Player Analysis: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Name: Derek Carr

Class: Senior
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 214 lbs.
School: Fresno State

Strengths: Carr is a very good all-around athlete, able to move well in and out of the pocket and generally move well when he needs to.  He has a tremendous arm, with the ability to throw deep as well as drive the ball with good velocity.  Carr has shown good accuracy and record-breaking production at Fresno State, despite having to adjust to a coaching and system change. He’s got solid mechanics, with pretty good technique during his delivery and the ability to get the ball out quickly.

Weakness: The problem with lauding Carr’s accuracy and production is that it came against sometimes sub-par teams in the Mountain West Conference. When he played against bigger teams, like USC in the 2013 Vegas Bowl, he wilts. Yes, the loss to USC (I would have also accepted the words “disaster” and “pummeling”) was one in which the whole team collapsed, but Carr himself looked overwhelmed. He struggled under pressure and had a hard time completing passes under fire. That’s a real concern considering USC’s defense wasn’t one of its best ever and the level of play in the NFL will be much fiercer. I didn’t walk away from the Senior Bowl excited either (more on that below), as I saw too many passes sail on him even when there was no pass-rush. When he’s blitzed, you can see him hurry throws, which result in some badly overthrown balls. He also has a tendency to stare down receivers at times. Carr played almost exclusively out of the shotgun, so he’ll need to adjust for that. He didn’t look terrible comfortable under center in Mobile and he’ll have to work on it, though that’s common for many quarterbacks these days. Carr also seems to struggle on deeper throws.

Intangibles:  The biggest question about Carr, in my mind, is how he reacts to pressure and pressure situations. While he appears calm and poised in many games, he has struggled in bigger games. Now, as mentioned above, the bludgeoning by USC was a team-wide failure. If Fresno State doesn’t collapse early on defense, maybe USC’s defense  doesn’t have carte blanche to tee off on Carr and maybe he struggles less. On the other hand there are definitely times in other games where he was under pressure and definitely looked shaky.  Aside from that, all reports are that he is solid in the huddle and a smart quarterback who was able to weather changes in the program without freaking out. That may not seem like much, but for a young quarterback in the NFL, that’s a big deal—just ask Alex Smith.

Notes: A lot of folks came away from Mobile and the Senior Bowl saying Carr was the best quarterback there—and he was. Which was a lot like saying he was the best natural disaster.  That’s a bit harsh but I really just want to drive home the point that, save for Carr and Jimmy Garropolo, this was not a group where “being the best” should mean as much as you think. Once you take that grain of salt, combined with what you see on tape, a picture is painted of a decent quarterback whose ending value is balanced on his ability to improve. It’s what would keep me from drafting him in round one, or at least high is round one. That said, he’s a solid second round pick or a good pick for a team willing to get back into the late first. He has some issues, but the upside is there to become a solid NFL starter.

2 thoughts on “Player Analysis: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

  1. So you watch the USC game, where Carr throws for 2 td’s against the #12 D in the nation well recovering from a seperated shoulder he got beating the #13 D in the nation in the prior game….A game in which the OC allows the USC D to pin thier ears back and key on the QB by only running 6, yes 6 total rushing plays……..I dont care who the QB is, even at 100%, if a solid D is allowed to t-off on the QB, and the O line is outmatched, that QB is going to have a long day…SEE PAYTON MANNING IN THE SUPERBOWL FOR EXAMPLE…..

    Carr faced an almost Identical SOS as Bridgewater and Bortles, and in opponents in common Carrs numbers destroy Bridgewaters and Bortles…….

    Yes Carr needs work as do all the other QB’s in the Draft……But if your going to knock down Carrs success because of the overall level of competition, unless you have an agenda you have to do the same to Bortles and Bridgewater as thier SOS is right with Carrs…….

    Carr is IMHO one of the top 2 QB’s in the class and has the best arm of the bunch, maybe even the best arm in the last couple of drafts…..

    • Well, I don’t have an agenda, I’m telling you what I saw.

      I’m just saying that in the games he plays outside of a poor conference, he folds while Bridgewater and Bortles have both shown spine. It’s certainly fine that you like Carr, I happen to disagree based on not just the USC game but many others as well. Doesn’t mean he isn’t going to make it in the NFL, just that I wouldn’t take him in the early first.

      I would also say that over the course of careers, definitely Bridgewater has played better in bigger games than Carr or Bortles—including Bowl Games, which are the biggest stage in CFB. Not only did Carr not play well vs USC, he threw two picks against Southern Methodist the year prior in a loss.

      Keep in mind, under the section titled “Intangibles” I went out of my way to say it’s hard to pin the loss to USC on Carr – it was a team-wide collapse. And the reason I point out the weak MWC is because people point to his numbers as proof he’s great when, if you don’t take into account who he is playing, is missing the point. His completion percentage also came from being in an offense which favored high percentage passes. Combine those two things and I think you need to wonder if the numbers are inflated.

      As I say in the article though, he’s a good second round/late first round pick who can become a solid starter in the NFL. Don’t hate him—just not sold.

      Honestly, Bridgewater is the single most pro-ready prospect this year, has the least amount of questions and should be able to step in under center day one with some success. I don’t feel that way about either Bortles or Carr both of whom I think will be thrust out early in their careers before they are ready.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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