Derek Carr

Raiders look to the future with Derek Carr in the second round


The Oakland Raiders got an immediate impact playmaker with their first round draft pick on Thursday night when they drafted linebacker Khalil Mack. In the second round, general manager Reggie McKenzie looked to the future with quarterback Derek Carr out of Fresno State. The Raiders have already named Matt Schaub the starter for 2013, but he is likely on the back end of his career and the team needs to start thinking about a replacement now.

This is not the most surprising pick for the Raiders. It had been reported for a very long time that the Raiders liked Carr better than any quarterback in the draft. If that is true, they must believe they got a steal by being able to draft him at the beginning of the second round without needing to trade up in order to do so. After trading Terrelle Pryor to the Seahawks, the Raiders were left with just Schaub and second year player Matt McGloin (Trent Edwards is on the roster, but is just a camp arm). That means they were likely to take a quarterback in the draft but the question was who and at what point.

The Raiders have a lot of needs that are more pressing than a quarterback, but it’s hard to argue with the pick if the Raiders truly value Carr as much as has been reported. Getting your franchise quarterback in the second round after possibly taking a franchise defender would be nothing short of a great draft for the Raiders. Of course, we will not know for a number of years whether or not this was a brilliant pick by McKenzie or an error.

The new phrase for quarterbacks is “arm talent,” and Carr is widely known as leading this year’s draft class in that area. Carr threw for an average of 326 yards and 2.9 touchdowns per game over three years as a starter for Fresno State. He came up with a huge statistical season in 2013, with 5,082 yards, 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Here are a few draft profiles on Carr …

Rob Rang (CBS Sports):

STRENGTHS: NFL-caliber arm strength to sling the ball all over the field, with the ability to throw the deep fade and fire passes into tight windows. Shows the ability to square his shoulders and fire passes with velocity and accuracy. Demonstrates a combination of arm strength, accuracy and underrated athleticism. Astute ability to read coverages and recognize pressure at the line of scrimmage with several pre-snap adjustments based on obvious film study.
Perhaps the most underrated element of Carr’s game is his athleticism. Good vision, lateral agility and speed to elude. Typically keeps his eyes downfield and completes passes when receivers are able to break open late, but also shows the decisiveness to scramble when easy yards are available.

WEAKNESSES: Played primarily out of the shotgun, and must show the ability to take snaps from under center and read defenses while dropping back. Struggled against better competition, including a poor career finale as USC constantly harassed Carr, who was unable to move the ball consistently in the face of pressure.

Will rush passes when blitzed, frequently starting down and overthrowing targets. Stats inflated by Fresno State’s pass-happy offense. Accuracy was inconsistent on critical plays in several of Fresno State’s biggest games in 2013.

Matthew Fairburn (SB Nation):

Carr grades out as a first-round pick. The improvement he showed in the pocket as a senior was encouraging. If he continues to improve in that area, he could be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Rolling the dice on Carr in the late part of the first round would be the proper value for him. There isn’t quite as much separating Carr and Blake Bortles as some people may think. Additionally, Carr is a huge plus in the character department. He is the type of person you want leading your franchise on and off the field.

Athletic, tough, instinctive, strong-armed, highly competitive quarterback who will impress in workouts, interviews and on the board, and improved his draft standing with those skills in the postseason. Elevated the Fresno State program and profiles like a gunslinger, though he’d be better served in the long run honing his game-management skills. Will be a starter sooner rather than later and the degree to which he’s able to make those around him better will determine his ceiling.

“He is more athletic than people think. A lot of teams thought he was the best pure thrower in draft. I love the way this kid throws the football.” — Mike Mayock


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