Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell are widely viewed as the top two quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft. After them, however, true subjectivity takes root. There are over a half-dozen other signal-callers with claims to first-round potential. How does Nevada QB Carson Strong’s NFL Draft scouting report stack up in comparison to those signal-callers? Can the Mountain West standout follow others from his conference like Josh Allen and Jordan Love, and crack the top 32 picks?
Carson Strong NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Nevada
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 215 pounds
Carson Strong Scouting Report
Ever since his redshirt-freshman season in 2019, Strong has been on the NFL Draft radar. The Nevada QB boasted the necessary traits from the very start of his collegiate career. And now, he’s starting to showcase a heightened level of execution beyond those foundational traits.
In spite of Strong’s clear progression, there’s a lot that goes into succeeding at the quarterback position. Sometimes, college quarterbacks are not translatable to the NFL. Does Strong fall into that category, or does he have the skill set required to take his talents to the next level? Let’s take a look.
Strong’s physical profile
If prototypical size still matters to you, Strong has it. The Nevada QB checks in around 6’4″, 215 pounds, and stands tall in the pocket. While size does bear some relation to durability, its importance has paled in recent years relative to other physical traits like athleticism and arm talent. So, how does Strong fare in those areas?
Let’s start with Strong’s arm — one of the Nevada QB’s best physical traits. Strong has a crisp, compact throwing motion, and he can generate velocity with ease. He carries enough arm strength to push the ball downfield and hit players in stride, as well as fit the ball into tight windows with touch. He also has enough arm elasticity to generate velocity on the run. Strong maximizes his arm with solid mechanics, hip torque, and synergy between his upper and lower body.
Strong’s arm is his most valuable physical tool, but the Nevada QB isn’t a liability as an athlete. Strong is more of a pocket passer, but he has some underrated mobility within his archetype. He has some definite short-range spryness and escapability in the pocket, and he also flashes limited off-script ability. He can cover ground with long strides and extend plays to the sideline if necessary.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Although Strong’s physical baseline affords him natural potential, many of his most prevalent strengths show up in structure. Strong does a lot of pre-snap work with protection calls, and he flashes the ability to run through his progressions fairly quickly. He throws with anticipation at times, with some of the most noticeable examples being on in-breaking routes. Additionally, he can identify looming slot defenders on those concepts.
Strong has a nice balance of patience and decisiveness as a thrower. He possesses the wherewithal to throw the ball away when he’s forced to the sideline. Furthermore, the Nevada product has naturally strong footwork and knows how to manipulate space in the pocket. He’s not lackadaisical with his movement. He snaps his shoulders around before throwing, and he has a steady, stable urgency as a thrower.
Among other things, Strong is especially accurate in the short ranges, where he can place the ball for yards after the catch. He uses his eyes to freeze linebackers and keep space open for receivers. He’s more than willing to give his pass catchers one-on-one chances, both downfield and in the red zone.
Areas for improvement
Young quarterbacks always have flaws, and Strong is no different. He’s farther along than his age would suggest, but he’s also not a finished product. Most notably, pressure can create trouble for Strong. The Nevada QB can plant his feet prematurely at times and make himself vulnerable. He also tries to force the ball under pressure occasionally, which can lead to volatility and inaccuracy. He doesn’t always detect pressure on the backside, and although he can run when he has to, creating for himself isn’t a natural strength.
Furthermore, Strong sometimes fades away as he throws, limiting downfield distance. He can be easily forced backward by blitzing players, and he tends to fade back on rollouts at times, limiting his leverage as a thrower. Even in high-pressure situations, Strong isn’t afraid to take risks, but he can sometimes lead the ball into dangerous areas. At times, he fails to identify defenders in range to undercut touch passes, and his release point can vary, resulting in varying throw trajectories.
Beyond the notes listed above, Strong’s downfield accuracy can be more consistent. He’s a fairly accurate thrower to all levels of the field. Still, his mechanics can falter as he tries to force the ball downfield. Moreover, Strong can add more experience with progressions. He’s shown he has the capacity to run through them quickly, but the Nevada offense employs many quick reads and screens.
Strong’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Quarterback evaluation evolves every year. Over the course of the past decade or so, teams have started to favor quarterbacks who can simply do more — both with their arm and with their athleticism. Strong’s mold — the pocket passer — is slowly becoming outdated, but that doesn’t mean a player like him can’t succeed. Strong, in particular, has the requisite traits to succeed as a pocket passer, even if he isn’t an overwhelming athlete.
The Nevada QB has a great arm along with natural mechanics, accuracy, pocket navigation ability, eye discipline, and anticipation. In structure, he has the processing ability and quickness to make the most of his system. He also has enough mobility to manipulate the pocket, stay on his feet, and perform some limited work off-platform. There’s still some work to do, but Strong can undoubtedly be a first-round pick next April.
Carson Strong’s Player Profile
Some quarterbacks have NFL buzz going back to their first years of high school. Others just come out of nowhere. Strong might not have been in the latter category, but a knee injury forced him off the field in his senior season. Strong completed 69.2% of his passes for 2,732 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions as a junior. He was well on his way to potentially earning a four-star designation at that point, but his injury clouded his outlook.
Ultimately, Strong was unranked on ESPN’s board in the 2018 class, and he only earned a three-star recruit billing from 247 Sports. Strong, a product of Vacaville, California, only received one FBS scholarship offer — from Jay Norvell and the Nevada Wolf Pack. He committed on June 6, 2017, and enrolled the following summer.
Carson Strong’s career at Nevada
Strong would log 1 carry for 4 yards as a true freshman, but he didn’t see any starting action. Instead, the Wolf Pack trotted out veteran quarterback Ty Gangi. Strong exercised his redshirt option that year. When Gangi left in 2019, a battle ensued at quarterback, and with his physical traits, Strong ultimately came out on top.
The Nevada QB wasted no time securing the starting role, and he did so with authority. He started all 10 games in the Wolf Pack’s 2019 season, amassing 2,335 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions while completing 63.4% of his passes. It wasn’t an incredibly prolific season, but Strong progressed as the year went on, and his best performance — a 402-yard outing — came in Nevada’s bowl game against Ohio.
Unsurprisingly, Strong reprised his role as Nevada’s starting quarterback during the 2020 season. And this time, he wasn’t holding anything back. Strong exploded to the tune of 2,858 yards, 27 touchdowns, and just 4 interceptions over nine games. The Nevada QB completed 70.1% of his passes and upped his yards per attempt from 6.2 to 8.1. For his play, Strong was named a first-team All-MWC selection, as well as the Mountain West Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Strong’s NFL Draft ascension
As he heads into his redshirt-junior campaign, Strong’s NFL Draft scouting report is nearly complete. As all young quarterbacks do, the Nevada QB still has room to grow, but he appears destined to take his talents to the next level. The only question that remains is whether or not he’ll keep his starter designation on the professional stage.
Strong doesn’t quite fit the modern quarterback archetype, but he has enough athleticism to keep plays alive within the pocket, where he does most of his work. With his arm talent, accuracy, and quick processing ability, Strong possesses many of the key qualities that NFL starters boast. And with the 2022 quarterback class in its current ambiguous state, there’s little stopping Strong from making the leap.
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