Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Scouting the 2014 NFL Draft: David Fales

David Fales is a very interesting prospect as people were very excited for him to come back this year and solidify his spot as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. He went out and nearly duplicated his Junior season (his only real dropoff was completion percentage which went from a ridiculously high 72.5 to a still very solid 64.1) and everybody seemed to downgrade him. Also weird is that there are no 2013 game tapes on YouTube, but half of his season from 2012 is up there. Since I had not heard of any significant step forward that he made this past season, I took a look at his 2012 tape of his games against Stanford and BYU.

The mental side of the game is definitely a strength for Fales. He shows that he can smoothly work through his reads on this throw over the middle.

He starts off looking to his left, sees that his receiver is covered, then calmly bounces his feet to focus on the middle and throws a nice ball up the seam.

Fales does a really nice job of trusting his blocking on this play. He tries to stick with the deep route as long as possible, sees it is not going to happen, and then quickly looks to his right and fires a nice pass for a first down.

That sort of patience is an incredibly value asset for a quarterback to possess.

With that pocket presence, he also moves very well inside the pocket. Here he makes a nice move to avoid the rush, give himself space, and make a play.

This isn't a throw that is going to wow people, but considering he is on the move, throwing a well placed ball on the short route is very nice.

He's not going to wow teams with his athleticism, but he makes the most of his moves. On this play, he shows his maximum shiftiness, but it's a nice gain for him when nobody was open.

His awareness helps his mobility play up since he rarely wastes steps and knows the best ways to move when he is under duress.

The next play is an intermediate route where Fales successfully threads the needle. He does this with accuracy, as the lack of arm strength nearly gives the Stanford defender a chance to make an interception.

I'm still not sure how that pass was completed. The ball goes right through the defender's hands into his receivers.

I really love the anticipation here, as he knows his receiver is going to curl back right at the goal line, so he throws it so it arrives as the receiver is turning around in front of the cornerback who had coverage over the top.

The replay really shows the greatness of the timing of the throw and delivering it right to the receiver's chest makes it an easy touchdown.

He does a very nice job with intermediate throws as he places the ball right where it needs to be.

His receiver does get some separation on the out route, but Fales puts the ball on the outside shoulder so the defender has no chance of making a play and his receiver can pick up the first down.

Here is a deep ball that illustrates the worries that teams are going to have with Fales. Arm strength. On this pass, the ball flutters in the air and takes a long time to get to his intended receiver. Look at how the ball hangs in the air, and receiver has to slow down for it.

Yes, the receiver should have made the catch and had a touchdown, but that was more from the coverage falling down than the pass being great.

Here is the problem with a lack of arm strength. This receiver has a small opening over the top of the cornerback before the safety is over the top of the route. Fales sees that opening and throws the ball there.
Unfortunately, it hangs in the air far too long and the safety gets an easy interception.

These are the sort of windows that are common in the NFL, and this is why people are going to doubt Fales.

It's throws like this one that makes me want to believe in Fales. It's not wow arm strength, but it looks like enough on this throw over the middle.

It is thrown right as the receiver breaks towards the middle, and it is placed perfectly which saves his receiver from taking a big shot from the safety.

This was my favorite throw that I saw from Fales.

It's a throw like this that gives me hope.

Fales reminds me of quarterbacks that I've loved too much in the past. The name that comes to mind for me is Greg McElroy. The question that I struggle with when I look back is whether McElroy has not put it together in the NFL because of arm strength or whether I overrated him due to being surrounded by studs at the college level. Fales does not have to worry about the latter problem as San Jose State is not quite the football powerhouse that Alabama is. Still, I keep coming back to that arm strength. At times, it looks fine, but that's the high end of where his arm can be, just okay. Arm strength isn't everything, but there is still a minimum level that almost always must be met. On top of the arm strength issue, he is only an average athlete and has one of the lowest ceilings of any quarterback in this draft. But, he has accuracy, good pocket presence, and makes smart decisions with the football. Those are highly desirable qualities in a quarterback, but I still don't think it's enough to be any more than a late round pick.

Here are my quarterback rankings for the prospects I have looked at so far:
1. Teddy Bridgewater - Louisville
2. Blake Bortles - Central Florida
3. Jimmy Garoppolo - Eastern Illinois
4. Zach Mettenberger - Louisiana State

5. Tajh Boyd - Clemson

6. David Fales - San Jose State
7. Logan Thomas - Virginia Tech
8. Brett Smith - Wyoming
9. Aaron Murray - Georgia


  1. I think this is a very fair judgement of fales but i see a matt ryan ceiling for him being that they have alot of similarities what are you're thoughts?

    1. I can see where you are coming from as they have similarities. However, even though his arm strength is not elite, Matt Ryan is at least one level and possibly two levels above Fales in that area. Matt Ryan has done a lot of great things using his talented receivers down the field, and that is something that I don't see Fales being able to do because of his lack of arm strength. If Fales is going to be successful, it's going to be in a West Coast system where he can hit underneath routes consistently.

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