Evaluating QB class confounds NFL teams

INDIANAPOLIS — Quarterbacks were a main thread of discussion as the NFL Scouting Combine opened because the position presents some interesting challenges for NFL teams.

Most analysts agree there isn’t a consensus top player, and many debate whether or not any of the quarterbacks are worthy of a top-10 pick. Each of the top quarterbacks has concerns about his game. There’s also the difficulty of evaluating signal-callers who ran spread offenses in college — namely Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick — and how they project in the NFL. 

Then consider a case could be made that seven of the top 10 teams in the draft could use help at quarterback. It’s an interesting mix of supply versus demand.

Several coaches and general managers touched on the topic Thursday:

Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland: “I think you really have to really do your homework with the quarterback position, based on the way they play offense in college and the way (NFL teams do). I think it’s really a tough position to evaluate. You have to do your homework. Obviously, the more similar the offense to yours … (it) presents an advantage. There are so many spread offenses out there and so many variables of the spread offense in college, you really have to do your homework at that position.”

Bills coach Chan Gailey: “It’s a different quarterback group. These guys have been in a lot of different types of offenses. It’s not just your cut-and-dry, pro-style type of quarterbacks that are in this draft. So, you’re projecting a little bit more maybe than we have in years past with this group. There’s a few of them that have been in that, but then again … just like in the last couple of years, you have guys who haven’t been under center very often. How are they going to react? How are they going to handle that? They can handle it in shorts, but can you handle it when there are big guys on the other side about two yards away from you. That’s a different thought process.”

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert: “It’s our job to take the evaluations from them and try to project. Sure, if we could line anyone up in a standard NFL offense or defense in college, that would be great, but it’s never going to happen. … When you look at the spread (offense), you have to separate when we’re doing in our scheme versus what the player is doing from a physical standpoint. There are certain points in a particular pass play in college football where it’s the same. The quarterback may come from a shotgun or under center, but once he gets to his depth and is reading the defense and has to get rid of the ball, it’s really just a quarterback play. You have to separate that. There’s enough information within a given scheme to separate out what we need to know about a given player.”

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