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NFL Draft: Michael Lombardi’s rules for drafting quarterbacks

With the Giants perhaps in the QB market, they are worth knowing

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DeShaun Watson
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We know that the New York Giants are fishing around the 2017 NFL Draft class for a developmental quarterback. At least, we think we know that. What we don’t know is whether the Giants are fishing off the end of their lakeside dock with a cheap pole and a plastic worm hoping to catch a Sunny or if they are deep-sea fishing with the heavy equipment looking for the Big Fish.

Our own Chris Pflum recently offered an excellent synopsis of why evaluating college quarterbacks is so difficult in the era of the Spread-Option offense. If you haven’t read that, you really should.

Something else you really should read is former NFL executive Michael Lombardi’s Seven Rules For Drafting a Highly Effective QB. Lombardi penned the rules for The Ringer specifically with the Washington Redskins in mind. Thus, there is some Redskins-specific stuff to plod through. The rules, though, apply to any team considering select a quarterback.

Lombardi writes:

I believe any franchise quarterback must possess seven essential qualities beyond the ability to throw the ball, move, and make plays. These traits separate the good from the great. Teams must correctly evaluate the players in these areas. And if they fail? Then they’re mired in that hopeless draft-trade-draft-trade-draft cycle Washington’s been in these past 24 years.

What are the rules?

Lombardi goes into much more depth, but summarizes them this way:

A winning pedigree. Thick skin. Work ethic. High football IQ. Instincts. Positive body language. Good teammate.

Lombardi discusses how legendary coaches Bill Walsh approached the quarterback position with much more than arm strength or physical traits in mind. Lombardi wrote that “In the eyes of Walsh and Parcells, success and productivity override mechanics.”

Finally, Lombardi’s thoughts on why teams make so many mistakes when drafting quarterbacks:

It’s not like these indicators are mind-shattering or revolutionary. But whenever teams begin with the end in mind — scouting outside in — they ignore some of those indicators and get themselves into trouble.

Teams lie to themselves. They believe they can change habits, that they can neutralize red flags. They can’t. Miracles don’t happen when you draft a QB. You might stumble into a gem because other teams misevaluated him (Derek Carr), or because his college sample size wasn’t quite big enough (Tom Brady), or because everyone else wrote him off for the wrong reason (Drew Brees and his height). Any time an NFL team gets lucky, it’s due to circumstance, not because it took a chance and magically transformed a flawed product.