By Justis Mosqueda
2009: Redshirted his freshman season at Nevada behind Colin Kaepernick (49ers 2nd round pick).
2010: Transferred from Nevada due to their option offense. Started his redshirt freshman year at Monterey Peninsula College under a former Michigan State quarterback.
2011: After spending the Summer classes at the University of Wyoming, Fales left his non-scholarship spot that was offered to go back to Monterey Peninsula College.
2012: After Tate Forcier made it known that he wasn't going to be at San Jose State for the 2012 season, the school offered David Fales and Ryan Katz (a Oregon State transfer who ended up at San Diego State, now a UDFA with the Denver Broncos). He was voted 2nd Team WAC behind Colby Cameron (Panthers UDFA) and Chuckie Keeton (Utah State QB) during his first year with the San Jose State.
2013: Projected to start his second year with the Spartans, his forth in total.
Fales two biggest issues are, and will be, two things he can't control: his height and the quality of his opponents.
While San Jose State's website lists Fales as a 6'3" quarterback, his former head coach, Mike MacIntyre, said he's 6'2" in an interview since becoming the head coach of Colorado. When watching Fales, it looks like he actually may be closer to 6'1" than 6'3". It wouldn't shock me to see him measured in the 6016 range come combine time. His height is virtually a non-issue in San Jose State's hybrid shotgun/pistol/under-center offense, though. In the five games I watched of him prior to writing this, only two passes were batted down in total. One was on a screen, the other on a corner blitz.
As for his strength of schedule, you have to take it for what it is. Last season, Fales opened up against Stanford (the Rose Bowl Champions) and completed almost 70% of his passes against a very tough secondary. Over the course of the same season he faced UC Davis (FCS), UTSA (just made the FBS jump), Texas State (just made the FBS jump), and Idaho (is making the move down to FCS). With San Jose State making the move from the WAC to the Mountain West next season, I expect the quality of his competition to go up. While the Mountain West isn't a BCS conference, there are still plenty of good teams for the Spartans and Fales to play. Fresno State, Minnesota, and Hawaii were the 5th, 11th, and 14th best defenses against the pass per game in 2012. This isn't including Stanford, who they face in Week 2. Don't fret, Fales will be playing against plenty of quality opponents in 2013.
Outside of those two setbacks, there is very little to complain about Fales's game. He doesn't have the biggest arm, but he's got good zip, and he's great between 10-20 yards. Most passes in the NFL aren't 53 yard passes, contrary to popular belief.
After charting his passes in the Stanford, BYU, Louisiana Tech, and Bowling Green games (146 total passes) these were the results:
I should also note that the interception in the Stanford game was when SJSU was down, on 4th and 10, with less than a minute left.
Looking into the number more deeply, I cranked out these stats. The first is a breakdown of pass comp % and yards per attempt, the second is usage rate (as in how often he went to that area of the field:
He's shown that he's an accurate passer. He's athletic enough to gain yards or escape the rush with his legs, if needed. He hits his guys in stride or even throws them open. Combining all of that with very, very nice footwork and you have the potential 1st round pick that Fales is.
If there was another knock for me to have on Fales it would be that he's a little too confident in his throws. Some of his passes he throws into very small windows, but he makes more completions off of those throws than a majority of quarterbacks do. The reason for this is his ridiculous ability of ball placement. He just puts the ball in places where his receiver has the ability to go up and grab it, but the defender is just out of range, or has their back turned.
Here are some examples:
He throws it with enough zip to catch his target in stride almost 50 yards from where he threw it.
Here's another angle so that you could see more clearly that he's on the 10.
And here's another angle showing the target catching the ball in stride.
For fun I took more screen caps of great ball placement from Fales from the same game against Colorado State.
But like I said, sometimes he's a little too confident. His receiver got both hands on the ball on the next play, but there was no reason to throw it into triple-coverage.
Those type of passes might be fine against WAC opponents, but NFL defenses will eat someone up that makes decisions like that. Fales needs to work on that more than anything in 2013.
Another reason NFL teams might fall in love with Fales is his scheme versatility. While he did leave Nevada for this reason, he played in a pistol read system that is becoming more popular. At the JuCo he transferred to, he played in more of a pro system under a head coach that was a former BCS-conference quarterback. At San Jose State he played in various formations, including under-center, in the shotgun, and in the pistol.
While his former SJSU head coach compared him to Eli Manning, who he also coached, many people (including myself) like the Matt Ryan comparison more. Much like Ryan, Fales has taken his program to a whole new level. Since Fales enrolled at Nevada in 2009, the Spatans have gone 2-10, 1-12, 5-7, and 11-2. In his one year with San Jose State he helped the team win three more games than the other three years combined. Hopefully Ron Caragher from San Diego (who stepped in as the head coach after Jim Harbaugh left) taking the reins of the program doesn't change much for Fales in 2013.
Justis Mosqueda's current 2013 quarterback rankings:
1 David Fales San Jose State 1st Round grade
2 A.J. McCarron Alabama Late Day 2/Day 3 grade
3 Tajh Boyd Clemson Late Day 2/Day 3 grade
Justis Mosqueda is a Journalism student that writes for DraftFalcons.com, Packers-Backer.blogspot.com, and cuts videos of NFL Draft prospects for DraftBreakdown.com
You can follow Justis on Twitter: Twitter.com/justismosqueda