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Sam Darnold tidbit...


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The issue with Darnold highlights probably the biggest problem with QB scouting in general.  It's the most important position in football, because it transcends athletic ability to such a degree that you can't confidently scout them consistently.  

Darnold's issues are mostly post-snap reads, where he just can't read a defense.  It stems from the RPO based offenses in college, which dictate moves based on those reads.  

If X (unblocked defender) chases RB, pull back the ball the ball.  If the safety moves down, first read is 1 receiver, if LB moves back, first read is 2 receiver.  The QB isn't reading the defense, they are reading the situation.  The issue here is that the unblocked defender essentially works out as a delayed blitz running free.  When the defender realizes that the RB doesn't have the ball, he has a direct path to the QB, at which point it's make the throw or bail time.  Ultimately, this forces the QB to either make a no-read throw, or run around the pocket.  You just don't have the time to do anything else.  

Unfortunately, this means QBs aren't used to sitting in the pocket and making reads, they are used to pre-determined reads, and then improvising.  They come to the NFL and realize those easy reads just aren't there, you have to understand defensive shells and make reads while in the pocket.  Darnold is very jittery in the pocket because he's not accustomed to sitting in the pocket and going through progressions.  There's a sense of calmness with someone like Brady who goes from one progression to another.  There's a sense of panic from someone like Darnold, who's hoping the next progression is open.  

We all made fun of Gase when reports came out he didn't like Darnold to audible, but part of the reasoning is that he just gets fooled on pre-snap looks, and checks into bad plays.  Ultimately, with McCaffery, you saw a ton of checkdowns because he wasn't making the reads down the field.  Once he got hurt, that was over.  

Ideally, you want QBs to learn this trait with good OL that teaches them to stay in the pocket.  Even more importantly, there has to be a coverage eraser as a receiver.  Someone that can beat the defense even if the defense has called the correct play.  We see this a ton with Allen/Williams for the Chargers, where they can beat good coverage.  Same with Diggs, Hopkins, Hill/Kelce, Chase/Higgins/, etc.  You want those weapons so when you make the wrong read, you can still survive.  I think that's what separates good QBs from bad ones, they can survive the bad reads by getting the ball to their playmakers.  The bad ones get sacked or intercepted to kill drives.  Darnold never had that to develop, so it's no surprise he hasn't improved.   It's a combination of both things going wrong for him.  

 

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8 minutes ago, win4ever said:

The issue with Darnold highlights probably the biggest problem with QB scouting in general.  It's the most important position in football, because it transcends athletic ability to such a degree that you can't confidently scout them consistently.  

Darnold's issues are mostly post-snap reads, where he just can't read a defense.  It stems from the RPO based offenses in college, which dictate moves based on those reads.  

If X (unblocked defender) chases RB, pull back the ball the ball.  If the safety moves down, first read is 1 receiver, if LB moves back, first read is 2 receiver.  The QB isn't reading the defense, they are reading the situation.  The issue here is that the unblocked defender essentially works out as a delayed blitz running free.  When the defender realizes that the RB doesn't have the ball, he has a direct path to the QB, at which point it's make the throw or bail time.  Ultimately, this forces the QB to either make a no-read throw, or run around the pocket.  You just don't have the time to do anything else.  

Unfortunately, this means QBs aren't used to sitting in the pocket and making reads, they are used to pre-determined reads, and then improvising.  They come to the NFL and realize those easy reads just aren't there, you have to understand defensive shells and make reads while in the pocket.  Darnold is very jittery in the pocket because he's not accustomed to sitting in the pocket and going through progressions.  There's a sense of calmness with someone like Brady who goes from one progression to another.  There's a sense of panic from someone like Darnold, who's hoping the next progression is open.  

We all made fun of Gase when reports came out he didn't like Darnold to audible, but part of the reasoning is that he just gets fooled on pre-snap looks, and checks into bad plays.  Ultimately, with McCaffery, you saw a ton of checkdowns because he wasn't making the reads down the field.  Once he got hurt, that was over.  

Ideally, you want QBs to learn this trait with good OL that teaches them to stay in the pocket.  Even more importantly, there has to be a coverage eraser as a receiver.  Someone that can beat the defense even if the defense has called the correct play.  We see this a ton with Allen/Williams for the Chargers, where they can beat good coverage.  Same with Diggs, Hopkins, Hill/Kelce, Chase/Higgins/, etc.  You want those weapons so when you make the wrong read, you can still survive.  I think that's what separates good QBs from bad ones, they can survive the bad reads by getting the ball to their playmakers.  The bad ones get sacked or intercepted to kill drives.  Darnold never had that to develop, so it's no surprise he hasn't improved.   It's a combination of both things going wrong for him.  

 

But it is so hard to project their ability to do that at the pro level if you have not seen them do it at the college level. Its almost as if you are projecting an RPO QB to success in the pros, he better have elite athletic tools to be able to play the same kind of game at the pro level. 

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1 hour ago, maury77 said:

But it is so hard to project their ability to do that at the pro level if you have not seen them do it at the college level. Its almost as if you are projecting an RPO QB to success in the pros, he better have elite athletic tools to be able to play the same kind of game at the pro level. 

I think there's a systemic change now, where teams are more enamored with tools than production in college.  We saw it work out with Allen over Rosen, Murray replacing Rosen, Lamar, Mahomes, Herbert.  

Heck, there is no reason way Lance put anything on tape better than Fields/Mac Jones.  Even the draft community being enamored by Wilson.   

10 years ago, I don't think Wilson/Lance/Fields go ahead of Jones.  He had the "production and enough talent angle, while winning on the big stage" resume to be picked higher.  But teams seem to be on the clean slate approach, just wanting the tools, and then allowing their team to develop the QB and take out the bad tendencies.  

A very good example is Rodgers, coming out, he was basically all tools, and a weird delivery.  They are doing the same approach with Love.  

You want athletes first now, be it running or big arm, and then build the mental side afterwards.  I think the days of mentally prepared studs coming out of college ready are extremely rare, like a Joe Burrow recently.  Look at Malik Willis getting hype now, this guy has some of the worst reads out there in the class, but there is first round hype on him because the raw athlete is too intriguing.  The RPO system is so prevalent from pop warner on up that you really can't rely on production as much, but rather the tools. 

Can he make this read? Can he make this throw? I think that's what Miami is finding out about Tua, because he checks every other box.  He's accurate, he's mobile, he has the production in college, but his arm just isn't there.  There's only so much you can scheme up with a young QB.  I think we are going to go the college way soon, more and more QBs are going to be duel threat studs rather than the pocket passer we're used to seeing, and that requires pure athleticism.  

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14 minutes ago, win4ever said:

I think there's a systemic change now, where teams are more enamored with tools than production in college.  We saw it work out with Allen over Rosen, Murray replacing Rosen, Lamar, Mahomes, Herbert.  

Heck, there is no reason way Lance put anything on tape better than Fields/Mac Jones.  Even the draft community being enamored by Wilson.   

10 years ago, I don't think Wilson/Lance/Fields go ahead of Jones.  He had the "production and enough talent angle, while winning on the big stage" resume to be picked higher.  But teams seem to be on the clean slate approach, just wanting the tools, and then allowing their team to develop the QB and take out the bad tendencies.  

A very good example is Rodgers, coming out, he was basically all tools, and a weird delivery.  They are doing the same approach with Love.  

You want athletes first now, be it running or big arm, and then build the mental side afterwards.  I think the days of mentally prepared studs coming out of college ready are extremely rare, like a Joe Burrow recently.  Look at Malik Willis getting hype now, this guy has some of the worst reads out there in the class, but there is first round hype on him because the raw athlete is too intriguing.  The RPO system is so prevalent from pop warner on up that you really can't rely on production as much, but rather the tools. 

Can he make this read? Can he make this throw? I think that's what Miami is finding out about Tua, because he checks every other box.  He's accurate, he's mobile, he has the production in college, but his arm just isn't there.  There's only so much you can scheme up with a young QB.  I think we are going to go the college way soon, more and more QBs are going to be duel threat studs rather than the pocket passer we're used to seeing, and that requires pure athleticism.  

That's a fair point, the trouble is how many QBs prospects are truly athletically elite and will be able to translate that to the pros? 

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42 minutes ago, maury77 said:

That's a fair point, the trouble is how many QBs prospects are truly athletically elite and will be able to translate that to the pros? 

That's going to be hard to tell, I think we're still straddling the line of "athletic enough" to be mobile, but has elite arm strength to make up for it.  Guys like Allen/Mahomes can bypass rules like throwing across the field because of their abilities, and I think more teams will look for that in QBs.  It's just going to be really hard to tell, because the mental aspect of the deciphering the game is nearly impossible to scout.   

On a tangent, I wonder if that mixes in with OL now.  If the stable pass protector isn't as needed as the more mobile guys that can create holes.  Maybe it's not about maintaining a pocket, but creating lanes.  I thought about it watching a Ravens/Steelers game, and it showed Hayward wasn't rushing around the edge as much.  They were so fearful of Lamar stepping up and running through the C gap, that they didn't try to run around the edge.  Would the implementation of mobile QBs, then change the dynamics of OL (especially OT) scouting?  Do you want the guy that can hold you back consistently, or do you want the aggressive guy that can push you back to create holes for the QB to escape, but risk being beaten more often?

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