Scout's Take: Dual-threat QBs might force changes in NFL

Jim Lytle/Associated Press
Mississippi State's dual-threat QB Dak Prescott is emerging as a top Heisman contender.

Traditionalists might not like the way the quarterback position is evolving in college football, but the presence of a dual-threat playmaker in the backfield is becoming the standard for elite teams around the country.

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» Scout's Take: Dual-threat QBs could change NFL
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» Ole Miss shakes up playoff race in upset of 'Bama
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Just look at the top 13 teams in the latest College Football 24/7 Power Rankings -- it's not a coincidence that seven offenses (Auburn: Nick Marshall; Mississippi State: Dak Prescott; Baylor: Bryce Petty; Oregon: Marcus Mariota; Oklahoma: Trevor Knight; TCU: Trevone Boykin; and Arizona: Anu Solomon) are guided by dynamic run-pass threats. With Florida State (Jameis Winston) and Notre Dame (Everett Golson) also trotting out quarterbacks with the athleticism to make plays with their feet and arm, there is little doubt that the landscape is certainly changing at the position.

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Offensive coordinators around the country are bypassing big-bodied, strong-armed pocket passers in favor of dynamic athletes with exceptional speed and tantalizing arm talent. While most coaches will go on record stating that a dual-threat quarterback must be a capable pocket passer, a closer look at the college game suggests that clever scheming can mask a quarterback's limitations as a passer. From the utilization of bubble screens and pop passes designed to take advantage of spacing and overaggressive defenses to the utilization of old-school option passes, innovative play callers are taking advantage of the dynamic athletes manning the game's most important position.

Looking at the TCU-Oklahoma game, I was blown away by the creativity displayed by the TCU coaching staff to maximize the talents of Boykin. Although the 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior is far from a polished product as a passer, he posted a 300-yard game on 20 of 28 passes with two touchdowns and an interception. He added 75 rushing yards and completely dominated the game as versatile weapon for the Horned Frogs. Most importantly, Boykin has given TCU an explosive offense to complement a stingy defense.

» Brooks: Oregon's Mariota yet to prove he's franchise QB

I witnessed the same kind of dominance at the quarterback position when I watched Mississippi State's Dak Prescott score five touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 48-31 win over Texas A&M. The 6-2, 235-pound junior has thrived as a Tim Tebow-like playmaker in the Bulldogs' offense. Running the same plays that Tebow ran at Florida under Dan Mullen (he served as Florida's offensive coordinator during Tebow's 2007 Heisman campaign), Prescott has 20 total touchdowns this season and is helping Mississippi State become an emerging powerhouse in the SEC West.

With the balance of power quickly shifting to teams willing to fully utilize the talents of the an athletic quarterback, the NFL might be forced to change the job description of the quarterback position based on the playmakers poised to migrate to the pros over the next few years.

College Football Playoff final four

1. Florida State: There should be a greater appreciation for the Seminoles' resiliency this season after watching a host of heavyweights get knocked off over the weekend. Although the Seminoles haven't played up to expectations, they have fended off challenges from two ranked opponents (Oklahoma State and Clemson) and overcame a stiff challenge (N.C. State) on the road. Riding the momentum of a 21-game winning streak, Florida State still deserves top billing in the College Football Playoff.

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2. Auburn: The Tigers are rounding into form as an offensive juggernaut behind Nick Marshall's spectacular play. The dual-threat playmaker has accounted for 1,146 total yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns directing a multifaceted, misdirection offense that leaves defenders dumbfounded. If Auburn can navigate through a tricky schedule that features a couple of heavyweight defenses, Marshall will not only guide the Tigers to the tournament, but he could walk away with the Heisman Trophy.

3. Mississippi State: Credit Dan Mullen for putting together a hard-nosed squad capable of knocking off top-10 teams in back-to-back games. The Bulldogs destroyed LSU and Texas A&M behind a stingy defense complemented by a blue-collar offense directed by an explosive dual-threat playmaker in Dak Prescott. With another tough test on the horizon (Auburn), the Bulldogs will continue to have opportunities to show the college football world that they deserve a spot among the elites.

4. Baylor: The Bears are one of the most explosive offenses in college football, but it will be the play of their defense that determines whether they are legitimate title contenders. The Bears haven't been tested during the cupcake portion of their schedule, so everyone should be in wait-and-see mode when discussing Baylor's chances of getting into the tournament.

Heisman Watch

1. QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State: The dynamic dual-threat playmaker has been spectacular for the Bulldogs this season. Prescott has 20 total touchdowns and just three turnovers while guiding the Bulldogs to a 5-0 mark with a pair of wins over teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of their meeting.

2. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia: The big-bodied back is averaging 154 rushing yards per game while exhibiting a hard-nosed running style that reminds some of Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch. With eight rushing touchdowns and a 100-yard kickoff return score on the resume, Gurley deserves to be a part of the discussion as one of college football's top players.

3. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon: Despite a surprising loss to Arizona, Mariota remains in contention for the Heisman Trophy due to his ability to put the Ducks' offense on his back. The 6-4, 219-pound junior has 18 total touchdowns (15 passing; 3 rushing) and no interceptions despite playing behind a reshuffled offensive line that has struggled for most of the season. Although his fumbling woes could hurt him with voters, astute observers will suggest that his success is remarkable considering the Ducks' personnel woes.

4. QB Everett Golson, Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have emerged as title contenders behind the steady play of Golson. The 6-1, 200-pound senior is completing more than 64 percent of his passes, while boasting a 13:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season. Throw in his four rushing scores and his penchant for delivering in the clutch (see Golson's game-winning TD pass against Stanford on 4th-and-11), it's time to consider Golson a viable contender for the award.

5. WR Amari Cooper, Alabama: Cooper, the most dominant receiver in college football, continues to put up ridiculous numbers despite facing double coverage on the perimeter. Coopers ranks second in the FBS in receiving yards despite playing in a run-first offense built around a conservative approach.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.