Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr had a huge opportunity to boost his stock for the 2014 NFL draft going against the USC Trojans in the Las Vegas Bowl.
But the best way to describe his performance would have to be "disappointing."
Entering the game as CBS Sports' No. 10 prospect overall and No. 2 quarterback behind Teddy Bridgewater, Carr is widely considered a lock to be a top-10 pick in April's draft. However, his game against USC might give some teams pause about handing him the keys just yet.
Where should Derek Carr be drafted?
Not only was Carr's Fresno State squad handily defeated by the USC Trojans, 45-20, but the QB had a poor individual performance, to boot. He put together a middling stat line of 29-of-54 for 217 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
There were moments when Carr flashed the upside that projects him to be a top-10 selection in the draft. On his first drive against the Trojans, he threw a nice fade to Davante Adams for 16 yards and connected with Isaiah Burse on an eight-yard touchdown toss.
However, it started to get shaky from there.
As the game wore on, the pressure from the USC defensive line exposed some holes in Carr's game. It was a point that wasn't lost by expert observers and one which will likely come up again as the draft gets closer and even more of his game is picked apart:
Rough 1st half for Derek Carr. He needs to slow everything down. Moving too fast, feet aren't settled and missing easy throws.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 21, 2013
While Fresno St. QB Derek Carr will be a first-round pick, he has issues with footwork. Shuffles feet when he throws. Causes ball to float.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) December 21, 2013
Perhaps the most egregious example of Carr's occasional composure issues was a crushing interception that he threw in the end zone while struggling to get his team back in the game during the third quarter.
Still, despite the shaky performance, B/R's Matt Miller reminds fans that one game doesn't necessarily define Carr. Whatever team he goes to in the draft will likely be an upgrade in terms of pass protection:
Derek Carr struggles some vs. pressure in his face, but he doesn't fear it like a Blaine Gabbert. And it's not like Fresno St. has an NFL OL— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 21, 2013
Receiver and teammate Davante Adams didn't struggle nearly as much.
Despite the loss, he managed to find a way to flash his upside to NFL scouts, registering nine receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.
As an NFL prospect, Adams isn't as highly regarded as Carr, but CBS Sports currently projects the wideout to land somewhere in the first or second round.
After his performance in this game, there's at least one draftnik who believes that Adams might just be the best pro prospect that Fresno State has:
Davante Adams won't be the first Fresno player drafted, but he might be its best prospect. Not a knock on Carr. Adams is a very talented WR.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) December 21, 2013
Adams became a Mountain West Conference record holder with his seventh catch of the game and was the only player who really found any success against a stingy Trojans defense. He was particularly effective using his ability to go up to high point the ball with his 6'2" frame.
Davante Adams' 7th reception of the game sets a @mountainwest record for most receptions in a single season at 129 and counting— Fresno State FB (@FresnoStateFB) December 21, 2013
Another contested catch by Davante Adams. He wins a ton of 50-50 balls.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 21, 2013
Adams will have a difficult time breaking into the first round with guys like Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews and Mike Evans highlighting a talented class of receivers.
But he certainly helped himself out with his performance in this game.