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Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Expert's take: Derek Carr

By Ben Goessling

MINNEAPOLIS -- We're continuing our series on the Minnesota Vikings' quarterback options in the upcoming draft, with the help of ESPN NFL scout Matt Williamson (a former NFL and college scout for the Cleveland Browns) and ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick, who was formerly the director of pro personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins, as well as an eight-year NFL veteran.

Today, we're looking at Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, who might be one of the best examples of how polarizing this quarterback class is. Some mock drafts have Carr breaking into the top 10; others have him going late in the first round or even in the second round. Even between our two experts, there's a difference of opinion; Williamson said "most people like Derek Carr more than I do," while Riddick believes Carr is the best fit for Norv Turner's offense in Minnesota.

The Vikings have spent plenty of time with Carr, meeting with him at the Senior Bowl and holding a private workout with him after his pro day. The best course of action might be to see if they can get him in the second round, or trade back into the first round, after selecting a defensive player with the No. 8 overall pick. But to do that, the Vikings would have to figure out where Carr fits in a wide range of draft scenarios.

Let's take a closer look at him:

2013 stats: 68.9 completion percentage, 5,083 yards, 50 touchdowns, 8 interceptions.

NFL combine measurements: 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, 31 1/2-inch arm length, 9 1/8-inch hand span.

Pros: Carr showed an ability to make all the throws required of a NFL quarterback, and of any passer in this draft, Riddick said, Carr is the one whose resume fits best with what Turner will want. "He's going to want a guy who can hit those 15-, 20-, 25-yard dig routes, the deep post, the go route, the deep comeback on the outside -- which is really the hardest throw to make in the NFL," Riddick said. "To me, the one guy who can really do that, if you look at some of his older film when he was running a pro-style offense in college, is Derek Carr. Now, is Derek Carr supposed to go that high? Is he supposed to be a top-10 pick in the draft? No, he's not. But he is the guy who can really do it." His arm is probably strong enough, and his release quick enough, to handle much of what Turner wants.

Cons: Williamson's biggest concern with Carr was how the quarterback handles pressure, and at times in college, Carr had a tendency to overshoot some off-balance throws. Playing behind the Vikings' offensive line, he isn't likely to spend a great deal of time under fire, but every NFL quarterback has to throw under duress at times, and the best ones can be accurate on the run. Teams will also have to project Carr's fit in a NFL scheme based on what he did earlier in his career at Fresno State, when the Bulldogs were running more of a pro-style scheme under Pat Hill. At the end of his time at Fresno State, Carr was playing mostly in the shotgun and pistol, and he'd have to be able to drop back in Turner's offense. "I could see why they would like him, but I don't think I would use that (No. 8 ) pick on him. I think he's clearly fourth among those top four guys (Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater)."

Bottom line: The Vikings might not need to take Carr with the eighth overall pick, but he seems like he'd have the tools to grow into Turner's system. He could be a good option for the Vikings, either early in the second round or with a trade back into the bottom of the first round.