Derek Carr: Lamar Jackson could be 'special' QB in NFL

Lamar Jackson has a fan in Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Melina Vastola/USA Today Sports

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Derek Carr knows what it is like to feel underappreciated as the NFL draft approaches.

After all, Jon Gruden himself wondered why Carr was not being considered for the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 before he slipped to the second round, No. 36 overall, to the Oakland Raiders.

So, yeah, Carr feels for Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, who is as polarizing a quarterback figure as any in recent drafts, what with some observers saying he should switch to receiver. This despite a résumé that includes not only the Davey O’Brien and Maxwell awards but also the Heisman Trophy as a true sophomore.

Carr said he “loves” Jackson.

“I think in the right [situation] and with the right coaching, that he’s a special, special talent,” Carr said. “Obviously, for any rookie there is going to be a lot to learn. But just talking to him a little bit, I think that he’s special. I think he can do a lot of damage, especially if teams want to play man [defense].”

In three seasons at Louisville, the dual-threat Jackson passed for 9,043 yards with 69 touchdowns and 27 interceptions while completing 57 percent of his throws. He was also one of the better running quarterbacks in recent college football history, rushing for 4,132 yards and 50 TDs on 655 attempts in three seasons.

At 6-foot-2, 216 pounds and with 4.48 speed in the 40, well, you see the Michael Vick comparisons -- and the inevitable call for him to switch positions.

Carr never had to deal with the notion of moving from quarterback. He did, however, have to overcome comparisons to his brother David, who did not quite live up to his promise after being selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Texans in 2002.

Passed over by those Texans -- twice -- in 2014, Derek Carr was the fourth quarterback selected, behind Blake Bortles (No. 3), Johnny Manziel (No. 22) and Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32), but ahead of Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 62).

Carr, who had a down season last year while returning from fractures in his right pinkie finger and right ankle before suffering three broken bones in his back in Week 4, is still a three-time Pro Bowler. He also finished tied for third in NFL MVP voting in 2016.

No, Carr is not in danger of being pushed aside by the Raiders drafting Jackson. Not with three other quarterbacks on the roster in EJ Manuel, Connor Cook and Josh Johnson, and not with the five-year, $125 million contract extension Carr signed last summer.

And especially not with Gruden now in the fold and fully invested in resurrecting Carr.

However, Carr will be paying attention to the draft, and quarterbacks in particular, beyond what the Raiders do with their 11 scheduled picks.

“Absolutely,” Carr said during the Raiders' voluntary veteran minicamp this week. “I love football. So, I’m just a fan. I absolutely take an interest in [the quarterbacks]. I think they’re all talented. I think they’re all going to be really good. I really love Lamar Jackson, though.”

Jackson went 15th to the Arizona Cardinals in our ESPN NFL Nation Mock Draft, after Sam Darnold (No. 1), Baker Mayfield (No. 3), Josh Rosen (No. 11) and Josh Allen (No. 12).