In 2012, quarterback David Fales from San Jose State stormed onto the scene with a big year and leading the Spartans to a tremendous season, finishing 11-2, winning the WAC Conference and winning the Military Bowl against Bowling Green. In his first year as a starter, Fales announced his presence not only to the world of college football but the NFL Draft community as well showing incredible efficiency as he threw for 4,193 yards and 35 touchdowns while completing 72.5% of his passes at an average of 9.3 yards per attempt. Fales brought the same cool demeanor to the first game of his San Jose State career against Stanford that he did in the last game of the year. The game has yet to appear too big for him and he was consistent from game to game with his performances. It is worth noting that his coach Mike McIntye took the Colorado job after the season and Ron Caragher takes over at the helm as the Spartans head coach this year. Had he declared last year, some might have held his lack of experience against him, but if Fales can play at the same level or get even better this year, he will have an excellent chance of being an early draft pick in April and could go as high as the early first round.
Vitals & Build
Fales is listed at 6’3” 220lbs and has a good build for the quarterback position both in his upper and lower body. As with all quarterbacks, the question will be if that height is accurate and if not, how far off it is. He looks like he will hit that magic number of 6’2” and he will probably add a little bit of bulk between now and the draft.
In terms of his ability to drive the ball down the field, Fales is relatively average. He can throw it about 50 yards but it will be a rainbow style throw that will look beautiful in the air, but does give opponents time to adjust and make plays on the ball, which is a factor when it is the difference between single coverage and allowing a safety to come over and help. If he can improve as a senior and in the NFL, it will make a big difference for his long term viability.
In terms of zip, Fales can put some speed on the ball in that 15 and under area of the field and shows the ability to fit passes in NFL windows. He does not have an elite fast ball but this is not something that appears like it will hold him back going to the next level, but there are times when he should be using it and does not, which puts the ball at risk.
Accuracy & Touch
This is where Fales really excels and in both areas. Fales has shown the ability to put the ball on his receivers, lead receivers, and takes the next step. There are times when a pass can only fit in one spot in order to be a completion and Fales will make those throws. For instance, a receiver is crossing the middle but is moving towards a defender in zone, Fales will put it on him or just behind him to allow his receiver to make the catch and keep it away from the defender. He also does this when it comes to arm strength and adjusting passes to give his receivers the best chance to make a play on the football. Furthermore, if Fales is going to miss with his accuracy, it is usually airing on the side of caution and a pass that no one can catch rather than the defender. On occasion, Fales will aim the ball too much as opposed to just throwing it.
This also applies to Fales in terms of touch. For the most part, he knows when to zip the ball in and when to use touch. Fales can throw the same pass to the same spot half a dozen different ways; all of which are effective. He shows the ability to throw touch passes that have the arc to get over defenders but makes the necessary adjustments to his timing so the ball does not arrive late. It still arrives on time to where the receiver can catch it and try to get yards after the catch. Occasionally, he will misjudge and throw touch passes where he should be zipping passes, but on the whole, his judgment in this area is excellent. As a result, Fales throws an extremely catchable ball for his receivers.
Mechanics & Footwork
Fales has a short throwing motion that comes out cleanly and easily. His throwing motion is also effective on the move and when he rolls out, he can get the ball out quickly and accurately. Though he does not have a huge arm in terms of strength, he never looks like he is straining. The ball comes out largely the same way but with a longer step with his front foot.
Fales has solid footwork and his feet move relatively quickly when it comes to dropping back, setting his feet and throwing the ball. San Jose State had Fales run a good mix of plays from under center as well as the shotgun so he is accustomed to making drops, setting up, and throwing the ball on time and in a good rhythm. He also has experience running play action, turning his back to the defense, and doing it with effective footwork. He does not waste motion or steps and makes an economical use of his feet.
Fales does a good job of feeling the pressure around and maneuvering in the pocket to create opportunities to make throws and find good throwing lanes. If he has the opportunity, he will step up in the pocket and find a receiver, but he also works well laterally. He is also able to roll out when he feels pressure. He has trouble when he is forced backward and there are times when he will take sacks he should not but he does a good of protecting the football when he gets hit and his size and strength serve him well in this area. He does e a good job of keeping his eyes down the field as he moves within the pocket or rolls out so he can take advantage of opportunities when he sees them.
Decision Making & Anticipation
This is another area where Fales does a good job. Not only does Fales do a good job of finding open receivers to throw the ball and rarely forces bad throws, but he also shows the ability to use his eyes to open up receivers by manipulating the defense. It also appeared as though Fales had a good understanding of what defenses were doing fundamentally and was able to pick them apart. It also seemed as though he ran plays with a large number of receiving option and being able to make his progressions and find the right guy. These should only improve with more experience.
Fales does an excellent job of throwing the football on time and has demonstrated that he has the ability to throw receivers open. However, the Spartans offense under Coach McIntyre did use a lot of curls, hitches, and comebacks to which made it easier for Fales on when to throw the ball, but he rarely threw passes late.
Fales is not a guy who is a big threat to pick up yards with his legs but he shows the ability to roll out, maneuver within the pocket and if he has to, pick up yards with his legs. He seems to have more mobility than he showed most of this past season but he was an excellent pocket passer so it did work for him. Fales is not a runner and no threat to run read-option but he is hardly a statue either and can escape pressure when he feels it coming. The types of systems he can run range from a system like the one Green Bay runs to what the Rams are trying to implement to the Saints or what the Eagles are trying to put in place.
The best fit for Fales is a West Coast or Horizontal Based Offense. Fales excels at underneath routes, timing plays and plays that ask for accuracy. He can keep defenses honest with his ability to stretch the field but he needs to continue strengthening his arm in terms of his ability to push the ball down field to make him more viable in this area. Fales also excels spreading the ball around and finding open guys so they can make plays. His accuracy, timing and instincts as to how and where to make throws should serve him well in that type of system.
|Thu, Aug. 29||vs. Sacramento State|
|Sat, Sept. 7||at Stanford|
|Sat, Sept. 21||at Minnesota|
|Fri, Sept. 27||vs Utah State|
|Sat, Oct. 5||at Hawaii|
|Sat, Oct. 12||at Colorado State|
|Sat, Oct. 26||vs. Wyoming|
|Sat, Nov. 2||at UNLV|
|Sat, Nov. 9||vs. San Diego State|
|Sat, Nov. 16||at Nevada|
|Fri, Nov. 22||vs. Navy|
|Fri, Nov. 29||vs. Fresno State|
The game that jumps out immediately is week two against Stanford. This will be a huge opportunity for both Fales and the Spartans to make a statement against a talented PAC-12 defense that will likely be the best they face all year. In addition, San Jose State played Stanford to a 20-17 game last year. Minnesota could be a decent game being on the road the week after they are on the road against Stanford but the Spartans should be the better team in this game and while it might be regarded as an upset by virtue of a WAC team beating a Big Ten opponent, but the Spartans will likely be a top 25 team and Minnesota is still struggling to get out of the basement of the Big Ten. The game that is under the radar but should not be by the time it arrives is the regular season finale against Fresno State. This has the makings of a shootout between the two best mid-major quarterback prospects with Fales against Derek Carr. Both teams are a threat to win their conferences, so this could be a battle between conference champions to be the best mid-major team in the country and potentially qualify for a BCS bowl berth.
Though not an indication of where his career will go, Fales is reminiscent of Brady Quinn when he was coming out of Notre Dame and when he was a promising young quarterback in the NFL. Fales appears to have the same throwing mechanics, arm angle, arm strength, footwork and even the same body type at 6’3” 220lbs; all good qualities. They wear the same number (10). Brady Quinn had the same haircut in college. They also come into the NFL with plenty of experience throwing to receivers, backs, and NFL quality tight ends. Both of these guys come off as exceptionally prepared quarterbacks but do not have the ideal physical tools to be an NFL quarterback. Fales appears to have a slightly stronger arm in terms of both throwing the ball down the field and with zip on his passes and if he can improve as a senior, this could be really help him in the NFL as well as with his draft stock.
Fales is an excellent quarterback that should only get better this year with San Jose State. He might have to make some adjustments under Coach Caragher, but he has such good fundamentals for a quarterback and his year of experience last year should only help him this year. If he takes what he learned last year and is able to expand upon it in terms of improving his strength when pushing the ball down the field, he could really elevate his stock when it comes to the NFL Draft. Fales shows the consistent demeanor, leadership, and consistency many NFL coaches should love in addition to being a good quarterback and while he is not as flashy as some quarterbacks will be in this draft, he has a chance to work his way up into the early first round in a competitive class.