Derek Carr Proving Doubters Wrong at Senior Bowl 2014 Practices

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2014

South Squad quarterback Derek Carr of Fresno State (4) looks for a receiver during Senior Bowl practice at Fairhope Municipal Stadium, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 in Fairhope, Ala. (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)
G.M. ANDREWS/Associated Press

I'll be the first to admit that I've been wrong about Derek Carr.

A month ago, I wrote that his stock would only trend downward between now and the draft. I had thought that at the combine and Senior Bowl, when he'd be up against other top prospects, he would show himself to be a solid quarterback, but one whose draft stock was inflated by Fresno State's offensive system and the fact that he played in the Mountain West.

Then Carr went and made me, and all of his other doubters look like idiots with his performance so far in Mobile, Ala. There's little question the Bulldogs star has been the best QB at the Senior Bowl.

Some may argue that Carr is only benefiting from what is a weak roster.

David Fales, Stephen Morris, Tajh Boyd and Logan Thomas aren't banging on the door of the first round. Jimmy Garoppolo's stock has risen, but he's far from a first-round lock. So you've got a bunch of average to above-average QBs, and then one who's fighting to get into the first round.

G.M. ANDREWS/Associated Press

Of course, the converse is that Carr could've come into Mobile thinking it was going to be a walk in the park and that he was that much more above everyone else there.

Instead, he has used the Senior Bowl as a great springboard heading into the combine.

Charles Davis of raved about the Fresno State QB:

I think he's been very consistent throwing the ball, and his athleticism has shined through, too. He moves around well in the pocket and finds a way to get the ball to his receivers, but he doesn't force the ball downfield if it's not there. He's well-schooled that way. He'll check it down, and knowing the right time to do that is a big part of being a good quarterback.

Here's what Bleacher Report's Matt Miller wrote of Carr from watching him in practice:

The most impressive aspects of his week were shown both on and off the field. His velocity and accuracy were at the highest of levels. Even during a very cold and windy Tuesday practice, the California kid was able to excel in the elements.

Carr also impressed by staying after practice to work with any receiver willing to run routes and work on timing together. He has clearly stepped up as the leader of the South team.

Carr wanted to establish that his work ethic at the Senior Bowl isn't a one-off, per Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle:

“I’ve heard people tweeting me and stuff, ‘Oh, it’s for show.’ Well, OK. Come to a Fresno State practice. I do it after every practice when no one’s there. … It’s not for show. It’s in my daily routine after practice and it means a lot to me,” said the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Carr, who led the nation in total passing yards (5,082), touchdowns (52) and average completions per game (34.8) last season.


“I just wanted to come out here and show these teams that I can be their franchise quarterback and that I want to be. … It’s kind of like a mission,” Carr said.

Sure Carr still has plenty of question marks about his potential. His accuracy needs to improve, and there was that horror show at the Las Vegas Bowl when he went 29-of-54 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

But major questions could be asked of all the other top QBs in the 2014 class, with the possible exception of Teddy Bridgewater. Johnny Manziel is a great athlete and his passing has improved, but he's not your traditional drop-back quarterback. Can he succeed in the NFL? Blake Bortles looks to have a wealth of potential, but his mechanics still need a bit of work.

At the Senior Bowl, Carr has looked every bit the part of a first-rounder. In fact, he may well have put himself into the top 10.