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Welcome to the first article in my Prospect Spotlight series. This series will shine some light on my favorite prospects in the upcoming 2022 draft. We will take a look at some clips (posted on my twitter account @ColtsGuy505) I’ll give you guys my opinions and observations from these viewings and a conclusion at the end, as well as a player comparison and a grade. Let’s get started!

PROSPECT: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

Carson Strong was a fun one to dive into. He has lots of big shots downfield and highlight-reel catches in this Nevada offense. A throwback to the traditional pocket passer’s of the previous era, Carson Strong is not much as an athlete. Strong is no threat to take off running, which limits his ability in some of the more popular NFL offensive plays (things like zone-read concepts), but what he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in pure arm talent and quick processing. Strong’s upper half throwing motion is nice and decently quick; his lower half mechanics are solid with one caveat, which we will get into soon. Strong’s arm talent is second only to Malik Willis in this class, and he senses pressure *reasonably* well. He creates enough pocket maneuverability to extend plays to a degree so more than just a pure statue. All in all, Strong is a talented traditional pocket passer who needs a bit of a specific situation to thrive in, one with a strong OL and a supportive run game. Let’s dive into some actual clips!

Special shout out to the Nevada A-22 guy and that dang pole that seemingly follows the QB everywhere he goes, blocking out end zone views, you a real one (jerk…)

Film Room:

In this shot you can clearly see… how freaking annoying this pole was. Moving on!

This is a great example of Strong’s accuracy. When Strong knows where to go with the ball, he is quick and accurate. In man coverage, Strong knows the one-on-one matchup he wants. The ball is hiked, he sets into his base quickly, and he delivers a dime right to where only his player can make a play.

Here we have everyone’s favorite play, the Mesh! Strong starts to work through the progressions and picks up the 1st down for another day. There are a couple of things I’d like to point out here. Firstly, Strong does have some good pocket mobility. He senses the pressure and climbs up into the pocket, throwing an accurate pass on the move. A good thing to note, many people call this player a statue, but that is not the case. Secondly, there are times when Strong gets too spooked by pressure and will bail on clean pockets or, even worse, force a throw. This is likely because his lack of true mobility has made him acutely aware of pressure. Thirdly, I really would have liked to see him stay calm and hit the wheel route here. The Z receiver clears the space, and I am reasonably certain that is the 1st, or 2nd read in the play, lost opportunity, but Strong still makes a good decision under (slight) duress, so we will give him this one

Here we have a 3rd down and Cover 6 Match coverage (courtesy of good friend Robert Itoh; @metal_militia11). This throw isn’t a flashy, deep, and accurate bomb, but it is an example of Strong understanding the situation, making a quick decision, and throwing accurately for a 1st down. This is where the games are won, in my opinion: through a QB who can understand these moments and play smart football. Something the previous QB lacked and the current QB does exceptionally well.

Here we have some concerns on the same cover 6 match play and another mesh play. Strong here works through his progressions. I believe he initially starts his motion to throw to the Z receiver crossing over the top, and it looks open, but there is a SAF underneath that would be right in the throwing lane to potentially make a play. He then adjusts to throw to the correct read on the X receiver, but his process is hurried. He’s out of alignment and does not reset his feet towards his target. The result is an errant pass.

This is probably my favorite clip from the dive I did into Strong. Six defenders drop back. Strong quickly works through his progressions, and he ties each read to a hitch, resetting his feet to each target before throwing. He does this quickly and delivers an accurate strike right into the numbers. Mechanically, this is very clean and very good to see.

In this clip we see the sheer arm strength Strong possesses and how accurately he can throw a deep ball. Not much to this, but just holy moly, the kid can sling it deep!

and one last time… this pole will be the death of me

Medicals

Now, this is a major concern; Carson Strong has Osteochondritis Dessicans, which is a lesion on the cartilage of the bone in the knee. Strong has made it work with this injury and played at a high level while dealing with it. However, two surgeries on a severe knee issue is a cause for concern, and there are times when Carson Strong does not set his base very well and seems to not put much into his back foot. If this is because of his knee issue, then this issue will only get worse over time.

Conclusion

Carson Strong is a tough evaluation. The obvious arm talent is there, and he has decent decision-making with some lapses in between. A dying breed in a game that is favoring more and more to the mobile QBs makes Strong fall a bit just by nature of his style of play. If you combine that with his knee issue and teams may steer away. There is so much potential in Carson Strong. I can definitely see a starting-caliber player in the NFL, provided he goes to a well-structured team with a solid OL to protect him and a solid run game to support him.

Grade: mid – late 2nd round
Ceiling comparison: Matt Ryan
Floor comparison: Nick Foles

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