Analysis

POCKET PRESENCE: evolution of QB position touching all levels of football

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To hear Jeff Choate tell it, quarterback play in the modern era is actually “just like back to the future.” And the ability to “find an eraser” is taking priority across all levels of football.

The evolution has been at the same time rapid and incremental.

Ever since the infamous moment when New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor came off the edge and crushed Joe Theisman, snapping the leg of the Washington Redskins’ quarterback in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football more than 30 years ago, the importance of protecting a signal caller’s “blind side” has been a top priority for football teams at all levels. 

Other than the man under center, the NFL rapidly evolved into a league that prioritized paying players who can protect the quarterback and players who can get after the quarterback above all other positions.

That trend held through the 1990s and into the 2000s. But over the last 10 years, an influx of hyper-athletic quarterbacks who can press the edge, extend plays, implement spread option concepts and elude pass rushers have helped drive a sudden infiltration of college-style offensive concepts into the NFL game.

And what the NFL has mimicked in the college game has only inspired college teams to put an even higher priority on athletes who can move the pocket when it comes to choosing their quarterback.

Anyone who watched the matchup between Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks the last Sunday Night Football in October saw a pair of the most athletic players in NFL history to ever command offenses.

Their unbelievable ability to extend plays in the pocket, keep plays alive, throw on the run and the athleticism to weaponize their feet provided the perfect example of the elite advantage. That advantage has taken over football and has teams across all levels scoring at a record pace.

To hear Jeff Choate tell it, quarterback play in the modern
era is actually “just like back to the future.” And the ability to “find an
eraser” is taking priority across all levels of football.

The evolution has been at the same time rapid and incremental.

Ever since the infamous moment when New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor came off the edge and crushed Joe Theisman, snapping the leg of the Washington Redskins’ quarterback in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football more than 30 years ago, the importance of protecting a signal caller’s "blind side" has been a top priority for football teams at all levels. 

Other than the man under center, the NFL rapidly evolved into a league that prioritized paying players who can protect the quarterback and players who can get after the quarterback above all other positions.

That trend held through the 1990s and into the 2000s. But over the last 10 years, an influx of hyper-athletic quarterbacks who can press the edge, extend plays, implement spread option concepts and elude pass rushers have helped drive a sudden infiltration of college-style offensive concepts into the NFL game.

And what the NFL has mimicked in the college game has only inspired college teams to put an even higher priority on athletes who can move the pocket when it comes to choosing their quarterback.

Anyone who watched the matchup between Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks the last Sunday Night Football in October saw a pair of the most athletic players in NFL history to ever command offenses.

Their unbelievable ability to extend plays in the pocket, keep plays alive, throw on the run and the athleticism to weaponize their feet provided the perfect example of the elite advantage. That advantage has taken over football and has teams across all levels scoring at a record pace.

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Photos by Brooks Nuanez or noted. All Rights Reserved.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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