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Trying to diagnose the hidden potential of Nevada quarterback Carson Strong

Is Carson Strong a hidden gem within the 2022 crop of prospective quarterbacks?

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a quarterback in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current quarterback depth chart, the Steelers possess the 20th overall pick.

Not really conducive to having your pick of the proverbial litter, when it comes to the quarterback position.

The 2022 group of quarterbacks has left many shaking their heads, wondering whether this crop of quarterbacks is truly worth a high draft pick. The big name quarterbacks will certainly be going in the first round, leading to the question of who will be available when the Steelers select 20th. That is, assuming the Steelers don’t trade up to get a quarterback they feel is the future of the franchise.

After already breaking down Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, I decided to look at a signal caller who will almost certainly be available when the Steelers pick 20th. Strong is a unique talent considering his play at Nevada, and him dealing with knee issues has raised many questions surrounding his overall mobility/durability at the professional level.

When it comes to arm talent, there isn’t as many questions with Strong. This big arm quarterback has the skill set to be an Air Raid quarterback who transitions to the NFL, but he is far from a finished product. If Strong is going to succeed, he most likely would need an acclimation period before taking the reigns of an NFL offense.

The next question becomes, is Strong worth a first round pick, or is he a Day 2 player who could develop into a future starter for the Steelers?

Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Strong. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!

Let us know your thoughts on Strong in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.

Draft Profiles

The Draft Network

Carson Strong is 4th year junior who aligns at QB mostly from the gun. He is an average athlete with regard to mobility outside of the pocket. In the run game, he isn’t much of a threat to the defense as a runner and clearly would rather to deliver the ball from the pocket. As a result, running many of the zone-read concepts or QB designed runs would be problematic with him. The passing game is where he thrives. He’s more of a traditional pocket passer with very good arm strength and generally throws with a good base. Has a lot of pre-snap responsibilities in terms of protection and appears to handle it well. When throwing from a clean pocket his accuracy is good, but he definitely has some throws where he could have better ball placement. He has the mental processing to make quick decisions. Because he lacks good escapability, if his primary is covered, he will force the ball in—often for an ill-advised throw. As a result, he doesn’t always go through a full progression to hit his check down.

Nevada’s Air Raid-based offense provides many opportunities for him to display his downfield accuracy. However, the offense also can be attributed to his moments of lazy footwork and throwing with an inconsistent base. He has a good internal timer and he innately feels pressure on the backside. He keeps his eyes downfield and can throw receivers open on deep balls. He can look the safety off, throw the seams to the TE, and easily gets the ball out of his hands from the gun. One of his best assets is his ability to take care of the football. Nevada’s offense calls for big shots down the field, and he has been judicious in this regard. Some of his turnovers in the exposures I’ve graded were situations where his receivers let him down. Although the league seems to be trending away from this type of QB, this is someone who would thrive with an effective running game, good protection, and a sure-handed tight end.

Ideal Role: Starting QB

Scheme Fit: Traditional drop-back, vertical passing offense

Pro Football Network

  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: Nevada
  • Current Year: Redshirt Junior
  • Height: 6’3 3/4″
  • Weight: 226 pounds
  • Wingspan: 76 5/8″
  • Length: 31 5/8″
  • Hand: 9 1/4″

If prototypical size still matters to you, Strong has it. The Nevada QB checks in around 6’4″, 226 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 his best physical traits. Strong has a crisp, compact throwing motion, and he can generate immense velocity with ease. He carries enough arm strength to push the ball downfield and hit players in stride, capable of fitting 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 high-level arm is his most valuable physical tool, but he isn’t a liability as an athlete. Strong is certainly more of a pocket passer, but he has some underrated mobility within his archetype. He has some modest short-range spryness in the pocket and flashes limited off-script ability. While he’s never going to create much on the ground, he can get out in space with his long strides if pressure pushes him out of the pocket.

NFL Draft Buzz

  • Possesses an NFL arm. Gets the ball from one hash to the opposite sideline in a hurry.
  • Sprays the ball anywhere on the field, especially when given a pocket from which to deliver. Will step up into pocket while looking downfield, reset his feet and deliver.
  • Tradtional pocket passer - has the zip to hit tight windows on short and intermediate throws.
  • Strong might have the best arm talent in the class. He’s shredding opponents through the air despite minimal help from the run game.
  • Strong might have the best arm talent in this class - he has put up great numbers despite no help from his running game
  • Gets the ball out quickly, making ·splitsecond decisions. Good short to intermediate level accuracy, demonstrating the ball placement to allow receivers to run after the catch.
  • Has a great feel for the game and is aware of where everybody is on the field - and it shows.
  • Quick release and takes care of the football - minimizes turnovers
  • Good height and growing build to stand in the pocket.
  • Great student of the game who possesses near perfect footwork
  • Good accuracy overall, including excellent accuracy on short timing routes to backs and receivers, placing the ball slightly in front to lead receivers to potential yardage after the catch.
  • Needs to improve his touch at all levels and know when to gun it and when to take something off his throws. Accuracy is solid, but far from great with streaky ball placement downfield as he tries to thread the needle too much.
  • Has struggled with his decision-making and needs to improve his pre-snap recognition skills to read defenses and see blitzes. Doesn’t decipher information as quickly as you would like, but does see the entire field and understands coverage.
  • Can take too many risks at times
  • Only an average athlete - with limited mobility. Not really a threat as a runner
  • Had a major knee injury in high school - need to get the sign off from NFL medical teams

Prime Time Sports

Player Summary

Strong is a very intriguing prospect going to the next level, and many on Twitter have him as their top-ranked quarterback in the class, based on film alone. He is a pure pocket passer, which the league has trended away from in recent years. One thing not mentioned already is that Strong had full command over the Nevada offense. He was constantly barking out signals and putting his teammates in the correct spots. That’s another thing NFL scouts will love. Thankfully, the lack of mobility appears to be the only major weakness in his game as Strong can make any throw from any angle and do it accurately.

Unfortunately, the biggest cause for concern for Strong is his injury history. It is a big red flag that Strong has a knee problem that stems back to high school when he felt discomfort and clicking in the knee at a basketball tournament. He had surgery in February before last year and then had his knee scoped in August. It still seemed that the knee was an issue to him last year. If he didn’t have the knee injury, Strong would potentially be a lock for the first round in this quarterback class. Now, he’ll have to clear with team doctors during the combine and at pro days.

Rookie Projection: Backup Quarterback

Third Year Projection: Starting Quarterback

Final Grade (83/100): Mid Second Round

Player Comp: Matt Ryan

Breakdowns / Highlights

Game Film

Other Breakdowns by Position