Intro to Draft Guide 2021

This year’s draft guide will be focusing primarily on QBs, since this is a lauded draft class at QB, and my methodology for analyzing QBs has been heavily revamped over the past couple months (there will also be a second part to this guide, discussing standout options at other positions). The primary basis by which these QBs will be judged will be by measuring areas of full efficiency. After revisiting college film of QBs drafted 2014-2020, clear trends emerged– almost every QB who showed at least one area of full efficiency in their thoracic areas was able to eventually find success as a starting QB. QBs who showed more than one area of full thoracic efficiency universally became stars.

But before we dive into the thoracic efficiency measures for this year’s draft class, it’s very helpful to first re-visit the definition of ‘full efficiency’. ‘Full efficiency’ refers to a state in which spinal action is able to be transmitted cleanly (via tendons and skeletal muscles) to outer appendages without any interaction needed from fascia. Full efficiency is the default (and only) state for all non-mammalian tetrapods (amphibians, reptiles, and birds) since these animals lack fascial systems, and spinal action transmitted via tendons/ skeletal muscles is their only means of locomotion. Full efficiency is also the default state for nearly all wild mammals, even as mammalian fascial systems enable a far greater variety of movement possibilities (when engaged) than their tetrapod cousins.

However, in modern humans, full efficiency is relatively rare and generally occurs in only select spinal-associated regions. This is because full efficiency relies on complete development of all underlying areas, in order to allow for power to pass cleanly through all junctions without fascia acting as an intermediary or bridge to supplement this power. When development is in any way stunted, fascia become an integral part of fundamental basic locomotion (essentially stuck in the ‘on’ position), making full efficiency for the associated spinal area impossible.

Essentially, full efficiency means that a person can move without engaging any fascia at all. This movement will be relatively basic and uncomplicated, without all the additional possibilities afforded by fascial engagement– very similar to the way a reptile might move for example– but this very basic form of locomotion will be able to be utilized without any fascial interaction whatsoever.

Much like a bird flapping its wings, this form of locomotion is extremely efficient and reliable. And when additional fascial action is added on top of a baseline fully efficient mechanic, the fascial action is building additional (often subtle) movement atop a strong reliable foundation, rather than being forced to fill the gaps in an underdeveloped (not fully efficient) underlying system.

(To read more about the fascial system and biomechanical efficiency, please see here, here, and here)

For QBs, full efficiency in at least one thoracic area appears to be a baseline requirement for long-term career success (with very rare exceptions for otherwise superlative athletes, such as Lamar Jackson). Full efficiency gives throwers a fully consistent/ reliable baseline mechanic on which one can layer all kinds of complex fascial adjustments.

What makes identifying this full efficiency uniquely difficult for QBs is that the demands of the position (reacting to defenses, adjusting to receiver routes, avoiding pressure) require fascial adjustments on almost every play. Something will almost always interrupt an otherwise routine play, whether it’s a receiver being bumped off their route, a rusher charging through a gap, or a safety suddenly changing course. When these interruptions occur, even an easy throw that might have been possible without any fascial interaction (so with apparent full efficiency) suddenly needs fascial engagement to adjust the course of the throw. Therefore throws made with obvious full efficiency (meaning with no apparent fascial engagement whatsoever) are extremely rare, even if one’s baseline mechanic is fully efficient. As a result, deducing whether an area is fully efficient can be very difficult/ time consuming– there is almost always at least some fascial engagement on each throw, so figuring out whether that fascial engagement was by design or by default (due to incomplete underlying development) requires a lot of time, understanding of context, and high quality tape.

To give an example, when studying Peyton Manning, it is almost impossible to find a throw that doesn’t utilize at least some fascial adjustments. His throws were so precise, ad so dependent on specific conditions, that each throw was massaged/ adjusted with extreme specificity via his forearms. As such, if studying casually, one might deduce that Manning never showed full efficiency. But this is obviously not the case– Manning certainly did possess a fully efficient baseline throwing mechanic, he was just constantly adding some small adjustment/ finesse to target each throw with extreme accuracy/ specificity. So in order to deduce Manning’s level of efficiency, one must analyze how deterministic each adjustment was, and if any areas engaged without need (by default) to compensate for incomplete development in an underlying area. Again, this requires an enormous amount of information, context, and high quality tape.

Eight QBs were studied for this year’s draft guide. Two are lateral oriented posterior dominant, two are medial centric posterior dominant, one is medial centric anterior dominant, and three are lateral oriented anterior dominant. Since my lateral anterior methodology is undergoing heavy revision (independent of the revision of QB methodology), the opinions offered on the lateral anterior oriented QBs will be given asterisks, and revisited at a later date (likely after preseason has begun). The combination of uncertain lateral anterior methodology with the inherent difficulty/ high levels of information needed to identify full efficiency in QBs makes offering firm opinions on these lateral anterior oriented QBs impossible at this time. The other five QBs will be given firm opinions, based on their overall athleticism and the presence or absence of full thoracic efficiency.