Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr had a phenomenal senior season. He finished the year with 5,083 passing yards, 50 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. However, he had a poor performance against USC in the Royal Purple Vegas Bowl on Saturday afternoon. The Trojans contained Carr and routed the Bulldogs, 45-20.
A handful of NFL scouts attended this game, and you can be sure all 32 teams will study the video once it arrives on their computer systems. Carr didn't face the toughest of opponents during the regular season, and many in the scouting community were eager to see how he would perform against a talented Trojans defense. The results don't look horrible on paper (217 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception), but it was easily the worst he's played this season.
Carr misfired on several down-field throws, including two that would've resulted in easy touchdowns. I love the foot quickness he displays during his drop, but he needs to work on settling his feet once he's arrived at the launch point. He's too frenetic, which leads to poor balance and inconsistent ball placement.
Carr's lone interception was the result of a great play by USC cornerback Josh Shaw. Shaw out-muscled Bulldogs wide receiver Davante Adams on a 50-50 ball in the endzone and came away with the pick. I don't blame Carr for that one because Adams is arguably the best jump-ball receiver in college football.
After studying Carr on tape and watching him in person, it's easy to understand why so many teams are split on him. He has several desirable qualities for the quarterback position. He has a very quick release, excellent arm strength and outstanding mobility. His production is off the charts and I've been told by multiple sources that his character is impeccable.
However, there are concerns with his footwork, deep-ball accuracy and poise. Also, the Fresno State offensive system doesn't feature many plays that require Carr to work through a progression. Most of his decisions are made pre-snap and the ball comes out right away. Of course, the same could be said of several quarterbacks in the upcoming draft class.
There are still a few more opportunities for Carr to impress NFL decision makers, starting with the Senior Bowl next month. If Carr has a solid week of practice in Mobile, he will recapture the momentum he lost in Las Vegas.