Evaluating prospects of any kind for the NFL draft is a tough exercise. But it can be particularly complex when it comes to the quarterback position.
College presents a challenging environment for observation because of two major factors. First, no defense is NFL-caliber, and the defenses these quarterbacks face can vary drastically in ability. You have to be able to decipher a quarterback's talent against that of the defense. Even a mediocre QB can put up gaudy numbers against consistently deficient defenses -- we see it all the time. Second, the schemes many of these QBs run simply don't translate to the NFL. For example, no NFL offense is going to succeed with the quarterback taking every single snap out of the shotgun. Even as we see new (or refurbished) looks constantly on Sundays, you don't want a shotgun-dependent player. So for some of these prospects who are strangers under center, you deal with a lot of projection.
To that end, NFL talent evaluators don't really care much about statistics (which is why you won't find any below). What they want to see are traits often found among good NFL quarterbacks. They want to see "NFL throws" -- passes into tight windows, with velocity and precision -- that are going to beat not only Joe Redshirt Freshman but Ed Reed, too.
Similarly, when I evaluate college quarterbacks, I focus on my list of attributes that I find essential for a successful quarterback in the National Football League: a winning track record, leadership, arm strength, accuracy, toughness, touch, mechanics, pocket awareness, size, mobility and character -- those are the foundational qualities I look for. I've also added an attribute I call "the fifth quarter," which is how a player handles himself off the field and in the public eye. As I present my findings on the best eight QBs in the 2013 draft below, those qualities make up the measuring stick I'm using.