What does a great quarterback look like?
When I'm constructing my Quarterback Big Board, I consider both past and current performance, but in doing so I'm really looking through a kind of QB prism. There are lots of aspects to a quarterback's game, must-have traits that I find to be a requirement to succeed in the NFL. Add them all up and you start to get a picture of what the perfect quarterback would look like.
On the wall of my office is a list of 10 characteristics that I believe make a successful QB: leadership, arm strength, accuracy, toughness, touch, mechanics, pocket awareness, size, mobility and character.
Now, in how many of those categories do you need to be above average to be truly great? With a small caveat for size, the answer is all of them.
These traits are all critical to my definition of NFL success. Over the years I've spoken to a number of GMs, coaches and personnel guys in the league, and sometimes they'll tell me that I'm a little tough on guys with my evaluations. That may be true, but I'm honest. When I look at a QB, I don't want to be able to say, "Yeah, we can go 8-8 with him." I want to see a QB who has what it takes to be a championship quarterback. That's why we all play this game. I want to see a quarterback who aspires to be the best in the league, and it's on that basis that I evaluate them.
While you need to be above average in these 10 characteristics, there are varying degrees of talent within each of them. And there's a sliding scale of importance that teams and front offices attach to each one. For instance, a characteristic like arm strength may depend on a team's offensive scheme. A trait like character might be more accentuated in some franchises than others.
As I get ready to make the latest changes to my Quarterback Big Board next week, let's examine the traits that make these quarterbacks so great. What follows are what I call my Attribute Rankings. We'll go inside six of the 10 traits -- leadership, arm strength, accuracy, toughness, pocket awareness and mobility -- to see which three quarterbacks lead their peers in those categories.