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Combine: Todd Haley & Scott Pioli Shed Light on Evaluating QBs

I'll be spreading out my combine notes the rest of the week. There's still a lot to cover in regards to the players, but I found Chiefs' Head Coach, Todd Haley, and Chiefs General Manager, Scott Pioli's media presser equally interesting. Both of them were quite candid on what they look for when recruiting a QB and also speak quite highly of Jim Zorn. (Jim Zorn is a laughing stock to all of us, but the improvement in Jason Campbell statistics are undeniable). Pioli also answers the golden question on how to evaluate players, particularly QBs, that come from a spread offense and the importance of speed on a team, which the Redskins were/are easily ranked 32nd in.

 How do you evaluate Quarterbacks?

Pioli: "From my standpoint, accuracy is the most important visible attribute and their ability to avoid the rush and just a general pocket presence and pocket sense, which really doesn't have anything to do with true overall athletic ability. It's a combination of athletic ability and sense. The other thing for a quarterback is to be a leader, just their overall makeup and their style. You'd like your best players and most important players to be your hardest working players. It's not only work ethic but it's work habits."

Todd Haley: The leadership of the team. Are you able to close the deal and win games when it counts? What separates quarterbacks in this league is that ability. Those guys that win Super Bowls aren't on the top of the list statistically but they make the plays when they have to be made. They have the full trust of their teammates and the coaching staff. That's a hard thing to measure and I know that's why it's a hard position to evaluate. Coach Parcells said to be long ago if you find a guy that can evaluate quarterbacks and be right, hire him and pay him whatever you've got to pay him. It's a tough job. You can't measure it.

So, we can cross Locker of the board on two of these 3 categories (accuracy, pocket presence, leadership) and Cam Newton in all 3. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be opposed to Locker as a project QB, but not with our first two draft picks. 

Does the popularity of the spread offense make it tougher to judge players at a number of positions?

Pioli: "Yeah. If you talk to some of the quarterbacks and the centers who operate out of the spread offense . . . and it's always a shotgun snap, some of these kids in previous years it's the first time they've had the center-quarterback exchange. Not only the quarterback but the center. The center had to learn how to move out of it, block out of it and how to balance himself. That's been a problem previously. It's been interesting to talk to a couple of kids here, both centers and quarterbacks, who have been in those systems. They're actually working with people who teach them the quarterback-center exchange."

What qualities do you look for in a QB coach?

Pioli: "It's got to be someone who really pays attention to the position. We were fortunate to get Jim Zorn hired. I don't think it's an absolute necessity to have been a player at a certain position to coach the position. But I think in that position particularly because it's a very unique position with some very unique pressures and circumstances, having someone who has had experience playing not only in college but beyond college can do a better job of coaching that position."

Is a good QB coach hard to find?

Pioli: "Yeah. I've heard people say, head coaches or general managers who are running franchises and don't have quarterback coaches, there are times when they won't hire someone just to hire one because they don't want to screw a quarterback up. Unless they can get a really good one, they'd rather not have one."

Has Jim Zorn had a chance to sit down and meet with Matt Cassel yet?
Haley: "When we interviewed, part of that interview I got Jim and Matt together...They spent a good hour or so together watching tape and that was really positive."

The importance of having speed...

Pioli: "We needed to upgrade our team speed because I think when we first got there it was certainly the slowest football team I've been a part of. Not just on offense, not just on defense but on special teams (too)."

I think every Redskins fan recalls how slow our special teams has been the last several years, ESPECIALLY before Brandon Banks arrived. The WRs, RBs, DEs, LBs - there truly is a lack of speed across the board.