How to find the right quarterback for your team

By Bill Hewitt | Posted 8/10/2017

Picking the right player to be your next quarterback can sometimes be a major challenge, especially if you are new to the program or if a QB hasn't naturally funneled up through the lower levels.

Here are a few tips on how I evaluated my potential QBs as head coach.

The first step is to hold a staff meeting with all of your coaches. Discuss personnel and what type of offense best fits the players in your program.

Next, pick out three solid candidates that you and your staff feel could be your starting quarterback. Ask the candidates about their background playing quarterback. Ask them to throw your most common routes. Keep a close eye, and watch their feet and body positioning during this drill.

Run a few basic line drills: half speed up and down the line, sideline to sideline, throwing as they move. See if they can option pitch with both hands. Watch how they handle the situation. How smooth and fluid are they moving up and down the line?

Don’t hesitate to take into account what position(s) the players played before trying out for quarterback. Receivers and running backs will have a familiarity with the offense. How successful were they? Did they show leadership? What was their attitude and abilities? What is their ability to learn and apply information on the go?

Don’t limit yourself by looking for a specific size in a quarterback. Speed and arm strength are more important. Some of my best quarterbacks were shorter than 6 feet tall.

Look for ones for whom the skills and attitude come naturally. From there, it sometimes comes down to using your gut feeling as a coach to evaluate.

Use the following drills to continue the evaluation process. Each phase is a must to be a starting quarterback.

  • Taking the snap.
  • One tap, 3-, 5- and 7-step drops with a gather step. Mark each drop with a cone. Build consistency.
  • Rocker step and turret steps drill after the gather step.
  • Sprint-out footwork and accuracy passing. Some pro quarterbacks never learn this properly.
  • Huddle control and clear loud cadence.

If they can do these things, you can work with them. Mechanics, reads and concepts come next. Film work will be critical to success.  

Bill Hewitt is a former college football coach, NFL scout and film grader for the Buffalo Bills. He also is a retired physical education teacher. Follow him on Twitter @HewittCoach.