Armando Salguero: QB Draft Class Considered Sub-Par, But It Includes A Surprise Name Not Many Are Discussing

Look at the list of quarterbacks drafted in the second round of the NFL draft the past decade, and you understand that round is basically a graveyard where starting quarterback careers are buried.

With some exceptions such as Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo and probably Andy Dalton, the players on that list were generally unremarkable and never authored careers as starters for very long.

(Don’t include Jalen Hurts in that because the jury is still out on him).

And yet it’s that second round where multiple NFL scouts have told OutKick that the quarterback with perhaps the most talented arm in this year’s draft will be selected.

That quarterback is Carson Strong of the University of Nevada.

“Everyone knows he comes with a medical red flag, but his arm, makeup, leadership, accuracy are first-round caliber coming out,” one NFL personnel man said Monday.

If you’ve never heard of Strong among the top names of this year’s quarterback class, it’s precisely because he’s supposed to be a surprise. He’s not supposed to factor as a first rounder. In fact there’s a little mystery going on about him.

“I don’t have anything for you on him, what else you got going on today, you all moved in yet?” one scout texted.

The reason for the misdirection could be the 2022 draft class is offering precious little certainty about the quarterbacks. Some personnel people are calling this a sub-par class for passers.

But because there are so many teams with an exigent need for an elite quarterback, this class might still produce two or three quarterbacks taken in the first round. And there will be multiple others taken in Round 2 and Round 3.

And Strong, expected to go after the first round by the draft gurus, might turn out just as good as any of the others. Or maybe better.

“Yeah, I think that all these guys in this draft class can throw the ball,” Strong said. “I know, like, the media especially says this draft class for quarterbacks is weak or whatever, but I think there’s a ton of good quarterbacks in this draft class.

“Malik Willis is a freak athlete who can sling the ball. I work out with Desmond Ridder every single day with [quarterback coach ] Jordan Palmer. So, I mean, I’m not going to knock any of the guys. All these dudes can play football. None of us would be in the conversation to get drafted if we couldn’t.

“However I do think that I can throw the ball really well and that I have a very strong arm, but no knock on the other guys. Everyone can throw the ball well.”

Strong can throw it better than just about all the others with the possible exception of Willis from Liberty University. But the reason Strong’s not considered a sure-fire first-rounder is his troublesome right knee.

He had surgery on the knee to repair an osteochondritis dissecans lesion before his senior season at Wood High School in California. Eight biodegradable nails were inserted to affix his knee to the bone. And prior to last season he had multiple other procedures on the same knee.

“Everyone’s got a different opinion, but I know I’m ready to go,” Strong said. “Everybody’s judging me based on the tape that I put out last season, which makes total sense. But I wasn’t healthy. I had a surgery that required a year for recovery. I came back in six months.

“My dad tried to get me to not play the first part of the season, but I was like, ‘There’s no way. I have to go out there and play for my team.’ So what I put on tape this year wasn’t the full me. But what I proved at the Senior Bowl is that I can move fluidly and smoothly.

“No, I’m not going to stiff arm someone and hurdle them and go run for a 50-yard touchdown. But I can extend plays, I can do a play action boot pass. I stepped in the pocket, got 10 yards and slid when I could at practice. I showed that I can move a little bit. I didn’t wear a knee brace. It’s way better than it was during the season. So I think I proved that already.”

Whatever team doctors think, it’s obvious Strong’s knee issue is a consideration and could affect where he goes. But that’s the point:

Different teams will have different opinions, so Strong might go earlier than expected or later than expected.

The rest of the quarterbacks in the class? Well, they don’t exactly come with pristine draft grades either.

Some of these guys are not prototype size. Willis, for example, is just a hair over 6 feet.

Some of these guys come with smallish hands — Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, for one — and that’s a concern for teams worried about fumbles and throws in rough weather.

“We don’t have Andrew Luck to hug the commissioner the first night of this draft,” one scout joked.

But even with their flaws, teams are showing interest in the prospects.

Strong, for example, has visited the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints on “30 visits” — which is the NFL term for teams bringing to their facilities 30 prospects they have high degrees of interest in.

The Steelers, which are scheduled to select at No. 20 in the first round, have also had 30 visits with or are scheduled to visit with Willis, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, Pickett on a local visit, and Sam Howell.

The Carolina Panthers, desperate for a starting quarterback to beat out Sam Darnold, have scheduled visits with Corral, Pickett, Ridder, Howell, and Willis.

Howell is interesting because his stock seemed to drop during the season, but now he’s suddenly in demand. He is also visiting with the Colts, Falcons, Giants and Saints.

Ridder’s visit with the Panthers is Tuesday, and then he’s scheduled to visit Seattle on Wednesday.

The most likely first-rounders of all these quarterbacks, per some personnel people who do not need a quarterback, are Willis and Pickett.

But don’t forget the name Carson Strong.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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  1. I always laugh when I read and article likes because it obvious the writer had an agenda. To supporters his article he only mentions QB drafted in the second round instead of saying drafted after the first round. Which allows to skip over many successful QB drafted other then the first round. I.e. Joe Montana and Russel Wilson in the 3rd round ( there is a long list of other QB) and of course everyone already knows about T Brady being drafted in the 6th round.

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