospects.
Is HackenBerg still the promising Prospect of 2013, who's suffered since then from a weak Offensive Line and coaching that didn't play to'is Strengths? Or have the last 2 Years simply exposed him as being previously OverRated?
I fear that it is the latter. HackenBerg seems to me little more at this point than a classic case of a mesmerizing Prospect with that terrific Arm and that tall, strong Frame that Teams love... but not much beyond that.
I do not presume to dismiss that scintillating 2013 Campaign altogether, and I respect the Argument that it was in fact a truer measure of his Potential, that he was misused and abused ere the last two Campaigns, and that there is a legitimately extraordinary Prospect there, despite all we've recently seen...but I seriously doubt it.
I believe that the most likely outcome here is that HackenBerg's great Frame, phenomenal Arm, and 2013 Campaign will prove to be Fool's Gold...and that he will have a very hard time competing, much less excelling.
He's an impressive kid, and I wish'm the best. I just can't justify his Market Value at this juncture, is all.
Thank you so very much, Draft BreakDown, without whom my Work would not be possible.
This is not is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning: Caveat Emptor!!