It is a 152 mile trip from Fresno to San Jose as this look at two under appreciated California quarterbacks concludes at the home of Spartans junior quarterback David Fales (PSH Draft Analysis). Coaches and scouts may love Fales, because he does so many aspects of the quarterback position well even though he does not have the ideal physical tools for the position. He only has this year of experience, but he looks like a guy who has played three years. The situation never looks too big for him, he plays fearless in the pocket, he always looks so prepared despite running the offense, and his play is consistent. Fales is someone that does not have a huge arm and will not electrify the combine with his speed, but fans of the pure science of quarterback will love how he plays the game at this level and possibly into the NFL.
Fales does not have an elite arm by any stretch but the ball usually does have good velocity. His arm is solid as long as he can get his legs under him and step into his throws. The ball loses a little zip and will flutter from time to time when he is forced to throw on the run or off of his back foot. As a result, Fales has done an excellent job of making sure the vast majority of his throws come with good footwork and on time. The other side of this is Fales and NFL teams are going to know exactly where Fales needs to focus his efforts to strengthen his arm going into the future; namely his shoulder and core. He will also try to throw some passes into tight windows. He has gotten away with it at times, but especially in the NFL, this is an area he needs to be careful as it can result in interceptions.
The best intangible Fales brings to the table is how well he anticipates when to throw the football. He gets rid of the ball right when his receiver breaks reducing the amount of time defenders to adjust to make a play on the football and does a good job putting it in the right place for his receivers. This gives him a viable threat going deep that helps mask less than stellar arm strength, which makes having this ability so much more important. He also demonstrates the ability to throw receivers open, which scouts love to see from a prospect.
Fales is also fearless in the pocket when pressure is bearing down on him and he will make throws when he knows he is going to take a hit. Again, with his arm being what it is at this point, he has to be or the ball will flutter and results in turnovers and defenses are going to try to attack him there and force him to prove he can make those plays. There is an ongoing argument as to whether or not this can be taught.
There has not been an overwhelming sentiment that Fales would put his name in for the NFL after this season because of his lack of experience. The one thing that could push him to declare is that his head coach, Mike McIntyre, has accepted the same position to Colorado. If San Jose State opts to go with a head coach that wants to go with a new system, Fales may decide he would rather just start getting paid to learn a new offense in the NFL instead of learning two offenses in two years.
Continuing with his offense, Fales has learned in one of the most varied in all of college football when it comes to formations and varied attacks under Coach McIntyre. Shotgun, pistol, under center, four receivers, double tight ends, motion, playaction and most anything else that can be thrown at him. He handles it all well and always looks like he has command of the offense. If he does stay for his senior year, the fact he did play in such a varied offense should have prepared him for a relatively seamless transition to whatever offense the new coaching staff chooses. It also helps to combat the idea that he is a system quarterback obviously if he proves to be effective in multiple systems.
Though he can run a ton of different college systems, he would be best utilized in a more horizontal offense that takes advantage of his anticipation and timing in the NFL. He can be a vertical threat and make deep throws, but if a team drafts him and expects him to be Roethlisberger or Flacco, they are going to be disappointed. He is a quarterback that will be at his best throwing a lot of jab type passes before going for the big uppercut in the form of a post, deep cross, or fade. He can do a fantastic job of hitting passes in that 7-18 yard range and put the ball where his guys can not only catch it, but get yards after the catch.
Fales was dominant this past season in the WAC leading his team to a 10-2 record and a WAC conference championship. He more than held his own against a tough Stanford Cardinal defense in his first career start despite losing 20-17. Yes, San Jose State has some easy throws in the form of bubble screens that bolster his average but it is still worth noting that his lowest completion percentage in any game has been 65.4% and his yards per attempt 9.31. As a result, Fales has found himself as the third most efficient quarterback in the nation this year with a bowl game against Bowling Green still to play.
When thinking of a comparison for Fales, the one keeps coming up is Brady Quinn when he was coming out of Notre Dame. Fales appears to have the same throwing mechanics, arm angle, arm strength, footwork and even the same body type at 6’3” 220lbs. They wear the same number (10). Hell, Quinn had the same haircut in college. They also come into the NFL with plenty of experience throwing to receivers, backs, and NFL quality tight ends. Both of these guys come off as exceptionally prepared quarterbacks but do not have the ideal physical tools to be an NFL quarterback.
If he declared for this year, the tools are there for Fales to be picked at the end of the first round or beginning of the second like Brady Quinn or Andy Dalton. The questions facing his experience could scare teams and have him there possibly to fall into a situation like Kirk Cousins, but interviews are an area where Fales should shine and that would likely alleviate these issues. He would be better off staying another year and proving he is more than just the guy that got Mike McIntyre his shot at Colorado. Right now, David Fales is has a cult following because he plays at San Jose State and can be tough to find on television, but if he keeps playing at the level he has with the bowl game coming up and then into next year, he will get far more fans and attention before the draft. If he can continue refining his craft, prove he is not a one year wonder, and improve his arm even a little, he could find himself in the first round conversation next year.
Colorado State 2012
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