Despite his rapid drop on Draft Day 2007, some teams thought Brady Quinn was the best QB on their draft boards.
At the same time, others teams listed the Notre Dame product as no better than the third-best prospect at the position. Despite a successful career at Notre Dame, Quinn's statistical achievements failed to impress some of those evaluating talent. The reasons for their lack of enthusiasm ranged from his mechanics being a mess to inadequate arm strength or supposed accuracy issues.
After watching Quinn while at Notre Dame and for over a year in Cleveland, I have seen mechanical and accuracy issues, but have seen nothing that this talented, hard-working young man couldn't overcome with some refining and help from an established QB coach.
At the professional level, accuracy is the most important commodity for a QB to possess, although it needs to be teamed with arm strength, field awareness and leadership qualities. Brady Quinn has all of these qualities, and I have little doubt in his ability to lead a team at the professional level.
BRADY QUINN: STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
ARM STRENGTH: Quinn possesses adequate arm strength to be successful in today's pro game. Quinn will never be the deep-ball quarterback that his teammate Derek Anderson is, but has the ability to sufficiently get the ball down field. Not a true vertical QB in that sense, Quinn has shown in practice sessions a tendency to overthrow or attempt to put too much on the ball, leading to wobble coming from his release point.
PLANE OF DELIVERY: A deeper concern with Anderson's ball is the plane it travels on. Far too often, Quinn's passes are on a downward plane, which can create a tougher ball for a receiver to catch. When Quinn drops back, plants his feet and simply reacts naturally, he throws a better ball and the downward trajectory is significantly minimized.
Quinn may not be a true down-field vertical QB, but he is not a true touch passer, either. His work in this area of the game is evident and will improve his ceiling, as long as he is consistent.
FIELD AWARENESS: Practice sessions and some limited viewing of tape shows me that the young QB can make all the throws adequately, but tends to wait slightly too long in getting the ball off his hand. This can lead to some inconsistency in timing with the receivers. In most instances, Quinn appears to have the need to see the receiver breaking clear, rather than anticipating. In practice and camp sessions, Quinn is poised, takes command and has been most effective in the short to intermediate passing game.
OUTSIDE THE HASHES: An early criticism of Quinn was perceived inaccuracy outside the hash marks. The second-year QB throws the ball much better outside the hashes than upon arriving in Cleveland and his accuracy in practice sessions is vastly improved in the short to intermediate game.
CHECKING DOWN: Quinn displays a good 'head on the swivel' attitude when dropping back which would indicate he reads quickly. Quinn is noted for checking down quickly, which indicates he takes less chances with the football than the starter. This also is an indicator of less big-play potential, as the check-down generally means a safer alternative has been accepted in the scheme.
DEEP BALL: Quinn's ball floats on occasion on the deepest, vertical routes. In practice, his seam accuracy has vastly improved, as well as generally when throwing into areas of potential danger for the offense. On the 'go' route, he will slightly overthrow the receiver on occasion. This can be a timing issue due to over-compensating on the release, or due to questioning his ability to get the ball to the receiver.
In all, his arm strength for the deep ball has shown to be better than average and is easily sufficient. Quinn possesses the physical capabilities to challenge a defense deep regularly, but that doesn't seem to be his mental approach. At this point, he is not a vertical-first QB like Derek Anderson. His accuracy declines the deeper the ball travels, which is customary for most professional QB's.
MANAGING THE POCKET: Quinn is very quick in his drop and plants hard. His tendency is to be violent from snap through throw. He throws the ball much cleaner when standing in the pocket rather than dropping and ripping. Quinn has a consistent habit of getting ball off his hand in a manufactured means... Quinn does not possess natural explosion off the hand, which is beneficial to him in the short to intermediate passing game. When facing a live pass rush in game or simulated conditions, Quinn appears more polished and effective than he does in routine practice sessions. His athleticism and agility are evident, as the young QB moves well in and out of the pocket and demonstrates the ability to throw on the move with reasonable accuracy.
BEYOND THE SCOUTING REPORT
Quinn, like many successful professional quarterbacks, is more than just his combined attributes.
When discussing Quinn with players and coaches, past and current, one gains an appreciation for the type of person and player the Quinn can be.
Quinn studies, is intelligent and knows how to manage an offense and make plays. What makes him most intriguing outside of his obvious physical ability is that he is a better game day player than a practice player. On game day, Quinn has displayed to ability to elevate his play and the play of those surrounding him. Players respect the young QB and believe in his capabilities. This has not only been true at Notre Dame, but is evident within the lockerroom of the Cleveland Browns.
At Notre Dame, Quinn was very good at making something positive out of a broken play. In the limited snaps he's had while in a Cleveland uniform, Quinn has displayed the ability to manage the offense, move the chains and make some very nice throws. His performance in preseason game last year far surpassed his actual early training camp proficiency. He played solidly in his eight snaps (all passes) in the final game of the 2007 season. As the 2007 season progressed, Quinn became effective leading the scout team in sessions against the starting team defense according to those close to the team.
As the team's experience in 2007 proved, a Browns quarterback can be explosive quality due to surrounding talent. Quinn has sufficient arm strength to be effective in the intermediate passing game, where the Browns ultimately were most effective in the 2007 season. A vertical threat in the passing game would certainly open up the underneath routes, which would be beneficial for a player of Quinn's ability.
Due to the differences in the physical ability and mental approach of starter Derek Anderson and Quinn, the Cleveland offense would tend to have a different look and feel about it when different starters come in.
Anderson, the downfield attacker, will seek to make big plays, which will lead to a potentially higher interception ratio and a lower completion percentage. The bonus for an Anderson-led offense is the defense has to respect the vertical game, especially with the addition of speedy wide receiver Donte Stallworth.
As Quinn gets on the field, things will shift 180 degrees.
The short to intermediate game is Quinn's strength. He will make greater utilization of the backs, tight-ends and underneath routes. While the vertical game would remain a weapon, the opposition will not be as wary as they are with Derek Anderson behind center. This does not mean, however, that the Cleveland offense would become less effective.
The Browns offense should maintain its explosive qualities and moving the football should not be an issue regardless of which quarterback is playing. With either QB, the running game will gain increased emphasis in the 2008 season, with greater time of possession benefiting the Browns overall.
The big-play vertical offense of Derek Anderson vs. the more methodical offense with big-play capabilities under Brady Quinn. Fortunately for the Browns, the offensive scheme is conducive to either preference or style, leaving this team in a good position to succeed, regardless who is under center.
We haven't viewed Brady Quinn in a true game situation, outside of a handful of snaps late in the season. Relying on what we know of this player, his mechanical development and sense of the offensive scheme, I would be surprised if he does not play at a high level, if and when the opportunity arises.