Why Washington should draft Carson Strong

MANHATTAN, KS - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Carson Strong #12 of the Nevada Wolf Pack drops back to pass against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, KS - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Carson Strong #12 of the Nevada Wolf Pack drops back to pass against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images) /

Washington should draft Carson Strong for a plethora of reasons. Before we get into the big details, we will start small with some things that may be overlooked by some.

Back at Nevada, Carson Strong was very active pre-snap as a quarterback. Coach Ken Wilson of the Wolfpack put just about everything on Strong’s plate when it comes to pre-snap decision-making. He’s shown adequate ability to not only diagnose blitzes pre-snap consistently, but also he’s been able to diagnose coverages and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage precisely.

In addition, Strong displayed several instances where he went through his progressions, displayed competent footwork and pocket awareness, en route to making defenses pay. For example, at the 6:25 mark of this video you’ll see an instance where Strong went through his progressions, climbs the pocket, and delivers an accurate ball to his wideout while deep in his own territory.

Strong’s savvy veteran play at the collegiate level screams that he’s not only taken the time to improve at the smallest levels of his game, but his work ethic leads to improved performance on the field. In every season at Nevada, he improved statistically in just about every major category, from deep yards to total big-time throws to touchdowns.

His consistent ascension throughout his collegiate career, his work ethic, and his comfort within the system culminated into a fantastic junior season that placed him in first-round consideration for the 2022 NFL Draft.

In this past year, Strong was one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, with the 16th best wins-above-average rating in all of college football, which is significantly above average in CFB.  Moreover, he was as deadly as they come when facing the blitz, as he threw 16 touchdowns to just two interceptions against the blitz in 2021.

Not only did Strong’s play on the field have a direct impact on winning, but the numbers do not stop there. He had the ninth-best adjusted completion percentage in 2020 of 80.2%, but Strong consistently was in the top 15 of college football in terms of deep yards over the last two seasons. In addition, as trigger-happy as he seemed to be at times, he routinely had low turnover-worthy play numbers and had a touchdown-to-interception total of 74 scores to just 19 picks in a Nevada offense that thrives on consistent second and third level throws.

Carson also provided excellent play within a clean pocket, as he threw 32 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions with a turnover-worthy play percentage of just 1.6% on the year. For comparison, Kenny Pickett had a TWP% of 2.1% while having a clean pocket for over 72% of his dropbacks, similarly to Carson Strong.

Finally, from a sheer eye-test perspective, Carson Strong has the arm to sling it at not only every level of the passing game but at every angle and with touch. Strong has shown the ability in college to not only drop dimes into tight windows but with enough touch and velocity to the point where his wide receiver has no choice but to catch it.

At the 9:00 minute mark here in this video, you’ll see Carson drop a beautiful ball on an inside-fade concept against man coverage, with the deep-safety coming full-throttle at his receiver. After he looks off the safety for a split-second, he utilizes the depth that he has to his advantage, with perfect ball placement. His wideout didn’t have to slow down to catch the football, and it was thrown at an angle and with enough touch to where the wideout can avoid a crushing blow.

Strong’s footwork stays consistent and his mechanics stay true to form when kept clean and when facing slight to just moderate pressure. While not a runner in any sense of the word and much more of your traditional dropback passer, Strong can maneuver within the pocket with ease and can throw on and off-platform with consistency, without hurting his mechanics.

He fits well within a Turner offense that really wants to push the ball down the field and utilize timing concepts that require the ability to attack the second level of the passing game. While Washington would likely want a quarterback with a little bit more mobility in his game, Strong’s mobility within the pocket, his ability to throw on the run and strike at just about any level on the field really makes him an intriguing play if Washington is looking to take BPA in round one and a QB in round two.

Carson Strong has real-deal NFL arm talent and has the tools as a prototypical dropback passer that can elevate an offense around him. His lack of mobility and injury history leads you to questions, in addition to his struggles at times with going through his progressions, but issues like the latter can be learned and taught through experience.

There will be a steep learning curve for Strong at the next level, but he has more than enough arm talent for Washington to take a swing on him in the second round, as he looks like a guy that can deliver solid QB play within a structured offense.

In the Ron Rivera era, Scott Turner and Rivera have opted for big-armed quarterbacks that, on paper, could have pushed the football down the field, attack the intermediate passing game and thrive off of Turner’s timing concepts. Unfortunately, due to injury and lackadaisical play, they have not been able to utilize these strengths in any capacity.

With the selection of Carson Strong, you will be limited in some ways. From an arm-talent perspective and understanding of the position, though, Washington should draft the Wolfpack product.

If the front office is looking for a prototypical drop-back passer with upside that has familiarity pushing the ball down the field with accuracy and has a real understanding of how to beat a defense not only with his arm but with his eyes, Strong, if properly developed, could be a guy that operates well long term in the Nation’s Capitol.

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