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Carson Strong: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Signing

In one of the more surprising scenarios of the 2022 NFL Draft, Nevada quarterback Carson Strong went undrafted. The Philadelphia Eagles will give Strong the opportunity to make an NFL roster, after signing him as an undrafted free agent. Philly picked up Strong with a $320,000 guaranteed deal (including a $20,000 signing bonus).

Despite coming out in a weak quarterback draft class, Strong was passed over by every team in the 2022 NFL Draft. What made Strong an intriguing prospect in the first place? Why did he fail to be selected in the draft? What does he bring to the table for the Eagles?

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these questions:

Big Numbers In College

Strong put up some legitimately impressive numbers during his college career. Over a three-year period, he led the FBS in completions (852), was second in pass touchdowns (74), and fourth in passing yards (9,368). His 2021 campaign was especially impressive, as he completed 70.1% of his passes for 4,175 yards, 36 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Strong was a two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and a two-time First-Team All-Mountain West selection. He fits the mold of a prototypical pocket passer at 6’4″ and 215 lbs. with a strong arm and solid accuracy.

All of these numbers would normally point towards a mid-round draft pick, let alone in a weak quarterback draft class.

So, what led to Carson Strong falling completely off every NFL team’s draft board?

Health And Mobility Concerns

While he was a highly effective passer during his college career and was considered by scouts to have NFL-caliber arm strength, Strong is far from a perfect prospect. He has several notable opportunities in his game, particularly an apparent lack of touch with the ball and inconsistent decision making. With the reputation of a gunslinger, he was prone to making occasional poor decisions with the football.

He is by no means a dual-threat quarterback. In a league where teams are in search of the next Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, or Lamar Jackson, stoic pocket passers attract less attention each year.

However, neither of the previously listed concerns alone would have been enough to push Strong completely off of 32 different team’s draft boards. The biggest concern for Strong as an NFL player is his health, namely his knees.

Stong injured his knee in high school, requiring surgery to reattach cartilage. This was a unique procedure that utilized eight biodegradable nails to attach the cartilage. The procedure caused him to miss his senior year of competition at the high-school level.

That was not the end of the health concerns, as once again in college he required surgery on his knee. He would go on to wear a knee brace throughout his college career. The uncertainty around the health of his knee prevented him from showing any mobility as a quarterback, placing serious limitations on his game.

Tragically, with an unknown future following multiple unique surgeries, no teams were willing to spend a draft pick on Strong, despite his clear talent as a passer.

What The Eagles Get

The Eagles have acquired a definitive low-risk, high-reward player in Carson Strong. Though he has received the largest guaranteed salary of any undrafted player so far this year, the $320,000 price tag is absolutely nothing for a guy who will almost certainly provide an upgrade at the third-string quarterback position over Reid Sinnett.

NFL Scouts saw Strong as having one of the strongest arms of the 2022 quarterback class. He proved himself to have an NFL-caliber arm. Earlier in the offseason, some mock drafts had Strong going as early as the third round. The Eagles got him without even using a pick.

Should Strong impress in the preseason and show the ability to be a viable back up to Jalen Hurts, Philly could have the flexibility to trade current backup Gardner Minshew to a quarterback-hungry team for assets or future draft capital. Minshew has expressed his desire to compete for a starting job so this could be a win-win for player and team.

At such a low-price tag, acquiring a young quarterback with NFL arm talent in a no-brainer. Another smart move in a great offseason for Howie Roseman and company.

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