Nevada quarterback Carson Strong started the season off as one of the most highly-touted prospects ahead of the 2021 season and finished out at a high level, completing 70% of his passes for 4,186 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Strong led some of the most impressive comeback drives this season and was one of the most reliable players in college football—quarterback position and beyond. So between those impressive stats and what he left out there on the field, why did he fall in the rankings of so many analysts and sort of disappear from the same level of conversation that signal-callers like Matt Corral and Kenny Pickett were in as time went on. What exactly was the reasoning behind this?
Every season, and especially during draft season, plenty of rumors fly around. Strong was a player surrounded by rumors, with buzz about complications stemming from a knee injury he had suffered early on in his career. The scuttlebutt ranged from the injury hindering his play in the long run to it being called degenerative, something that would erase a lot of his long-term value as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
But rumors are just that and it’s hard to believe anything until you see it on paper—and no medical record to this point has indicated that Strong has any type of issue to the degree some of these rumors suggest.
What we do have, though, is a statement from Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy with information from a reliable source that points to Strong being totally fine. Strong told The Draft Network earlier this year that there was no cause for concern for his long-term future, that he was going to see a Los Angeles Rams doctor, and that all would be clear.
Based on Nagy’s report, that is exactly what happened.
“Plenty speculation on here about status of Nevada QB Carson Strong’s knee,” Nagy tweeted. “He had surgery Feb. 21 and rushed back to play this fall despite normal 10-month recovery time. Recently saw an NFL team doc who told him there was zero cause for long-term concern after clean MRI.”
Injury was the primary concern for Strong being moved down in the draft boards, and now that that’s been cleared up, there are two takeaways: we know who QB1 is and rumors should be taken with a grain of salt.
Strong brings to the table the best deep ball in the draft, the highest level of mental processing, some of the best ball placement in this year’s class (please see the weekly deep ball down the sideline into tight windows for reference), the toughness and confidence to be desired from a leader as far as intangibles are concerned, and he’s among the most NFL-ready players available for the taking. There’s no reason Strong shouldn’t be a first-round draft pick come April, and if he falls outside the first 32 picks for any reason, consider him a steal.