There has been a lot of optimism surrounding Derek Carr following his 2014 rookie season. Much of that is from the fans who for the most part were optimistic all along. The numbers Carr put up did little to dampen their spirits about the man they see as the future of the franchise and a good portion of the media are on board with that notion.
The numbers we're talking about are his 3270 yards and 21 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. But one pretty reliable formula for projecting NFL quarterback success suggests pretty strongly that those are not the numbers that tell the story about what we can expect from Carr.
That formula is called Net Expected Points (NEP) which uses an algorithm to place a value on every situation on a football field. And according to the site numberFire.com which deploys that formula, Carr's NEP of -40.94 for 2014 put him among the worst quarterbacks in the league.
For comparison, the only others with NEP in that range last season were Jay Cutler, Austin Davis, Josh McCown, Robert Griffin III and fellow rookie Blake Bortles. Carr's final number was second worst, just ahead of Bortles.
Saying Carr didn't quite have the fantastic season fans profess he did is not really new. After all, NEP is not entirely unlike what Pro Football Focus does and Carr was rated the second worst QB in the NFL by their grading system. Again, Blake Bortles was the only QB rated lower.
Both NEP and PFF put a final number on what I attempt to do weekly in my Ballers & Busters series. That is go beyond the numbers and the box scores to look solely at how the players performed in key moments and how it directly affected the outcome of the game. My results for Carr were also not cause for great praise.
What the numberFire.com study does is goes a step farther by taking those rookie numbers and attempting to predict the likelihood of future success.
Usually people look at rookie seasons and give credit for the smallest successes and benefit of the doubt for most failures. According to numberFire.com, there are projections that can be made from that.
What they did was take all 40 rookie quarterbacks to start a significant number of games as a rookie between 2000 to 2013 and place them in four tiers. Carr falls squarely into the third tier which does not put him in very good company.
Others in the same tier include Sam Bradford (-29.04), Christian Ponder (-33.49), Kyle Boller (-33.52), Josh Freeman (-39.56), Vince Young (-47.29), E.J. Manuel (-47.84), Ken Dorsey (-54.47), Matthew Stafford (-55.54), and Joey Harrington (-64.39).
Stafford is the lone rookie in that tier who has had success in the NFL. Which if you think of him as the one out of ten, that would suggest Carr has a 10% chance of being a successful NFL quarterback.
In case you were wondering, the top tier of rookie quarterbacks consists of, in this order, Matt Ryan (89.16), Russell Wilson (84.01), Robert Griffin III (73.63), Ben Roethlisberger (62.25), Cam Newton (57.48), Andrew Luck (36.68), Matt Leinart (18.26), Andy Dalton (12.64), Jason Campbell (6.99), and Matt McGloin (6.66). For the most part a pretty good group to be associated with.
The Raiders have made it clear they are building around Derek Carr as their franchise quarterback. Or at very least they are moving forward as if the quarterback position has been addressed and the focus shifts to other positions including giving Carr some more weapons on offense.
That is what they should do. They are still a rebuilding team who spent a second round pick on Carr and they simply must move forward under the hope that he is the answer at the position. If they discover this season or next season he is not the answer, they can deal with it then.
For now they go with that 10% chance Carr will buck the formulas and studies and become a top NFL passer.