Traditional Pocket Passer or Dual Threat QB?

By Dewayne Gage

The NFL has evolved in arguably the most important position on the field, and that is the quarterback spot. Traditionally the quarterback position sits in the pocket and delivers the ball, but quarterbacks are becoming more athletic, forming these dual threat QB’s. So what’s a better choice looking towards the future, hang in there and deliver the ball quickly, or make plays with both your legs and your arms?

Known pocket passers in the NFL today such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees have the best numbers. Manning leads the NFL in passing yards this year throwing for 4,811 according to, while Brees follows right behind him with 4,500 yards and Brady not too far behind with 4,049 yards so far this season. What separate these pocket passing quarterbacks from others in the NFL are their quick delivery that can be overlooked, efficiency, and few mistakes. All three quarterbacks this year have not thrown over ten interceptions.

That being said, what happens if your quarterback is not a veteran with the ability to break down defensive schemes with a quick delivery? How do you buy time? That’s when these athletic quarterbacks come into play, becoming a dual threat.

San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young was one of the first dual threat QB’s. In the shadows of the great Joe Montana, Young used his legs as a tool alongside his arm. In his NFL career as a quarterback he rushed for 4,239 yard according to career stats on This paved the way for mobile quarterbacks to come, like Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. The quarterback culture changed for good, however, when a quarterback from Virginia Tech was drafted to the Atlanta Falcons in 2001.

Michael Vick puzzled NFL defensive coordinators and opposing defenders. His athletic ability changed the Falcons offense into more of a spread offense because of what he could do on the ground. In 2006, Michael Vick rushed for 1,039 as an Atlanta Falcon, according to

Vick’s ability to buy time in the pocket while having a strong arm became the evolution of the new dual threat quarterback. Defenses not only had to be accountable on coverage, but also of the quarterback buying more time or hurting you with his legs.

Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick are all a part of the new generation of dual threat quarterbacks.

The former Auburn Tigers’ Newton was selected first around in the 2011 draft to the Carolina Panthers for that specific reason, “dual threat.” states Cam Newton is 6’5, 245 pounds and runs the 40-yard-dash in 4.58 seconds, which is a handful for any defense.

Or let’s talk about the San Francisco 49ers decision to continue rolling with Colin Kaepernick after Alex Smith, now quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs who was originally ruled out because of an injury. Kaepernick got the start against the Bears in a 2012 regular season game, and not only threw well, but his ability to use his legs threatened the defense, along with cannon for an arm. This gave a Kaepernick the starting job because of the addition to their offense.

With the NFL becoming faster playing game, can the traditional pocket passers last? There’s no need to wonder if they will because the new generations of dual threat quarterbacks are here and here to stay. With electrifying deep throws on the run, or escaping the pocket and three defenders to run for a 15-yard touchdown, these dual threat QB’s just make the NFL more exciting to watch.

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