Today: Apr 21, 2024

The future of the NFL Quarterback

Ryan Flynn – Sports Editor

I thought I’d seen it. I had heard for years about the next generation of quarterback. You know, that guy who could run AND throw. The perfect combination of speed with the legs and accuracy with the arm that leads to an unstoppable offensive attack.

Two years ago, I thought I’d seen it. But, I was wrong.

The guy that I’m talking about is Aaron Rodgers, a player who Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin used to refer to as “The Ultimate Weapon.” Rodgers was and still is a pass-first quarterback, a guy who plays well inside of the pocket but can scramble and make downfield throws when the play breaks down. This ability to extend plays and occasionally rush for first downs, it’s something the Brady’s and the Manning’s of the world will never have. It is, finally, what the future of the position has in store.

The dual-threat quarterback has always been around. In recent years we had Michael Vick and Vince Young, two gifted runners who scrambled their way to college success and became top three draft picks. Both guys, I’d argue, were too good at running the ball to develop fully as passers. Their whole lives, when the play broke down, they always had their legs. They could always outrun the opposition. This became habitual, I’d guess, to the point that under duress, their first instinct was always to run. That isn’t the case with guys like Rodgers and Roethlisberger. They aren’t talented enough to be run-first and it is this facet of their game that makes them far more effective than Vick and his like will ever be.

Which brings us to three young signal-callers: Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton. Two of these guys are pass-first runners. The other is a natural runner who doesn’t seem to have the makeup to be a stud both in the pocket and out. Newton will never win a Super Bowl. I’m convinced. He’s another Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Michael Vick. He may be a freak athlete, but he’s got the wrong skill set. He’s been training his whole life to play quarterback the wrong way.

Griffin, on the other hand, is the total package. I think he’s got the potential to be Rodgers with 4.4 speed. A pass-first quarterback who can read defenses, make accurate throws and oh yeah, occasionally bust off a 79-yard run. Luck is a great athlete in his own right, though he’ll never be the pure runner that RG3 is. These two rookie-of-the-year candidates (and make no mistake, these are the only legitimate candidates) are the future of the position. If they can learn to audible at the line like Brady and Manning while eluding the rush and making plays downfield like Rodgers, they both can be unstoppable.

They can both own this league, but they’ll have to do it like those before them did.

Pass first.

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