When Derek Carr became the highest paid player in the NFL just the other week, I took the time to work through his 2016 tape with the Oakland Raiders. It was apparent to me that Carr has reached his full potential and ascended into the top tier of passers in the league. These are the fun players to look back upon. Carr was considered a polarizing prospect on account of some of his late season struggles (most notably in the bowl game against USC) before he left for the NFL.
Then as a rookie, Carr entered a team that started 0-10 and had little infrastructure around him. The end result was a paltry 5.5 yards per attempt. But Carr has grown, just as the team has around him. And to celebrate his growth and progression as a player, it’s well worth the time to look back at how I evaluated Carr before the 2014 NFL Draft.
2014 was my first season of work with NDT Scouting, so the metric weights you see have been adjusted significantly. If you adjusted Carr’s metric results and input them into my current scoring model, Carr’s final evaluation would actually register a bit higher: an 8.12 out of a maximum of 9.00. That score would be the 5th highest QB evaluation I’ve given over the course of the last 4 years behind Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Deshaun Watson and Teddy Bridgewater.
Carr’s full report from 2014 can be read below:
Most notable in this report? Carr’s feel for navigating the pocket has improved notably. Some of that is on account of the tremendous interior offensive line in front of him. But Carr has also shown more composure handling pressure. Some of that development may also revolve around the secondary reads Carr is provided in Oakland in comparison to the high prominence of vertical routes the offense required at Fresno State.
Either way, raw arm ability has never been a question for Carr, even going back to his college days. His junior year of school was a tough watch, but Carr was dealing with torso injuries and played hurt throughout the season. Carr’s downfield arm continues to serve him well in Oakland, with quality receivers on the boundary (and an underrated Seth Roberts) all making big plays down the field.
The Quarterback listed ahead of Carr, who was my 12th overall player? Teddy Bridgewater. We’re still hoping to see Bridgewater back in action this season after an awful leg injury nearly cost him his career. But Carr has surpassed all comers at the top passer from the 2014 class and it isn’t particularly close.
Those who doubted Carr’s transition frequently drew attention to two things: how he handled pressure and the offense that he came from. The Raiders (and Carr himself) have helped to alleviate the first concern. And there’s certainly a lesson to be learned about finding NFL passes in any offense in college football.