Posts by Phil Rainey

Evaluating the Evaluation of Derek Carr

When I was an NFP Introduction to Scouting student, one of the assignments is to learn how to evaluate college QBs and write a scouting report from watching game film. For mine, I chose former Fresno State and current Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr when he was still a young pup playing for the

When I was an NFP Introduction to Scouting student, one of the assignments is to learn how to evaluate college QBs and write a scouting report from watching game film. For mine, I chose former Fresno State and current Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr when he was still a young pup playing for the Bulldogs (pun intended). Here is what I had to write about him based on the six games of film I watched in my evaluation:

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (6’2”, 215)

Strengths: Physical Size, Very strong arm with feet set, Very accurate with short passes, Good Release Point, Good Footwork, Decent Ability to reset feet under pressure, Good spin on ball, Good pocket awareness, Keeps eyes downfield
Weaknesses: Accuracy on deep passes, Touch in all areas of the field, Drops from Center, Reading progression, Foot speed, accuracy under pressure, Anticipating WR getting open.
Overall Impression: Excels in a quick passing offense and in throwing short to intermediate routes but struggles with accuracy on deep passes. He has a tendency to sail or loft passes when throwing deep and can only hit guys deep if they are wide open. Plays in an offense where he only reads half the field and needs to learn how to read the progression of routes and the entire field if he is expected to excel on the next level. He will probably struggle on the next level in the beginning making drops under center since he was in the shotgun in college most of the time. He also struggles with his throwing accuracy when faced with pressure and is not very fast when having to tuck the ball and run given his 4.69 speed in the 40. Also has a bad habit of throwing off his back foot when pressured and sometimes holds on to the ball too long. He makes up for his lack of speed with good pocket awareness and his strong release in getting rid of the football as well as his ability to keep his eyes downfield and spot open receivers. Will need to work on his game to develop into a solid starter on the next level.
Grade: 6.4 C = Possible Starter Caliber, Deficient in one area of playing skills.
Games watched for evaluation: 2013 vs. Boise State, New Mexico, Nevada, USC, Utah State, 2012 vs. SMU

Carr just completed his rookie season in the NFL. Curiosity got the better of me after watching most of Oakland’s 2014 games. Looking back over my evaluation of him at Fresno State for the assignment, I wanted to see how accurate I was in my assessment of him as a college player and his transition to playing on Sundays. I went back and watched every snap he played in for the Raiders, broke down the above mentioned report, and compared it to what I saw in 2014. Was it on the field, in the ballpark or out in the parking lot?

In addition to comparing my evaluation of Carr in college to his play in the NFL, I’ll also compare him with the gold standard for NFL QBs in Aaron Rodgers, as this would be an ideal benchmark for Carr to reach before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2018. This gives him three seasons to improve from where he is now.

“Excels in a quick passing offense and in throwing short to intermediate routes but struggles with accuracy on deep passes. He has a tendency to sail or loft passes when throwing deep and can only hit guys deep if they are wide open”.

As you can see from Carr’s chart (1a.) he struggled in throws 20 yards or more down the field. Aaron Rodgers was far more accurate and productive in throwing the ball deep (chart 1b.). This is an area where he needs a lot of improvement. And just as he showed in college, most of Carr’s throws were passes in the short pass zones of the field where he dinked and dunked his way downfield and relied on his receivers to pick up yards after the catch (1,561 of his 3,270 yards – 48% of his total passing yards was YAC). Carr had 23rd least YAC in the NFL compared to Aaron Rodgers who was 13th (2,191 of his 4,381 yards or 50% was YAC). Put in perspective, it means Carr’s higher percentage of air yards was attributed to more short passes in the air but the receiver got tackled right away most of the time after catching the pass. The pass distribution charts of both players clear this up. Rodgers’ percentage of air yards and YAC are even but the chart shows how he threw for more total yards as well as air yards than Carr by completing more passes further down the field in conjunction with the receiver taking those passes further down the field after catching them (Look at the difference in the 20+ yards area of the field on both charts).

“Plays in an offense where he only reads half the field and needs to learn how to read the progression of routes and the entire field if he is expected to excel on the next level. He will probably struggle on the next level in the beginning making drops under center since he was in the shotgun in college most of the time”.

Carr took a great deal of his snaps from the shotgun position, and the film shows he read one side of the field often.

“He also struggles with his throwing accuracy when faced with pressure. Also has a bad habit of throwing off his back foot when pressured and sometimes holds on to the ball too long”.

Carr was sacked 24 times (25th most) for 149 yards. The Raiders offensive line was 5th best in sacks allowed. Rodgers was sacked almost the same amount of times (28 for 174 yards) but had 79 less passing attempts than Carr. And there is a huge difference in the number of interceptions thrown by each player.

1a. Derek Carr’s chart on where he threw the football in 2014

1b. Compared to Rodgers stats, Carr has a great deal of work ahead of him to jump up to elite status in the NFL

The Raiders protected Carr in the play calling last year, and it appears that they will continue the trend with the new coaching staff. New Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave spent the last season as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback coach, so he’s very familiar with the quick-tempo, no-huddle offense. Carr is pumped that he’ll be working sans huddle more in his second season. “My last two years at Fresno State were 100 percent no-huddle, and I love it. I’m very comfortable in it,” Carr said. “They are building this offense around me, and I’m really excited about it. I lit up when they told me.” “We’re not going to be all no-huddle, but it is going to be a big part of what we do,” he said to ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson. “And I’m really excited with the coaches’ plans.”

We’ll see how well going back to the same style of offensive play he ran and was use to in college transitions and works for him and the Raiders. The dink and dunk style of play lives on, except it will be run a little faster. He will probably put up high numbers in the short areas of the field like he did in both college and the NFL this past season looking ultra-productive on paper, but will it be enough to help the Raiders improve on offense as a team? Especially since they have to rely on veteran wideout Michael Crabtree to find a way to finally be able to get separation from defenders and their new rookie WR Amari Cooper, who might struggle in his first NFL season adjusting to the size, speed, and more physical nature of the game that he did not see every Saturday in college. I think he is a solid player who will have success in the league, but the Raiders could have gotten Carr a bigger target to throw to by drafting Kevin White instead of Cooper in my opinion. Will Cooper and Crabtree complement each other and be the right mix with Carr like some other great WR combos (Lynn Swann and John Stallworth with the Steelers, the great Jerry Rice and John Taylor with the 49ers or Chris Carter and Randy Moss with Vikings or the weapons Aaron Rodgers has for example)?

Phil Rainey is a high school football coach and graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached by e-mail at philraineyscouting@gmail.com or Twitter @Rainey_Phil

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Previewing the (West Coast) Draft Class of 2016

College Football is on the clock. With the start of the season now less than 100 days away, let’s take a look at the draft eligible prospects and the class of 2016 out west, or as some would say, on the “left coast”.

Why concentrate on one particular area of the United States when there

College Football is on the clock. With the start of the season now less than 100 days away, let’s take a look at the draft eligible prospects and the class of 2016 out west, or as some would say, on the “left coast”.

Why concentrate on one particular area of the United States when there are so many players across the country to look at? It’s my story, I’m telling it, and I have a bias towards this part of the college football landscape since it’s my backyard. The west coast has a plethora of talented players primed for Sunday’s and the leap up to the next level.

Here is a list of players I will spend my time either watching in person, on television, or in the film room. More than likely it will be all three depending upon who stands out the most during the course of the 2015 season.

Starting with the position most NFL teams build their teams with, let’s take a look at the QBs.

Two players that standout as the cream of the crop and are ranked in the top five in the country at their position are USC’s Cody Kessler and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan. Both will be battling it out on the field head-to-head during the season on September 19th for the top QB prospect along with Michigan State’s Connor Cook, who is ranked as the No.1 QB prospect in the class headed into this season. But don’t count out Cal’s Jared Goff if he has a standout year and decides to enter the draft as an underclassmen or dark horse prospect Mike Bercovici of Arizona State.

Moving on to the players these guys will be throwing the ball to… at the WR position, one school is loaded with prospects.

Here is where my bias really stands out since Cal is pretty much a 20 minute drive door-to-turnstile from my house and where I got my start working in sports. I have a great deal of love for the Golden Bears football program. Cal has five guys to spread the ball around to in their vaunted “Bear-Raid” offense this year so their numbers will not be as high as some others around the country, but make no mistake, you will see some of these guys in NFL next year. Of Cal’s five wide outs, pay very close attention to underclassmen Kenny Lawler. He is perhaps the best WR at the school and one of the top three on this list. Also pay attention to Stephen Anderson of Cal and UCLA’s Jordan Payton.

The list of players toting the rock this year is pretty thin, with many of the schools out west being pass happy offenses. Which is also why you won’t see a single TE prospect on this list… because no one, other than Stanford, uses them much, if at all.

Much like the QB position, there are a couple of guys ranked as top five players in the nation that play out west. Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott enters as the best of the best in the country, but Oregon’s Byron Marshall and Arizona State Sun Devil D.J. Foster are chasing him down. Don’t sleep on Cal’s Daniel Lasco however. You will also see this guy playing on Sundays.

Lastly, the guys up front doing the heavy lifting, pushing, pulling and grappling at the line of scrimmage include:

The “left coast” stands out with a number of big guys ranked as top five linemen in the country. The Pac-12 will be well represented in the fall of 2016 in the NFL. USC’s Max Tuerk leads the way on this list ranked as the best Center prospect in the country followed by fellow linemen, Jake Brendel from cross-town rival UCLA, Guards, Christian Westerman from Arizona State and Cal’s Jordan Rigsbee and Oregon’s Tyler Johnstone who is returning from an ACL injury he suffered last year.

2015 looks to be another exciting year of college football. I’m looking forward to watching a lot of great matchups and prospects on offense.

Phil Rainey is a high school football coach and graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached by e-mail at philraineyscouting@gmail.com or Twitter @Rainey_Phil

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Viewing Today’s Players: Where are the standards of evaluation?

In watching film and doing an evaluation on (former Houston FS) Kendrick Lewis, I have a hard time digesting the UFA contract he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. This led to the question of, has the bar been lowered in evaluating today's players? Based on what he shows on film, I find it difficult in

In watching film and doing an evaluation on (former Houston FS) Kendrick Lewis, I have a hard time digesting the UFA contract he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. This led to the question of, has the bar been lowered in evaluating today’s players? Based on what he shows on film, I find it difficult in justifying signing Lewis to a 3-year, 5.4 million dollar deal (1.4 million guaranteed) at his age (28).

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh seems to believe that Lewis has better days ahead of him after 5 years in the league. I don’t see it unless he is going to use him in nickel and dime packages and send him on blitzes regularly. He is a huge liability in the run game and average in his coverage skills. He has never been to the Pro Bowl, and his best season was in 2011 (4 years ago). What am I missing with this guy?

There is the belief that Lewis’ contract can be attributed to the market. After Jairus Byrd (New Orleans) and T.J. Ward (Denver) received big contracts last season, the price tag on safeties went up. But both are Pro Bowl caliber players and Lewis has never been to one in his career. When looking at this year’s crop of FA safeties, there weren’t many other options. You can make an argument that Rahim Moore and Da’Norris Searcy are better players than Lewis, but that’s about it. My guess is Baltimore overpaid simply because they thought they had to in order to land a safety who can contribute. This was a weak draft for the position. After Damarious Randall, no free safety was selected until the fifth round.

Do we just live in a day and age where compromising your principles and standards seems to be the easier thing to do? Can Lewis’ contract really be attributed to the market? Houston signed him to a one year deal and obviously felt he was not worth resigning and let him walk. Why didn’t the team that drafted him (Kansas City) keep him and not let him become a FA? Teams pay what they want, and Baltimore could have done the same. Are the standards being lowered in evaluating today’s players? I believe the pressure to win right away has a lot to do with it, and therefore, you see more marginal players being thrown into starting roles sooner than they are ready. Is this is also causing evaluation grades of players to be higher than what they really should be? In looking at film on Damarious Randall this past season, I don’t see how he was evaluated as a 1st round draft pick. His size alone doesn’t warrant being drafted that high. As always, time is the ultimate judge of everything.

Phil Rainey is a high school football coach and graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached by e-mail at philraineyscouting@gmail.com or Twitter @Rainey_Phil

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