The QB trait Sean Payton wants is the hardest one to evaluate

Feb 23, 2024, 6:05 PM

Sean Payton spent quite a bit of time on Super Bowl LVIII radio row talking about quarterbacks. About the one he had last year, Russell Wilson. About wanting to fall in love with a potential quarterback.

And about the most-important trait in the package.

“I think it’s important that they’re quick processors,” Payton told CBS Sports radio host Jim Rome. “Let me give you an example — and this was a strength of Drew’s; it’s a strength of (Patrick) Mahomes: During any given play, in seven seconds, he’s going to point out the mike (linebacker) ID, he’s going to send the receiver in motion, he’s going to alert the back here for a checkdown, and he’s going to alert Kelce (that) it’s Cover-Zero.”

Which all makes sense.

The problem is…

“It’s the hardest thing for us to evaluate,” Sean Payton said.

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah touched upon — and concurred with — that point this week.

“I mean, it’s darn near impossible,” Jeremiah said.

“You do your best to try and figure it out and you try and watch guys and you try and see and follow their eyes and how they’re getting to one to two to three and how quickly they’re doing that. Without knowing how they’re coached and what the scheme calls for them to do, it still makes it a little bit difficult.”

What’s more, the quarterbacks do what their scheme demands of them. And in college, it’s simple.

“In the college game, you can win a lot of games on first-read throws,” Jeremiah said. “They spread people from sea to shining sea. You know presnap where you are going with the ball and you deliver it, and you can win games and get a bunch of big plays that way. It’s a little bit of a different game in that regard.”

The ability to make those quick first-read decisions matters. And if a quarterback can quickly process that level — it gives a team something with which it can work as it figures out the rest of the player’s development.

“I think there’s something to not expecting that immediately once they get to the NFL too. I think there is some room to improve there. You can bake in some easy completions for guys early in their careers as you are trying to put more on them in terms of the processing.

“But I’m with (Sean Payton). It’s an essential part of the position, but it is something that’s not always easy to find.

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