The quarterback is by far the most important player on a football team. The ball is put in his hands on every play, and his skill and decision-making determine how potent the offense will be. The importance of quarterbacks makes the lack of young quarterback talent in the NFL very concerning. The best quarterbacks in football like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger are nearing the end of their careers, and there does not appear to be a group of young signal callers to take their place.

 

Since 2010, 16 quarterbacks have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. A quarterback drafted in the first round is expected to become a key piece to the franchise. Unfortunately, only nine of those 16 first round picks have worked have earned starting jobs, and of those nine only three — Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Marcus Mariota — are considered above average quarterbacks. Players highly touted on the college field, such as Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, and Blake Bortles, have struggled professionally.

 

Part of this problem is the difference in how professional and college football are played. In the NFL, quarterbacks must be able to read a defense, determine what scheme they are in, and adapt the play call to attack that schemes weaknesses. This requires a very deep understanding of both the offensive playbook and the intricacies of how NFL defenses work.

 

 

The college game has shifted to more simplified systems that rely on run vs. pass options and a quick pace to wear down defenses. The skills quarterbacks are learning in the college game are not transferable to the NFL game.

 

Based on the current crop of draft eligible quarterbacks in college, this problem will only get worse moving forward. According to CBS, the top five quarterback prospects are Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Jared Goff of California, Connor Cook of Michigan State, Cardale Jones of Ohio State, and Christian Hackenberg of Penn State. Other than Goff, each of those players has some serious flaws. Lynch plays in a subpar conference and does not face the best competition. Cook’s teams rely on the defense to win as opposed to his passing skills. Jones was just benched in favor of his backup, and Hackenberg has regressed since his freshman season.

 

If young quarterbacks continue to struggle, the NFL might need to change the way it plays in order to best utilize the available talent. The league has become pass happy over the last decade, but without great quarterbacks under center, that trend could end.

 

Should NFL teams leave their young quarterbacks on the bench to learn the NFL game instead of throwing them immediately into the starting lineup? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4