SHANE CARDEN- 6’2, 221- RS SR.
There’s hope that 2014 will finally be the year where the long-hoped-for super group of quarterbacks will finally decide to enter the NFL Draft at the same time and make things interesting. That group could potentially include guys like Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, and UCLA’s Brett Hundley. But beyond those immensely talented young signal-callers, there’s one guy who will definitely be entering the draft and seems to be a very steady option in East Carolina redshirt senior Shane Carden.
Carden was one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football last year, completing 387 of his 549 passes, good for a 70.5 completion percentage which ranked him third in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He threw for 4139 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions while teaming with wide receiver Justin Hardy to form one of the most powerful connections in the nation.
While Carden’s slightly inferior level of competition in Conference USA will leave some wondering if he has what it takes to translate that production to the NFL, he’s shown the skills to indicate that he can be a successful pro. While he occasionally whiffs on some medium passes that most evaluators would consider easy, he’s been successful in making a lot of throws that are challenging for most quarterbacks to make.
Along with that, he’s got pretty good mobility and can extend plays. He’s not just solid, but actually good under pressure, and he does a great job of avoiding the pass rush. How that will translate against more challenging defenses is uncertain, but overall he seems to have the talent to be at least a solid NFL signal-caller.
Carden might be looked down upon by some NFL talent evaluators because of his relative lack of size, lack of great competition, and the fact that he doesn’t play in a pro-style offense. But he’s a guy who figures to be a steady mid-round option, if not a guy who could slide into the first round if other potential early options evaporate due to poor 2014 performance or because they decide to go back to school.
POSITIVES: Can make a very solid deep opposite sideline throw, even under pressure, which is often considered the hardest throw for a quarterback to make…Very solid making throws behind the line of scrimmage…Makes crisp, accurate throws on the run…Great at getting rid of the ball under pressure…Improvises really well; if guys are coming at him he will escape the pocket and make something out of the play…Exceptional redzone player as a passer and runner, even showed the ability to contribute in the redzone as a receiver in last year’s Beef O’Brady’s Bowl…Doesn’t exactly have elite arm strength, but he can accurately make long throws…Not a “scrambler”, per se, but moves around really well.
NEGATIVES: Has a tendency to miss on easy medium-length passes…Release is kind of funky, slightly sidearm and he winds up a little bit…Delivery not very crisp compared to most NFL QBs…Size is adequate but not ideal…Offense he’s running at ECU doesn’t necessarily translate to the NFL, so he may face a larger learning curve when he becomes a pro…Hasn’t faced spectacular competition in Conference USA…Has visible tattoos, which tends to be controversial for NFL quarterbacks and has brought unnecessary stress to players like Colin Kaepernick and A.J. McCarron.
2014 Outlook: This year ECU joins the American Athletic Conference, so the competition will step up for Carden. The Pirates have also loaded their non-conference schedule with respected opponents. Carden and East Carolina will face off against South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina in three consecutive weeks. They’ll also match up with the 2014 Fiesta Bowl champion Central Florida Knights in their season finale on December 4.
Talent Grade: Third Round
Rams Role: The Rams gave veteran backup Shaun Hill a one-year contract, so they may be looking for another quarterback to add to the roster next year even if starter Sam Bradford proves himself as a viable long-term option. Things depend largely on the development of this year’s sixth-rounder, Garrett Gilbert, who could end up being Bradford’s main backup eventually. If he fizzles out, then the Rams may take their shot at drafting another backup quarterback next year, and Carden could be an attractive option in the middle rounds.
Film Watched: vs. North Carolina (2013), vs. Ohio (2013), vs. NC State (2013), vs. Southern Miss (2013), vs. Virginia Tech (2013)