Fresno State Bulldogs product Derek Carr is my second-ranked quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft class, as I believe he has the physical and mental tools to be a franchise quarterback in this league. He has issues with his footwork, but so does Blake Bortles. If he can throw from a more solid base, then his velocity and downfield arm would be even more impressive. More importantly, the ball won’t sail on him as often, as that’s one negative thing I’ve noticed from Carr when watching his tape closely. A gentle flick of the arm produces a strong throw from his howitzer, but he’s also more prone to throwing up an egg due to the lack of a strong base and driving torso action (he isn’t the only quarterback who would do well to drive the ball more).
I usually mock Teddy Bridgewater (my top passer) to the Houston Texans with the first overall pick, and then I give the Cleveland Browns Derek Carr. ESPN’s Ashley Fox reports that there is a “growing sentiment around the league” that the Browns could take Carr with the fourth overall pick, and my takeaway from this nugget is that the chances of the Browns picking Carr are more likely.
I’m not surprised at all by this, since I’ve viewed Carr as their best option for a couple of months now, especially after doing some heavy film study on his ability to make reads and accurate throws on intermediate passes to all sides of the field, as well as his ability to manage plays in the red zone and on third downs. Carr has elite intangibles and leadership qualities which allow him to master situational football, and he made everyone on Fresno State look better. Davante Adams’s frame and ball skills would bail him out at times, but Carr also knew where to place the ball on the sideline so that Adams would get to it. Johnny Manziel threw an awful lot of jump balls to Mike Evans, but Carr’s placement on those types of throws looked more methodical.
Carr has the strongest arm in the class, and his issues can be fixed with solid coaching. He put the Bulldogs on his back last season, and there’s little doubt in my mind that Carr has the arm strength, accuracy, and decision-making to be a franchise QB, and he’s also a fast and athletic player. With better footwork and development as he transitions to much more difficult opponents, Carr could be “the guy” for the Browns. Kyle Shanahan and Dowell Loggains are two excellent coaches, so the support system is certainly there for Carr to succeed.
I am a firm believer in him as the best option for the Browns if Bridgewater doesn’t fall past the first three picks, and I would strongly advise against the Browns waiting until the 26th or 35th pick to take a QB; there are no guarantees, and they can’t bank on Carr or any other QB falling if they believe he is the guy. Now if they view Aaron Murray or Jimmy Garoppolo as the answer, then they can wait. But I don’t view either of them as being better than the “big four” quarterbacks in this class. The Browns have hinted at a potential curveball, and their draft strategy is anyone’s guess. Right now, though, I think Carr is the favorite.