The 2021 NFL season is almost upon us and opinions on the Las Vegas Raiders aren’t very high. There aren’t many outlets predicting them to make it to the playoffs and you’d be hardpressed to find power rankings that rank them in the top-20 teams. At the end of the year, the Raiders could be outside of the 20 best NFL teams but that won’t be because of Derek Carr.
The veteran quarterback had an excellent season last year and was rated as the 13th best player at the position by Pro Football Focus. However, some believe he is underrated. Pro Football Focus recently released their All-Underrated Team and put Baker Mayfield as the starting quarterback. It seems odd to say he’s the most underrated quarterback in the NFL when he’s constantly in commercials and was the No. 1 overall draft pick just a few years ago.
Fox Sports Analyst Colin Cowherd took issue with the team and stated that not only does Carr deserves the spot, but he may also actually be the most underrated player in the NFL:
Derek Carr has a coach we’re not sure can coach, a GM we’re not sure can GM, he had to move franchises and does not have a No. 1 receiver. Since 2018, he has a 68.9 completion percentage, 67-27 touchdown/interception ratio and a 98.6 passer rating. Now let’s look at ‘underrated’ Baker Mayfield’s numbers last year with the best offensive line, and a very smart and talented young coach and GM. His completion percentage is significantly lower than Carr’s [62.8%], TD/interception ratio is fine [26/8], and a passer rating lower [95.9]. Baker’s numbers are fine but that’s with the Coach of the Year, the best offensive line, Jarvis Landry is a clear No. 1 and he has excellent running backs. … Derek Carr is not only more underrated, Derek Carr is the most underrated player in the league.
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Is Cowherd Right About Carr?
The interesting thing about Carr is that he gets most of the criticism from his own fan base. Many Raider fans are ready to move on and don’t think he can get it done. However, it must be acknowledged that Carr hasn’t had the best tools to work with. He hasn’t had a Pro Bowl-level wide receiver to throw to since Amari Cooper was traded and the offensive line has been inconsistent with health in recent years.
It’s no secret that the defense has been among the worst in the NFL, which only makes things harder for Carr. Is he one of the league’s elite quarterbacks? No. That said, he’s a very good starter and could be acknowledged as a top-10 quarterback if he improves off of his 2020 season. It’s hard to say if Carr is the most underrated player in the NFL but he certainly deserves to be in the conversation.
Carr May Need a Playoff Berth in 2021
A big reason why nobody in the media is high on the Raiders is that they have the same head coach and starting quarterback that they’ve had for three seasons. With Las Vegas, many are going to have to believe it when they see it. Though the Raiders aren’t expected to make the playoffs this season, it would help a lot of people if they did.
Carr only has two years left on his contract and his guarantees have already been paid. If the Raiders miss the playoffs again, they could move on with ease. Coaches, quarterbacks and general managers usually don’t survive four straight years without making the playoffs. Jon Gruden isn’t going anywhere so eyes will be on Carr and Mike Mayock. Unless he’s absolutely amazing in 2021, Carr could be fighting for his future in Las Vegas this season.