Since being selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Derek Carr has been the Raiders’ starting quarterback. A four-year contributor at Fresno State, many thought he had a chance to sneak into round one. Alas, Carr fell to his childhood favorite team and has made the most of it.
Currently, on his second contract with the Raiders, Carr is in the midst of his ninth season in the Silver and Black, having followed the team from Oakland to Las Vegas. Despite the numerous records he holds, the quarterback is still a constant area of contention for fans. Quite simply, there is nothing he could do that would appease both his fans and detractors. Over these nine years, however, he has turned into a different player in many ways. However, what aspects of his game have stayed? Also, in what ways has he changed?
What They Got Right
Of course, many traits from Carr’s college days have translated quite well to the NFL. The most obvious of which is his natural arm talent. As Nolan Nawrocki wrote for NFL.com, Carr has “terrific arm talent.” This is still quite true as he is one of the league’s most talented passers and is capable of making almost any throw.
As mentioned, Carr played at Fresno State for four seasons. Consistently lauded for his leadership and his passion for the game, this has been perhaps the most evident part of his game in the pros. Also noted by Nawrocki was his poise, which, as evidenced by his 30-game-winning drives, has not left him in his trip to the pros.
Finally, it was mentioned just how well Carr was able to adjust to coaching changes and overall roster turnover. With the Raiders, he has shown the ability to succeed under numerous head coaches and general managers, as well as a revolving door of receiving talent.
What Has Changed for Raiders QB Derek Carr?
Astonishingly to Raiders fans, Carr was given credit for his ball security during his final year as a Bulldog. To the scouts’ credit, he did have just one fumble during his senior year. Unfortunately, this has been anything but true in the NFL. With 78 career fumbles, he has led the league in the category twice. Sometimes it feels like whenever he is hit, the ball is going to end up on the ground.
Oftentimes, Carr was credited with an ability to escape the pocket and being willing to make plays with his legs. This had a lot to do with him being known as a guy who would do anything to make a play. In the NFL, those out-of-structure plays seemingly don’t exist. When they do happen, they feel like fleeting moments that truly show the potential that is not being captured to its fullest.
Looking back at Carr’s college scouting report is an interesting endeavor. Of course, Carr is not the same player he was nine years ago. Clearly, he is in much better shape now. He is no longer a skinny college kid; he is well filled out and a better athlete overall.
Unfortunately, however, the weaknesses he showed in college still exist. In some areas, he may have even regressed. No longer the gunslinger he was at Fresno State, he is a prototypical pocket passer with an undying desire to run the play the way it is designed. Perhaps it is his lack of creativity that really prevents him from taking that next step.
At this point in his career, he is what he is. Unlikely to revert back to the playmaker of old, Carr is a prototypical field general. With a football acumen that is off the charts, he is a favorite of every coach that works with him. He will always get the team favorable looks in big spots. However, as his scouting report said, he can never be a top-tier QB if he is going to make big plays on the field.
*Top Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports