Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shane Carden - 2015 NFL Draft Scouting Report

With the college football season over, the 2015 NFL Draft season immediately starts up to fill that void. I plan to take a look at all of the top quarterback prospects but will also be willing to take suggestions if there are prospects at other positions that you would like to see analyzed. But my bread and butter is quarterback play (a position that is still underrated in the draft). Today, I am taking a look at Shane Carden from East Carolina University.

Playing in a small conference, Shane Carden is not a guy that I have watched very much of, but he has had some decent buzz as possibly the best quarterback that is not coming from one of the five major conferences. Thanks to Draft Breakdown and College Football Dude, I was able to take a look at his games against South Florida, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina.

Mobility
I would say that Carden has good mobility but is not a threat with his feet. Here is an example of where a quarterback can have good mobility without elite athleticism.

I like that he stays in the pocket until the rush forces him out instead of fleeing early. Also, as he scrambles to his right, he continues to look down the field. He can't quite make a good enough throw on the run, but there is a lot more positive on this play than negative.

On that one, he had to eventually bail out, but this next play, he utilizes subtle movement to give himself some space to make a play.

He does a really nice job of feeling pressure and making subtle movement within the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. A lot of quarterbacks will either bail out of the pocket or put their eyes on the rush and try to run the ball, but he does a nice job of keeping calm and making a short pass that allows his receiver to turn it into a first down.

Awareness
One of his issues is that he would stare down a receiver waiting for them to get open instead of moving on to another option. He waited and waited, which showed good patience, but he cannot depend on an excessive amount of time. Still, there was an outlier that could show his ultimate potential in reading the field.

This may look like a simple throw, but it is actually a reason to be excited about Carden's potential. He takes the snap and looks to the left side of the field where he has a high-low read. Both options are covered fairly well, so he looks to the middle of the field and quickly gets rid of the ball to hit his other receiver in stride who is crossing the middle of the field. Even with good coverage, the defender really has no chance to break up the play. This play is a good sign in that he does have the ability to quickly scan the field, so it may be a lack of experience where he just needs to fine tune the skill.

Mechanics
On the negative side of things, his mechanics are a mess. He really only generates power from his hips up as his feet are too narrow so his legs do not extend to help him drive ball on his throws. A lot of his throws are just winged out there, but he can only generate below average velocity on his passes with that form. Nearly every deep ball he threw hung in the air, and at best, his receiver was forced to slow down to make a play on the ball. If he improved his footwork, it could make him a much more dangerous passer.

This is a good example of him not using his legs so he is unable to drive the pass and allows a defender to make a play on the ball. If this ball is driven, the corner would not have enough time to adjust and time his jump to deflect the ball, but that extra half second almost leads to an interception after the deflection.

Even with the poor mechanics, he does show a nice touch on his passes.

This one was especially impressive, as he throws the ball in the only place that his receiver can make a play on it. The defender has good coverage, but the receiver is able to high-point the ball and get a foot in bounds to make the touchdown grab.

Overall
When I first started watching Shane Carden, the mechanics immediately turned me off. He just wasn't generating enough velocity on his throws to be successful at the NFL level. But then I kept seeing glimpses of great attritbutes. He has good pocket awareness, he can scan a field and make quick decisions, and even with poor mechanics, he shows some nice touch on his passes. But it still comes down to this: If his mechanics do not change, he will not be a successful NFL Quarterback. But the flipside is that if he can alter his mechanics to generate strength from his lower half, he's a really interesting quarterback. The question for teams comes down to whether their offensive coaches are confident in being able to alter his delivery so he gains velocity without losing any of his other attributes that help make him interesting. So where does that put him? As an outsider, I would put him in the 4th-5th round range (I don't think I could pull the trigger until the 5th), but this is a case where seeing him at the combine, in private workouts, and interviewing him to get a better feel for him is going to be incredibly valuable. With what he flashes, he could be a steal, but if those mechanics don't change, he's likely just a wasted pick.

Quarterback Prospect Rankings:
1. Shane Carden - East Carolina
2. Garrett Grayson - Colorado State

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