What is 'It'? Identifying and developing intangibles in QBs

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FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2020, file photo, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa watches a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. In 54 years of drafting, the Miami Dolphins have taken four quarterbacks in the first round, and two are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Sam Howell has been a quarterback since first grade.

His father told him then that to play the position he needed to be the leader of the team, and that more would be expected of him than other players, both on the field and off.

Howell, coming off a record-breaking freshman season at North Carolina, has come to think of quarterback as a lifestyle.

“I know everyone’s looking at me,” Howell said.

Evaluating and projecting quarterbacks at any level is probably the most challenging part of building a football team. More so than any other position, what makes a quarterback successful is almost impossible to measure or quantify. That mysterious and ill-defined “It Factor.”

"I don’t think there is a science to it," said Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who spent two seasons as a quarterback coach in the NFL under Chip Kelly before landing in Columbus. “If there was I think it would be a lot easier for everybody. I think in 2020 they wouldn't still be asking what it means.”

Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert lead the next batch of quarterbacks set to enter the NFL. They are the consensus top three QBs available in this week's draft, all with a chance to be selected Thursday night within the first 10 picks.

Their prodigious skills, prolific production and impressive athleticism are obvious. As are their few physical shortcomings. The rest? Well, there is a reason why they are called intangibles.