Evaluating the Evaluation of Derek Carr

When I was an NFP Introduction to Scouting student, one of the assignments is to learn how to evaluate college QBs and write a scouting report from watching game film. For mine, I chose former Fresno State and current Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr when he was still a young pup playing for the Bulldogs (pun intended). Here is what I had to write about him based on the six games of film I watched in my evaluation: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (6’2”, 215) Strengths: Physical Size, Very strong arm with feet set, Very accurate with short passes, Good Release Point, Good Footwork, Decent Ability to reset feet under pressure, Good spin on ball, Good pocket awareness, Keeps eyes downfield Weaknesses: Accuracy on deep passes, Touch in all areas of the field, Drops from Center, Reading progression, Foot speed, accuracy under pressure, Anticipating WR getting open. Overall Impression: Excels in a quick passing offense and in throwing short to intermediate routes but struggles with accuracy on deep passes. He has a tendency to sail or loft passes when throwing deep and can only hit guys deep if they are wide open. Plays in an offense where he only reads half the field and needs to learn how to read the progression of routes and the entire field if he is expected to excel on the next level. He will probably struggle on the next level in the beginning making drops under center since he was in the shotgun in college most of the time. He also struggles with his throwing accuracy when faced with pressure and is not very fast when having to tuck the ball and run given his 4.69 speed in the 40. Also has a bad habit of throwing off his back foot when pressured and sometimes holds on to the ball too long. He makes up for his lack of speed with good pocket awareness and his strong release in getting rid of the football as well as his ability to keep his eyes downfield and spot open receivers. Will need to work on his game to develop into a solid starter on the next level. Grade: 6.4 C = Possible Starter Caliber, Deficient in one area of playing skills. Games watched for evaluation: 2013 vs. Boise State, New Mexico, Nevada, USC, Utah State, 2012 vs. SMU Carr just completed his rookie season in the NFL. Curiosity got the better of me after watching most of Oakland’s 2014 games. Looking back over my evaluation of him at Fresno State for the assignment, I wanted to see how accurate I was in my assessment of him as a college player and his transition to playing on Sundays. I went back and watched every snap he played in for the Raiders, broke down the above mentioned report, and compared it to what I saw in 2014. Was it on the field, in the ballpark or out in the parking lot? In addition to comparing my evaluation of Carr in college to his play in the NFL, I'll also compare him with the gold standard for NFL QBs in Aaron Rodgers, as this would be an ideal benchmark for Carr to reach before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2018. This gives him three seasons to improve from where he is now. “Excels in a quick passing offense and in throwing short to intermediate routes but struggles with accuracy on deep passes. He has a tendency to sail or loft passes when throwing deep and can only hit guys deep if they are wide open”. As you can see from Carr’s chart (1a.) he struggled in throws 20 yards or more down the field. Aaron Rodgers was far more accurate and productive in throwing the ball deep (chart 1b.). This is an area where he needs a lot of improvement. And just as he showed in college, most of Carr’s throws were passes in the short pass zones of the field where he dinked and dunked his way downfield and relied on his receivers to pick up yards after the catch (1,561 of his 3,270 yards - 48% of his total passing yards was YAC). Carr had 23rd least YAC in the NFL compared to Aaron Rodgers who was 13th (2,191 of his 4,381 yards or 50% was YAC). Put in perspective, it means Carr’s higher percentage of air yards was attributed to more short passes in the air but the receiver got tackled right away most of the time after catching the pass. The pass distribution charts of both players clear this up. Rodgers’ percentage of air yards and YAC are even but the chart shows how he threw for more total yards as well as air yards than Carr by completing more passes further down the field in conjunction with the receiver taking those passes further down the field after catching them (Look at the difference in the 20+ yards area of the field on both charts). “Plays in an offense where he only reads half the field and needs to learn how to read the progression of routes and the entire field if he is expected to excel on the next level. He will probably struggle on the next level in the beginning making drops under center since he was in the shotgun in college most of the time”. Carr took a great deal of his snaps from the shotgun position, and the film shows he read one side of the field often. “He also struggles with his throwing accuracy when faced with pressure. Also has a bad habit of throwing off his back foot when pressured and sometimes holds on to the ball too long”. Carr was sacked 24 times (25th most) for 149 yards. The Raiders offensive line was 5th best in sacks allowed. Rodgers was sacked almost the same amount of times (28 for 174 yards) but had 79 less passing attempts than Carr. And there is a huge difference in the number of interceptions thrown by each player. 1a. Derek Carr’s chart on where he threw the football in 2014 1b. Compared to Rodgers stats, Carr has a great deal of work ahead of him to jump up to elite status in the NFL The Raiders protected Carr in the play calling last year, and it appears that they will continue the trend with the new coaching staff. New Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave spent the last season as the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback coach, so he's very familiar with the quick-tempo, no-huddle offense. Carr is pumped that he'll be working sans huddle more in his second season. "My last two years at Fresno State were 100 percent no-huddle, and I love it. I'm very comfortable in it," Carr said. "They are building this offense around me, and I'm really excited about it. I lit up when they told me." "We're not going to be all no-huddle, but it is going to be a big part of what we do," he said to ESPN.com's Bill Williamson. "And I'm really excited with the coaches' plans." We’ll see how well going back to the same style of offensive play he ran and was use to in college transitions and works for him and the Raiders. The dink and dunk style of play lives on, except it will be run a little faster. He will probably put up high numbers in the short areas of the field like he did in both college and the NFL this past season looking ultra-productive on paper, but will it be enough to help the Raiders improve on offense as a team? Especially since they have to rely on veteran wideout Michael Crabtree to find a way to finally be able to get separation from defenders and their new rookie WR Amari Cooper, who might struggle in his first NFL season adjusting to the size, speed, and more physical nature of the game that he did not see every Saturday in college. I think he is a solid player who will have success in the league, but the Raiders could have gotten Carr a bigger target to throw to by drafting Kevin White instead of Cooper in my opinion. Will Cooper and Crabtree complement each other and be the right mix with Carr like some other great WR combos (Lynn Swann and John Stallworth with the Steelers, the great Jerry Rice and John Taylor with the 49ers or Chris Carter and Randy Moss with Vikings or the weapons Aaron Rodgers has for example)? Phil Rainey is a high school football coach and graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached by e-mail at philraineyscouting@gmail.com or Twitter @Rainey_Phil

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