Punch Drunk Wonderland

More on mobile QBs and [un]conventional wisdom

E.J. Manuel, Cam NewtonAwhile back I took a look at the modern mobile quarterbacks and the trend in today’s NFL to use these young athletic players’ strengths in read-option style offenses similar to those they’ve ran in college. 2012 saw superb performances by the likes of Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick that showcased their mobility.

There are a few points I’ve brought up about mobility and the read-option trend. First, defensive coordinators will catch on and the novelty will go away. Sure, it could remain viable, but stylistically it’s not a cure all. Second (and most important), there are no old mobile quarterbacks. Mobility is great, but guys with the body type of the Michael Vicks and RGIIIs of the world won’t have much longevity in the league. They’ll get beat up unless they’re playing style turns more conservative to protect their bodies. Smaller guys just can’t take the hits.

Bigger mobile quarterbacks, however, have it a little bit better.  The risk of injury is always there and the playing style remains risky, but bigger guys can take hits. Enter Cam Newton. At 6’5″ and 245 pounds he’s a perfect combination of size and athleticism, and he’s had the success to prove it in his first two NFL seasons. He’s seen his share of injuries, but he’s been able to stay relatively healthy all things considered. In many respects that’s a product of his larger frame.

Tomorrow night will mark the beginning of the 2013 NFL Draft and there are plenty of mobile QB options out there.  Granted, no one is exactly chomping at the bit for most of these guys, but they’re out there. A particular player of interest for me is Florida State’s E.J. Manuel. In many ways he’s a Cam clone. He’s 6’5″ and 240 pounds, he’s mobile, and he has a big arm.  There are certainly questions about his decision making and accuracy, particularly in the short to intermediate range. There are also concerns about consistency and translation of his skill set to the NFL much like with Newton.

The musings of the always wise Scrappy the Cow:

Manuel is interesting.  After Cam, I have no idea about anyone.
2011 Me- “This guy is JaMarcus Russell part 2. What’s wrong with these GMs?”
2013 Me- “See, that’s what you need- a big mobile QB like Cam Newton. What’s wrong with these GMs?”

That’s right, Scraps. Who knows? Many other quarterbacks in the draft such as Landry Jones and Geno Smith have the skill set and athleticism to fit into this new quarterback-on-the-run era. The truth is quarterbacks are just more mobile and more athletic nowadays. The read-option and it’s variants will stick around for awhile, and it will have its place.  But, at the end of the day the NFL is always evolving and coordinators pick up and drop trends all the time. Puzzles are solved. Analysis brings to light the effectiveness of those styles that are new, and sometimes a new style sticks. Many times it doesn’t. I think the injuries will be the key factor in all of this. QBs will be more mobile, but they will have to find a way to use their athleticism in a career friendly way.


K. Smelser About K. Smelser

Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine…

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