The “Quarterback of the Future” is Now

written by James Koluboi

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The game of football is evolving! In just a decade the style of play has seen much change. From the once ground and pound offense that utilized fullbacks to today’s spread out pass friendly schemes, the game has elevated to match the world class speed and athleticism of modern day players. Versatility and athleticism are crucial at many positions which have resulted in the caliber of players we see today, a position that is drastically changing in play is the quarterback. The position has moved from straight laced pocket passers to a new generation of dynamic field generals.

A few faces of this new prototype are Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts and Pat Mahomes who have had immediate impacts on their teams with their arm talent and outstanding athleticism. Now more than ever quarterbacks need to be more than just a great passer, right now we are witnessing a pivotal moment in the history of the position.

Let’s take a look at the top quarterbacks in the NFL; they all have some degree of mobility or running ability. The term “dual threat “ is a thing of the past. I think it funnels too many quarterbacks into one category when there is more nuance to that since quarterbacks have different playing styles. On one end of the spectrum you have your dynamic runners, players who can pick up big yards or score at any time.

Some QBs can casually rush for 100 yards and then throw for over 250 in the same game. 2019 league MVP Lamar Jackson slashed through defenses across the league with his explosive running style. Jackson broke Mike Vick’s single season rushing record with 1,206 yards while also throwing for 36 touchdowns silencing doubts of his throwing ability and capability to play quarterback in the league.

Super Bowl LVII featured Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts who are poised to dominate this league for years to come. Both of these players are balanced in each aspect of the position with few weaknesses, especially Pat Mahomes. In addition to his generational arm talent he is proven to be very capable as a runner, picking up 5.9 yards per carry with his legs. His arm and legs compliment each other and allow him to make seemingly impossible throws while on the run. Many fans say watching Mahomes play is like watching someone play backyard football, the way he just slings the ball with endless defenders in his face. Overall Mahomes has all the arm talent with just the right amount of mobility, he’s the best
to do it right now and has the resume to back it up too (2 superbowl rings and 2 x MVP).

Jalen Hurts had an amazing season this year, he showed that even with all Eagles weapons he still made that offense what it is. Both players had MVP caliber seasons which is impressive and surprising considering how much Jalen improved from last season. In his first year as a starter Jalen established his presence as a powerful runner but clearly needed to develop as a passer. Many analysts, fans and players questioned his ability to play the position and why the Eagles drafted him.

In 2022 Jalen Hurts led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, throwing 3,701 yards with 22 touchdowns and rushing for 760 yards with 16 touchdowns. Jalen went from missing check-downs into one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. He exemplifies work ethic. All three young signal callers have come into the league within the last five years and are set to be elite for years to come, they continue to elevate what it means to be a quarterback in the NFL today.

Mobility has always elevated the game of a quarterback as seen with players like Mike
Vick, Steve Young, and Randall Cunningham but in each of their eras they were seen as
anomalies whose displays of athleticism were impromptu because their offensive systems were not
designed around their running ability. Today offensive coordinators love designing their scheme
around mobile quarterbacks because of how much it enhances the offense. If the last few seasons
have shown anything it is that the future’s bright for mobile quarterbacks.

Aside from Mahomes, Jackson and Hurts a plethora of other signal callers have taken the league by storm. The Chicago Bears field general, Justin Fields has shown many flashes of the player he
can develop into. Boasting a 4.3 40 yard dash, Fields holds the record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback by rushing for 178 yards. He also became the third quarterback to ever rush over 1,000 yards in a season. On the other side of the spectrum you have big bodied quarterbacks like Josh Allen who can literally truck linebackers and hurdle defensive backs. Allen does not have blazing speed but it’s hard to bring down a 6’5” 240 pound athlete that runs a 4.7. Other young elite signal callers like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence are both mobile and have great acceleration too. Lawrence is known for his stride but has underrated explosion. These are players known for their throwing abilities but can and will get it done on the ground when they need to, whether it’s to avoid pressure or getting a fist down extending a play is pivotal in today’s league and falls into the category of mobility as well.

Another testament of this change is the athleticism displayed by upcoming quarterbacks in each year’s combine. Take University of Florida’s Anthony Richardson for example. He runs his 40 yard dash in 4.43 seconds while standing at 6’4” and 240 pounds. When you breakdown his film you see it’s obvious that his combination of size, athleticism and pure arm talent separate him from the pack. There are just plays that others in this draft class are not able to make, just off the strength of his talent. Many are concerned about his quick game accuracy and throwing mechanics which can be corrected with time and development. Players like this face plenty of outside noise from analysts, fans and the league counting out young players before they even get their first snap. Just ask Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson, two guys who were predicted to convert to another position but turned into MVP caliber quarterbacks.

Given the high ceiling of the last five draft classes of quarterback’s and the trend of them all showing early success the old view of one dimensional “dual threat ” QB is no longer. Today these guys have arm talent that matches their mobility; we are witnessing decades of evolution come to fruition as the position now leans towards an explosive athlete.


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