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2022 NFL Draft: Nevada's Carson Strong predicted to be a solid Day 2 QB with a high ceiling

Fort Collins, Colorado, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong (12) gestures at the line of scrimmage behind offensive lineman Gray Davis (67) and offensive lineman Tyler Orsini (55) in the first quarter against the Colorado State Rams at Sonny Lubrick Field at Canvas Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL Draft cycle is going to be an odd one. Given what we’ve seen in the mock drafts throughout the industry, a quarterback likely will not be selected with the No. 1 pick for the first time since 2017.

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Without clear-cut favorites to be selected early, our job at PFF is to use our college-to-pro projection system to find some gems. We did so in 2020 with Tyler Huntley, who filled in for Lamar Jackson and had a great game in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers. We used text analytics in 2021 to show why the league was lower on Justin Fields than the media and analytics communities were. Other articles projecting Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Justin Herbert, Kellen Mond and Anthony Gordon are available for your perusal. 

As we are now into bowl season, I want to look at Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, who has opted out of his bowl game for the Wolfpack and declared for the draft, ending his 2021 season.

Strong has improved every year in Nevada, earning the 16th-most wins above average in the country this year (0.81 WAA), doubling his mark from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season:

Carson Strong’s WAA during each of his seasons at Nevada (2019-2021)

Among quarterbacks who have played in the NFL, Strong’s stable metrics were good but not elite in 2020:

Carson Strong’s stable metrics and their percentiles among players who played NCAA and NFL snaps in the PFF era

Avoiding negatives is one of the more important parts of quarterback play, and strong is among the best in the PFF College era at doing that. His clean-pocket grade is not that far behind, which establishes a pretty good start for the three-year starter.

As for the unstable, less-predictive metrics:

Carson Strong’s unstable metrics and their percentiles among players who played NCAA and NFL snaps in the PFF era

This is where the evaluation gets interesting. Strong struggled under pressure and had trouble generating positively graded plays in 2021. These statistics oscillate a ton from year to year, and if a quarterback “runs good” in these metrics — think Matt Ryan in 2016) — while being excellent in the stable stuff, he can have a breakout season. That has to be the hope for Strong when he gets to the next level. 

 

The beauty of our college-to-pro system is that we can tune the dials to see what Strong would do in certain offensive situations and systems. If he were in a high play-action, low-pressure system, his rookie projections would look like:

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