There are three consensus top quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft--Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Johnny Manziel. If you look at a lot of mock drafts, there are many that have one of the three being around when the Vikings pick at the number eight slot. But there are almost as many that have all three of those guys off the board, too.
And that's where things get sketchy for the Vikings.
If the Big Three are off the board, the line of thinking is that there will be a premier defensive player like Khalil Mack around, or WR Sammy Watkins, but there is a very good chance that they'll be gone, too.
And that's where it gets real sketchy for the Vikings, because they're in a real No Man's Land for them--there doesn't seem to be a player that would command a trade, there is no immediate impact player on defense, and the Big Three of Bormanwater are gone.
But what if The Big Three are actually The Big Four?
Why Derek Carr? As successful as the new Mike Zimmer regime has been since he was named head coach, a long term answer at quarterback is still priority one. Although Carr has flown under the radar compared to the other three, he's still pretty good, and he could maybe, finally, be the long term answer at the most important position.
Why he'd be perfect for the Vikings: It's no secret that Norv Turner likes big, pocket quarterbacks that throw the ball downfield. Carr is definitely that guy. He's the only one of the four with a fair amount of experience in the pro style offense (albeit out of the shotgun more than over center in the last couple of seasons), and Carr has, arguably, the strongest arm of the other three.
He can make all the throws, and he has talented wide receivers to throw the ball to, and a running game that can take pressure off of him while he learns. Only, with a vet like Matt Cassel returning, he probably wouldn't need to start right away.
There are primarily two reasons Derek Carr isn't mentioned in the same breath with the Big Three. For one, his name. David Carr is his oldest brother, and he turned out to be a fairly colossal bust after he was the first ever draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2002. Carr had a remarkably similar scouting report that his brother does, and he was battered behind a terrible expansion team offensive line. He started hearing footsteps, and his career became a cautionary tale in drafting a quarterback and starting him without any other talent.
The other reason is just as Carr was starting to get some publicity as a high draft pick, it was between the end of the regular season and the bowl games. When people tuned in to watch him, it was against an average USC team in the Las Vegas Bowl, and he was awful. Fresno State got blown out 45-20, and Carr had one of his worst games, going 29/54 for only 216 yards. USC pressured him constantly, and he was not able to adjust as all. Eventually, he just started bailing out of the pocket and he hurried his throws, which were consistently inaccurate.
But Carr began to repair the Las Vegas Bowl damage with a strong week at the Senior Bowl, and a gutty performance at his Pro Day. Wait, gutty pro day performance? Yeah, maybe 'gutty' is a strong word when you're throwing in shorts, but he had been sick with the stomach flu and could've decided to not work out and stand on his Senior Bowl performance and NFL Combine. He risked a lot by another weak performance, but performed well, and impressed a lot of folks by working out as sick as he was, instead of using it as an excuse.
Let's compare Carr to the other quarterbacks, again using the charts from the Rotoworld article I've used before. First, let's take a look at overall accuracy:
Now, let's look at completion percentage based on distance:
While Carr's okay to pretty good from 6-20 yards, he's got a problem with the deep ball. For one, he doesn't throw it as often as the other three, and when he does, he's inaccurate. Does one (lack of throws) correlate to the other (poor completion percentage)? It very well could, and you could make the argument that all he needs is practice and proper coaching, which he would definitely get under Turner and son.
But it's difficult to look at his level of production at Fresno State --over 12,000 career passing yards, 113 TD passes, and only 24 interceptions--and not come away impressed. And when you look at his highlights from 2013, you like what you see. He's a guy that's composed in the pocket, making accurate and difficult throws, and you come away thinking that with the right set of receivers and the right coaching, he could develop into a pretty good NFL quarterback:
The question for the Vikings seems to be: If all three of the other quarterbacks, Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack, and Jadeveon Clowney are off the board, do they pick Carr? Even though it's the silly season, Fearless Leader pointed out in his Carr story tat I linked above that his stock seems to be rising. The Big Three could now be argued that they are now The Big Four, with at least one team seriously considering taking Carr in the top five.
Is it all a smokescreen, and could the Vikings trade down and get Carr later in the first, if they have a willing trade partner? Or could they even roll the dice and draft him with their second round pick?
The more I read about the players in this draft, the more I'm starting to think that this is going to be a first round full of surprises and jaw dropping moments, and if Derek Carr end up going to the Vikings, it will be one of the least surprising moments of the evening.