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Current receiver corps could make bold prediction made by ex-teammate feasible for Derek Carr

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NFL Networks James Jones made a bold prediction but with all the changes made around him quarterback Derek Carr could make them come true.

When former Oakland Raiders receiver James Jones made a bold prediction on NFL Network recently that quarterback Derek Carr would throw for over 5,000 yards and win NFL MVP in 2018, there was definitely some bias involved.

Jones has had love for Carr since helping him by catching passes from him when he was still in college. Carr’s release and other arm talents reminded Jones of Aaron Rodgers, whom he played with in Green Bay. So he gave Carr the nickname “Baby A-Rod.”

But could Carr live up to Jones’s prediction?

It’s certainly possible.

A second round pick in 2014, Carr grew into an elite quarterback and MVP candidate in his third NFL season in 2016. His overall Pro Football Focus grade went from 55.5 in 2014 to 87.0 in 2015 to a top-10 grade of 87.3 in 2016 while he carried the Raiders to their first playoff berth since 2002.

Come 2017, his PFF grade dropped all the way down to 77.7 to rank No. 21. And that was enough for the Raiders to go from 12-4 in 2016 to 6-10 in 2017. Carr’s passer rating under pressure also dropped from 70 in 2016, it fell to 40.8 in 2017.

Having a first-time offensive coordinator run the offense has a lot to do with that drop. So Jon Gruden is getting $100 million to design an offense in which Carr can thrive.

In the midst of a bad year for him in 2017, he still had things he did very well. Carr was virtually mistake-free when given a clean pocket. Since 2013, only Tom Brady has a lower interception rate from a clean pocket according to PFF. Gruden is hoping to give Carr more of those clean pockets by cutting right tackle Marshall Newhouse and drafting tackles Kolton Miller (Round 1) and Brandon Parker (Round 3).

But 5,000 yards? When he hasn’t even thrown for 4,000 yet?

His two seasons over 3,900 yards would have been over 4,000 without the excessive drops he’s endured. Carr has had more passes dropped than any quarterback in the NFL since 2014 (147).

In 2017, the Raiders had the second-most drops (35) after leading the NFL drops in 2016. They also posted the third-worst cumulative receiving grade according to PFF in 2017. So Gruden let Michael Crabtree go after he dropped six passes and moved Seth Roberts, who dropped four, down the depth chart. Amari Cooper dropped 10 himself but is one of the few receivers in NFL history to have 1,000-yards in his first two seasons.

His receiving corps has vastly improved to go along with a better system, health and protection.

Also see: Carr had 2nd most drops in NFL last season, could Raiders revamped receiving corps change that?

So Gruden gave the 23-year-old Cooper a chance to get it together while adding Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, and Ryan Switzer, who combined for just six drops last year.

Nelson and Bryant, with their size and speed, are deep threats and red-zone targets to go with their reliable hands. Meanwhile, Switzer is good underneath and after the catch, making him another good option in the slot. Nelson, with his knowledge of the game, will help Carr and the other receivers tremendously.

As Carr returns healthy for 2018 he will be in a great situation with the parts around him. He has one of the best offensive minds in the NFL in Jon Gruden as his head coach, the offensive line should be improved. But, most importantly the receiving corps should be better. Cooper is a year older and returns with better health, Crabtree is replaced by Nelson, along with Bryant and Switzer.

Carr just might be able to do this.

Check out the video below to see how it can all come together.