football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
NFL Draft

Carson Strong Prepared For Whatever Challenges Await As NFL Career Starts

  • Crissy Froyd
  • February 15, 2022
  • Share
San Jose State was Carson Strong’s most difficult game of the year, both statistically and from a toughness standpoint. The Nevada quarterback was sacked three times in that game as he completed 36-of-54 passing attempts for 314 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. “There were honestly a few times in there that I thought we might lose him,” former Wolf Pack and current Colorado State offensive coordinator Matt Mumme said. “But he never complained, he just kept getting back up and finished out the game for us the way that we needed him to.” Strong never considered leaving the game, despite some of the shots he was taking and looking limited at certain points. And it made quite a difference that he was able to stay in as Nevada drove down the field with just over a minute-and-a-half, converting on a 4th-and-9 to set up the Brandon Talton game-winning field goal. “Unless my leg snaps in half and my bone is sticking out of my skin, I’m gonna play. Unless I can’t walk, I’m going to play,” Strong said. “I’ve always said, if I can walk, I can play. There was never a thought that I was going to head for the sidelines or not finish the game.” But even after the comeback ability he showed in that game, that wasn’t what people were talking about, with the focus shifting to whether or not his knee issue was something that would cause him problems through the remainder of his career. Strong is well-aware of the rumors that have surrounded the situation, which range in detail but almost always involve the assumption that his knee is degenerative and that it’s going to severely limit what he can do for a team on a regular basis at the next level. When it comes to situations like those, it’s not uncommon that a player goes silent and offers little detail. But this is not a PR show for Strong, who is confident in the truth that will come to light ahead of the draft. “I feel like I’ve been open and honest with everything. I don’t want to hide anything and I think that teams see that. Obviously, I get asked about the knee a lot, and I just tell them exactly what happened, nothing away from the truth. Maybe other people think I need to be smart and deliberate with how I say these things but I want to be open and truthful about these things. Teams have said that they appreciated that and how I come in with good energy. Even after hours of interviews, I come in as the same guy I was during the first interview.” He was cleared by a Los Angeles Rams doctor and is not concerned about his future in any way—and others shouldn’t be either with the continued improvement he’s shown. “In February I had a surgery where they take out part of my cartilage and put in a plug from a cadaver. I essentially got a tire swap on cartilage,” Strong said. “Part of that is that the bone has to accept the cartilage and bone takes a long time to heal. It was supposed to be a one-year-long recovery and I came back and played the first game about six months out of surgery. It definitely was a part of the reason why I didn’t move very well early in the year. It would get swollen and stiff and it just wasn’t quite ready but there was no way that I wasn’t going to play that season. It got better as the year went on. “The last game of the season I played without a knee brace and I’m playing without a knee brace right now. I showed the ability to roll to the right, roll to the left and move out of the pocket. I feel like I’ve been moving fluidly, smooth in all my dropbacks and all my 11-on-11 reps. I think that teams are seeing that I’m confident in my knee and that I’m not having any problems with it.” In a way, Strong says he believes the limitations he dealt with early on helped him to become a better player. While he does have the ability to extend plays and move around some while keeping his eyes downfield—as he showed in Senior Bowl practices—that wasn’t exactly an option early on in his recovery when he had to rely even more on the mental aspect than a pure pocket passer already does. “I think that I did have limitations out there and like I’ve said before, I’m not Lamar Jackson by any means,” Strong said. “I always had to have an answer, always had to have a plan. If I got stuck with the ball in my hands, I was kind of shit out of luck there for a little while. Moving forward, though, I’m confident in my ability to extend plays and move in the pocket. I’ve shown that.” Even though Strong may not fit the current trend of mobile, athletic quarterbacks in the NFL, he brings to the table the makings of everything a quarterback is supposed to be when the offensive line and supporting cast do their jobs. His level of mental processing and arm talent are things he’s always had, and there’s hardly an argument that there’s a better pure passer in this draft class. And looking back through history, several championship-winning quarterbacks have been pure pocket passers. Tom Brady is the prime example. Looking at the current NFL, Mac Jones had the most successful rookie season with the New England Patriots despite having maybe even less mobility than Strong does. Strong’s assets as a passer are something that has been apparent since he was at Will C. Wood High School, though he wasn’t recruited and his lone offer was from Nevada. “I guess it’s the perfect Cinderella story,” Mumme said. “No one was paying him any attention and I was the only one who went out to watch him throw and offer him. We had faith in him from Day 1—when it comes to quarterbacks, there are things you can fix and tweak throwing the ball and then there’s god-given talent. Carson has that.” Strong describes his playing style as a combination between Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, someone who isn’t afraid to take deep shots into tight windows but doesn’t turn the ball over often. That was reflected by his final stat line this season as he completed 70% of his passes for 4,186 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Mumme and the rest of the Nevada coaching staff gave him complete control of the offense, something that has a lot to do with their trust in his decision-making. “My coaches gave me a lot of freedom… I had free reign at the line of scrimmage. When I came up to the line, whatever play we had, if I thought it was gonna work, I would keep it,” Strong said. “Based on the coverage, based on what the defensive line and the linebackers were showing me. If I didn’t think it was going to work, I had free reign to get into any play at any time. Whether that’s a run, pass, screen, it didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to have the right play out there. That’s why the coaches trusted me with that because I make good decisions. I wasn’t just checking to throw the deep ball every single play. If they’re playing press-man, I was going to check the deep ball, I was going to check the deep ball, but if we had numbers to run the ball, I’m checking it to the run. If they’re playing soft coverage, I’ll throw the screen.” While Strong obviously had a lot of success at Nevada and overcame the odds in several unlikely situations between his high school career and now to become one of the top overall prospects in the draft, his focus is on continued improvement—and one of those areas is more focused on reigning in his emotions on the football field, something he’s made progress in. “I think (being an emotional player) could be a good thing and it could be a bad thing. I never want to take away the passion that I have for the game,” Strong said. “I’m a very passionate and emotional person but at the same time, you never want to get too high and you never want to get too low. I’m working on something called neutral thinking with Jordan Palmer right now. Essentially what that means is that it doesn’t matter if you’re winning 28-0 or if you’re losing 28-0. You have to see a vision and a path of you winning the game… you just have to take it one play at a time. “Adversity is going to hit during a game and there’s never going to be a perfect football game, so you just have to be able to let it go and not show frustration—that’s something I’ve done before that I don’t want to do moving forward.” Purely from a football perspective, Strong believes that being in the Air Raid offense helped him as a passer and that a lot of the concepts are in offenses at the next level, but that it was important to take advantage of opportunities like the Senior Bowl to get used to doing some things he wasn’t previously asked to do as much. “In college, I didn’t do too much under center but this is primarily all under center so it’s all new for me,” Strong said. “All of these plays are new but moving forward I think I’m going to be able to go under center and have the ability to do more play-action and roll out. “Whatever a team wants me to execute unless it’s read-option or power-read, I feel like I can do that. There’s definitely a learning curve but that’s why I’ve come here and what I’m focused on—to get better.”

Filed In

Related Articles

Written By

Crissy Froyd