The sheer gravitational pull that the NFL Scouting Combine has on players' draft stocks makes it unlike any other event in sports.
In a matter of about 4.50 seconds, a prospect can see his stock easily tumble into the later rounds just as easily as he can skyrocket into a sure-fire first-round pick.
In 2014, not many players better exemplify that school of thought better than Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr.
Going into Indianapolis—where the combine was held—Carr teetered in between a first- and second-round outlook. Following a senior season in which he threw for 5,083 yards and 50 touchdowns, he quickly gained momentum and was regarded in many circles as a potential top-20 pick, headlining the second tier of quarterbacks behind Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. But as time wore on, the excitement around him cooled, and it became rare to see him projected into the first round.
As NFL.com's Ian Rapoport noted, Carr didn't throw at the combine. But everything else he did was a success:
|Height||Weight||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||Bench press||Broad jump||Vertical Jump||20-Yard Shuttle|
|6'2"||214 pounds||31 1/2"||9 1/8"||4.69||N/A||110 inches||34.5 inches||4.20|
The most impressive—and important—number on that board is Carr's 40-yard dash time. Although it's not nearly as telling for quarterbacks, the ultra-popular drill remains one that can seemingly make or break a prospect, and Carr passed with flying colors:
Among quarterbacks, Carr only clocked in behind Manziel, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:
UNOFFICIAL 40 times: Johnny Manziel: 4.56 Derek Carr: 4.65 Jordan Lynch: 4.72 Tajh Boyd: 4.75 Blake Bortles: 4.81 AJ McCarron: 4.91— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 23, 2014
So, what exactly does this mean?
Carr has the superior arm strength and accuracy to make most of the throws on a football field, but the concern has always been his ability to handle pressure inside the pocket. But by cementing his above-average athleticism and mobility, he made it evident he will be someone who won't always have to sit inside the tackles.
When will Carr be drafted?
As the NFL continues to evolve and mobile guys like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton find success, quarterbacks with arm strength and athleticism are always going to have long lines of suitors.
As a result, Carr's stock is already rising.
CBS Sports' Rob Rang has moved the former Fresno State star into his top 10, while Bleacher Report's Matt Miller wouldn't be surprised if he cracked the top 15:
I still see many possibilities in which Derek Carr is a first-round pick. And maybe even top 15 at that.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 22, 2014
Of course, the combine is about more than just physical attributes. How a player handles himself during press conferences is often equally critical, and once again, Carr handled himself with aplomb.
During his time at the podium, he talked about his unique football IQ, as well as his hard-working attitude, via USA Today's Jim Corbett:
I remember watching film as an NFL quarterback at 12. I’ll never forget. I remember David getting ready for the (Jacksonville) Jaguars. I come home after school. And I remember him saying, ‘If they play cover 1, it can be man and it’ll be this blitz.'
I went to the game on Sunday and I was telling my Dad, ‘Hey, they’re going to bring this blitz.' And then it would happen. I don’t think 12 year olds are supposed to be doing that. It’s a huge advantage to have that training.
I’m not 6-6 and I’m not going to run 4.3. But I will outwork and out-prepare anybody. That’s one of my points of emphasis.
There are so many variables—including his pro day—that will affect when Carr hears his name called on draft day.
But after a solid all-around showing at the combine, one thing is absolutely sure. The arrow next to his name is pointing straight up.