Jon Gruden has always been a big Derek Carr fan. The former Raiders coach and current ESPN color analyst studied him intently prior to the NFL draft, and believed he would be a quality pro.
“Carr is a very rare prospect,” Gruden said Wednesday in a conference call. “His Fresno film speaks for itself. He mastered two different systems and had two head coaches. He was calling his own plays, for crying out loud, in Fresno.”
The belief was cemented during Gruden’s QB Camp, where top quarterbacks are invited to film ESPN segments that take a deep dive into a quarterback’s ability.
“I can remember him throwing the ball like it was yesterday,” Gruden said. “We have two cameras set up 20 yards downfield on each hash mark, and we threw some seam passes toward them. Most of the guys hit the screen, a couple would hit the target. Derek Carr hit the bull’s eye both times and broke my cameras. He put on a show for the NFL players.
“What hasn’t been said about Carr today is about his intangibles. He’s such an upbeat kid. He has so much passion and energy and leadership. He fun to be around. He’s a superstar. He deserves a lot of credit, and I’m glad he’s getting some national television play.”
Carr will be in the spotlight on Monday Night Football, when his Raiders play the Houston Texans in Mexico City for a showcase game. Gruden will be the color analyst for this one, and will see Carr up close for the first time as a broadcaster.
Gruden believes Carr can do it all, and is a primary reason why the Raiders are 7-2 heading into this pivotal AFC clash. That opinion is supported by terrific numbers, with 2,505 yards, 17 touchdowns to just three interceptions, with a 99.1 passer rating.
“He’s a much better athlete than people think,” Gruden said. “They can run the zone read. They can run a lot of plays that make it hard for a defense to do things. He’s a smart guy, and they can use different formations.
“To put it honestly, this guy has a cannon. He’s got a gun. He can throw it tight windows with very little movement. He has a quick release and very little lower body movement. He has an arsenal of receivers. Al Davis would be very proud of Derek Carr.”