Quarterback is obviously the most high profile position in all of football. Whether it’s college football or the NFL, there’s no single position in the most team-driven sport that matters more than quarterback. That means when it comes to the draft, often times the quality of that draft is measured by the strength of the quarterback class.
At this point, the 2014 NFL draft group falls somewhere between the 2013 group and the 2012 class in terms of top-end talent. Obviously, underclassmen and their decision to declare or not will impact this greatly. But in terms of seniors, San Jose State quarterback David Fales is right near the top. Fales was flying under the radar for most of last season and with his decision to return to school for his senior season, has a chance to cement a first-round spot.
The areas of Fales’ game that stand out to me are mostly from the neck up. Fales is fearless and smart. In the games I reviewed, he saw pretty consistent pressure, but he never looked rattled and showed not only poise in the pocket, but the ability to make plays under duress. His upper-body mechanics are solid and he pairs it up with nice maneuverability to make throws in different positions. Several times, he was flushed out and was unable to set his feet, but was able to make throws from different slots and did so with excellent accuracy. Fales is also a better-than-average athlete on the field, although I won’t be shocked if his workout numbers don’t match up. Fales is able to see the field and shows nice anticipation of the route and the receiver. In physical terms, Fales has all the prerequisite size. In a group where some of the bigger name quarterbacks have issues with height, Fales being 6-foot-3 really helps his case.
Fales appears to have a high football IQ. Even though on many plays he appeared to be working on a single read, these were against very talented defenses so, on some level, that’s excused. But when asked to go through his reads, he did a nice job. The one thing that holds Fales back is a noticeable lack of velocity on his intermediate and deep throws. There is some debate as to the cause, but what I see is a problem with footwork. He’s got quick feet and steps up well, but when he needs to add something extra to his throws, he tries to go “all arm” on it and he lets his footwork get away from him. He’s trying to squeeze the football into tight windows and when he forces it, it’s on his footwork.
All in all Fales is a very good quarterback. Is he a lock to be a star? Not even close. The areas of his game that need work “should” be coachable, and we’ve seen quarterbacks improve their arm strength in the NFL, so it’s not out of the question that Fales can as well. I like Fales, but I don’t love him as a prospect. I currently have him as my number-three quarterback but there are several underclassmen, who could push him down. Looking to the 2013 season, Fales’ matchup against Stanford will be the one to watch. This is early in the year and the best defense he will see all season. If you want a good picture of what Fales can do, this is the game in 2013 to see.
Look for a full scouting report on Fales at the end of the college football season.