In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We’ll also take it a step further and provide an in-depth review showing off examples of what we like, and what we don’t. Included is a date from the initial scouting report, this is so new notes can be added as the year goes on. Those new notes will be dated as well. With that, welcome to the Carson Strong scouting report!
I can see the name-puns already; “STRONG” arm, nyuk nyuk nyuk. In fairness, it’s not wrong. Let’s jump in.
Details: Carson Strong | QB | Nevada #12
DOB: 09.14.1999 | 22 years old
H/W: 6’4” | 215 lbs
|Year||Completions||Attempts||Comp %||Yards||TD||INT||Rush Attempts||Rush Yards||Rush TD|
NFL Draft Projection:
Mid 1st to Early 2nd Round Pick – Strong’s arm talent or ability are not in question. He’s got the goods to warrant a 1st round pick. His lack of athleticism compared to recent high-level picks may knock him down a peg or two. Additionally, his level of competition playing in Mountain West could ding him more.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB:
Late 2nd/Early 3rd Round pick – It’s incredibly rare for a Quarterback to go in the 1st round of 1QB drafts. Typically the good ones start to get picked up around the early/mid second round. That leaves guys like Strong – whose fantasy impact may be more limited – to go late 2, early 3.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB:
Late 1st/Early 2nd Round pick – While the top QBs turn out early in SF, the second tier of guys tend to go late 1, early 2.
Strong has a lot of NFL-caliber tools at his disposal. He throws with phenomenal velocity, especially in the 15-30 yard range. His more-than-capable arm can sling it deep too. As-if that wasn’t enough, he’s accurate at all levels of the field to boot.
Aside from his arm, Strong is also a consistently good decision maker. He knows his offense and reads the defense to make the correct throw. When things don’t go as planned, he shows pretty good field vision too.
While Strong is generally fundamentally solid with good footwork and throwing mechanics to go with a quick release, there is room to improve consistency here. He occasionally floats balls off his back foot, and sometimes throws will wobble, lose steam, and die out.
Where Strong is weakest is in his lack of obvious athleticism, seemingly an abnormality for highly-drafted QBs in recent years. He can hold the ball too long, and has room to improve his pocket navigation. As mentioned earlier, his occasional inconsistencies take away from his overall talent a bit too.
I believe Nevada’s offense can impact Strong’s draft stock too. By that, I don’t mean Nevada’s scheme, which incorporates quick throws like tunnels, hitches, hooks, and drags, complimented with deep fade/post, curl, out, and dig. The scheme is solid and reminiscent of much of what the NFL does today. Instead, the level of competition doesn’t compare to what some of the other eligible QBs face weekly.
His potential to provide immediate impact with his arm, along with his consistently solid decisions should lend itself to the 1st round. However, Strong’s lack of mobility, and the caliber of defenses he faced could end up dragging him into the 2nd round.
Strong has excellent arm talent, but he’s got a couple flaws worth noting. First, Strong is quite immobile. While he’s not a complete statue, he shouldn’t be expected to keep plays alive with his legs.
Let’s go through an example. Here we see a 3rd & 15, the defense is in man coverage across the board, with both safeties high. For a mobile quarterback, this would be a great way to pick up a handful of yards, and threaten a conversion. For Strong, he can only try to stay alive long enough to get a throw off.
Strong works his way left, which is the correct escape lane, but his lack of athleticism catches up to him quick. This results in a sack and a big loss.
Second, he isn’t the greatest in an imperfect pocket. We’ll see some examples of how his mechanics break down, but continuing with his lack of athleticism, let’s see how it limits his options when escaping.
Strong is great when throwing on the run! We’ll take a look at a couple examples later, though the problem is he’s often not able to beat the defense to the outside of the pocket.
Here, the defense slowly works through the line at multiple points. There’s a clear roll-out lane available to his right, Strong has just got to beat one of the big boy defensive tackles to the edge of the pocket. The DT proves too fast for Strong, who is forced back-and-away until he can safely throw the ball to the sidelines.
My third concern with Strong in the pocket is his tendency to hold the ball too long, too often. Here’s a 60 yard bomb by Strong, almost (should have been) caught. Pressure from the middle and right forces Strong to step up. He picks the correct escape lane, but holds it far too long.
There’s no reason for Strong to hitch five times here, looking like Dorothy on the yellow-brick road. The result is a very late throw, forcing Romeo Doubs (#7) to cut back, through the defender, and try to make a play.
Admittedly, Doubs could have had this, but that would have been a testament to Doubs’ ability considering the poor ball placement.
Finally, though Strong generally shows solid mechanics, it’s inconsistent. While inconsistencies aren’t guaranteed to cause issues, they add risk to the play. Our next play, at first glance, looks great; excellent ball placement [almost] resulting in a 13 yard pickup and 2nd down conversion (the play was brought back due to a flag).
With that said, the breakdowns in mechanics inherently cause more risks. Strong’s longer wind-up provides opportunity for the ball to get stripped by the pass rush. His poor hip fire inherently causes deviations in ball speed and placement. Both of which create a greater chance for negative plays.
Again, this play’s end result, were it not for the penalty, would have been great. Though a quicker pass rush, tighter coverage, or slightly off ball placement could easily result in a negative play.
Here’s an example showing exactly how the inconsistencies can create issues. With how much space Doubs (#7) creates, and the well-timed throw, this should be an easy 10+ yard throw-and-catch. However, watch Strong at the end of his throw.
Not only does he not drive through this throw – whether due to concern of the incoming pass rush (going back to my second concern), or just another example of inconsistent mechanics – Strong actually ends with his weight so far back he falls off after the throw.
Throws off the back foot most commonly result in extra height, slower ball speed, and more air under the throw resulting in a higher launch angle. We see this exact result here. Look at the ideal/target ball placement, and compare it to the actual result. This incompletion is solely on Strong, caused by inconsistent mechanics.
We’ve seen a completed pass with great ball placement, and just watched an incomplete pass which shouldn’t have been. Next up, worst-case-scenario.
Here, Strong has a golden opportunity for his fourth touchdown on the day. Instead, poor mechanics results in an interception and a huge momentum shift. Watch his footwork during this throw.
Strong lifts his front foot – throwing with arm-only, no legs/hips – and again falls off after the throw. The result is a much-too-short throw, easily picked off by the defense. Yes, the pocket was crunching down a bit, but not enough to force a quasi jump-throw. Again, issue number two.
If Strong misses long instead, it’s a safe incompletion. As it is, this really is a worst-case result. Already in field goal range, it’s a near guaranteed touchdown if they connect with a huge momentum boost. Instead, they turn the ball – and momentum – over.
Thankfully, his inconsistencies are just that; inconsistent. Much more often than not Strong shows great mechanics, great accuracy, and phenomenal arm talent. More than just physical talent, he also shows an ability to read pre-snap, post-snap, and make good decisions.
Below is a good example. From the edge of field goal range, Strong sees a single deep safety aligned to the left-side of the field. With this four vertical concept, this suggests he’s going to have 1-on-1 coverage somewhere – likely on the outside – and with it an opportunity to take a shot for the endzone.
Strong drops back and eyes the middle-field safety to see how he reacts off the snap. With the safety staying mid-field to high/low Doubs (#7) with the LB, that leaves single coverage on the two left-most receivers.
On this throw, we see mostly solid mechanics: Strong plants his front foot, drives hard off his back foot, and leads the throw with his hips. The result is a perfectly placed ball, just beyond the reach of the outstretched DB, right into the WRs basket to catch inbounds.
The WR fails to make a play on this ball, so the stat-sheet shows 0/1 on this play. Though this throw deserved to be a 32 yard touchdown.
We see it again here with an absolute fireball to the back of the endzone. Pre-snap we see the defense in Cover 4, the offense has a Post/Dig route combination (aka Mills concept) on the left side of the formation…a perfect Cover 4 beater.
After the dropback, Strong eyes the play-side safety. He wants the safety to bite on the dig so the post can clear in the endzone. Strong maintains a great base and drives through this throw, showing perfect ball placement on a perfect playcall, ending with an 18 yard touchdown.
I mentioned it before, but it’s worth reviewing Strong throwing on the run. While he may be athletically limited, when he does get outside the pocket he shows great mechanics throwing on the run. Coupled with his natural arm strength, he’s a dangerous passer when on the move.
Here, the pocket breaks down and Strong does a good job working his way outside the pocket through an open lane. He keeps his eyes downfield and fires off a perfectly placed ball.
It’s dropped, another great throw which misses the stat sheet, but definitely showcases one of Strong’s strengths.
Another great throw on the run here. The pocket creeps shut but leaves a rollout lane open. Strong gets enough from his offensive line to get outside the pocket, eyes downfield, and find a receiver coming open near the sideline.
While initially rolling horizontally, watch as Strong takes a few steps toward the line of scrimmage, which helps to orient his body to make this throw, bring momentum toward the target, and makes it a slightly shorter/easier throw.
Running out of space, Strong fires with great velocity ~23 yards down the right sideline. He leads his receiver toward the sideline but the throw maintains enough space to allow for the catch and a toe drag. While they didn’t convert, it was a great throw nonetheless.
Here’s a simple enough quick out from the far hash. While there’s nothing fancy to it, it’s a long throw for being only 5 yards deep. From where Strong is on the field when he throws it, 35 yard line right hash; to where the ball is caught, 46 yard line far numbers, is a ~27 yard throw.
While it may not look like much at first glance, this serves as just another example of how well Strong spins the ball.
Yet again, we see Strong with a great intermediate depth throw. Strong shows a great base quickly working through a couple reads, finding Cole Turner (#19) is matched up against a linebacker whose back is turned to the play.
3rd and 19 is certainly not easy to convert, but with Strong’s arm talent, this shouldn’t be a surprise. He places this ball high, letting his 6’6″ tight end use his size advantage and go get this ball. Travelling ~30 air yards, this ball is on a rope and keeps the drive alive.
In addition to great arm talent, Strong does a lot of the little things right. Our next play showcases a great pump fake, which causes huge separation for the receiver, who uses the opportunity to get all the way to the endzone.
I saw a couple of these while watching Strong, this isn’t a one-off situation, though this was definitely the best example of it. After the camera travels downfield, keep an eye on how much space there is between the receiver and his original defender. Truly excellent shoulder pump here.
One of the possible issues which might affect his draft stock, isn’t actually Strong’s fault. The Nevada offense is potent, for sure, but doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities like this next play. I’ve mentioned in a couple other reports that I like to look for throws to intermediate out routes, and here’s one of the rare examples.
An intermediate out route is a special throw for a quarterback. It requires anticipation to throw before the receiver breaks, enough height to clear a first-level defender, enough speed to reach the receiver before the near defender can react and before the receiver gets to the sideline, and of course excellent ball placement to squeeze it into a tight window.
Here we get a 10 yard out route from the far hash, and – simply put – Strong nails it. These types of throws are one of the best indicators of whether or not a QB can make an “NFL” throw. It’s not easy, in fact it’s often a dangerous throw, but it shows a lot of positive traits when successful.
As seen above, there are times when Strong predetermines his throw. In the case above, it was a good read based on the defense, and resulted in a good gain. Though he’s shown to miss other opportunities when doing so.
Our next throw isn’t a bad read by any means, we see the receiver beats two defenders deep in the middle of the field. While not a bad read, it’s a tough throw. If Strong hadn’t predetermined this, he may have seen there were two better opportunities available.
It’s easy to see the drag clearing right in front, and TONS of grass to run. Look closely and you’ll also see blown coverage up the sideline. While the sideline throw may not be possible given Strong’s direction of travel, the drag is certainly an easier and safer throw which would still result in a huge gain.
To make matters worse, this is another clear example of my third concern; Strong holding the ball too long. He sidesteps a couple more times than needed, then – with just a small hitch – chucks the ball ~60 yards downfield. The throw ends up about 4 or 5 yards short, forcing the receiver into a tough situation, and ultimately an incomplete pass.
We’ve got another situation here where Strong locks onto his target too early and misses another opportunity. Adding to the issues here, he misreads the defensive play thanks to a well disguised blitz, and completely blows an opportunity for a huge gain.
Strong keeps his eyes on the front-side of the field, expecting the receiver on the outside to come free. He then locks himself into a half-field read by stepping left, instead of stepping up. If you keep an eye on the backside safety immediately pre-snap, you’ll see he comes in hot on a well-disguised blitz from his deep alignment.
One consequence of sending the safety on a blitz is that the other safety has to travel a long way to make it to the middle of the field. Making things worse for the defense, they’ve got a 3-deep look against 4-verts. The middle-field safety now has two seam routes to cover…basically an impossible task.
Lucky for the defense, Strong misidentifies the play pre-snap, and doesn’t come off his read post-snap to find the wide open backside seam.
Despite the missed opportunity shown above, it’s not common for Strong to miss like that. In fact, more often than not Strong does really well to read the defense and get through his routes quickly.
Take this next play for example, Strong shows phenomenal processing speed. He’s able to get through 5 reads in under 2.5 seconds. His footwork isn’t the greatest in doing so, and a few of those throws would have been tough as a consequence, but it’s great to see him process things so quickly.
It’s not a huge gain, just a dump-off to the running back, but it’s something that should nicely impact his draft stock.
We see it again here. Not only does Strong get through every read incredibly quick, he even spots the defender taking away his check-down. This forces him to come back across the field, as he ends up hitting his seventh read. All told, it happens in under 5 seconds too!
Now, it’s worth calling out that we see the same issue as last time. His feet don’t always stay with his eyes as he transitions through his reads, which means his sixth read – while open – isn’t a viable throw. Strong’s feet aren’t planted, and his hips are turned too far left. A throw to the right sideline simply isn’t an option.
In closing, it’s clear there are some things to work on. However, taking his arm talent, mechanics (most of the time), and processing speed into account, I think it’s fair to say there’s a STRONG chance Carson is one of the top Quarterbacks drafted in 2022… sorry, I regret that already.
In all seriousness, I think he goes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t think he’s refined enough to be an early 1st round pick, but mid/late 1st is definitely feasible. He’s very reminiscent of a certain current strong-armed QB, and the offense wouldn’t have to change much to continue being successful with Strong under center.
While a more mobile QB may be helpful in the Steel City, considering the state of their Offensive Line – especially taking into account Strong’s issues under pressure – I expect the front office in Pittsburgh will work hard to protect their next face-of-the-franchise.
If he does go somewhere where the OL is in shambles, I wouldn’t expect a ton of immediate production. Instead, I’d think it could take 2-3 years for Strong to clean-up his issues. While he’ll never be someone who can outrun a defense, simply being more poised and consistent with pressure incoming should allow Strong to be very successful.
How high are you on Carson Strong? Is Strong a first round QB in your eyes? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!
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That guy who wraps up the #1 seed by week 13, dominates the points scored column, and gets blown out by the #8 seed in the first round of playoffs…annually. That’s Ben.
He’s also the guy who constructs a trade calculator for fun, and builds a fantasy football website when he wants to share his thoughts with the world.
As a Vikings fan and a poor golfer, Ben lives in a perpetual state of frustration. In his fun-time he’s a husband and proud father of two.