Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio went through the media gauntlet Wednesday afternoon in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine, and at each of his stops there was a constant topic of conversation that came up – the continued development of quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr was a topic of interest across the board, and for good reason.
He delivered an impressive sophomore campaign, improving his stats in multiple areas, but maybe more importantly, his output provided some much-needed stability for the Raiders at the most scrutinized position in football.
"I feel like we have a really good, young quarterback in Derek Carr who's coming off his second year now, took a significant jump last year for us, and we feel like there's a lot of room for growth there," said Del Rio. "We're really looking forward to getting him to this offseason and further developing him, further developing our football team. It's imperative that you find a guy that you believe can lead your franchise. We think we have one."
In his second professional season under center, Carr improved his completion percentage, passing yards as well as his total number of touchdowns; but even with all the marked improvements, Del Rio believes that Carr hasn't come close to reaching his ceiling.
"I think he took a nice step forward a real significant step forward in year two, and we think there's so much more growth in year three and beyond," Del Rio told SiriusXM NFL Radio. "I'm really excited about where he is and what we know we can do going forward with him."
In addition to all Carr's tangible improvements on the football field, he was also noticeably more comfortable – and effective—at throwing the ball deep in 2015, and his head coach thinks that comfort has a lot to do with the weapons that the Silver and Black were able to surround him with.
"I sat up here last year and said I believe he can throw the deep ball well," Del Rio recounted. "He just didn't have guys that could go get the deep balls, and we feel like we've collected a couple of guys who can go it, like with Amari [Cooper], and with that, we saw him hit a higher percentage of deep balls and throw more of them last year."
Yes, the Fresno-State product was assuredly aided by a retooled group of offensive weapons last season, but at the end of the day, experience and time under center may have been the biggest reason for Carr's jump in year two.
"As a young player, there's so much to learn at that position," explained Del Rio. "There are just so many things; it's just a matter of time. It takes time. It takes experience and he's got two years under his belt and we're looking forward to year three."