Leading up to the NFL draft on May 8-10, Shutdown Corner will examine some of the most interesting prospects in the class, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.
6-foot-2, 214 pounds
2013 stats: 453-of-659 (68.7 percent), 5,082 yards, 50 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
40-yard dash: 4.69 seconds (official time at combine)
The good: It's impossible to talk about Derek Carr without mentioning older brother David Carr, so let's get down to it. While it's usually brought up as a negative, it's not the worst thing to be compared to a former No. 1 overall pick (whose career would have turned out a lot better had anyone ever blocked for him). Derek is a couple inches shorter and a few pounds lighter than David, but he's the same kind of athletic, strong-armed quarterback. Derek also put up much better numbers than his brother, although it was in a different offense.
Derek has a fantastic quick release and can make every throw. While he wasn't asked to run in college, his 4.69 40-yard dash shows he can. Johnny Manziel had a 4.68 40-yard dash. And say what you want about how he put up his numbers, it's never a bad thing to play well in college. And Carr did, with 5,082 passing yards and 50 touchdowns at Fresno State last year. He had almost 13,000 yards in college in three years as a starter.
The bad: Carr's numbers and highlights come with a few disclaimers. He did it in the Mountain West, which was not a great conference last year, and he got to face a lot of bad defenses. He had a huge opportunity to answer those questions in the Las Vegas Bowl against USC, and he had by far his worst game of the season. His 216 yards were his second fewest of the season, his 53.7 completion percentage was the only time he was under 60 percent in a game all season and his 95.8 rating was by far his lowest and well off his season rating of 156.1.
If you were an NFL team that wondered if he was a product of playing bad competition, that is scary. And in 2012 his lowest rated game came against Oregon, the best team Fresno played that season. There's also the question about how his numbers were a result of playing in a fast-paced spread offense. He also doesn't have ideal size, and yes, his brother being tagged as a bust is not going to help him either.
The verdict: Carr's projected draft spot has fluctuated dramatically, and that's probably because you have to wonder about what you see on tape. The throws are all there. The athleticism is apparent. It's easy to picture him doing some good things in the NFL. But you always have to keep in mind that all of the good things came against mediocre competition. There are no New Mexicos or San Jose States on the NFL schedule. And if you're the team that is going to invest a first-round pick (you have to wonder if a team in the top half of the round will reach for him) or an early second in Carr, you have to rationalize what happened against USC, like maybe his teammates weren't good enough to help him against the Trojans' four- and five-star recruits.
Whoever drafts Carr is probably going to expect him to start sooner rather than later. Because he's never had much success against top competition, it's risky to think he'll be an impact player right away.
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