Mark Schofield’s RSP Scouting Lens profiles the in-pocket footwork of Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew, an intriguing 2019 NFL Draft prospect.
“For me, I want to see footwork. Footwork is the window into a quarterback’s mind.”
On a steamy August night back in 2015, I made my debut on the RSP Film Room with those words. On that Friday evening, I sat down with Matt Waldman to break down a quarterback who would be making his season debut the following afternoon in a nationally televised game. That quarterback? Carson Wentz, who went from a lesser-known small school prospect to the second overall selection in the 2016 draft.
Years later, footwork is still on my mind here at the RSP. One quarterback in particular from this draft class of signal callers who possesses some of what I am looking for in terms of footwork in the pocket is Gardner Minshew from Washington State. Minshew put my facial filter to the test down in Mobile during the Senior Bowl, when I asked him about Mike Leach’s offense and how that version of the Air Raid prepares quarterbacks for life in the NFL. Minshew responded that the system requires quarterbacks to make full-field, four and five receiver progression reads on almost every single play. Something, Minshew continued, that is lacking in the “college-style, pro-style offenses” that are out there.
It was when he flashed the air quotes that my facial filter gave my inner joy away…
The interesting thing about Minshew’s response to my question is that it is backed up by his play on the field. I inquired about the offense because when I studied the quarterback prior to the trip to Alabama, I found a QB whose feet in the pocket were always tied to his steps in the progression read process. On play after play, as Minshew worked the field from sideline-to-sideline, and sometimes back again, you saw his feet stay with him through each read in the design, constantly at the ready to set and throw should his target break open.
On this video, you will see three plays that illustrate this idea of a passer who is comfortable in the pocket, who is confident in the play call and his reading of the defense, and whose feet are constantly in sync with his mind, keeping him ready to pull the trigger at a moment’s notice. As Minshew works the full field on each of these examples, watch as his feet mirror his mind perfectly:
Now technical proficiency in the pocket is just one aspect of footwork. There are also mechanical issues when it comes to studying the feet of a quarterback. When conducting your own analysis of the Cougar passer, do not confuse his technical proficiency inside the pocket for mastery of the footwork outside of it. There are moments when Minshew is forced to move, and in those instances, you might see less than ideal feet under the quarterback. But in terms of the marriage between mind and feet in structure, Minshew has what it takes.
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