NFL Network's Mike Mayock is certainly correct when he states that the NFL is "a pass-first league and has been for quite some time."
The news surrounding the quarterbacks at the Combine is who is going to throw and who is not going to throw. And that seems to be the case each year. Quarterbacks who are likely to be selected high are more reluctant to throw because it could only hurt their stock. Quarterbacks prefer to throw at their school's Pro Day where they can throw to receivers that they know and are familiar with.
Mayock states that "coaches and scouts could care less" about how the chemistry looks between the quarterback and the receiver at the Combine. Mayock said that there are four things to look at when evaluating a quarterback here - footwork, throwing mechanics, how the ball is carried and arm strength.
Quarterbacks will line up under center, which is new for those who have played in a spread offense. Quarterbacks will go through the route tree with receivers while operating out of a three-step drop (short routes), five-step drop (intermediate routes) and seven-step drop (deep routes). Mayock said the receivers will run the slant (WR runs forward then cuts at a 45-degree angle toward the middle), the in route (WR runs forward then breaks toward the middle of the field at a 90 degree angle), out route (WR runs forward then breaks toward the sideline at a 90 degree angle), corner (WR runs forward then cuts at a 45-degree angle toward the sideline) and the go route (WR runs in a straight line down the field).
While most fans will pay close attention to how strong a quarterback's arm is, Mayock advises that footwork is just as important.
"Bill Walsh once said he could watch a tape of a quarterback's feet during a game and tell you whether or not he had a good or bad game," Mayock said.
As for the men who take the handoff from the quarterback, the drill to check out is the off-tackle reaction drill. The running back lines up in a two-point stance (no hands down on the ground) and at the snap he takes the ball and runs over a series of four bags that are placed on the ground spread out a little less than a yard apart from one another. Stationed about 4 yards away from the final bag is a coach who is holding a bag in the air. The coach will either point the bag to the left or the right and the runner has to go in the opposite direction where he runs toward a cone and then turns upfield.
"What all the coaches and scouts are looking for is the initial burst then the acceleration over a group of bags," Mayock said. "Remember, you can't be looking down at those bags. You've got to be looking at the coach just like he's a tackler ... You've got to plant, pivot, turn, accelerate and get up the field. Make a tackler miss."
The wide receivers also work out on Sunday along with the quarterbacks and running backs. I explained the gauntlet which is what the wide receivers will do. Now, when watching the workouts on NFL Network, you'll know what to scout for.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 9:30 a.m., February 27