Pre-Season Scouting Report - Cody Fajardo, QB Nevada

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Aug 31, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo (17) throws a pass against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl. UCLA defeated Nevada 58-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Fajardo of Nevada, along with Chuckie Keaton of Utah State gives the Mountain West Conference two of the most exciting dual threat quarterbacks in the country.  Unfortunately, just like Keaton, injury put a damper on Fajardo’s season last year.  Keaton missed the season with a knee injury while Fajardo suffered a knee injury in week two of the season that caused him to miss time, but forced him to wear a brace that left him compromised for the remainder of the season.

Coming into this season, Fajardo is healthy and back to being at full strength, which makes him a dynamic run-pass threat.  Fajardo, at his best, is a one read passer that will pull down the football and run with it if his first option is not there or he can extend the play with his legs and find an open target.  When he is able to do that, he can be a decisive, effective player that can give even the toughest of defenses a tough matchup.  Forced to go to his second read and especially with the knee injury, the results were far less impressive and he was simply not comfortable.

Fajardo has the ability to be an outstanding college quarterback, but he needs to get more consistent with his mechanics, especially from the waist down, improve at adjusting to his first read not being there, and just reduce the amount of missed opportunities he has as a passer.  That is a lot for Fajardo or any quarterback to improve in any offseason, but his accuracy inconsistency would be dramatically improved with better footwork.  If he can address that one area of his game, it will make a substantial impact on his success in his final season in Reno as well as help him extend his career beyond college.

Fajardo’s athleticism makes an intriguing prospect as he is a big, strong runner.  His arm strength is not great but could improve, but if he can continue to improve, he could be a nice project quarterback for a team that likes what his build and skillset.  It is not completely out of the question that Fajardo could be moved to another position other than quarteback, but much will depend on what he can do in terms of his development as a senior.

Vitals & Build

  • Date of Birth not listed
  • 6’2″ 200lbs (Listed)

Fajardo looks bigger than his listed size and weight.  He has a strong build and long legs that give him a bigger appearance.  His listed weight, which is likely much higher in reality, sells his power a little short as Fajardo has shown he has strong legs and can be a powerful athlete at times.  The injury that caused him to wear a brace hurt his athleticism, but his strength still showed as he was able to push the pile and give tacklers a difficult task in bringing him to the ground.

In terms of athleticism, Fajardo shows quickness, footwork and speed that makes him look impressive not simply as a quarterback, but just as an athlete.

Fajardo does possess the frame to continue to add weight and strength that should only enable him to become more powerful and more stout.  That should also help him become able to be able to stay healthier and avoid further injury.

Arm Strength

Fajardo’s arm strength is relatively average.  He can push the ball down the field, but nothing about it stands out as being anything beyond being run of the mill.  Fajardo tends to throw lollipops going deep down the field that take their time to get to the target, giving the opponent a chance to make a play on it.  He can also end up forcing his receivers to slow down to make plays and allow opponents to get in on plays they should not be able to do.

Fajardo’s zip is better than his deep ball, but it is pretty standard.  He can fire a decent fast ball when he needs one, but it does require him to have good mechanics and get his weight into it.

  • Fajardo shows what type of zip he can put on the ball here.

Accuracy & Touch

Fajardo’s overall accuracy is inconsistent.  There is no throw he cannot make, but he can miss the same throw and miss it badly.  Especially when he knows where he wants to go with the football, he can make some outstanding throws, but he is someone that can need to miss a throw before coming back and making it.  This has proven problematic as it has cost the team drives.

Fajardo is at his best when it comes to making throws from 5-10 yards.  It largely does not seem to make a difference whether it is to the sideline or in the middle of the field.  Many of the hits and misses can be attributed to his mechanics.

Fajardo can make some nice throws in the middle of the field where he can put the ball on a line.  His arm strength is not top of the line, so it forces him to use good mechanics to execute the throw and put enough zip on the ball, so the results are good as a result.

On deeper throws, Fajardo’s lack of arm strength results in looping passes.  As a result, he has a pretty good sense of touch and can execute those throws on shorter throws, getting the ball over the defender and dropping it into his receivers’ hands.  Again, mechanics has a big impact on his results here.

  • Fajardo comes off of the play action and makes a nice touch throw here on the flag route to the tight end.  Unfortunately, the tight end could not locate the ball and make the play.

  • This is an outstanding throw and ball placement, especially considering how poorly he transitions his weight.  It is tough to criticize it too much given the results.

Fajardo can make good throws, but has to eliminate the number of bad or wasted throws before he is able to execute passes.  Much of it comes down to mechanics, but he has to eliminated the missed opportunities.  He can get away with it to a point in college, but that simply will not work in the NFL for any real length of time.

Mechanics & Footwork

Fajardo’s mechanics are inconsistent, especially from the waist down.  He tends to have a pretty good throwing motion with a prototypical overhand delivery.  Fajardo might be able to get rid of the ball quicker if he held the ball slightly higher, but it is not a huge problem and he is able to get rid of the ball in a reasonable amount of time.

In terms of his footwork, it ranges from being absolutely great to being miserable and the results tend to go the same way.  There are definitely examples where he looks great executing his drop, stepping up into his throw and delivering the ball on a spot.  There are also situations where he will step out and throw off his balance dramatically, does not really use his feet or gets rushed and his passes are dramatically impacted.  Not surprisingly, with legs as long as Fajardo’s, his footwork is that much more critical as it has such an impact on his balance.

  • Picture perfect here.  Good footwork, throws the ball on time with nice mechanics and it pays off with a pass right in stride here and on time.

  • Fajardo anticipates the break well, but he steps out and his weight goes with him, taking off balance and making this an almost impossible throw.  As a result, the throw is not even close, bringing up 4th-and-long.

Fajardo can throw the ball on the run largely because it takes his feet out of the process and allows him to go all arm.  His average arm strength only allows this to go so far and there can be some floaters that can be dangerous, but from a pure mechanic standpoint, he is can do it.

Fajardo’s overall mechanics will go as far as his footwork takes him.  His throwing motion could be improved but will not present any real problem as it currently stands.  His arm strength when it comes to throwing on the run could limit him if not improved, but his feet will be the issue that is critical for him to have any future at the next level.

Pocket Awareness

Fajardo’s pocket awareness tends to be a little underwhelming.  He is not afraid to step up in the pocket and make throws; in that respect, he can do a nice job.  Where he has some issues is his sense of how much space he really has to work with and can run himself into pressure as a result.  That has gotten him sacked a few times.

The other issue, which is partly related to the injury, is how much he relies on his legs to get him out of trouble.  Fajardo will hold onto the ball and stay in the pocket an extended period of time, counting on his legs to be able to make a quick move to get out of trouble and extend the play.  The injury really caused this issue to look problematic, but it may also have shown that Fajardo needs to get better in that respect, healthy or not.

  • Fajardo breaks the pocket and works himself into a corner.  Instead of throwing the ball away, he eats it and takes a really bad sack here that was easily avoided.

Fajardo has the ability to break the pocket and extend plays, but again, the limit on his mobility led to issues.  He would get himself caught in bad spots and either eat the ball or make questionable decisions.  In or out of the pocket, when pressure comes, Fajardo tends to get flustered.  If he does not have a running lane, this magnifies the issue and causes bad sacks and risky passes.

Decision Making & Anticipation

Fajardo is not only effective but can be downright dangerous when he knows where he is going to throw the ball before the snap.  He makes throws that it looks like he has practiced thousands of times with his receivers and he can be great.  From anticipating cuts to knowing where to put jump balls to being able to process what defenses are giving him before the snap, he, at times, can put on a clinic.

  • On 4th down-and-2, Fajardo makes a great back shoulder throw before the defensive back is able to react.

  • Great pass here to beat the zone.  Fajardo wastes no time and makes a 20-yard pass that allows his receiver to keep gaining yardage.

  • Fajardo gets rid of the ball on time, makes a nice throw and gives his receiver room to make a play.

Once that first read is not there, Fajardo becomes a completely different player.  He goes from a decisive, effective player to an indecisive, sometimes panicked quarterback that is rarely comfortable.   Whether he is in the pocket or rolling out, his decision making process is often rushed, his mechanics fall off and the results are almost completely flipped.  There are certainly examples where Fajardo can make some nice plays, but they look far more lucky than they are results that can be replicated.

  • This is a throw that should never have been made as Fajardo should have seen the safety sitting there, but he stares down the receiver after initially trying to move the safety to the right.  As a result, Fajardo tries to fit the curl in there and the safety has an easy interception.

Part of the issue for Fajardo is just how much he counts on his legs.  And after he hurt his leg and had to wear a brace, his athleticism, while still above average, was compromised and there were situations where Fajardo tried to make plays he could without the brace and it simply could not happen.  As a result, he sometimes found himself in bad position or taking bad sacks.

When Fajardo can operate with his first read and come out from the snap knowing where he is going with the ball, he looks the part of a good quarterback.  His accuracy and mechanics can fail him at times, but purely on those initial reads, Fajardo looks like someone that can play and be successful at the next level.  Going to his second read and beyond, he looks like someone that is barely draftable and this has to improve dramatically this season.

Mobility

Healthy, Fajardo is an incredible athlete.  While his weight suggests he is lanky and thin, he has a good amount of power and can drive his legs through contact.  Fajardo is both agile, showing the ability to make opponents miss and extend plays, but also has the long speed to beat defenses or get away from pressure.  Even against top of the line competition, Fajardo’s athleticism was notable.

  • Fajardo shows how dangerous he can be with the pump fake and then speed that allows him to attack the pylon.

  • Fajardo pulls it down, sticks his foot in the ground and makes an athletic UCLA defense look pedestrian as he goes into the end zone.

Once Fajardo hurt his leg and had to put on the knee brace, his athleticism is still good, but he is clearly not the same player.  He can still make plays with his legs, but he is far easier to gameplan for and disrupt.  He was still able to make plays with his legs, but he also tried to make plays where his leg simply would not respond and he could not make an opponent miss or he was tracked down behind for a sack.

  • Fajardo shows off how much ground he can cover when he gets an opening as well as good balance and footwork near the sideline.

On pure mobility, a healthy Fajardo is a big time threat.  He needs to be a little smarter with when he needs to use his legs and especially when he needs to leave the pocket, but he is certainly an athlete that warrants consideration.  Obviously, Fajardo is going to be trying to continue his career as a quarterback, but should that prove an issue, he has the athleticism to move to a different position.

The one problem Fajardo does need to address is how he will take on contact at times, even looking for it.  When he runs near the sidelines, he is smart about getting out of bounds and avoiding the big hit.  There are definitely times where he will lower his shoulder and use power to win, which can certainly prove effective, but can result in injury that significantly limits him.  Obviously, the results were dramatically impacted by the injury he suffered and fought through last season.

The clips were provided by DraftBreakdown.com

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Tags: 2015 NFL Draft Cody Fajardo Nevada Wolfpack Football Quarterbacks

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