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Friday, April 18, 2014
Scout's notebook: Quarterback

By Field Yates

(Revisiting notes on how teams scout for players at each position, focusing on quarterback today.)

DESIRED TRAITS: A multitude of factors go into finding a successful NFL quarterback, but no two play a more integral role in on-field success than decision-making and accuracy. Many confuse talented quarterbacks with those that can the throw the ball the longest distance (Kyle Boller infamously boasted a strong arm before being drafted in 2003) and, to a degree, athleticism, a trend that has formed more recently.

However, a quarterback who is unable to comprehend the play call, decipher the defense opposing him, efficiently make the right decision and deliver a pass accurately will not succeed. It should come as little surprise that Brady has consistently completed roughly 65 percent of his passes in recent seasons and has never thrown more than 14 interceptions in a given year.

Decision-making also relates to the ability of a quarterback to operate within the pocket. That involves understanding and sensing pressure, being able to step up into the pocket (perhaps no one does this better than Brady) rather than break outside of it and maintain mechanics under duress. Mechanics and footwork tie into each other, and are an important part of a quarterback’s success. These are two areas that coaching can truly impact; Bill Belichick was heavily involved with the tutelage of the quarterbacks during the Patriots' first Super Bowl-winning season in 2001, as the team dealt with the sudden death of quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein early in training camp.

From an intangibles standpoint, a quarterback must be confident and assiduous. He must understand every nuance of the playbook and work as hard as any of his teammates, something Brady has long been known for. Quarterbacks must be able to fight off adversity, something they’ll face in a variety of ways throughout a game, be it from an oncoming pass rusher or working against the clock.

SPECIAL TEAMS ANGLE: Quarterbacks' contributions on special teams are rare, save the occasional backup who serves as a holder.

PATRIOTS TAKE: Brady turns 37 in August and is signed through the 2017 season. Top backup Ryan Mallett's contract expires after the 2014 season and thus the Patriots could be in the market for a developmental prospect this year.