Want a glimpse into a quarterback’s mind? Watch his feet. Derek Carr’s reveal initiative and impulsivity.
Futures: Fresno State QB Derek Carr
by Matt Waldman
Want a glimpse into a quarterback’s mind? Watch his feet.
If there’s a minimal amount of footwork before a throw, the passer is making quick decisions. If there are hitches after the initial drop, the decision process is taking longer.
If the footwork in either instance is precise, there’s a greater chance the quarterback has a mental command of his environment and the resulting passes will be accurate. If the steps and stance are sloppy and off balanced, chaos – in the pocket or in the passer’s mind – is often afoot.
One of the pervading concerns about individuals from this spread generation of NFL quarterback prospects is their ability to transition from a shotgun attack to dropping from center and reading more advanced defensive concepts on the retreat. Even as the NFL has adopted the spread, these are concerns that place Fresno State’s Derek Carr front and center among this crop of quarterback prospects.
A first-round prospect on many analysts’ draft boards heading into the pre-draft madness, Carr runs an offense that uses a lot of screens and slants. This is nothing new. Cam Newton, Robert Griffin, Brandon Weeden, Geno Smith, Blaine Gabbert and Nick Foles all came from spread-heavy attacks.
However, there’s a perception among many analysts based on conversations with scouts that prospects from spread-heavy offenses have more to prove when it comes to selling a team on their ability to transition to the NFL. It’s among the reasons why there was a much more grounded, confident mood around the selection of players like Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Christian Ponder, Mike Glennon, and Sam Bradford – even if the returns have been equally mixed.
This week’s Futures examines Carr’s game with footwork as an underlying focus. David Carr’s younger brother has all the physical tools to become a productive NFL starter. The question is – as it is for more prospects at the top half of the draft – does he possess the mental acumen to integrate these skills into the complexities of leading an NFL offense?
Carr’s spread offense doesn’t provide definitive answers, but it does offer worthwhile clues about his future transition. These indicators tell me Carr is not an instant star, but give him two to three years and he can be the quarterback a team can build around.