While Khalil Mack was the Oakland Raiders highest selected player at the team’s 2014 rookie minicamp there was little doubt to which player would have the most media attention and eyes on him as second round quarterback Derek Carr made his first throws as the potential future franchise quarterback of a team that has been searching for one ever since Rich Gannon left the team nearly a decade ago.
Carr didn’t seem to mind the added attention over the weekend, performing well according to beat writers who attend the team’s practices. Vic Tafur perhaps set the scene the best, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle about Carr’s first practice being a well attended “event” where media as well as nearly every member of the Raiders organization showed up to catch a glimpse of Carr. Who according to Tafur, showcased exactly why the onlookers were so excited to get the first looks of Derek Carr throwing passes wearing Oakland Raiders gear.
It was the first day of rookie minicamp, but there were a lot of people on the sidelines in Alameda at the Raiders’ practice facility Friday afternoon, getting a first impression of the man many believe to be the future franchise quarterback.
All eyes were on Derek Carr, the former Fresno State passer who was selected in the second round by Oakland. A large media contingent made the drive north from Fresno, and about halfway through practice, employees from the team’s business office made their way out to get a peek.
The Raiders’ coaches and personnel executives were on hand, as was owner Mark Davis, who was locked in on every snap of the two-hour session.
Carr had a ball, and showed all the things a quarterback can show in noncontact drills with a bunch of strangers: a good arm, good decision-making and leadership skills.
Carr did have some reported miscues during his weekend practices, including some reports of fumbled exchanges under center, but Tafur’s description of the events of Carr’s first practice set the scene of a player who is being groomed to be the future starter in waiting for the Raiders. However the burning question already has been raised, how does the hype around Carr change head coach Dennis Allen’s views on the position battle at quarterback?
As expected, Allen’s views still very much lie with free agent acquisition Matt Schaub as the team’s consensus starting quarterback when asked about where Carr fits in. Still, Allen didn’t rule out keeping an open mind and letting him “compete” this training camp and preseason to show what he can do further down the road as a measuring stick for how close he is to being NFL ready.
“We’re going to let things play out. Obviously we brought Matt Schaub in and Matt Schaub is our starting quarterback. We feel very good about that. I’ve said this before, he’s been a top 10 quarterback in this league and he’s performed at a high level. We feel very good about that.”
“We like Derek Carr and we’re going to let him go out and compete and see how things work out. You can’t have enough good quarterbacks in this league. You never know when injuries are going to occur and you’ve got to be prepared for that. When you have an opportunity with a guy like Derek Carr that you feel good about, then you go out and get him.”
“Derek’s job is to come in here and work every day to try to get better. He’s a competitor. He is going to continue to compete. That’s really what we want him to do. I am setting any barriers. I am not setting any standards necessarily. I want him to come in here and try to get better every day. If he does that, everything else takes care of itself.”
For now it looks like Carr’s role has been well defined, something that bodes well for his gradual development in Oakland. With little pressure in his first season expected, Carr can focus on growing as a quarterback and getting familiar with the team’s playbook. Despite the big crowds for his first practices and the obvious hype, Raider fans will likely have to wait to see Carr as anything more than an intriguing quarterback prospect who one day could be the team’s answer at starting quarterback. Allen’s political approach may be keeping the slightest window open for a possible scenario in which Carr gets a start as a rookie, but for now all signs are pointing towards plans being unchanged by Carr’s post-draft arrival in Oakland.