Accuracy in the short to intermediate part of the field
Keeps his eyes downfield while scrambling
Fits a West Coast offense
Not a dual-threat
Can't push the ball downfield
Needs to improve footwork
Too often locks on his primary progression
Summary: Many years, there seems to be a preseason quarterback who draft diehards fall in love with and project to be a first-round pick. There were a few last year with A.J. McCarron, Tajh Boyd and Fales. While I was wrong to project Boyd in Round 1, I never projected either of the other two to be first-rounders, and their senior seasons illustrated why they aren't Thursday-night selections.
Fales started out his collegiate career at Nevada in 2009. Things didn't work out there, so he transfered to a community college. Fales excelled there before enrolling at San Jose State to become the team's starter in 2012. He completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 4,193 yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions that season. Fales dominated the weaker competition.
In 2013, the senior completed 64 percent of his passes for 4,189 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Fales had some disappointing outings early on against Sacramento State, Stanford and Utah State. After the slow start, he heated up. In the regular-season finale, Fales had a prolific game completing 37-of-45 passes for 547 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions to beat Derek Carr and Fresno State by a score of 62-52.
At the Senior Bowl, Fales illustrated that he doesn't have the arm to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Some players have been able to overcome that in the past, but the NFL is trending to the passing attack and vertical offenses. If this was 1980s-era NFL, Fales maybe would have been a more viable option as a developmental, game-manager quarterback in a running offense. He looks like a career backup in the present-day NFL.
While Fales struggles to go downfield, he has some accuracy in the short to intermediate part of the field. His college completion percentage was inflated by a short, quick passing offense that had a lot of screens. Fales won't be as accurate in the NFL given the tighter throwing windows, and he he lacks the zip on his passes.
Along with attempting to build up his arm strength, there are a few other aspects that Fales should improve. He needs to work on his field vision as he has a tendency to stare down his primary option. Fales also has to make improvements in his foot work, which needs to be more uniform. He also has a tendency not to follow through on all his throws.
In the NFL, Fales best fit would be in a West Coast offense where he can operate in a short passing attack. Fales is much better at throwing the short slants, crosses and dig routes that are the core of the West Coast offense. In a vertical, pro-style attack, he would be a bad fit.
Player Comparison: Jeff Garcia. There are a lot of similarities with these quarterbacks, plus both went to San Jose State. First, there is the lack of arm strength, though both have proven themselves as good fits for a West Coast offense. Fales isn't as mobile as Garcia was, but Fales has more passing ability than the former 49er. Garcia (6-1, 205) and Fales are about the same size. Garcia went undrafted, while Fales could be a late-rounder or go undrafted as well.
NFL Matches: Detroit, Green Bay, Chicago, Cincinnati, New Orleans, New England
There are a lot of teams who could consider Fales. Both Detroit and Chicago could lose their backup quarterbacks in free agency. Fales could be selected to replace either backup.
New England or New Orleans could draft Fales on Day 3 to back up their respective Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Packers were hurt by their backups in 2013, so Fales could be brought in as backup competition. Green Bay could be the best fit for Fales.
Cincinnati could use a backup to Andy Dalton, but the Bengals may not want another signal-caller with arm-strength issues.