Tom Brady’s Throwing Coach Rates the 2021 QB Class Ahead of the NFL Draft
Tom House rates the pro-level prospects of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones
A former left-handed reliever who pitched in Major League Baseball in the 1970s, Tom House won 29 games while compiling a 3.79 ERA. While he was good enough to spend eight years in the majors with three teams, the highlight of House’s career was probably catching the ball Hank Aaron hit into Atlanta Braves’ bullpen to break Babe Ruth’s all-time home-run record in 1974.
House’s post-MLB career has been much more notable, as he went on to found the National Pitching Association and helped Hall of Famers like Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan with their mechanics on the mound. Sometimes referred to as the “professor of throwing,” the 73-year-old has also helped a number of NFL quarterbacks with their throwing motion and currently counts more than 20 pro QBs, including seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, as clients.
The co-founder of groundbreaking motion-analysis app Mustard and the 3DQB training facility in California, House has also been keeping tabs on a number of the top quarterback prospects from the 2021 draft class, including Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Zach Wilson (BYU), Trey Lance (North Dakota State), Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Mac Jones (Alabama), who are all expected to be picked in the first round in Cleveland this Thursday.
Though House hasn’t had any one-on-one time with Lawrence, who is presumed to go No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, he seems convinced the Clemson product is a sure thing.
“I think everybody agrees he’s probably the most complete quarterback or the most well-rounded quarterback in all parts of the game since Andrew Luck,” House tells InsideHook. “He’s been identified and singled out as probably the best since Luck.”
Sometimes referred to as the “Mormon Mahomes” due to BYU’s religious affiliation, Wilson is a prospect who House is much more familiar with due to working with him while he was recovering from a shoulder issue.
“He’s actually from a football family. I think his dad and brothers were all linebackers,” House says. “Him being a quarterback, what I noticed most was his physical preparation, attention to detail and capacity to learn something new and make it his quickly. It separates him from a lot of the other young people his age with his level of experience. It’s a pretty tough comparison to make that he could produce right away how Mahomes did, but it’s not that far-fetched, because the capacity is all there. He’s going to play very well on Sundays, depending on what organization gets him.” (Wilson is expected to go at No. 2 to the Jets.)
As for the remaining presumed top QB picks in Lance, Fields and Jones, House sees, for the most part, interchangeable parts who all have the potential for success or failure in the NFL.
“They’re all big kids with big arms that can also move around very efficiently and they all are physical prospects,” he says. “Probably the differentiating factor for me, if I was having to decide on one or the other, is level of experience. How much actual game snaps have they had? Are they going to be in a situation where they have to produce right away or are they going to be able to sit and be a backup behind a veteran quarterback like a Matt Ryan for a year or so while they earn their spurs? The wild card for me is what’s going on between the ears. That’s the role of the dice, but based on just pure physical tools and mechanics — the functional strength, the foot speed, the arm strength — it’s a pretty good group of quarterbacks.”
Simply because of where they went to school and the respective levels of competition they faced, House sounds as if he’d be more inclined to select Alabama’s Jones than NDSU’s Lance.
“Experience and knowledge are differentiating factors. The kids have to go through it themselves. You can give kids information and instruction, but they also need to actually get out, try to compete with it and interact with their teammates and their competition,” he says. “I think Yogi Berra said it best when he said ‘90% of sports are half mental.’ If you look at the drafting of quarterbacks over the last 20 years, it’s never physical traits that let them down, it’s their capacity between the ears that gets in the way of their tools presenting themselves. That’s why there are surprises like a Tom Brady. His physical tools didn’t open eyes too much early on, but it turned out what he’s got going on between his ears and how he approached the game was very valuable. How would you project guys like Brady and Drew Brees if they were in this group? Where would they fit? I don’t think either Tom or Drew would be in the top five. The crapshoot isn’t the physical tools, it’s what’s going on with a player’s mental and emotional capacity.”
As the longevity of Brady, who will be 44 by the time he begins his 22nd NFL season in September, proves, the traits House values in a quarterback really can make all the difference. And since they are more mental than physical, they are far less likely to deteriorate over time.
“When we work with him, our testing numbers show he hasn’t lost anything as far as his ability to throw the football,” House says of Brady. “He’s never been quick afoot, but he’s quick in the pocket. I don’t see a diminishing of his skill level at all. We proved it with Nolan Ryan. There’s no reason you can’t do at 45 what you did at 25 if you’re willing to follow a process and be committed to it. He’s been doing that. I’ve been involved with him now going on nine years. His overriding desire to get 1% better every day is just as strong as the first time I worked with him. I don’t see anything diminishing in his skill set.”
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