San Jose State quarterback David Fales did much to help his 2014 NFL draft stock with a strong performance in the Senior Bowl.
Fales, as do most quarterbacks this year, needs as much help as possible to stand out in a draft class that touts major talents such as Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Fales' South teammate Derek Carr.
After a year in which he threw for 4,189 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions (his second straight year with more than 4,100 passing yards and 33 scores), Fales posted a 6-of-7 mark for 104 yards and a touchdown to lead the South in passing.
Perhaps most impressive of all was the fact Fales admitted he was sick the first two days of practice, via Fox Sports' Alex Marvez:
San Jose State QB David Fales was sick Mon & Tue. Couldn't keep food down. Affected practice performance. Felt much better today & it showed— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 23, 2014
The performance comes on the heels of a strong season in which Fales had already done much to help his stock. As NFL.com's Charles Davis details, the NFL was already high on Fales after his senior campaign, with the potential for his stock to rise even more:
However, evaluators I hear from are very high on him. They keep saying, 'I've got to see more of him.'
When league evaluators do their due diligence on Fales, I think they will be coming back saying, "You know what, I'm not sure he should be ranked behind some of those big-name guys."
I've talked to people that played against him and they all say he's legit. You could take him and put him at many big schools and they would be very happy to have his services.
Davis hits the nail on the head in his analysis, but the good news does not stop there. Fales does an excellent job of moving through his progressions and uses quick footwork to escape the pocket when necessary.
Perhaps the only knock on Fales at this point is his arm strength, but that factor is something an offensive coordinator can help him to overcome at the next level (see—Andy Dalton).
Fales' work at the Senior Bowl also shows that another widely held notion about him as a player is true—he elevates his play in big games. The best example of this is when he took down Carr in a head-to-head matchup when San Jose State beat then-ranked No. 16 Fresno State 62-52 to close the season.
In that game, the Spartans signal-caller threw for 547 yards and six touchdowns. As CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman points out, this was yet another example of Fales' ability to rise to the occasion:
These are no small feats and things the NFL will certainly take into account on draft day. There is still a long way to go in the draft process for Fales, but the Senior Bowl helped bring himself back in the quarterback discussion after he was not fortunate enough to participate in a bowl game.
The Senior Bowl may prove to be the jump start he needed to reach the first or second round of the 2014 draft.