This may be the most important quality for a quarterback to possess. If a quarterback can not pick up pressure, he will certainly be pressured or sacked and will not have a chance to get off a decent throw. Good quarterbacks seem to have eyes in the back of their heads, and can avoid a rush by moving in the pocket and making a play down field either with his arm or his feet.
1. Ben Roethlisberger – Ben is the prototypical quarterback that possesses this type of awareness. He is constantly sliding around the pocket, making defenders miss when a sack seems almost certain. He is very capable of keeping his eyes down field and finding an open receiver. If nothing is available, he is no stranger to taking off and running for some yardage. He is probably the toughest quarterback to bring down in the NFL.
2. Andy Dalton – Dalton showed his great amount of pocket awareness about half way through his rookie season. He started to move around the pocket, always keeping his eyes down field and rolling out to hit his target or scrambling for yards. He is no stranger to running the football as he is very mobile and has been willing to sacrifice his body at times to try to dive for a first down. This quality in Dalton is only beginning to develop and he will only get better as he develops as a quarterback in the NFL. This attribute was one of the big reasons he was only sacked 25 times in 2011.
3. Joe Flacco – Flacco is surprisingly mobile and can avoid a rush. He tends to shy away from moving too much out of the pocket though and mainly relies on short dump off passes to running back Ray Rice. It still works out for him though, as Rice is very capable of putting up some great yards after catch. Although, it Flacco did not have that security blanket, he could be in some danger.
4. Brandon Weeden – It’s tough to rank Weeden here because all I can go off of it his college tape. However, he is a big guy and looks tough to bring down (by collegiate players at least). We’ll see how that will translate to the pro level this season when he has much bigger and faster defensive players bearing down on him. He will see plenty of it, too, as his offensive line is severely beat up.