DraftBrowns.com Editor: Brendan Leister
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr is one of the most physically gifted quarterback prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft class. Carr turns 23 years old on March 28th. After playing in five games and completing 10 of 14 passes as a true freshman in 2009, Carr redshirted during the 2010 season. Carr never missed a game during his final three seasons (started all 39 games). He completed 1087 of 1630 pass attempts for 12,843 yards, 113 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions in his career. He also carried the ball 164 times for 190 yards and five touchdowns during that time.
By most accounts, Derek Carr is a vocal leader with a strong work ethic and a fiery demeanor. He was named Fresno State’s offensive team captain as a redshirt sophomore in 2011 and a team captain in 2012 and 2013.
Toughness is not a question mark with Carr as he has shown the mental fortitude to play through injuries and start every game over the past three seasons. It has even been reported that Carr played with a sports hernia during the 2012 season.
Derek Carr’s brother David was the number one pick of the Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL Draft. Although David never blossomed into the quarterback that scouts had hoped, it is noteworthy that Derek has a brother with similar experiences that he can get advice from and bounce ideas off of as he embarks on his NFL journey.
The past two years, Carr has played in a system that mostly consists of short passes and deep throws down the field with very few passes between the numbers in the intermediate passing game. He has spent most of his time in shotgun the past two seasons and got some experience playing under center during the 2011 season.
Derek Carr faced mostly poor competition in the Mountain West Conference. He threw to a lot of wide open receivers and put up huge numbers in a pass-first offense. In his final season at Fresno State, Carr completed 454 of 659 pass attempts for 5,083 yards, 50 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
At the Senior Bowl later this month, Carr will be on the same stage with other quarterbacks that played against much better competition. This will be a great opportunity for Carr to convince evaluators that his production was not simply a product of poor competition.
Carr possesses adequate size for the position at 6’2″, 214 lbs. He also has below average-sized hands at 9 1/8″ hands.
Carr possesses excellent arm strength that will allow him to make all of the necessary throws at the next level. When he is able to step into his throws, he shows the ability to drive the ball down the field and throw into tight windows. This means that his offensive coordinator will not be restricted in what plays he can put in the game plan and opposing defenses will be forced to cover the entire field against him.
Carr has the ability to gain decent yardage as a scrambler if he breaks contain and gets out in space. Although he does not possess the foot speed of the most athletic quarterbacks in the world, I would certainly consider Carr to be an above average athlete that can make defenses pay for being undisciplined.
Overall, Derek Carr’s footwork could use a lot of work. He has a bad habit of taking a long hitch step at the top of his drop that keeps him from consistently transferring his weight properly when throwing the football. This leads to a lot of flat-footed, inaccurate throws.
Carr needs to speed up his feet in his drop back and while maneuvering in the pocket. He often looks uncomfortable or unnatural when forced to migrate away from pressure in a muddy pocket. Speeding up his feet should help with this issue. Carr did show some improvement in this area between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but he still has plenty of room for improvement.
Carr has a bad habit of throwing off his back foot; which often leads to inaccuracy. He has flashed the ability to make accurate throws from multiple platforms and throwing angles, but he has not shown the ability to do so as consistently as I would like to see.
In charting every pass from 10 of his games during the 2013 season and 14 games over the past three seasons, I have found that Derek Carr’s ball placement is pretty inconsistent to all levels of the field. There are times when Carr shows excellent touch and velocity as he hits his receivers in stride, but there are too many times when he throws the ball to the wrong shoulder or under throws his intended target. I believe that most of Carr’s issues with inaccuracy come from the mechanical flaws that I mentioned earlier. Carr’s ball placement often suffers when his feet aren’t set, when he throws off his back foot, when he is forced off his spot, and when on the run.
Carr shows below average accuracy on his deep ball as he was on target on only 17 of 47 (36.17%) passes thrown 25+ yards from the line of scrimmage.
Although Carr plays in an offense that often expects him to take what the defense gives him and throw underneath the coverage, he throws into traffic too often and takes too many chances with the football when asked to throw the ball down the field. It is apparent that Carr has a lot of confidence in his arm strength by the number of times that he tests tight windows; especially to the intermediate and deep portions of the field.
I have found Carr’s eye discipline to be pretty inconsistent overall. He shows the ability to look off defenders from time to time, but has a tendency to stare down receivers too often. This will lead to passes getting knocked down and intercepted at the next level if he does not improve upon it.
All in all, I view Derek Carr as a quarterback prospect with a high upside and a low floor. The physical tools and flashes that he shows are undeniable, but there are too many question marks for me to be completely sold on him as a franchise changing quarterback at this point. Although I cannot blame a team for taking him in the top 10 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft, I would be much more comfortable waiting until the second day before spending a pick on him. There are simply too many questions about mechanics, adjusting to the NFL game, and accuracy to the intermediate level of the field for me to invest a first round pick in Derek Carr.
2013: USC, Nevada, Rutgers, Boise State, Utah State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Wyoming, New Mexico, Cal Poly
2012: SMU, Oregon, Boise State
2011: Ole Miss
Special thanks to the guys over at DraftBreakdown.com for making it easy to find the resources to evaluate draft prospects.