Aug 29, 2013; Fresno, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr (4) calls a play against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the third quarter at Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs defeated the Scarlet Knights 52-51 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft 2014: Analyzing Rutgers vs Fresno State for Derek Carr

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Hey everyone. Man, was this a fun game to watch. A shootout into overtime, with the Bulldogs pulling it out 52-51. I’ve never watched a substantial amount of Carr before, and boy did I come away impressed. Do yourself a favor – watch this game (the link is here) and see the guy for yourself. Anyway, on to the breakdown.

Rutgers Background: I came into this thinking that Rutgers would be a bunch of softies like most of the teams the Bulldogs play. But I had a hunch and I went over to the nfl.com’s 2013 Draft Tracker. Rutgers had 5 players drafted in the 2013 draft, mostly by the Patriots. For comparison, Florida had 5 defenders drafted, and Alabama only had 4. I think this goes to show that this was a strong defense.

Fresno State Background: I hadn’t ever watched any games of Fresno’s or of Carr’s, so I didn’t know what to expect. They run an incredibly fast paced, spread offense (more on that later) and the remarkable thing is that they do it without a whole lot of talent. Normally with spread teams you need blazers on the outside, but these guys don’t have them. What they do have is a fantastic quarterback, and that’s why they won this game.

Now, a little more on the Bulldogs’ offense. As I said before, they run a spread scheme, and unlike the other quarterbacks I’ve scouted, this is pretty much a by-the-book spread. It incorporates quick sideline passes, some deep throws, and only runs to keep the defense off balance. The Bulldogs ran a ton of plays in this game – 92, by my count. Of these, Carr made adjustments before the snap 25 times – roughly 27 percent. This means that Carr was making adjustments a little more than once every four plays. Another thing I noticed was that their offense is very reactionary, in that they run screens or deep throws based off of the defense’s positioning. This reactionary method depends on the QB reading the defense before the snap and being very familiar with the system. Carr read the defense and knew his offense well.

Time for the chart. D = Drop, * = Miscommunication, @ = Interception, ! = INT off drop $ = Touchdown. The % Adjusted removes drops and miscommunications from the accuracy rating.

Yardage Rank Left Center Right Total with Raw Percent (%Adjusted)
1 to 5 19 of 22, DDD 4 of 5 8 of 12, D 31 of 38, 81%(91%)
5 to 10 6 of 7, D$ 2 of 3, D 5 of 6, $ 13 of 16, 81%(92%)
10 to 20 2 of 6, D@D$ 1 of 1 1 of 1 4 of 8, 50% (75%)
20+ 2 of 5, $* 2 of 2, $ 0 of 1 4 of 8, 50% (75%)
Totals 29 of 37, 78%(93%) 9 of 11, 81%(90% 14 of 20, 70%(73%)

Carr’s final stats for the day were 52 of 73 for 456 yards, 5 touchdowns, and an interception. That’s a 71% accuracy rate, 80% adjusted for drops. He ran twice (one scramble and one designed run), and was sacked once.

Wow. What a performance. Looking at those statistics alone makes you realize why this kid is coming up draft boards so quickly. But here we must go back to the first commandment of QB scouting: “Thou shalt not scout based off statistics.” He is in a spread scheme, so his numbers will be inflated. What we need to do is look at the athlete behind the numbers. Let’s do it.

The first paragraph is for measurable positives, so this is going to be a long paragraph. His throwing on the run and escapability aren’t elite, but they get the job done.  Once he decides where to go with the ball, it leaves his hand in a hurry – possibly my favorite thing about him is his release. His arm strength is to die for. Carr has the strength to put the ball half a field away, and also the velocity to hit receivers on short and intermediate routes in stride. There’s a certain amount of arm strength that a prospect needs to be successful in the NFL, and this guy blows that mark out of the water. Not only does he throw with power, he throws with touch. Carr is the best QB I’ve seen in this class at the corner fade pass (Bridgewater’s touch over the middle is better than Carr’s, but Carr’s corner fade is phenomenal). Time and time again he would take the snap, square his shoulders, and float a beautiful ball to a place where only his guy could get it. That’s what is colloquially called a “big-boy pass”, it’s one that the pros make all the time, and Carr can hit it and hit it well. I won’t go to in-depth on this because the numbers can mostly tell this story, but his accuracy is phenomenal. He doesn’t lead receivers perfectly, but he can fit the ball right where he wants it. Looking at these three past points of touch, power, and accuracy (and comparing them to what I’ve seen from the other quarterbacks), I think I can safely say that Carr has the best arm talent of anyone in this class.

Now for his measurable weaknesses – there are two that I saw. He plays such a good game, I kind of had to nitpick here a little bit. He throws off his back foot more than I would like. This can take a little bit of the zip off of his passes, as well as a little accuracy. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed up with coaching, however. He drills screens sometimes. This isn’t entirely a negative, because you want your QB to be getting the ball to the sidelines quick to avoid interceptions. There were times, however, when he put too much on the ball and his receivers couldn’t hang on. That’s it guys, two negatives. I tried finding more but I couldn’t. I think his system shackles him. He has to throw the ball short so much. If the playcalling matched his strengths, he could throw it downfield every play.

Now for his intangibles. The guy is a lights-out competitor. I really enjoyed watching him. After he throws touchdowns, he celebrates in a really scrappy yet respectable way, and tries to get the crowd excited. On his one run he lowered his shoulder and trucked a safety. He really battled that night, and it was good to see. He leads his team both on and off the field. It was the little things that caught my attention – running off the sideline to check on an injured teammate, -firing them up on the sidelines. He also took his team together and led them in a prayer after the game, which made me so excited for him that I actually smiled. And last, but not least, he comes up in the clutch. He came back from a 2 score deficit after the first quarter to even it up at the half. He took his team down and led, not one, not two, but three game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. He scored the winning touchdown in overtime on the first play. Whatever “it” is, Carr has it.

Derek Carr is the complete package for an NFL quarterback. Now, obviously, I need to scout him some more, but based off of this one game, I was tremendously impressed. He has the arm talent, the mental skill, and (most importantly) the intangibles needed to thrive at the next level. I don’t know if the Jaguars will have the first pick in the draft, but I honestly don’t think it matters. If we land anywhere in the top three (with Atlanta being one of the three and taking a non-QB) I think we will be set with a franchise quarterback. I can’t wait to see how this all turns out.

(Thanks for reading. If you have any comments, suggestions, or critiques, feel free to post them in the comments section)

Peace. We out. – Zach

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