The deep ball is a huge weapon in the NFL. It flips the field, creates scoring opportunities and puts points on the board. From the bucket throw on the deep fade route to the straight dimes that split the safeties in Cover 2, a quarterback's ability to create explosive plays in the vertical passing game impacts defensive call sheets and secondary techniques.
Who are the deep ball passers NFL defenses fear most? Using game tape and the numbers, here are the quarterbacks who sling the ball with the arm strength, anticipation, touch and placement to threaten defenses deep on a weekly basis.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Palmer has already thrown 11 touchdown passes this season on throws that traveled 15-plus yards in the air (best in the NFL). That shouldn't be too surprising, given Arizona's offense under Bruce Arians. This is a vertical system, one that creates big-play opportunities for Palmer both in the drop-back game and on play-action. With Larry Fitzgerald and his smooth route-running ability working underneath, Palmer can look down the field to target John Brown, Michael Floyd and the blazing speed of rookie J.J. Nelson. Palmer, who is excellent at anticipating deep throwing windows, shows the ability to consistently drop the ball over the upfield shoulder of the receiver on the straight "go" routes. The veteran is the perfect match for Arians at this stage of his career and is putting together an MVP-caliber season, thanks to his prowess with the deep ball.