Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr (4) looks towards the crowd after the Bulldogs defeated the Utah State Aggies 24-17 at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr 2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report


Some analysts don’t view Fresno State Bulldogs product Derek Carr as a lock for the first round, but I think Carr deserves to be a top-ten selection in this year’s draft class. Carr has gained some more momentum during the pre-draft process due to poor performances by most of the other Senior Bowl QBs, positive reports regarding how teams view him, positive reports backing up his leadership and football acumen, and an excellent pro day in which he showcased both velocity and accuracy on his throws. There is no doubt in my mind that Carr has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, and I also think it’s clear he has the mental tools and coachability, too.

Let’s take a brief look at some stats on Carr:

  • Completed 68.9% of his passes last year with an NCAA-leading 5,083 yards and 50 touchdowns
  • Averaged 7.7 yards per attempt and threw just eight interceptions
  • Per Second Round Stats, Carr had the lowest completion percentage among the “big four” QBs in this class on third downs, easily the lowest completion percentage when under pressure, and the lowest completion percentage on deep passes (over 20 yards).

Strengths:

  • Incredible arm talent, and his cannon is a howitzer for sure. Carr has the strongest arm of any quarterback in this class, and his arm talent is reminiscent of Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler, with the former QB being a great comparison for Carr.
  • Solid decision-maker who doesn’t turn the ball over often, but he did have more of his passes defensed than he would have liked.
  • Top-notch leadership, best seen in how he led Fresno State to a win over Boise State early in the season.
  • Probably has the 2nd-highest football IQ among QBs in this class, with only Teddy Bridgewater better in this regard. Wows people with his knowledge when he speaks.
  • As evidenced by his 40 time, he has very good athleticism and speed that often gets underrated. He was able to use his speed to get out of trouble and pick up consistent yardage on designed draw plays up the middle.
  • No QB in this class had less talent around him, especially on the offensive line. Carr carried this team on his back.
  • Great at taking calculated risks
  • Sees WRs making their breaks, excellent at placing ball on the sidelines (especially on jump balls when Davante Adams was one-on-one).
  • Can make all the throws with his velocity, throws it to all parts of the field.
  • Coachable, can transition into different schemes and work on finer points of his game like footwork.
  • Works at his best on intermediate throws.

Weaknesses:

  • Terrible footwork, as he throws from a very unstable base. It’s incredible watching how hard he throws the ball, considering how he doesn’t drive the ball enough. Needs to use his torso better, but his technique from the hip-up is excellent.
  • Struggles significantly under pressure, which puts him at a severe disadvantage when comparing him to a poised QB prospect like Blake Bortles. Poor blocking and a spread offense caused him to be under duress frequently against better teams, but he still needs to work hard at improving his pocket presence, especially considering how athletic he is.
  • Can manipulate defenses with his eyes, but he doesn’t do this consistently enough (part of that is, of course, since he played in a spread offense). He doesn’t stare down targets as much as Bortles (you can basically call where Bortles is going to throw just by looking at his eyes/first read), but he’s definitely no Bridgewater at this either.
  • Threw an awful lot of screens last season, advanced stats don’t back up the fact that he should be an excellent deep thrower with his velocity.
  • Simply put, Carr needs to be more consistent with his accuracy and decision-making.
  • Did not play against enough tough competition, had a much weaker schedule than Bortles and Bridgewater, who sometimes get knocked for playing in the AAC.
  • Not exactly a “raw” QB, but he has his fair share of question marks.

Overall

The only quarterback in this draft class worth betting a huge amount on as a solid starter is Teddy Bridgewater, who has always been my top-rated quarterback in the class. Over the past few months, I’ve wrestled with Derek Carr and Blake Bortles and #2, and I honestly believe Carr is just a hair better than Bortles. It’s almost a tie, but Carr is a more advanced quarterback than Bortles. Even though he doesn’t have better pocket presence, Carr has basically everything Bortles does. Carr has off-the-charts intangibles, hits intermediate routes at a top rate, has an even better arm than Bortles, and he is very athletic in his own right. I believe the spread offense at Fresno State was more about helping the skill position players than helping the quarterback, because Carr looks like a better pro-style QB.

He could struggle in his first season, but I think he’ll end up blossoming. He has the ability to learn quickly, and he’s played in different schemes during his college career, including a pro-style scheme. It’s important to pass over the gaudy statistics and recognize the fact that Carr will need to adjust to much better competition in the NFL, but it’s also important not to overlook his combination of intangibles and physical tools. If he can be adequately coached and become a more consistent decision-maker and accurate QB, then he should have a very good career in the NFL. Everything is there for Carr to succeed, and I think the Cleveland Browns or Jacksonville Jaguars could end up with him in 2014. Both teams have the coaching (Kyle Shanahan and Dowell Loggains in Cleveland, Jedd Fisch and Gus Bradley in Jacksonville) and front office to help build a successful environment for one of the most intriguing draft prospects in the class.


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  • joe f.

    I wouldn’t mind Derek Carr in a bucs uniform. If it is at all possible.He would be a great fit there.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I think the Buccaneers are looking really closely at Carr, since he’s worked out with their current OC Jeff Tedford, who definitely knows Carr well, and their former OC Mike Sullivan. I’d watch for this, even with Josh McCown’s deal in mind.

      • joe f.

        Joe, That’s kind of what I was thinking, But even be on that there just seems to be some thing that fits. Lovie seems to be doing a good job so far but as good as some of these players are I hope they all click together other wise it will be last year all over again. Josh is only a quick fix. but better then what we have in Glennon. Glennon will be a o.k. quarterback some day but not for the bucs.

  • joe f.

    Hey Joe I don’t think the bucs will take Derek Carr so if not Carr who I still think they need to pick up a Q.B. for the future.

  • 5150dogfan

    Joe,
    Pretty good, but I think you have been mislead by the talking heads out there…….Take a look at Bridgewater, Bortles and Carrs “Strength of Schedule” and you’ll find theyre all very close with BW and Carr almost identical…..Carr actualy faced higher ranke Pass D’s then BW……In regards to Bortles, remember he was playing Conf USA teams through part of his time at UCF, there was no Boise State or Nevada there…..When you look at the INT’s Bortles has thrown, guess what……When he played against better Competition he threw it up for grabs…..Carr, Bortles and Bridgewater all played RU last year, BW and Bor arnt even close statisticly to what Carr did against that team….
    One final note, Carr was in the Redzon for 144 attempts in 2013, a majority of whih he was inside the 10, compare that to the next best which would be Bortles who had around 1/2 (70) attempts in the Redzone…..Why does this matter????? Because you are not going to throw it Deep in this area thus the the more it squews the stats, taking away opportunities for the mid range and deep ball……..BTW-I’ll take the QB scoring points….
    I’ll take the guy that played the same level of competition, with no Rushing Attack to support the pass, and ended up with 50 td’s and 8 ints……The guy who goes into a Bowl Game against a far superior group of talent, well recovering from a seperated shoulder from the previuos game and still puts up 24 on the #12 D in the nation….
    Carr is at worst the 2nd best QB in the draft, when you add in the off field intangibles he is probably #1 in the draft…..

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I still think he’s No. 2 behind Bridgewater even with intangibles, but there’s no shame in being the second-best QB in this draft class. I hate how people still think he’s only worth a second-round pick, and it’s the “talking heads” you mentioned who seem to believe that he isn’t worth a top ten pick. Draft insider Tony Pauline reported a couple of months ago that more evaluators in the league prefer Carr to Manziel. Great point on the Rutgers comp and the note on red zone performance, and I always enjoyed watching him throw it in the red zone on tape, especially jump balls to Davante Adams in the corner.

      I’ve always felt like Carr’s lack of a supporting cast is more important than the lack of competition he’s faced, because defenses are defenses and game tape is game tape at the end of the day. Level of competition is more about the adjustment a player will face in the pros, and I think Carr has a learning curve that would probably make him best-suited to learn from the bench in his first year before taking the reigns.