Carson Strong is coming off of a stellar college career, but many questions remain and they’re almost all centered around his knee. Is it worth taking the risk? Let’s discuss with this 2022 NFL Draft Profile.
Name – Carson Strong
School – Nevada
Position – Quarterback
DOB – September 14, 1999 (22 years old)
Height – 6’3”
Weight – 226 pounds
Hand Size – 9 1/8”
Arm Size – 32”
Wingspan – 76”
Carson Strong grew up in Vacaville, California and attended Will C. Wood High School. Strong broke out as a junior, but unfortunately for the three-star recruit, a major knee injury kept him from taking any snaps in the final year of his high school career. This resulted in a number of interested schools’ turning their attention elsewhere. Thankfully, Nevada stayed true to their word and extended a scholarship to Strong, even with the existing injury. The Wolfpack ended up being the only official FBS offer that the quarterback received.
Strong redshirted as a freshman, but seized the starting gig entering the 2019 season. He didn’t do much to turn any heads, that is until the COVID-shortened 2020 season came around. Strong found great success across his nine starts, boosting his completion percentage all the way up to 70%. He used this accuracy to post a mind-blowing TD:INT ratio of 27 touchdowns to only four interceptions.
Entering his final season, Strong improved yet again. This time, he threw the ball over 500 times while retaining his pristine 70% completion. He also put up 4186 passing yards, while tossing 36 touchdowns to eight interceptions. Extremely efficient.
Due to Strong graduating, he received a Senior Bowl invite as a redshirt junior. Six of the consensus top-seven quarterbacks attended the Senior Bowl this year, providing a rare opportunity to see how the talents’ compare when you view them side-by-side. To be frank, he never really looked like he got settled in during the week. He seemed to be unsure of his arm, something that never showed up on tape.
This leads me to believe that they were simply jitters, as opposed to a lack of talent. However, the interception that he threw during the Senior Bowl game was one of the worst I’ve watched in a long time. Strong underthrew his Nevada teammate — Romeo Doubs — after Doubs burnt the defender and likely could have walked into the end zone with an accurate toss.
Following up his mixed results at the Senior Bowl, Strong made his way to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. There, the strong-armed quarterback (no pun intended) underwent a thorough interview process. This gave scouts a chance to learn more about the little-known prospect from Nevada.
On the field, Strong reminded evaluators that he does, indeed, possess a rocket launcher for a right arm. He flicked a 60-yard bomb down the field with no effort, causing a stir in the building. The ball placement was still pretty shaky overall, but nobody left Lucas Oil Stadium with the impression that Strong has a weak arm.
The final step of the 2022 NFL Draft cycle came on March 21st at the Nevada pro day. Strong continued to flex his arm strength, while also showing more of a mobility than what he did at the Senior Bowl. Now that the last box is checked, all that is left to do is to meet with interested teams — and wait for the 2022 NFL Draft to arrive. While we are waiting, let’s dive in and see what Strong excels at, and what he must improve to find success as a starter in the NFL.
2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Arm Talent – Carson Strong has undeniable arm talent, passing the eye test with flying colors. He produced elite numbers over the course of the past two seasons, even while being hobbled due to his knee. He can reach all levels of the field and made at least one “wow” throw in every game he stepped on the field. Strong did well to showcase the ability to fling the football around with ease during his offseason workouts.
Accuracy/Ball Placement – Strong is a precision passer that thrives at hitting receivers in stride and fitting tight windows with his fastball. He can take the top off of the defense with a deathly accurate deep ball, as well. Strong consistently puts the football in advantageous positions for his pass catchers’, leading to yards after the catch and a minuscule amount of turnover-worthy throws.
Anticipation – Strong has a track record of throwing his receivers’ open even when they are not actually open at the time of his release. Anticipation to this degree simply cannot be taught. There are plays that other quarterbacks’ can make with their legs that Strong can’t mimic, but he makes up for it with some throws that no other quarterbacks’ in this class can match.
Football IQ – Strong is not far behind Desmond Ridder in terms of pre-snap play diagnosis among 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks. He is capable of calling audibles and identifying blitz calls before hiking the ball. He improved each season at Nevada, even while battling through constant knee issues and sporting a bulky brace. Strong can sling it around the field, but his 63 TD:12 INT ratio over his final two seasons at Nevada shows that the risks he takes are often calculated.
Knee Concerns – As you’ve surely noticed by now, it is impossible to talk about Carson Strong without eventually bringing up his knee. Strong first suffered an injury early in his playing career, missing his entire senior season of high school football rehabbing the knee. The same injury lingered throughout his college career before he eventually received surgery to clean it up following his junior year at Nevada.
Rather than opting out and preparing for the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft, Strong decided to rush back for his final collegiate season. Sporting the aforementioned brace, Strong put up the best numbers of his career, despite a severe lack of mobility. It leaves the question, “how much did rushing back impact his long-term health?”. Without the medical concerns, Strong would firmly be in discussion for QB1. That’s how special his arm is AND how terrifying his knee prognosis is.
Mobility – Strong was never a great athlete in terms of gaining yards on the ground. He did show an ability to throw on the run, way better than he is given credit for. It will never be a strong suit to his game, however, especially if his knee doesn’t regain its’ full strength. The days of statue pocket passers’ are falling by the wayside, but former NFL MVP Matt Ryan has put together a successful career, so it’s not impossible for Strong to overcome this lack of mobility. He came around 20 years too late, because if this draft was held in 2002, Carson Strong would be the odds on favorite to go No. 1 overall.
Fundamentals – Strong can get sloppy with his base at times, and is a victim of “happy feet” as he drops back to throw. A lot of those plays ended up working out anyway, as Strong contains enough strength in his arm to make up for subpar technique. That may work at the college level, but NFL defenders’ are not going to allow the same margin of error. It is important that Strong refines this part of his game, because he is going to look silly if he tries to “out-talent” defenders constantly at the next level.
The discussion about Carson Strong and his place in the 2022 NFL Draft class begins and ends with his knee. I know I am harping on it, but it is impossible to stress just how much of a concern it really is for scouts.
Clean medicals are essential if Strong wants any chance of hearing his name called on day-one, but unfortunately those medical evals are not typically made accessible to the public. If his knee checks out, then his arm is worth taking the chance on every time. The ability to make all throws necessary to be an NFL quarterback is enough to give you a vision of what he could be in the right system.
He also has a good amount of knowledge regarding pre-snap play recognition. Strong is a fun tape to watch, as he makes some throws that a lot of current NFL quarterbacks’ would have a tough time replicating. Will a team be willing to bet on his arm talent and take the risk of his knee prematurely ending his career? Only time will tell.