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From Prospect To Pro: Comparing Derek Carr To David Carr

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Can Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr have a better NFL career than his brother, David, who was the first pick in the 2002 NFL Draft? Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images.
Can Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr have a better NFL career than his brother, David, who was the first pick in the 2002 NFL Draft? Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images.

One of the traditional means of gauging how an unproven prospect coming out of college will perform at the professional level is to compare that prospect to his NFL equivalent. The scouts do it all the time; they see an NFL prospect and wonder who the player reminds them of at the pro level, and whether the prospect’s skillset will translate to the NFL game.

We'll make these kinds of comparisons every week throughout the 2013 college football season. Where better to start than to examine the similarities between a pair of quarterback brothers, Derek and David Carr?

The Carr brothers are physically identical. Derek is 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, and David is 6-3, 215. Derek’s career at Fresno State (7,760 passing yards, 63 TDs, 65.2% completions) is already better than David’s (6,918 yards, ,61 TDs, 62.7%) and Derek still has this 2013 season to go.

Not only are the brothers similar in stature and statistics, their playing styles are very alike.

Both Carrs have the same throwing motion -- a quick step forward followed by a three-quarter sling, which is somewhere between overhand and sidearm. David throws at more of a sidearm angle now than before, as it's late in his NFL career, but in college, he threw just like Derek does. Derek has a stronger arm than David and he usually puts more mustard on his mid-range passes than his older brother did.

Like David, Derek is mechanically sound. His footwork is great in his dropbacks, and when he isn’t under pressure, he steps into his throws and puts them where they need to be. Derek excels in his decision-making and his ability to see the play develop. In Fresno State’s spread offense, he’s constantly scanning the field for five different receivers, just like his brother did when he was a Bulldog. David has stuck around the NFL for over 10 years due to his football IQ and his ability to run an offense. He hasn’t been a starter in a few years, but he is still on an NFL roster because he’s valuable as a smart veteran who can come into a game on the spot and make minimal mistakes.

Both brothers are accurate passers from the pocket. On the run, however, is where they both get into trouble.

Oddly, both struggle with throwing flatfooted at times, and they both, sometimes, hold onto the ball too long. They both lack escapability, so when the pocket collapses, they are either sacked while trying to run to the outside or they float up a ball for the defense. David was on many bad Houston Texans teams during his (and their) early years and was known for leading the league in sacks every season. This is the area where Derek can be the quarterback David never was. If Derek can learn to throw the ball away when out of the pocket and on the run, he will eliminate the mistakes his brother was prone to making in the NFL.

Overall, the Carr brothers are efficient quarterbacks with excellent fundamentals. David was a very good college quarterback and a below-average professional quarterback, despite being the No. 1 pick of the 2002 NFL Draft and the first player drafted by the expansion Texans. Derek is a great college quarterback and has the opportunity to be a great NFL quarterback, the player his brother never became. Derek is just as smart as his brother and, at worst, he will be a career backup. With the slightly better arm strength he has, Derek has all the physical tools needed to excel in the NFL. He will be better as a pro than David, and the sky is the limit for him. As he makes the transition from prospect to pro, Derek Carr will make his older brother proud.