This is an excerpt from All-Pro Performance Training by Loren Landow & Christopher Jarmon.
The majority of NFL combine quarterback drills evaluate players’ throwing ability in three-, five-, and seven-step drops. Scouts search for quarterbacks who can display arm strength, timing, and touch on a variety of throws to wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. This section explains three of the most important routes.
At each step up in the level of competition, throwing windows and their respective margins for error shrink. Elite quarterbacks can create space in coverage by throwing a receiver open, which requires both excellent accuracy and well-rehearsed timing with the receiver. The out route (figure 5.1) provides an excellent example of how technically sound and in-sync the wide receiver and the quarterback must be in their timing to successfully complete the route. As the two have most likely been relative or complete strangers before the combine, never having had the luxury of practicing with each other, this becomes all the more difficult to pull off on testing day.
Nine (Go) Route
For quarterbacks, the ability to hit a receiver streaking down the field on a nine or go route (figure 5.2) is fundamental, albeit difficult to develop. It displays throwing touch, arm strength, and ball placement, all at once. Receivers will be expected to know this route and to show their speed carrying ability as they try to separate from the defender.
Wide receivers and quarterbacks entering the professional ranks are expected to be comfortable and skilled in executing the post-corner route (figure 5.3). This pattern consists of a double move, with the wide receiver making a cut like in a post route, immediately followed by a cut back out toward the pylon. Quarterbacks are expected to be able to lead the receiver by throwing a pass that gives him ample time to run underneath it. It takes a combination of arm strength, touch, and a sound judgment of the receiver’s speed.