Try to think of an NFL quarterback. Most likely, the first person you’re going to think of is Tom Brady. If you have ever watched Tom Brady play, you easily could say that he is one of the most immobile players on the field of all time. Current quarterbacks now rely on their speed to improvise and to make plays all around the field. The NFL has shifted to a league in which your players, including quarterbacks, require speed, but where did this want for speed with quarterbacks begin?
Randall Cunningham, who played in the NFL from 1985-2001. Cunningham, who rushed for almost 5,000 career rushing yards in his career, was quite different from the quarterbacks in his time. During the time Cunningham played, he played against a variety of quarterbacks. Cunningham played against several great quarterbacks, such as Troy Aikman, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, and Joe Montana. These four Hall of Fame quarterbacks utilized their throwing ability, while Cunningham used both his arms and legs to create plays. To put Cunningham’s rushing ability into perspective, he had 4928 career rushing yards. Those four Hall of Fame quarterbacks all combined for 3996 career rushing yards. Now Cunningham played completely different than most quarterbacks during the time he played, but we can’t discount his effect and impact his rushing has caused. He revolutionized the quarterback position as he was one of the most successful dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history.
Even with Randall Cunningham being one of the first dual mobile quarterbacks in NFL history, Michael Vick also revolutionized the position with his elite rushing ability. Vick, drafted in 2000 with the first overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons, entirely changed the quarterback position with his elite rushing ability. Vick was the first NFL quarterback to ever rush for over 1000 rushing yards in a season, as he passed Bobby Douglass, who held the record with 968 single-season rushing yards for a quarterback. When Vick retired, he ended up running for 6000 yards in his career, passing Cunningham’s record. Michael Vick ran for over 1000 more yards than Cunningham in his career and is the 2nd true rushing quarterback in NFL history. Both of these 2 players impacted the quarterback position in this day and age, and they have affected the quarterback position forever.
In this day in age of football, fewer and fewer pocket passers are starting at quarterback as offenses have adapted and built around mobile quarterbacks. Several offenses have done similar things in the NFL to create an offense around their mobile quarterbacks, such as Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson. These teams have made an offense that allows for a quarterback to have the ability to run, such as the teams that Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick played for. These 5 players have all combined for over 12,000 career rushing yards. Together Vick and Cunningham had over 11,000 career rushing yards. The difference between these players is that 4 of the 5 players aren’t even over 27 years old.
Due to teams’ success with mobile quarterbacks, more and more mobile quarterbacks are being drafted in the NFL draft. For example, in last year’s NFL draft, Trey Lance and Justin Fields with first overall selections. Both of these players were great college players, but they were both drafted high in the NFL draft due to their athleticism. With teams wanting more mobile quarterbacks, pocket passing quarterbacks, who play similar to Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady are starting less and less due to their minimal athleticism. Let’s then talk about one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the league, Lamar Jackson.
So far in Lamar Jackson’s career, he’s rushed for 3,298 rushing yards and thrown for over 9,000 yards, and he is only 24 years old. Lamar has played a total of 52 career games, and in Vick’s career, he played 143 games. If Lamar plays 143 career games and keeps up a similar rushing pace to what he has now, he will destroy Michael Vick’s quarterback rushing record by around 3,000 yards. In Lamar’s second season, he broke the single-season quarterback rushing record with 1,206 yards, smashing the record that was previously held by Vick. To put that into perspective, Tom Brady, who has played in 20 NFL seasons in his career, has 1080 rushing yards. Lamar passed Brady’s rushing total in one season. Even with Brady’s minimal mobility, he still is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, but the NFL is moving away from pocket passers and more into mobile passers. Quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, and Josh Allen are genuinely changing what the quarterback position is. Mobility with quarterbacks is becoming less of a want, and more of a need in the NFL.