Great State Debate: Comparing the pros

Great State Debate: NFL quarterbacks ESPN.com Illustration/ESPNHS

The ESPN HS Great State Debate continues. When comparing current pros, what state has bred the best? Brady and Rodgers are California boys. 5,000-plus passers Brees and Stafford hail from Texas. Time to discuss.

Top current NFL quarterbacks from Texas: Drew Brees (Austin Westlake); Andy Dalton (Katy); Matt Flynn (Tyler Lee); Kevin Kolb (Stephenville); Colt McCoy (Jim Ned); Christian Ponder (Colleyville Heritage); John Skelton (El Paso Burges), Matthew Stafford (Highland Park); Vince Young (Houston Madison).

Also part of today's package, Tom Luginbill looks at the spread of the spread offense and how spread quarterbacks have not fared well in the NFL.

Here's a sample:

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, with smart signal-callers who win by throwing the ball accurately and on time. But at the college and high school levels, there's more of a willingness to accept a less-than-ideal passer who is an extraordinary athlete.

Prior to the explosion of the spread offense in the past 10-15 years, the core foundation of the quarterback position was learning to play under center. You dropped back from under center, read coverages from under center, made pre-snap assessments from under center. Everything you learned was about footwork, timing and reading defenses on the move.

Now, almost all you see in high school and college is the spread formation, so quarterbacks lack repetitions under center, which has led to a lack of fundamentals at the position. Every year I go out to camps and combines and see kids with multiple BCS offers who struggle to take a five-step drop, hit their fifth step and get the ball out. It can be staggering how many can't do it.

The reason for this is that from a coach's perspective, your mindset is to force defenses to have to defend your quarterback's ability to run. You implement some option principles into that mentality and it really puts a lot of strain on the defense. In high school, coaches take their best player and put him in the Wildcat formation, and if he has any promise as a passer he is going to get a long look from college coaches.