NFL DRAFT 2024

What is the biggest thing Sean Payton wants to learn from meeting with a quarterback?

Apr 3, 2024, 2:52 PM

This week, Sean Payton and the Broncos hosted Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. for a top-30 visit. This came on the heels of Broncos top brass meeting with Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy and LSU’s Jayden Daniels — with the McCarthy sit-down taking place one day after his Pro Day workout.

Such meetings often end up being the most informative step of the quarterback-evaluation process. They offer a chance to take a deep dive into what the quarterback brings.

But for Sean Payton, these meetings also offer a glimpse at breaking down something elusive: the processor.

“I’d like to find out how they process, how quickly it comes,” Payton said last week at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

And that starts before the meeting itself.

“If we send him information at 5 p.m. the prior day, we send him more than we think they’re going to have a chance to study,” Payton said. “We’ve all been in that position. It may not have been football. But 5 p.m. on a college Thursday, test on Friday and more than we have enough time to study.

“How do they handle that? Where’s the break point the next day? Is there one? Do they handle it really well? Do they really struggle? What time are they at the facility? Have they been preparing? Are they early?”

SEAN PAYTON TOOK THIS APPROACH WITH J.J. McCARTHY

McCarthy completed his Pro Day on March 22, and then the Broncos sent him the information he’d need to ingest for their time together the next day.

“I wasn’t at J.J.’s pro day, but we had a private the next day where we sent him a bunch of information, spent four or five hours with him, just made him throw all over again,” Payton said. “I think it’s all part of the process. I think it can lead to a more efficient and effective decision.”

And contrary to the belief in some circles, the quarterback-evaluation process is becoming clearer than it was in past decades.

“I think it has become a little bit easier than it was 20 years ago,” Payton said. “Twenty years ago, regardless of what you’re looking for, it wasn’t it. You had to project how they were going to throw. You had to project how they were going to handle the pro system. Certainly what they’re giving us today is different, but you are exposed to more of what you might ask them to do today than you were 20 years ago.”

And the quarterbacks are better-prepared. Multiple reasons exist for this. For one, more concepts translate to the NFL. But they also get better coaching, which has its origins in the myriad QB camps that exist as early as high school.”

“It’s interesting; it’s fascinating. These guys — they’re not kids — but it’s a good group when we’re talking about some of these younger quarterbacks that — man, certainly they’re prepared. They’ve been well-coached. They’ve been well-coached in college relative to the game. You see the success on the field,” Payton said.

“It was a harder position 20 years ago. It was a harder time to evaluate the QB and the left tackle and the right tackle. It was an easier time to evaluate the inside linebacker. We’ve kind of gone full-circle. We can see plenty of opportunity for us to evaluate what we’re going to ask them to do in the quarterback position.”

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