Prototype QB: The European Phenomenon

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that in the long history of the NFL we’ve yet to hear a QB cadence with a hint of one of the many different European accents.

For all the fairytale stories of European players coming across to make it in the league very few have enjoyed long successful careers, and none have broken into the NFL QB club.

Of all the positions it’s the most difficult one to dream of playing from outside the States. Even in the prime NFL Europe years the league was dominated by American QBs who missed out on the NFL. What chances did the European QBs have?

Well times are a changing. Although still difficult more groundwork is being made largely due to the rising popularity of the game across the Atlantic and the access to more information and training programs.

With keeping with what seems to be the norm of late the push for the first European QB is being done by Germany. It’s a country with a rapidly growing fan-base (NFL Game Pass subscription rise of 69% last year) and currently have more players on NFL teams than any other European country. Sounds good but to illustrate how tough the dream is, they’re leading with 3 players.

The latest prospect or hype prospect is 17-year-old Alexander Honig. Bleacher Report did a full piece and interview with him found here. Check it out for a good read.

The interesting thing with Honig is his build. He’s already 6’6″ and 235 pounds. He has a 38 inch vertical, a broad jump and 40-yard dash that competes with the pros and at 11 inches some of the biggest hands in the game. With attributes like this it’s no wonder that Brandon Collier described him as the perfect prototype QB.

“If you were to build a quarterback, this is what it would look like.”

– Collier on Honig

Just in case you’re wondering who Collier is, he’s a former NFL and NFL Europe player who due to injuries moved into player recruiting. He started Premier Players International, a company aimed at getting college football chances for players around the globe. So far a success with 50 players from 10 countries earning scholarships with is help in the past three years.

Now you can’t argue with his gifted attributes. He’s got the build. But the biggest concern with QBs from outside of the states are their playcalling and football IQ. It’s a whole different ball park. The differences in the underage level is huge. In the states there are kids who play the game at a near professional level. It’s drilled into them from such a young age, so most European prospects are playing catch up. The sport can be ruthless and if a player is struggling to understand and execute plays then they’ll be out the door quickly. There’s no real transition period afforded to them.

Honig may be different and at an advantage. As rare as it is he was lucky to have a father who was not only a fan of the NFL but played some American Football. So he had the added benefit of a father to teach him and get him into the sport at a young age. Surely his competition growing up wasn’t at the same level as in America but he’s clearly shown a good grasp of football considering UMass have already offered him a scholarship. So perhaps my fears are unnecessary this time.

Luke Wentz with the Virginia Cavaliers

Honig’s goal is to make it the NFL. Funnily enough, even if he makes it to the NFL, by the time it happens he may not be the first European QB to do so! Friend and another one of Collier’s guys Luke Wentz is about to begin his college career with Virginia Cavaliers. An already huge achievement for the fellow German. He’s not as hyped as Honig but shown his ability to even make it to D1 and if he turns it on we could be in for a fairy tale journey!

As a European fan I’d love to see either of these guys make it. Germany really are pushing on with the sport at the moment and it’s great to watch. I know the QB is a risk position, and European QBs are up against it with the added risk of selecting them, but with the sport already rising in popularity here can you imagine the effect a European QB would have on that? It would offer hope and inspire young fans across the continent to get involved.

And no matter where you’re from, the more the game grows around the world the better.

UPDATE: since writing this Honig has also received offers from Baylor and TCU!