1 Good passing has to do with accuracy, timing, and throwing a ball with touch so it is catchable.
2 A quick delivery , one that is not telegraphed to help the defense, gives the quarterback an advantage when he finds his intended target. That's when it is essential to get the ball "up and gone'' with no wasted motion. Some of this can be acquired by learning proper technique. But to a certain degree, a quick release is related to a quarterback's reaction time between spotting his receiver and getting the ball "up and gone.''
3 Touch is important, especially in a medium range passing game. One of Joe Montana's most remarkable skills was putting the right touch on a pass so that it was easily catchable by a receiver, who often did not have to break stride.
4 The ability to read defenses is not something that players have learned to a high degree coming out of college. Even if they have, the pro defenses are very different. But most systems require quarterbacks to look at primary and secondary receivers, usually based on the defense that confronts him. You can see if he locates that secondary receiver -- or maybe even an emergency outlet receiver -- with ease or with a sense of urgency.
This should work like a natural progression, not a situation where it's -- "Oh, my gosh, now I must look over here ... no, over there.'' You can see which quarterbacks handle these situations with grace. These are the types who have a chance to perform with consistency in the NFL.
5 Mobility and an ability to avoid a pass rush are crucial. Some quarterbacks use this mobility within the pocket just enough so they are able to move and pass when they "feel" a rush.
6 Quarterbacks must be able to function while injured. The pro season is about twice as long and more punishing than a college season. They are vulnerable to getting hit hard every time they pass. They must be able to avoid being rattled, get up and show they are in control and can continue to lead the offense.
7 The single trait that separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks is the ability to make the great, spontaneous decision, especially at a crucial time. The clock is running down and your team is five points behind. The play that was called has broken down and 22 players are moving in almost unpredictable directions all over the field.
This is where the great quarterback uses his experience, vision, mobility and what we will call spontaneous genius. He makes something good happen. This, of course, is what we saw in Joe Montana when he pulled out those dramatic victories for Notre Dame.
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Which of the QB prospects this year have shown they possess these important criteria?