The Oakland Raiders showed a commitment to developing second-year quarterback Derek Carr in this year’s NFL Draft by selecting Amari Cooper (Alabama) fourth overall and Clive Warford (Miami) in the third round (68th overall).
And that should make Derek Carr a happy man.
Derek Carr has got to be pretty happy with how the #Raiders draft is going so far.
— Ryan Singer (@RyansNoSinger) May 2, 2015
Last year, Carr had a motley crew of pass-catchers led by James Jones and Mychal Rivera, which isn’t the worst duo by any means. Jones led the team with 666 yards and Rivera came in second with 574 yards. Those are low yardage totals, but the passing attack Oakland ran was a low-yardage, high-efficiency scheme designed to protect Carr from his poor offensive line.
But Warford and Cooper can help Derek Carr be so much better though by adjusting the whole offense.
At Alabama, Cooper was the offense, accounting for 39.8% of all targets. As such, Alabama OC Lane Kiffin lined him all over the field which, in the process, taught Cooper to excel as an inside and outside reciever. While often labeled as a slot reciever compared to the massive Kevin White, Cooper has the size, experiance, and quickness to be a great No. 1 reciever, a home-run threat that demands the opposition’s best cornerback.
With Cooper and the newly signed Michael Crabtree around, Jones can slide into the slot and dominate with his route-running abilities and quickness in the “small” reciever game. Jones gets better by facing worse competition and plays a game more leveraged toward his skill set (one that does not involve out-muscling defenders).
While Cooper and Crabtree will help Jones get better, Warford can outright replace Rivera, relegating him to the No. 2 tight end spot (which he should be). Even though Rivera produced last year on the stat line, he’s not great (or even good) at anything. His production came from bulk, in the form of 93 catches. Warford is faster and bigger, providing Carr a better target that can seperate and move past defenders.
Carr should continue his development as a result. His pass catchers can now win one-on-one battles, forcing teams to play a deeper zone or roll a safety over the top, probably to Cooper’s side. This is a dramatic shift that will create more running lanes and wider underneath throwing lanes, making Carr’s job easier.
Expect Carr to take the next step in becoming Oakland’s best QB since Rich Gannon as a result.
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