Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr is one of the “big four” QB prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he has the best arm talent of any of the QBs in this year’s draft class. Most people have him ranked behind Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, and Johnny Manziel, but Carr is right on par with Bortles and Manziel. In fact, I think he’s better than Manziel and just as good as Bortles, because he has arm talent, mental toughness, and more polish than most QBs coming from a spread offense.
I decided to turn up some of Carr’s film from early in the season and focused on one of his most impressive games on the stat sheet against the Boise State Broncos. Fresno State prevailed 41-40 in that crucial game, as they scored with 2:14 left to take a lead that they would keep for the remainder of the contest. The process behind reviewing his film took about an hour, as I charted all 60 of his throws, the routes his receivers ran, and the personnel packages that the Bulldogs ran.
This isn’t meant to be a totally in-depth film breakdown and the results are solely based off of one game, but I found the results to be interested none the less and worth looking into.
Carr was 39-60 in this one, averaging 7.7 yards per attempt with four touchdowns and no interceptions. One of my favorite things about Carr is his ability to take care of the football despite throwing a large amount of passes in a spread offense and possessing a cannon arm that would lead most prospects to take more unnecessary risks than Carr does.
The film used for this piece can be found on the excellent Draft Breakdown, so many thanks to them (as always).
- On 51 of Carr’s 60 total pass attempts, the Bulldogs lined up in “10” personnel (one back, no TEs), and they had multiple RBs and/or TEs lined on seven of those nine occasions. Now that’s a spread offense.
- Seven of Carr’s 21 incompletions were drops (33%), and the majority of them were on the receivers. Carr has such a strong arm, though, that you can’t blame college receivers for occasionally not being able to haul one of his passes in.
- He was under pressure on ten of his 61 dropbacks (16.4%), with one throw-away spawning from pressure. He was sacked just once.
- Four of his 60 passes were batted away by the defense.
- He was 1-6 for 68 yards and a drop on deep passes, but those numbers don’t do his deep passing justice. Not only does he have a great arm, but he mostly showed solid placement and had only one or two truly bad attempts downfield.
- 9-16, 110 yards and pressured twice with two drops and two TDs on third and fourth down throws
- 24 of his passes were on screens, flat routes, or hitches
- Intermediate throws are crucial for quarterbacks, and Carr had plenty of success on those passes: 9-14, 186 yards, 4 pressures, TD, 2 drops, 2 PDs
+/- from what I saw:
- Carr has a rocket of an arm, and his arm strength is best seen on intermediate throws and curl routes. Even when a defender has the play covered perfectly, Carr’s arm is so strong that he can still get to the WR and place it where only his man can catch it. His arm is at its best on sideline throws, and Carr shows masterful placement on back-shoulder throws.
- A big knock on Carr is his ability to operate under pressure and his line under pressure was as follows: 6-10, 99 yards, a throw-away, TD, PD, two- yard sack
- The concerns that most of his throws come on screen passes are fully legit, so that’s why it’s most important to focus on his intermediate and deep throws. A lot of his yardage ends up being benefited by YAC.
- Some people criticize Carr’s ability to hit receivers in stride on crossing routes, and he went 4-6 for 20 yards with 2 drops and 2 TDs, mostly using crossing and drag routes in the red zone.
- He probably has the quickest release in the draft class, and that definitely bodes well.
- His mental toughness is right up there with Bortles’s.
- Carr has a great arm, but his deep accuracy is very inconsistent.
- Unlike a couple of prospects in this draft class, Carr did a great job of progressing through his reads, and he uses the pump fake just as well as Bridgewater does.
- Always knows where the check-down option is, and it’s always great watching him keep his own arm strength in check- he uses deep shots to keep the defense honest from all those screens.
Examples from the film:
- At about 11:40 in the second quarter, Carr and Josh Harper connect on an absolutely nasty 21-yard touchdown on the right sideline that showcased incredible hands and athleticism from Harper and incredible accuracy from Carr. Both players had to be perfect in order for that play to be a TD, and it’s a reminder of just how good Carr’s physical tools are. He drops a dime against tight coverage, with Harper somehow having the body control to leap up and snare the pass, and then get in for the TD.
- With 4:18 left in the half and facing fourth-and-three, the Bulldogs signal-caller has another exquisite moment to notch a conversion. He has Isaiah Bruse lined up in the left slot and wastes no time getting the ball to him. After just two seconds, Carr rifles the ball with a pretty, tight spiral in between two defenders in zone coverage, thus subtly leading the receiver for more YAC. Carr is great at diagnosing zone coverage and throwing the ball with velocity into a tight window, and this 4th down pass is an important one to look at when viewing his strengths.