I am asked quite often about individual skill sets for each position. I have had a unique experience in having been provided the opportunity to coach as well as work in player personnel in the National Football League with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins and serving as a recruiting coordinator at the collegiate level.  I have been a part of building championship teams at many levels and the bottom line of any program is player talent.  Schematics, organization, motivation, environment, all certainly play a vital role in the success of the program but talent evaluation is paramount.  Without good players, I don’t care what you know as a coach, you need skilled individuals to carry out your plan.

A guideline must be in place as to what are the requirements for each position.  Without a framework of skill sets for each position you are sending out your scouts or coaches in their designated recruiting areas to uncharted waters.  Each position is defined as to the fundamental needs to be successful and we’ll start with the most important of all….


ARM STRENGTH           Ability to throw deep and sideline ball, throw on the move left and right, the entire menu of routes, throwing across the field, throw into small windows, use of body, 3 step without a hitch, 5 step with a single hitch, 7 step with two hitches, comeback is the toughest throw

QUICK DELIVERY          Type of delivery, slow, fast, wind up, deliberate, etc., strong wrist with a quick snap, always ready to throw, ball position-  does he keep it in the carriage, no wasted motion, tight spiral with speed, reload throw

ACCURACY SHORT      Hit a moving target at full speed, keep receivers on routes with few adjustments to throw, throws a catchable ball, timing, touch, on the move, percentage, QB‘s that “flick” the ball are less accurate

ACCURACY LONG        Keeps receivers on routes with few adjustments, hit a moving target downfield, throw to the corner, keep ball away from defender, doesn’t hang ball or throw ball up for grabs, timing, judgement

TOUCH                           Throw over defense, timing, anticipation, feel for throw, catchable ball, take off, loose upper body to roll the ball

JUDGEMENT/READ      Read defense/coverage including pre-snap, sight adjustments, locate secondary receivers, see and react to additional pressure players, judgement, force ball into coverage, progressions, hot receivers, volume of passing game, anticipation, protection knowledge

ANTICIPATION               Natural feel in the passing game, sense to quickly read play as it develops

VS. PRESSURE              Stay in the pocket with heavy rush, poise, toughness, clutch player, temperament, can take a hit

QUICK SET-UP               Dropback speed to launch point, back pedal or crossover or combination drop, shotgun, balance, active feet, quick feet related to movement within the pocket, body control to be ready to pass at any time within the drop, toe placement of the front toe (heels off the ground), non-throwing shoulder pointed to target, hitching, rhythm, weight transfer, hit back foot and deliver downfield

FOOT QUICKNESS          Ability to move feet in rapid succession, set up, quick escape footwork technique

AVOID/ESCAPE               Escape and scramble ability to avoid rush, sack avoidance, scramble right and left, lateral slide or step up in pocket, sense for feeling pressure, buy a second chance, keeps eyes downfield

RUNNING ABILITY           Athletic with the ball, speed, quickness, aggressiveness, slider vs tough runner, likes to run, will take off if opportunity presents itself

BALL HANDLING              Control of center exchange, handoffs, play action and fake ability, does he fumble? protect from having the ball stripped in the pocket, size of hands, handle the shotgun snap

COURAGE                         Doesn’t panic, determination to stay in the pocket, toughness, can take a hit, play through pain/injury

LEADERSHIP                    Competitive as well as cool and tough under game and rush pressure, disciplined hurry up/2 minute effectiveness, patient when behind and confident to take charge under adverse conditions, command of team

                                                                         CRITICAL FACTORS

ARM                                    Strength, quick release, throw on the move, velocity, delivery

MENTAL                             instinct, knowledge of the game, ability to adjust in the heat of battle, audible’s, huddle command, does he take control? presumes authority and commands respect from the team

ACCURACY                        Over-all accuracy, short and long, complete passes with few adjustments, keep receivers on routes, completion percentage

COURAGE                           Competitiveness, toughness, hang in the pocket, take a hit, vs pressure, plays hurt

MOBILITY                             Movement skills; feet, avoid/escape rush, ability to make plays on the move, left and right, the ability to escape with suddenness and reset the body with balance to make quick accurate throws

  1. M Julyan says:

    I was interested in knowing what it was you saw in Stephan Leflors when you brought him from Edmonton to Winnipeg. Did you not get enough time to develop him or was there too much negative publicity in Winnipeg for him to have a chance. He showed a lot of promise in the first pre-season game he played but seemed out of sync in the regular season.

  2. I STILL believe in Stephon! He did show progress in the preseason and as we entered the season I was pleased with the development in game one which was a two point loss and then in our first game at home we defeated the defending Grey Cup Champions. In that game however, Steph injuried his non-throwing shoulder causing quite a bit of discomfort. I will always contend that when he was profusely booed by the home fans after an announcement of a charity give-away for his jersey at our next home game, his confidence took a blow and in coupling the pain to both is body and demeanor it became a struggle. The shoulder bothered him to the point that he asked for surgery and his season was over. Had we been given the opportunity to continue what we started, Steph would have been invited back to compete with other incoming quarterbacks. Steph is a bright young man, was well liked in the locker room, could manage a game, and has the personality I was looking for to be the face of the team. I’m very sorry it didn’t work out…

  3. m julyan says:

    Well Coach, I for one miss you in the Peg and regret that things didn`t work out as planned. I have never listened to a Coaches show on CJOB since. You brought a flair and excitement to the dull CFL , but I think you were a little ahead of your time and people didn`t get it. Perhaps in the not too distant future …….

  4. That’s very kind and I appreciate the support!

  5. Keith says:

    Coach, I notice nowhere in your Requirements listed is size, yet it seems very important to college recruiters,

    • at the NFL level it is more of a concern. I’ve coached kids in all sizes and the bottom line is can he make plays or not? One of my best college quarterbacks was only 5’9″ and one of my best pro’s was 5’11″…I coached against Doug Flutie and all he did was win and he didn’t fit the chart of 6″2″, 212 minimums for the NFL. Play strength is important as you obviously don’t want a frail kid out there and the aforementioned players were 185 and 215 respectively.

  6. John says:

    Coach, i have a quick question for you….i am a 15 year old freshman in a private high-school, my coaches were setting me up as a Defensive End, but sadly, my season was cut short by a torn ACL 2 days before the first game of the season, just lately i had the desire to become a sophmore QB next year, i am currently 5’9″ weighing at about 210lbs do you think i could make it as a QB next year

    • keep that rehab going John and get that knee right! Obviously you play the position your coaches best think help the team be successful. If you are set on becoming a QB get into as many QB camps as you can and you have to throw a minimum of 200 balls a day. Work on all your drops and release points including on the move. Become technique conscience and hone your skills. Read everything you can on the position and what it takes to be successful. Thanks for visiting this site and keep checking in! Best of luck!!

  7. Mike says:

    These are great guide lines for an QB. I understand that in any situation an QB with these attributes are high quality. However, did you think in consideration that their are offenses that run the triple option, or also base their offense of the running game and make it their corner stone. The standards for an Option QB should be taken in consideration in an different set view. You left out pitching the ball properly, and sticking behind their RB for protection. These QB’s play their hearts out much more than any other QB that runs a normal spread offense.
    A good pro examples of the QB Types
    (Trent Steelmen, The United States Military Academy)
    (Tim Tebow, University of Florida)
    (Heisman bound Freshmen QB from Texas AM, Johnny Manziel)
    (Even Georgia Tech and the Service Academy’s run the Option)

    Thanks for Reading
    (Only my opinion and view points)

    • Mike, I appreciate the comments and couldn’t agree with you more. I have run quite a bit of the option game early in my collegiate coaching career and see great value in the scheme if you have the required personnel. When I posted these positional requirements, I was drawing strickly off of my experience working in pro personnel in the National Football League. I believe that at the end of the day, in the NFL, you have to be able to hit your back foot and deliver the football with accuracy and proper tempo. Although I enjoy watching the athleticism of the likes of RG III, Mike Vick, et al. I don’t think that a quarterback can take the consistent beating that the scheme is exposing the player to at the higher level. The force that the QB is now being “greeted” with possesses an explosive energy that over a 16 game schedule becomes detrimental to having that player available on a regular basis and we are witnessing that this season as pocket passers such as the Manning’s, Brady, and Luck for example have not missed time whereas the aforementioned players have seen considerable time on the sidelines.

      I think there is a time and a place for the option game. However, exposing your franchise player regularly may provide immediate benefits but eventually the higher level defenses catch up and the long term gains you may have hoped for are diminished long term.

      Thanks so much for reading my blog and I hope you continue to visit the site. Best of luck in all your endeavors!

      Mike Kelly

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