The United States is 3.8 million square miles. The Raiders will be searching all across it for their next franchise quarterback. But this quarterback resides in their own backyard, only 40 miles from Oakland -- at San Jose State University. His name is David Fales.
Fales was a 2-star-rated recruit coming out of Palma High School in Salinas, just south of San Jose. Coming out of high school, the University of Nevada was the only FBS School to offer him a scholarship. Fales accepted the offer but later transferred to Monterey Peninsula College. After two standout years in which he completed 61.8 percent of passes for 4,635 yards and 37 touchdowns, Fales was offered a scholarship to play at San Jose State.
In his first year with the Spartans, Fales led the nation, completing 72 percent of his passes. His 170 passer rating was the 3rd highest in the country. Fales also threw for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns. He transformed a 5 win team into an 11 win team.
Last year, Fales was sensational throwing for 4,189 yards and 33 touchdowns. His spectacular year earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl where in just seven pass attempts, he threw for 104 yards and a touchdown. But while stats seem important, they are not. Scouts grade quarterbacks on many qualities including size, accuracy, arm strength, intelligence, athleticism and pocket presence.
Size: Listed at 6-1 5/8" and 212 pounds, David Fales is undersized for an NFL quarterback. He simply does not possess the 6-5 frame that Blake Bortles and Zach Mettenberger have. Because of his height, Fales might have trouble seeing over the 6-5 lineman blocking for him. His skinny frame has raised the question of whether or not he can be durable in the NFL.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rules. Tom Brady only weighed 211 pounds at the 2000 NFL Combine. Teddy Bridgewater is regarded as a top-10 draft pick even though he is only listed at 214 pounds. Drew Brees has thrown for 5,000 yards four times, but is only 6-0. Russell Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl last year despite his 5-11 frame. While great size is beneficial, it is not a necessity.
Accuracy: In his first year playing at San Jose State, David Fales led the nation with a 72 percent completion percentage. Last year, he boasted a 64.1 completion percentage. Under 15 yards, Fales does not miss. But he is very inconsistent on throws over 15 yards.
Critics might argue that Fales is only accurate because of the West Coast Offense that is run at San Jose State. The West Coast Offense focuses on quick and short passes to get receivers in space. As a result, the offense can inflate a quarterback's completion percentage.
A low completion percentage is frowned upon with quarterback prospects, but why? A quarterback does not need to throw a 40 yard touchdown on the very first play. In fact, it is actually more efficient to put together a touchdown drive averaging 5 yards per play over a span of 8 plays because it gives the defense a break. As long as Fales scores, who care how he does it; and with 66 touchdowns over two years, Fales scores often.
While Fales needs to improve on his deep throws, overall, he is an extremely accurate quarterback.
Arm Strength: The biggest concern with Fales is his arm strength. He does not have a cannon arm and struggles to drive the ball on throws over 15 yards. It is the biggest reason why Fales does not possess accuracy on deep balls.
When watching Fales throw deep, he either puts to much air under the ball, or under throws the receiver. Putting too much air under the ball can lead to interceptions because it gives defensive backs more time to break on the ball. Fales is one strong arm away from becoming an elite quarterback.
Intelligence: This is another aspect where Fales distances himself from the competition. He always knows where he wants to go with the ball before he even snaps it. How do I know this? From watching Fales, the first thing I notice is that he stares down his number one option. But the second thing I notice is that his number one option is generally open. That is because Fales reads the defense, finds its weakness, and targets those holes.
For example, a cover 2 defense is extremely good at preventing the run and deep throws. But it is extremely vulnerable against sideline throws ranging from 18-22 yards. By having this knowledge, Fales can call a play that will take advantage of the defense.
A strong brain beats a strong arm any game.
Athleticism: At the NFL Combine, David Fales ran a 4.99 40-yard dash which was the second worst of any quarterback. To compare, Peyton Manning who is often regarded as a very slow quarterback ran a faster 40 (4.9). But unless Fales plans on scrambling, he does not need elite speed.
Fales makes the majority of his throws inside the pocket where pocket presence is more important than speed. So while Fales is not very athletic, he does not need to be.
Pocket Presence: While David Fales is not athletic, he makes up for it with his elite pocket presence. When pressure arrives from the corners, Fales steps up in the pocket to avoid the rush. What is most impressive about Fales is that he will step into throws, even when he is about to be nailed. Unlike Derek Carr, Fales does not panic when the blitz arrives.
One thing that Fales will need to practice is taking snaps under center. At San Jose State, Fales operated in the shotgun almost every play. But that will not be the case in the NFL where it will be essential for him to learn to consistently carry out snaps.
Pro Comparison: Alex Smith: Like Smith, Fales has a very accurate but weak arm. Both quarterbacks are most comfortable running a West Coast Offense that allows them to make short and quick passes.
Final Verdict: The Raiders acquisition of a Matt Schaub could suggest they wait and take a quarterback later in the draft rather than earlier. Fales is projected to be taken in the 5th or 6th round. Reggie McKenzie attended Fales' pro day last Wednesday and quarterback coach John DeFilippo recruited Fales to San Jose State back in 2011. McKenzie stated that Filippo "definitely knows the guy very well." The Raiders could take Fales later in the draft and groom both him and Matt McGloin under Schaub. From what Fales has to offer, he has the potential to become one of the biggest bargains in the entire draft.