2022 NFL Draft: The Case for Carson Strong as QB1 this year

Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong (12). Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong (12). Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

With a handful of NFL teams in need of a quarterback, and no genuine standout prospect in this year’s 2022 NFL Draft, the search for a franchise-altering player remains extremely difficult.

One particular prospect who appears to have fallen beneath the hype of other quarterback talents in this class is Nevada’s Carson Strong.

While a unique talent, Strong most notably is dealing with a surgically repaired right knee. An injury concern that may lead to him being taken off NFL draft boards entirely, especially if proven to be harmful long-term.

His response when asked about it in yesterday’s NFL Combine interview (via @MarkSchofield):

Aside from injury concerns, Strong provides what I believe to be the best tape, as well as pure upside, of any quarterback in this NFL Draft class.

His 89.1 PFF grade in his 2021 season was the best of his career as he completed 69.6% of his passes and had a passer rating of 109.7.

Although it’s challenging to grasp those numbers compared to those who aren’t playing against Mountain West defenses, Strong often displayed his ability to take on a huge load as a passer (throwing 50+ times in his final six games) and showcased untapped arm talent.

As noted, Strong has an elite arm, one that would rank among the top 6-7 in the NFL from the day he gets drafted, and is going to be the primary talking point from those who claim to be Strong truthers.

Not only that (yes, 70-yard bombs are cool), but I also loved Strong’s ability to get through progressions, make good decisions, and navigate the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Those aspects of his game need some polishing if he is going to be an NFL starter, but they were very encouraging to see on tape.

The football concern for Strong is his below-average athleticism. He will need to be above-average in reading defenses and getting through progressions to excel in this league, which is typically a very tall task for rookie quarterbacks.

Because of this, I believe it would be wise for him not to be rushed into a starting role, similar to how the 49ers are approaching their quarterback room with last year’s first-round selection, Trey Lance. A few teams I could see pulling the trigger on a move like this could be the Lions, Falcons, or maybe the Minnesota Vikings in a Cousins-successor role.

Let me reiterate: It is crucial Strong is given time to fine-tune his game and learn how to utilize his above-average tools to succeed.

With that said, I believe Strong is the QB1 in this class with an adequate offensive system and a clear medical record. Yes, quarterbacks like Malik Willis and Sam Howell may present similar arm talent, upside, and athleticism, but they didn’t show me what Strong did on tape.

Will Strong be fully healthy by the time Week 1 rolls around in September? Only time will tell.

Next. Chris Olave to Las Vegas at 22nd Overall. dark

But let’s pump the breaks on the upside of Willis or the playmaking ability of a guy like Kenny Pickett and keep an eye on the Nevada quarterback who may surprise fans and scouts down the road.