Last Sunday, Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer put out a mock draft in which he had the Raiders taking Derek Carr over Johnny Manziel. Farmer claimed that after the combine, the Raiders were more impressed with Carr than Johnny Football:
"The Raiders are known for their unconventional picks, so Manziel might seem like a natural fit for them. Word is, though, that they liked Carr more coming out of the combine."
While Manziel has skyrocketed up draft boards, Carr has significantly fallen. Once looked to as a top five pick, he has fallen out of the first round in many mock drafts. But forget the mocks, Carr has the potential to be the best Quarterback in the draft, and here's why.
Stats: Over the past two years, Derek Carr has racked up incredible stats. In 2012, he threw for 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns while only throwing 7 interceptions. Last year, Carr did even better passing for 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns with only 8 interceptions. While his stats are partially inflated by Fresno State's pass happy spread offense, it takes a polished Quarterback to post those numbers. The fact that Carr has performed impressively all three years as a starter shows that he is a consistent Quarterback.
Size: At the combine, Carr was listed at 6'2", 214 lbs. While he has typical height, his weight is marginal for a Quarterback. To compare, both his height and weight are exactly the same as Teddy Bridgewater's. Carr's frame has created concern about his durability. But, once he is placed into an NFL diet plan, his weight should no longer be of concern.
Athleticism: Andrew Luck is an extremely athletic Quarterback who actually ran a faster 40-YD Dash than Johnny Manziel. But Luck's elite passing skills mask his agility. Derek Carr is similar as he displays underrated athleticism that is not noticed because of his throwing ability. At the combine, Carr ran a 4.69 40-YD Dash. To compare, Johnny Manziel was only .01 seconds faster. This speed allows Carr to escape pressure by either rolling out or tucking it. His athleticism also gives Offensive Coordinators options as they can call bootlegs and read-options that can confuse defenses.
Arm Strength: Derek Carr has one of the strongest arms in the draft. Along with gunslingers Logan Thomas and Zach Mettenberger, Carr is a tier-one Quarterback in terms of throwing power. He has lightning quick delivery and as a result, was only sacked 11 times last year. Carr is capable of making every throw inside the pocket with outstanding velocity.
Derek Carr vs. New Mexico:
Derek Carr vs New Mexico (2013) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Accuracy: On the majority of Carr's throws, he displays nice touch and hits his receivers in stride. He also throws a very accurate deep-ball which should appeal to vertical teams such as the Raiders. The one area where Carr struggles is when he is under pressure. While he excels at keeping his eyes down field, he rushes his throws when blitzed. This is the biggest question mark facing NFL scouts as Carr has missed wide-open receivers when facing pressure.
Pocket Presence: Carr is comfortable in the pocket where he makes the majority of his throws. He can step up to avoid pressure or scramble with his athleticism. Carr needs work on his footwork which looks inconsistent on tape. As mentioned earlier, he struggles when facing pressure.
Clutch: Only the great Quarterbacks show the ability to perform under pressure. That is exactly what Derek Carr accomplished against Rutgers when he led Fresno State to an overtime victory.
Derek Carr vs Rutgers (2013) (via Adrian Ahufinger)
Against San Diego State, Carr did not perform well early in the game. But when the game was on the line, Carr played brilliantly throwing a touchdown in both the fourth quarter and overtime to seal another victory for the Bulldogs.
Derek Carr vs San Diego State (2013) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Final Verdict: While Matt Schaub has experienced success in the NFL, he is not a long-term solution to the Raider's quarterback woes. Unless the rest of your team is stacked, a reliable Quarterback is necessary to be competitive, and the Raiders are not stacked. Holding the number five pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, there is a high probability that Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel will be gone. The Raiders could either take Carr at number five which might be a reach or hope that he falls to the second round. If the Raiders really like Carr, they might consider trading down and picking him up in the mid-first round. He is worth a look because has the tools necessary to become a star with the Raiders.