Scouting Report: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Scouting Report: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

A Kinder gentler Jeff George?
By: Pete Davidson : March 18, 2014 9:13am

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The 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with lightning rod players. They’re everywhere you look from Johnny Manziel to Jadeveon Clowney to Blake Bortles. Today’s prospect is one of those guys and I have to say, I am not sure why. We are pretty high on Derek Carr as a prospect and we’re somewhat surprised by recent comparisons to inferior passers like Christian Ponder and Jake Locker.

Carr is not a perfect player and we suspect that he’ll require a bit more patience than Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be worth the wait, and it certainly doesn’t mean he’s not worth the risk. The recent talk of Carr slipping out of the first round seems off-base to us.  He just has too much potential. And how could he slip past teams like the Jets, Browns and Bengals? Does anybody think Cincinnati has bigger needs than quarterback if they want to get to the next level? And how much better is Carr than Andy Dalton from a talent perspective? I'd say quite a bit better. 

This is not to say that Carr doesn’t have some bust potential. He does, but the perception is probably heightened by the residual buyer’s remorse attached to his big brother David, who never lived up to his number one status. We are not holding that against Derek, and perhaps more importantly, we think the younger Carr is a better prospect than his older sibling. Both Carrs have similar arm strength, but the newer model has more arm talent. Derek throws a better ball to more areas of the field than his older brother.

The younger of the Carr brothers has been through a lot for a man his age, specifically a life-threatening condition with his newborn son Dallas, who is now fine, thankfully. “I’ve been through some adversity. For doctors to tell me my son might not live, there is nothing anyone can do or say that can affect me. My priorities in life are my faith, my family and then football. You can say whatever you want about me, but I’m going to give everything I have to whatever team I’m on.”

Carr is a very smart and very dedicated young man, and he was impressive at the podium, which is not insignificant for a quarterback. He’s clearly unafraid of responsibility. He’s not another Mark Sanchez. Carr is more interested in chasing his football dreams than threesomes or desperate housewives.  “I’ve been getting ready for this since I was 3. I’ve been trained by my dad and my brother. I’ve been watching NFL film since I was 12. I think, from a mental standpoint, just having David is such an advantage, such a resource. He’s done all this, of course social media wasn’t around when he was doing this. But it’s such an advantage to have him. And my preparation, I’m not 6-6 and I’m not going to run a 4.3, but I will out-prepare anybody.”

Let’s take a look at Carr’s Combine numbers.

  • Height - 6’2”
  • Weight - 214 lbs
  • Hands - 9 1/8” (on the small side)
  • 40 - 4.69
  • Vertical Jump - 34.5”
  • Broad Jump - 110”
  • 20 yard Shuttle - 4.20

So why do we like Derek Carr?

  • Arm - The tape does not lie here. Carr can make all the throws and has abundant arm talent. He also has the ability to get even better if he can effectively incorporate his lower body into more of his throws. He often throws from a shaky base, and that’s not a way to throw from a clean pocket, which Carr does a bit too frequently.
  • Accuracy - This is a complex attribute with Carr because he’s quite accurate under ideal circumstances. When the play follows the script, Carr makes good quick reads and well-timed accurate throws. However, when the defense shuts down the first option or when the pocket breaks down, Carr often gets into bad situations with his feet which leads to bad decisions and a lack of accuracy.
  • Athleticism/Agility - Carr is an underrated athlete and it showed at the combine. He has the ability to escape the rush and to get some positive yards that some less mobile guys would leave on the table.
  • Intelligence - Carr is clearly a smart kid and he makes a lot of good decisions, but his decisions do seem to degrade a bit when things break down. He’s definitely smart enough to make the switch to a pro-style offense.
  • Work ethic - This is a big key for a player who still needs to develop some. While Carr certainly could play right away, he’d most likely benefit from some time holding a clipboard. The fact that Carr is from a football family and is a committed student of the game really helps here.
  • Production - College stats are often misleading at best and Carr’s stats are not something we are basing our evaluation on. That said, it’s worth pointing out that Carr did get better each year, which is a very positive sign. He also made 39 consecutive starts to end his career and that streak spanned three full seasons. This is obviously a positive as it speaks to Carr’s durability.

Here’s a look at Carr’s highlight reel. It paints a pretty tantalizing picture.

Here’s a look at Carr vs. Utah State. You can see the flaws more clearly here, especially when there's pressure or perceived pressure.

If you watch all of the film, you can see that Carr is not a neat package or a slam dunk. He requires some projecting because he comes from an up-tempo spread offense that is not going to transfer to the next level in a lot of ways. Carr lived in the shotgun and pistol for the vast majority of his time at Fresno State, so he’ll will need to work on his drops. That may not be a bad thing as we’d like to see more rhythm in his footwork anyway, and we want to see proper weight transfer on his throws when he has the time.

Two quarterbacks that Carr reminds us of are Jeff George and Matthew Stafford. As with George and Stafford, Carr has a tendency to drift and throw from an inconsistent base. It’s something that Carr needs to clean up as much as possible. That and improved pocket presence are at the top of our list of things Carr needs to improve on. Getting drafted by a team that will provide him with the requisite time and coaching is crucial to Carr’s ultimate success or failure. Carr’s talents, while not uncommon, are certainly NFL-level, and he can excel if he’s managed correctly.

In the end, we are a fantasy football site and because determining fantasy worth is our end game, we are always looking for legitimate upside at the quarterback position. After all, what is average quarterback play worth in a typical fantasy league? Not much. Derek Carr has plenty of upside ... if he gets drafted by a good organization that can give him the right coaching plus good surrounding talent.

We’ll evaluate Carr’s new surroundings after the draft. Based on what we’ve seen of him, he is worth a first round pick, but is not a guy to take at the top of the draft. He’s not the ready-made player that Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater is, but he can be a plus starter in the not too distant future if managed correctly.  A team like the Bengals, who have a stop-gap quarterback in place, would be an ideal fit for Carr, who has the arm to open up the whole field for players like A.J. Green and Marvin Jones.



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