The 2013 college football season showcased an abundance of mid-major talent, and many of the biggest names from smaller schools are headed to this May’s NFL draft. In fact, there are a handful of mid-major players that could go in the draft at the QB position alone. But the one name that has really stood above the rest in QB position is the kid out of Fresno State, Derrick Carr. It’s actually a little bit shocking that some NFL teams are almost drooling over him. There has even been rumors that the Cleveland Browns are considering using the fourth overall pick on Carr. Yes, you read that right, the fourth overall pick.
Just looking at the stats, Carr had an extremely impressive season. Throwing for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns is the real deal. On top of that, he led Fresno State to an 11-2 season. It’s safe to say Carr had a phenomenal year, with the only lapse coming when Fresno State played USC in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. That was a game that should have been a close fought battle. At the time, Fresno State was ranked #20, and USC was ranked #25. Unfortunately, as many of us know, this was anything but a close fought battle. USC blew Fresno State out of the water, 45-20. Why did Fresno State all of a sudden collapse? I believe it starts with Derek Carr’s performance.
Carr had his lowest completion rate of the season against USC (53.7%), and he threw for only 216 yards on 29 completions. That’s quite the drop off for a QB who was averaging over 405 yards per game before this bowl. USC was able to figure out the big secret to stop Carr from doing any sort of damage, and that big secret isn’t really all that big: blitz him. USC blitzed Carr all game long, and this forced Carr to scramble out of the pocket and make rushed passes. There was countless times when Carr missed big play opportunities by overthrowing his receiver. It’s safe to say that Carr simply lost his composure, which is something that just can’t happen for an NFL quarterback.
You may be thinking to yourself, “what about the other 12 games of the year? He still threw for over 5,000 yards!” This is true, but Fresno State is an extremely pass-heavy program. Carr was given 659 passing attempts, which averages out to around 51 attempts per game. With that many attempts, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be putting up crazy numbers. That’s over 200 passing attempts more than Johnny Manziel had in his 2013 season. In fact, Fresno State threw so much that they only ran, on average, less than 12 times per game. That’s an extremely low number when you consider that the majority of their wins were by a wide margin. Wherever Carr ends up in the NFL, he’ll need to be given a ton of opportunities to pass the ball to put up similar sorts of numbers.
While I’ve been ripping on Carr quite a bit, there are still a lot of positive aspects of his game that also need to be addressed. The fact that he led a mid-major football program to such a high national ranking is extremely impressive. A QB with a background of winning is huge. His athleticism is also very impressive. Sure Carr is no Cam Newton, but he still put up impressive numbers at the NFL Combine. Carr ran a 4.69 40 yard dash, which was faster than Northern Illinois QB (and Heisman candidate) Jordan Lynch who is known for his running ability. He has also had a 34.5 inch vertical jump and a 110 inch broad jump, beating Lynch in both categories. In addition, he has incredible arm strength. This arm makes him almost comparable to a more athletic Matthew Stafford Jay Cutler. And while not being blitzed, Carr is one of the most accurate QBs in college football. Even with his poor performance against USC, Carr still averaged a 69% completion rate throughout the year.
Carr has been projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round, to somewhere late in the second round. A number of NFL teams have shown interest in Carr including the Minnesota Vikings, the Houston Texans, the Cleveland Browns, and the Oakland Raiders. However, if I was running the draft room for any of these teams, I would pick Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, or Teddy Bridgewater ahead of Carr. That being said, Carr is definitely a QB you should keep your eye out for. If he learns to keep his composure and to accurately throw the deep ball, he can still end up being an effective QB in the NFL, he just won’t be nearly as effective as some of the more optimistic projections are making him out to be.