Polian's priorities in assessing draft QBs

April, 19, 2011
4/19/11
6:14
PM ET
The Indianapolis Colts might take a quarterback in the draft, but I’ve explained why I don’t see it.

Whether they do or don’t they’ve been doing their homework.

I read somewhere recently that while the famous Peyton Manning-over-Ryan Leaf decision in 1998 seems so clear cut to us now, we should remember that it was a serious debate then. When I asked Bill Polian a couple summers ago about the biggest surprise he ever had in how a prospect panned out, he pointed to Leaf. He thought he was going to be great.

In this piece on the difficulty of deciding about drafting a quarterback, Peter King got a great quote from Polian about what Indianapolis looks for as is evaluates quarterbacks.

Not every team is looking for the same thing, of course. But this struck me as the kind of thing a lot of decision-makers looking for quarterbacks, including Tennessee Titans' Mike Reinfeldt and Jacksonville Jaguars' Gene Smith, might print and clip on their shaving mirror.
"We look for what we've always looked for. Fast eyes, first and foremost. By that I mean, see the receiver, read the coverage, get the ball out quickly. Quick feet are an absolute must. Then accuracy. I asked our staff recently, 'Does anyone here think you can teach accuracy?' The answer was no. Then it's handling the pressure in the NFL, pressure that comes from everywhere -- the fans, the media, internally. And then it's the ability to process information week after week and stay on top of it. One week you might face the Tampa 2, the next week Rex Ryan's pressure. Calling the protections -- which quarterbacks didn't used to do -- and identifying blitzes, those are hard things. And now we place a lot more emphasis on the intangibles."

Do any of the quarterbacks in this draft have a check mark next to vision, feet, accuracy, handling pressure and processing information? It’s easy to say no.

The guys with the final call in draft rooms make big dollars to project which of these quarterbacks ultimately will.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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