Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (Round 2, pick 36)
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 very consistent.
At the NFL Scouting 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.
Andrew Luck is an extremely athletic Quarterback who actually ran a faster 40-yard 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 NFL Scouting Combine, Carr ran a 4.69 40-yard 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.
Derek Carr has one of the strongest arms of any quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. Along with gunslingers Logan Thomas and Zach Mettenberger, Carr is a tier-one quarterback in terms of throwing power.
"Derek Carr has the best arm talent in this draft," Jon Gruden said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL radio.
He has a 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.
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 throws when blitzed. This is the biggest question mark Carr faces as he has missed wide-open receivers when facing pressure.
Carr is comfortable in the pocket where he makes the majority of his throws. He needs to improve stepping up in the pocket, but he can scramble with his athleticism. Carr needs work on his footwork which looks inconsistent on tape. As mentioned earlier, he struggles when facing pressure.
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.
Against San Diego State, Carr did not perform well early. But when the game was on the line, he played brilliantly throwing a touchdown in both the fourth quarter and overtime to seal another victory for the Bulldogs.
What might be the most impressive trait of Derek Carr is his leadership. At the Raiders rookie mini-camp, he constantly encouraged his teammates and tried to build them up, not down.
"I'm trying to make it easier on them," Carr said. "Telling them if a guy dropped a ball, 'Hey, great route,' those types of things. So that's something I've done since I was little and that's really just how I was brought up."
Watch this video. Feel free to look at the highlights, but pay attention to the beginning when Carr is pumping up his team and the players are rallying around him. This shows how much Carr's teammates look up to him.
The biggest concern that Carr will have to face is throwing accurately when under pressure in the NFL. He occasionally will step into the blitz and deliver a nice throw, but he needs to do it on a more consistent level. This is the biggest problem that Carr's brother (David Carr) faced and he struggled because of it. But unlike David, Derek will hopefully get to sit and learn under Matt Schaub for a couple of years instead of just being thrown into the fire.
Carr will have to adjust to primarily taking snaps under center. At Fresno State, he primarily operated out of the shotgun in their spread offense. Carr will also need to learn how to read defenses while taking his steps. This is much easier to accomplish when in a shotgun because the quarterback is often standing still instead of moving backwards.
This last concern is a minor one. In the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Carr performed terribly against #25 USC. His QBR for that game was a meager 30.4. While Carr's performance may have just been a fluke, the fact is that he poorly performed on the big stage against a quality team. But in the spectrum of his entire career, Carr played outstanding.
Derek Carr has the highest ceiling of any quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has all of the physical tools necessary to become a Pro Bowler in the NFL.
Carr is the "best natural thrower in draft," said Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine.
That being said, Carr also has a low floor. If he cannot improve his accuracy under pressure, he is a bust waiting to happen.
Reggie McKenzie has experience sitting top prospects under veterans (Aaron Rodgers) so look for him to groom Derek Carr under Matt Schaub until Carr fully develops. This would be the best situation for Carr because it takes pressure off him and lets him learn under an accomplished veteran.