There is no question that Derek Carr has terrific talent as a quarterback. The Fresno State stud flashed his throwing ability all week at Senior Bowl practice and in doing so solidified his position as one of the top QB prospects in this year’s field.
But, as we’ve seen time and again, there’s way more to playing QB in the NFL than just arm talent. You need to have it between the ears too. And that’s where Derek Carr could run into a problem.
It’s a question Rotoworld’s Josh Norris brought up in his post-Senior Bowl blurb on Carr, and I think it’s worth noting:
Nothing changed this week regarding Carr’s evaluation, as his exposure to interior pressure is still limited. We know he has an arm to hit every level of the field despite throwing plenty of screens in college. Carr doesn’t always throw from a balanced base, but he has improved willingness to take a hit on release. His footwork can be a mess, though, and that will frustrate the fanbase where he lands, similarly to Jay Cutler or Matthew Stafford. Carr has a great arm and he knows it.
Norris implies that, like Cutler or Stafford, Carr could suffer from gunslinger syndrome. Stafford especially in recent years has been ripped for putting too much faith in his big arm and not staying sound with his mechanics and his decision making. Stafford’s mental shortcomings are, in some people’s minds, a prime reason the Lions have failed to take the next step.
Of course there are worse things in the world than having a big-armed QB who is prone to mistakes and/or mechanical sloppiness. You could have a small-armed QB who is prone to those things. No arm plus poor decision making plus bad mechanics is a completely lethal combination as we learned from the Christian Ponder debacle.
It sounds to me like the main issue with Carr might be reining him in, harnessing the talent and keeping on him about the footwork and the decision making. Some guys you can stay on that way and smooth out their rough edges. And some guys, as we’ve seen with Stafford, simply can’t be broken of their bad habits.
These concerns aren’t dealbreakers on Carr, in my mind, but they are something to make note of. In two or three years, we could be speaking of Derek Carr the same way we now speak of Matthew Stafford.