Did his performance at the Senior Bowl improve his draft stock?
Carson Strong is a 22-year-old quarterback prospect from the University of Nevada. He played his high school ball in Vacaville, CA at Will C. Wood High School where he compiled nearly 3,000 yards passing with a 69.2% completion percentage as a junior. That same season, he had over a 6/1 TD/INT ratio. He was not a highly touted recruit coming out of high school as 247 Sports had him as a three-star prospect and was the 76th rated pro-style QB.
According to Strong himself in his NFL declaration letter, he only had one offer out of high school and that was from Nevada. According to Rivals, Iowa State had expressed interest, but it does not appear that he had received an offer. He was a relatively unknown prospect with little expectations for the Nevada Wolfpack.
Strong had a chance to sit as a freshman, but took over as a Sophomore. Over his three seasons of starting quarterback play, Carson displayed outstanding accuracy with the football. He ended his career with the Wolfpack with a career completion percentage of 68.1% and a 74/19 TD/INT ratio. He had a career passer rating of 147.5 and nearly a 6% TD passing percentage. In regards to personal red flags, there were no notable concerns and he has been praised by coaches at Nevada for his leadership and toughness. Strong does have a negative narrative surrounding a knee injury he sustained last year that required him to have knee surgery in February of 2021.
From various reports from the Senior Bowl, some scouts and draft pundits reported concerns that he rushed back too quickly from this injury. It is unclear from my research of the severity of his injury or if this will cause any prolonged damage that would adversely impact his NFL career. From a more optimistic view, the fact that he had his best statistical season this year would suggest he is still rising as a prospect with further potential to be tapped into.
I absolutely love Carson Strong as a prospect. From a true upside standpoint, I believe Malik Willis has the highest raw potential in this class to be the most impactful QB. However, I firmly believe that Strong has the highest floor. I know people will be immediately turned off by that, but I am excited about Strong. He has a rocket for an arm. He can hit throws to all levels of the field and can drive the ball into the wind and other elements. This is critical for northern teams playing outside.
Think of Pittsburgh, who could use a QB to transition them from the Ben Roethlisberger era. As mentioned earlier, Strong is a smart player with a high IQ for the game. He anticipates where his receivers will be and makes wise decisions as evidenced by his completion percentage and optimal TD/INT ratio. I feel like he puts his receivers in ideal situations down the field to make a play and routinely hit on those longer passes. I feel he did an excellent job identifying pressure and knew when to make a throw. He was able to use effective timing to reduce negative plays and extend drives.
Strong is routinely dubbed as a statue QB and while he is not likely setting rushing records at the next level, I feel like this is an area of his game that is unfairly criticized. He is most certainly a pocket passer, but he displayed sufficient footwork to work outside of the pocket to look for an open receiver. He is intelligent and can make quick decisions which will hopefully mitigate the lack of pure athleticism rushing the football. He does have limitations, especially if his receivers are well covered, but because he can hit every throw and is extremely precise, I can see him finding success if surrounded by effective playmakers and a scheme that will highlight his skillset.
If a team could use him like the Patriots did with Mac Jones, I could see him having a long career. I could see a team moving up toward the end of the first round to snatch him up and I think would ideally fit with Tampa Bay at 27. The New Orleans Saints could be an interesting team to move up from round two or down several spots in round one to select Strong. He will likely not shine in some of the drills showcasing athleticism at the Combine, but his arm talent and other intangibles could intrigue a QB needy team on day one of the draft.
Thank you for reading this breakdown of Carson Strong. How do you feel his Senior Bowl performance impacted his draft stock?
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