Before eventually signing the more experienced Jimmy Clausen to compete with Jordan Palmer and the even-less-experienced (and now-departed) Jerrod Johnson, there was a legitimate case for General Manager Phil Emery to use a late-round draft pick to add to the quarterback mix.
Eleven quarterbacks were selected before Emery went with San Jose State's David Fales with the seventh pick of the sixth round after Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh put him through his own workout the week leading up to last month's draft.
"Before the pre-draft visit, just watching his tape, I saw a lot of throws that we make in our system. There was some carry-over from some of the concepts they were running that we do, some of the reads we have he understood, some of the throws we make, he made," Cavanaugh said during minicamp at Halas Hall, concluding four weeks of work with him before everyone scattered prior to the July 24th training camp reporting date. "That was a big head start, and then when we came in, he was able to communicate it."
While Fales would seem to be a candidate to be stashed away on the practice squad this fall, his progress will be watched closely in Bourbonnais and whatever exhibition action he'll see. If Cavanaugh, Marc Trestman and the rest of the braintrust see enough and either Palmer or Clausen just aren't getting it done in the preseason, using Fales as the emergency number three can't be ruled out, especially if injuries create other 53-man priorities. At 6'1, 228 lbs., he's a shorter, thicker backup candidate than the other two. There are reasons he lasted 183 picks, similar to sixth-rounders of the '70s like Bob Avellini and Vince Evans. Guys like Tom Brady, Bart Starr, Brad Johnson and Kurt Warner were drafted lower (or not drafted at all), and are a rare species. There's no way he's expecting that kind of longshot success with Fales, but there appears to be something that Cavanaugh can at least work with, and hope to mold and shape to have greater value.
"He had a real good understanding of defenses, coverages, where to go with the ball, based on what the coverage was. He has a good understanding of protections — he’s figuring out ours right now. But I thought just a real good core understanding of offense and defense. If you have that, you can learn the language and be productive.”