Name: Austin Carr
Position fit: Slot receiver
Stats to know: Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson recorded a rating of 118.6 when throwing to Carr, and 77.6 when throwing to anyone else.
What he does best:
- Good, deliberate route runner; knows how to run the right routes to get open, makes adjustments based on coverage
- Intelligent player, knows how to read a defense and find holes in zone defenses
- Good acceleration, can get up to top speed quickly
- Strong hands when he extends them, can survive contact immediately after catch even with outstretched arms
- Good footwork to get open off the line. Didn’t get pressed much in the slot, but was able to beat it the times that he was
- Sees the field well with ball in his hands, won’t break many tackles but knows where to go to get the most yardage out of every play
- Uses body well when catching, shields defenders out of the catch point; good in contested catch situations
- Not overly fast, top-end speed may not be enough to consistently separate against NFL corners
- Body catches a lot rather than attacking the ball or extending his arms; doesn’t seem to need to, as he has really strong hands when he does extend, perhaps more of a habit than a necessity
- Unnecessarily jumps to catch passes in order to catch them in his body at chest level, rather than just extend his arms. Could cause issues against tighter coverage especially near sideline
- Doesn’t have the sharpest breaks on in- or out-breaking routes
- Doesn’t use fakes or disguise routes too often
Player comparison: Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
Much like Carr, Hurn spends a majority of his snaps in the slot position, but is hardly just an underneath receiver. He can also work the intermediate routes. Both players are particularly adept at finding and settling in holes against zone defenses.
Carr had incredible production this past season at Northwestern, and finished the year as PFF's highest-graded receiver in the country, at 89.5 overall. He’s a slot receiver, and may not be anything more than that in the NFL, but that can still be a huge weapon for teams in today’s pro game. He runs smart routes and makes tough catches, and could be a reliable security blanket for a quarterback. There are definitely things he needs to improve on, such as catching the ball before it gets to his body and tightening up some of his breaks. If he can do that, he could very well find himself making big contributions from the slot at the NFL level.