“With the number one pick in the NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts select…”
Each year, around April, the NFL draft takes place in front of a raucous crowd at the famed Music City Hall. Fans from around the country gather, clamoring to see who their team will choose. Cheers and boos fill the auditorium like helium in a balloon. Excitement fills the air, as it should.
Collegiate player’s lives will change. Franchises will be made and broken. Enormous amounts of money will be committed to players based on one single term, potential. Of all the players drafted, none is more important than the quarterback. But, how does a collegiate quarterback translate into the NFL when only film tape of inferior players, unlikely to be drafted, are used as pawns in a quarterback’s career?
The answer is more difficult than most care to admit. Owners, GMs, and head coaches stake their entire career on a single draft pick. Intelligence or athleticism, which is better? Which can live up to the potential placed upon them by football pundits?
An intelligent quarterback, able to dissect defenses as 11 supreme athletes disguise the defensive play. An athletic quarterback, able to will his way from defenders with sheer speed and arm strength. Which is better? How do teams, at all levels of the game, choose between physical and intelligent attributes?
Brains or brute. Check down or throw away. Patience or panic.
NFL history shows that intelligence generally wins out over athleticism. Mind over matter, that’s what separates intelligence over athleticism. To understand situational plays under the pressures of muscular gladiators, searching for an opportunity to rip your head off, is no easy feat.
To stand in the pocket, reading through progressions to make the correct throw, under all that pressure, is what I believe to be the make-up of a quality quarterback. When a quarterback’s name is called over the airwaves, an image is instantly formed by fans and sports pundits.
Wins, despite how a quarterback is able to deliver them, is the measure of their value. Grant it, all the intelligence in the world won’t block for them or keep the defenses honest without a ground game. But, neither does an athletic quarterback.
Athletic quarterbacks will run side to side, dodging head-hunting safeties, stretching for a first down, but it’s inevitable they’ll be hit-and hit hard. Real hard. The NFL is changing. The product is bigger than it has ever been. Revenue and profit must be retained and grown like a capitalistic society should.
It’s a quarterback driven league. Drafting a quarterback based on their potential to reason or run is the multi-million dollar decision NFL owners must make each year. Intelligence or athleticism, who’s more valuable?