San Jose State's David Fales is an interesting prospect who could challenge what teams look for in their "prototype" quarterback, in that he seems to excel in the desired passing attributes but lacks in overall arm strength, height and build. Fales was billed as a "dark horse" quarterback prospect in the class who could make his way into the first round, but his senior year didn't quite shake out that way with a brand new coaching staff.
A two year starter at San Jose State, Fales finished with over 8,000 passing yards and 66 touchdowns playing in a different offense each year with the Spartans. A slow start to his final season, including a tough game against Stanford, derailed a lot of his pre-season draft hype, but as the season went on Fales showed more and more why some were high on him as an NFL prospect.
Where David Fales Wins
Fales is an interesting prospect in that he seems to excel in areas that most teams look for in quarterbacks, but some of his physical limitations are going to knock him down the board. For instance, Fales is arguably one of the best anticipation throwers in this draft class, rivaling Teddy Bridgewater. What I mean by anticipation thrower is that Fales often gets the ball out and to the spot the receiver will be before the receiver is out of his break. This often allows him to beat coverages and zones because he knows where the receiver should be and can put the ball there ahead of time.
Fales not only excels in this area, but he does it working the middle of the field and in the intermediate (10-20 yard) range. Coming from a pistol-style type spread offense, a lot of throws are generally quick and short or screens, but Fales seems to work down the field more than you would expect, despite not have great down field velocity on his throws.
Another big area Fales wins is with his ball placement and part of why his still an adequate down field passer despite the lack of velocity. He routinely puts the ball in a position where his receiver can make a play on the ball. He also shows good touch on different routes, knowing when to put some juice on the throw and when to pull the string. One of the best aspects of Fales game are his back-shoulder throws, setting up receivers well to make a play on the ball on the sideline down the field.
Fales is also an above average athlete who is excellent throwing on the move, but can also pick up some yardage and extend plays if necessary. He also is comfortable throwing in a muddled pocket with bodies around him and isn't afraid to take a shot to make a throw. He shows the ability to slide and move in the pocket when necessary while keeping his eyes down the field.
Where David Fales Needs To Improve
The biggest knock on David Fales in the draft process is going to be his arm strength, which while not a howitzer is adequate for the NFL level. He does struggle on throws 20+ yards with velocity, but he can still hit throws down the field with touch and accuracy, typically the nine route. There are some lower body and footwork mechanics Fales can clean up that will improve his velocity to a certain degree, but in my opinion his arm isn't much different velocity wise than that of Andy Dalton.
While Fales shows good anticipation on some routes, some of the deeper seem routes he can get caught holding the ball and waiting for his receiver to come open rather than throwing it to a spot, which can lead to some defensive backs cutting his seem throws.
In some instances when under pressure Fales will draft backwards and throw falling away and off his back foot, causing the ball to sail. Fales also isn't afraid to pull the trigger on every throw, which can lead to him trying to fit passes into windows he just can't make and turning the ball over. He'll need to become more patient and learn where he can fit passes at the next level.
As mentioned before David Fales shows accuracy, touch and anticipation in the short and intermediate areas of the field passing the football. He's a sound decision maker who's tough in the pocket and can throw on the run/pick up yards with his feet when necessary, but will struggle with his velocity down the field initially. He's a best fit in an up-tempo west-coast style offense that utilizes quick passes in the intermediate area with calculated shots down the field.
Grade: 6.5 - second rounder, eventual starter