Now that the NFL prospect showcase portion of the schedule has been completed, we have some long weeks ahead of us until the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. However, that won't stop draft analysts from slotting and re-slotting players over and over again, and Derek Carr will be a central figure in the overall debate. The big question: How great of a demand is there for a franchise quarterback?
Matthew Fairburn of Mocking the Draft put together a prognostication on January 27 that encompasses the first two rounds and it contained a few substantial surprises. The first is that UCF's Blake Bortles is now the first overall pick, which one would suspect changes the tenor of the quarterback discussion. It also includes trades, another new wrinkle to his mocks, yet Carr slides in the first round and lands in Arizona with the 20th pick. From Fairburn:
He's still a flawed prospect, and it's tough to see him as more than a late first-round player. The Cardinals would be a perfect fit for him. Carr would be able to sit behind Carson Palmer for a while, and his arm strength is exactly what Bruce Arians looks for in his vertical passing offense.
The experts at CBS Sports, meanwhile, are no longer divided in their evaluations. Dane Brugler has been consistent about the Vikings selecting Carr at #8, but now Rob Rang has jumped on the bandwagon. Why did he change his mind? Rang explains:
Mike Zimmer's choice of Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator may signal the end of Christian Ponder's run as the Vikings' quarterback. While Ponder does not possess the strong arm Turner has preferred in his vertical passing attack, Carr certainly does.
Turner, for those who weren't paying attention, was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland in 2013, part of a coaching staff that tried to make the best out of dire straits. The common narrative is that he has always been made to be a coordinator rather than a head coach, but the last time he spent consecutive years anywhere as an OC was a 2002-03 stint with the Miami Dolphins. You know, the Jay Fiedler/Brian Griese era. His work with Troy Aikman was over 20 years ago now, and while having Adrian Peterson to lean upon would be nice for Carr, I have to wonder whether that narrative lies a bit at this point. The Twin Cities are still the destination for Carr at this point, but Turner's legitimacy is something for fans to think about.
Josh Sanchez of Fansided drops Carr in his latest draft, but the new destination is one that has mostly been mentioned in passing. The Tennessee Titans take Carr at #11, according to Sanchez, though whether he is the heir apparent should Jake Locker stumble or the new franchise quarterback is left unsaid. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Titans' immediate future.
Mike Sudds of Drafttek, who had the highest projection of any mock draft in previous weeks, has also dramatically changed things up. Carr still ends up with the Cleveland Browns, but with the 33rd pick. Interestingly, Sudds projects the Browns to select Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Stanford offensive lineman David Yankey with their two first-round picks, so the stock drop doesn't seem like a bad thing.
Walter Cheripinsky of WalterFootball.com also had Carr as a second-round selection last week, but his latest mock draft reverses course. In his latest scenario, Carr is once again a top-10 selection, courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings at #8. He claims that Carr struggled in the Senior Bowl, which comes at odds with most reports out of Mobile, but he also explains:
...reports indicate that teams came away impressed with Carr's maturity. The Vikings met with Carr extensively during the Senior Bowl, so perhaps they'll be desperate enough to pull the trigger at No. 8.
Other Mountain West Prospects
There are not many sites that cover multiple rounds at this point, but WalterFootball.com has hammered out four rounds. Drafttek has done one better and gone the distance with all seven rounds. Here is where other Mountain West athletes are slotted:
Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Drafttek: 49 (New York Jets, round 2) WalterFootball.com: 61 (San Francisco, round 2)
Shaquil Barrett, LB, Colorado State
Drafttek: 163 (Jacksonville, round 6)
Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State
Drafttek: 213 (Green Bay, round 7) WalterFootball.com: 126 (New England, round 4)
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
WalterFootball.com: 124 (Carolina, round 4)
Joel Bitonio, T/G, Nevada
Drafttek: 202 (Tennessee, round 7) WalterFootball.com: 103 (Oakland, round 4)
James Boyd, LB, UNLV
Drafttek: 208 (Pittsburgh, round 7)
Alden Darby, S, San Diego State
Drafttek: 196 (Cleveland, round 7)
David Fales, QB, San Jose State
Drafttek: 116 (Arizona, round 4)
Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
Drafttek: 131 (Tampa Bay, round 5)
Marqueston Huff, S, Wyoming
Drafttek: 173 (Detroit, round 6)
Marcel Jensen, TE, Fresno State
Drafttek: 119 (Kansas City, round 4)
Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State
Drafttek: 107 (Detroit, round 4) WalterFootball.com: 123 (Cleveland, round 4)
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Drafttek: 76 (Detroit, round 3) WalterFootball.com: 107 (Detroit, round 4)
Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State
Drafttek: 168 (Minnesota, round 6)
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Drafttek: 78 (Baltimore, round 3) WalterFootball.com: 62 (New England, round 2)
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
Drafttek: 105 (Buffalo, round 4)