When you have a receiver with the elite athleticism that Josh Hardy possesses, a quarter-back can look really good airing the ball out on Saturdays. Now, Shane Carden knows that the 2015 postseason leading up to the draft is where he needs to show NFL QB coaches that crave the “big man in the pocket” that while he is not tall in stature, he can stand tall under pressure.
Extremely accurate, his pass completion percentage of .673 combined as a sophomore and junior is the second-best in Conference USA history, ranking third in league annals with a 147.3 pass efficiency rating. He is the first quarterback in school history to both pass for over 4,000 yards in multiple seasons and eclipse 3,000 in three-straight years. He is also the first QB in school history to pass for over 10,000 yards in a career (11,557).
Carden has good arm strength, along with a quick release that allows him to make all of his throws in the short-to-intermediate areas. He possesses the footwork, balance and quickness to slide and avoid the pass rush, but will not win many foot races in the open field, despite scoring 23 times on the ground during his career.
The Pirate is quick dropping back from the line of scrimmage to his set point, displaying good coordination on the move and the body control to move around the pocket with ease. With teams like New Orleans and San Diego starting to show age at quarterback, Carden could be a nice pick-up to groom in the mid-to-late round area. However, he’s played mostly from the shotgun formation during his days at ECU. He also has just three years experience as a college quarterback, playing wide receiver as a freshman.
Carden displays good coordination on the move and the body control to move around the pocket with ease, but even with his success finding the end zone (23 touchdowns as a ball carrier), he is not considered a valid running threat. He has only marginal field speed (timed between 4.94-to-5.01) and is not good at recognizing back-side pressure and has had serious issues protecting the ball when pressured (90 sacks and 14 fumbles the last three years, with five of those turnovers turning into opposing scores).
The ECU senior has the body control to slide in the pocket and when he keeps his feet under him, displays the ability to throw on the move. It is hard to judge how well he will be driving back from center, as he was utilized strictly in the shotgun during his college career, but in post-season workouts, he showed he had enough quickness to get good depth in his pass drop (3-5 step) and adequate upper and lower body mechanics.Carden does need to show better judgment, as his problems occur when he fails to react quick enough to pocket pressure. He is not good at stepping up and away from pocket pressure to buy time so his target can get open. He does tend to force the ball into traffic and has yet to call his own game, as he usually got most of his pre-snap reads and decisions from the coaches on the sidelines.
Even with 23 touchdown runs in three years, Carden is not considered a player who can be creative running with the ball. I like his toughness, as he is willing to take a sack rather than throw the ball up for grabs. He has developed enough field vision that he no longer spends a lot of time hanging on to his primary targets, as he does a nice job of distributing the ball and utilizing all of his targets. He might miss a read every now and then, but has a short memory and will not let one play affect the way he performs the rest of the game. He is quick picking up coverage, but needs to show he has the ability to read on the pre-snap.
What you have to like about Carden is his passion for the game. He’s a solid student with no off the field issues and a tough competitor – you know the type – like Phil Sims, that “I refuse to lose” mentality that has seen him mature into a leadership role, as all of his teammates swear by him and know he has complete control in the huddle.
Whoever drafts Carden realizes he will come from a shotgun heavy spread-formation offense that feeds him a lot of pre-snap reads from the sideline. He has very good natural football intelligence. He has shows he can make progression reads and effectively checks down to second and third targets. He consistently looks off the safeties and does not telegraph many of his throws.
Where Carden gets into trouble is poor recognition of pocket pressure and he does have to do a better job of keeping his head down the field when scrambling. He has improved as a decision maker but still makes some questionable decisions throwing into traffic. As good as he can be as a rhythm passer, the Pirate can be just as streaky in this area.
Completing 66.62% of your passes and you recognize that Carden’s accuracy is good, but he would be even better if he was to improve with some small tweaks to his footwork, as he tends to throw off his back foot too often. He also gets his back foot “stuck in cement” at times, which prevents him from facing his target and throwing with good balance.
Shane Carden NFL Scouting Combine measurable
6-2/218 (4.94 forty)
32 1/4-inch arm length
9 3/4-inch hands
29.5-inch vertical jump
104-inch broad jump
7.17 3 cone drill
4.45 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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