Editor’s note: Scott Bair is in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his comprehensive coverage and catch his nightly updates on SportsNet Central.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Raiders would like to address several needs while building through the NFL Draft. They could use linebackers, an offensive tackle, and fleet-footed running backs aplenty.
They are not, however, hunting for a quarterback. That’s a positive development for a team that hadn’t drafted and developed a signal caller in decades prior to Derek Carr’s selection in 2014.
They could’ve been back in the market at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine had Carr not made a “significant jump.” That’s how Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio described Carr’s second season, when he improved several deficiencies and showed the work ethic required to accentuate significant talent.
“We have a really good quarterback in Derek Carr coming off his second year now,” Del Rio said Wednesday. “He took a significant jump last year, and there’s a lot of room for growth. We look forward to further developing him and our football team.
“It’s imperative that you find a guy to lead your franchise, and we feel like we have one.”
Carr established himself as a respected leader in his second year, a role garnered with consistency, work ethic and all-around improvement. He had 3,987 passing yards, 32 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions and a 91.1 passer rating in 2015. While he was criticized as a rookie for dinking and dunking too much, his 7.0 yards per pass attempt made a huge jump over the year before.
Partial credit goes to a better supporting class featuring Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. There’s little doubt among Raider brass he can take them to greater heights.
“He certainly has arm talent, and we’ll continue to develop him as a young player,” Del Rio said. “There’s so much to learn at that position, especially with the command you have to have to run the offense, to get in and out of plays, to direct traffic and some of the game management subtleties he can help us execute from that position.
“It’s imperative that you master all those things. He’s hungry (to learn it). One thing about Derek is that he’s a really hard worker. He understands the importance of working hard and putting in the time to understand his craft. There are so many things to do, and it takes time and experience to get it right. He has two years under his belt, and we’re looking forward to year three.”