As a young scout, I was taught that two traits mattered most in evaluating quarterbacks: decision-making and accuracy. A strong arm didn't hurt, nor did the ability to scramble, but neither was enough to succeed without the ability to make the right read and put the football where a quarterback wanted it to go.
The discussion of intangibles was always one brought up as it related to quarterbacks, as they serve as the coach and leader on the field for an offense.
In his weekly "Sunday Blitz" feature, Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune and National Football Post highlights the value of intangibles among quarterbacks, noting that 2012 third-round pick Russell Wilson, a blossoming star, has the off-the-charts intangibles every GM and head coach seeks. Intangibles will play a critical part in quarterback evaluation in the upcoming draft, and were a popular talk of conversation at the recent combine, according to Pompei.
Wilson's intangibles (and, as Pompei notes, natural skill set) allow him to overcome a deficiency that many thought would prevent him from being a starting NFL quarterback: his 5-foot-11 frame. Size didn't slow down Wilson last season, as he was the only rookie quarterback to win a playoff game and the Seahawks' fortunes are looking up.
Pompei goes on to list the quarterbacks of the modern era with the best intangibles, and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady stands alone.
Says Pompei of Brady: "The contract extension he recently signed demonstrates the kind of leader he is. Brady sacrificed for the good of the team, which is kind of what he is all about. He is one of the best passers of all time, but if he were one of the most gifted passers of all time he would not have fallen to the sixth round of the 2000 draft. Brady succeeds mostly because of his work ethic, his intelligence and his instinct. He is perfectly wired to be an NFL quarterback."
The 35-year old has come a long way since his workout at the 2000 NFL combine, which ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. recalls as the worst he's seen from a quarterback, and the intangibles mentioned above have certainly played a part in his development into one of the great quarterbacks of all time.