Who is the Better Quarterback?

Dev Panchwagh compares the top two quarterbacks that the Baltimore Ravens will consider drafting in April: Byron Leftwich, quarterback from Marshall University and Kyle Boller, quarterback from California University.

Arm Strength

 

Leftwich: Although Boller's arm strength seems to be taking on a legendary status, Leftwich probably has just as much throwing power, and better control over his passes.

 

Leftwich's strength is throwing his passes with tremendous zip and velocity. He almost pitches the ball coming off of his overhand delivery. He is more than capable of threading the needle between the hash marks or using his touch to loft a pass 50 yards down the field.

 

Boller: If you didn't believe that had some pop in his throwing arm, Boller made you a believer by throwing a pass 50 yards, through a goal post, from his knees after completing his private workouts for various teams.

 

Unlike Leftwich, Boller was able to prove that he can get a lot of air under his passes while throwing on the run. Boller also throws his passes with tremendous explosion and the ball looks like a laser coming out of his hand when he perfectly sets up his delivery.


Still, he doesn't have the command over his downfield passes that Leftwich does. Boller will tend to over/under throw his passes too frequently.

 

Edge: (Even). Both players have elite arm strength. Boller can throw a pass from almost any distance on the field; Leftwich fires his passes with a tad more velocity.

 

Accuracy

 

Leftwich: This is the category which separates the Marshall QB from any other passer out of this draft class. Not only can Leftwich sling the ball all over the field, he has tremendous control over his passes. Leftwich's biggest strength is throwing with touch on his deep passes, hitting his receivers in stride on almost every attempt.

 

In the intermediate area, the 6'6 signal caller can throw the ball on a rope in tight spots or against stuffed coverage. Leftwich scans the field well, doesn't tend to stare down his primary read and will usually make the high percentage pass. Over the past year, he has done a better job of using touch on the underneath, intermediate throws.

 

Boller: In Boller's best season, he threw for a 54% completion percentage. A lot of his struggles are due to his inability to make the high percentage throws down the field. While Boller has a cannon for an arm, he just doesn't have a great feel for where the ball needs to be placed.

 

In the intermediate area, Boller, like Leftwich, will tend to throw his passes with too much mustard. Boller will need to learn how to scan the entire field in the NFL. If he can do a better job of recognizing his pre-snap reads and is fluid in his ability to decode coverage schemes, his accuracy should improve.

 

Edge: (Leftwich). Although he improved his accuracy in his senior year, and proved it was coming along at the Senior Bowl, Boller has a ways to go before catching Leftwich. Specifically, Boller needs to do a better job of scanning the field at the next level.

 

Mobility

 

Leftwich: Even with a clean bill of health, teams are wary that Leftwich is as mobile today, as he was before breaking his shin bone. Even before suffering the injury, he didn't move like a gazelle.

 

Leftwich will likely have his troubles evading a strong rush in the NFL, despite his mild ability to escape the pocket and side step incoming defenders. But he can get outside of the pocket if need be, it just isn't a pretty site to see. Leftwich isn't an accurate passer when he has to throw on the run, either.

 

Boller: Surprisingly, Boller ran the 40 in 4.6 seconds at the combine. Scouts knew he had solid mobility, but they didn't think he was that fast overall.

 

He doesn't necessarily translate that type of pure speed to the field, but Boller can move out of the pocket with tremendous quickness and has the footwork to evade pressure. Through his workouts, Boller also proved that he can throw the ball accurately on the run and can still get a lot of air under his passes, despite not being able to set up his feet.

 

Edge: (Boller). Besides Seneca Wallace, no other QB displayed as much straight line speed as Boller did at the combine. His ability to move and throw on the run will remind you of Mark Brunell. Clearly, getting out of the pocket is not Leftwich's strength.

 

Leadership/Intangibles

 

Leftwich: Leftwich is perhaps the most charismatic player out of the draft class. He gets along with most people, is not brash or cocky and his teammates loved him at Marshall. Obviously, when he played with a broken shin bone during the last half of his senior season, Leftwich's commitment to the game showed up even more so.


Leftwich studies film regularly and is a committed worker off the field. In the huddle, Leftwich has command and presence, although he is not extremely vocal. Leftwich's ability to makes plays in money situations helps to breed confidence from his coaches and teammates.

 

Boller: During his entire career, the Cal QB has been hit myriad times behind a porous offensive line but he fought through a number of injuries and alignments to stay on the field.

 

According to observers, Boller really opened up and took command of his team last year. He is a vocal, fiery player who uses strong body language to express his emotions. With the help of Jeff Teford, the head coach who California hired a year ago, Boller became a more diligent worker. Teford helped to compact Boller's release and Boller learned his new offensive system fairly quickly.

 

Edge: (Leftwich). Both prospects seem to have their heads screwed on straight, respond well to coaching, earned the respect of their teammates in college, and are upstanding citizens off the field. Still, Leftwich proved to be a more poised player when faced with adversity.

 

Upside

 

Leftwich: Compared to Boller, Leftwich is clearly a more polished passer and poised quarterback overall. It's quite possible that Leftwich could step into the starting lineup in his rookie year and handle the job decently, because he already has great pocket vision and studies film constantly.

 

There are still some mechanical issues that Leftwich will need to iron out at the next level, including his footwork and his inconsistent delivery. His ability to work within an offense that is not so spread out is also questionable to this point.

 

That said; Leftwich has the arm strength, accuracy and composure to become a dominant quarterback in the NFL.

 

Boller: If you were to use one word to describe Boller, it would be incomplete. He's got the physical tools to become the next John Elway, but he didn't produce like an All-Pro during his college career.

 

Whoever drafts Boller will need to have strong QB coaches working with him, to refine his mechanics, and his coverage reading skills. Boller has the skills set to work in any offense, but until he can become a more accurate deep passer, it's possible that he could better flourish in a West Coast offense.

 

Edge: (Boller). Although he isn't as solid a player as Leftwich is at this point, Boller has the talent to become a more complete quarterback, given his mobility and raw skills. Still, Boller will need to continue his progression and improve some of his mechanics, to become a great player.

 

Overall

 

Leftwich: Leftwich is simply the more complete quarterback at this point in his career. Then again, Leftwich is a better overall passer than Carson Palmer, who is going to be the No.1 pick in April. Leftwich's worth ethic, drive and ability to make the right decisions as a passer, translate extremely well at the next level.


Though he lacks mobility, Leftwich gets rid of the ball quickly and has a great feel for when to get rid of the ball. If Leftwich can just cut down on some of his forced passes and acclimate himself to any offense, he should be an elite pocket passer at the next level.

 

Boller: If he can smooth out and refine his skills, namely being able to recognize all of his pre-snap reads, not stay so focused on his primary receivers and throw his passes with better accuracy, Boller can become one of more complete quarterbacks in the game, given his incredible arm strength, pocket presence, quick delivery and speed.

 

Still, Boller needs to take the necessary steps to improve upon these deficiencies in his game.

 

Ultimate Edge: Byron Leftwich


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