|Nati Harnik/Associated Press|
|Fresno State QB Derek Carr will play his final college game in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday.|
Plenty of NFL teams need quarterbacks and will be willing to draft one in the first round. Derek Carr of Fresno State projects as the top senior quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. Ergo, Carr is a lock to go in the first round, correct?
Not so, according to one NFC personnel executive that spoke with NFL Media reporter Albert Breer.
"I like him, but he's not a first-round talent. His athletic ability and arm strength, he's just not dynamic," the executive said.
Carr has thrown for an FBS-leading 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns against seven interceptions this season, but an AFC general manager downplayed the level of competition against which Carr compiled those gaudy numbers and pointed to several areas of his game that need to be refined.
"Good arm, accurate, quick release, but he's not in a pro offense," the general manager said. "He needs to develop better awareness, anticipation and pocket presence. He can help himself in the bowl game and Senior Bowl."
How Carr fares Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl against a USC defense with future professionals at all three levels could go a long way toward assuaging the fears of those evaluators, especially taking into account an NFL-caliber pass rush.
If Carr can hang in the pocket, handle the pressure and continue throwing darts down the field to his three dynamic wide receivers in Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper and forgotten tight end Marcel Jensen, expect for much of the criticism directed at Carr to quiet.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.