When Derek Carr finished his senior season at Bakersfield (Calif.) High, he was ranked as the No. 13 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2009, according to 247Sports. To say that he has accomplished more than might have been expected from a player at that position is a vast understatement.
Carr went on to an impressive career at Fresno State while the likes of Matt Barkley and Garrett Gilbert stole national headlines at USC and Texas (then SMU), respectively. Eight years on from their high school graduations, Carr has signed a record 5-year, $125 million contract extension with the Raiders while Barkley and Gilbert sit on the bench as NFL backups with the 49ers and Panthers.
Yet even Barkley and Gilbert stand as success stories among their class in comparison to other top-ranked passers. Of the 12 players who were ranked in front of Carr, only former Alabama passer A.J. McCarron can join Barkley and Gilbert with a quarterback roster spot in the league; McCarron serves as the backup behind Andy Dalton in Cincinnati.
One other player, No. 4 ranked 2009 prospect Logan Thomas, is still on an NFL roster with the Buffalo Bills, but he now plays as a tight end.
Here’s the path of all 12 pro-style quarterbacks ranked ahead of Carr by 247 Sports Composite in 2009:
- Matt Barkley: USC-Philadelphia Eagles-San Francisco 49ers
- Garrett Gilbert: Texas-SMU-St. Louis Rams-New England Patriots-Detroit Lions-Oakland Raiders-Carolina Panthers
- Tahj Boyd: Clemson-New York Jets-Arena Football League (AFL)-Canadian Football League (CFL)
- Logan Thomas: Virginia Tech-Arizona Cardinals-Miami Dolphins-New York Giants-Detroit Lions-Buffalo Bills
- Bryn Renner: North Carolina-Denver Broncos-AFL-Baltimore Ravens-Tennessee Titans-San Diego Chargers-Pittsburgh Steelers-free agent/out of football
- Richard Brehaut: UCLA-undrafted, out of football
- A.J. McCarron: Alabama-Cincinnati Bengals
- Zach Mettenberger: Georgia-LSU-Tennessee Titans-San Diego Chargers-Pittsburgh Steelers-free agent/out of football
- Josh Nunes: Stanford (retired early due to injury issues)
- Allan Bridgford: Cal Berkeley-Southern Miss-undrafted, out of football
- Ryan Mossakowski: Kentucky-Lamar-undrafted, out of football
- Derek Carr: Fresno State-Oakland Raiders
There you have it. It’s notable that three of the four players ranked ahead of Carr who are still in the league were considered among the top-four pro-style QBs. The other won multiple national titles under Nick Saban.
Most importantly, Carr’s career and surge serves as a powerful reminder that high school prospect rankings are just educated guesses, and they often fall far short of history’s true mark. That certainly proved to be the case with the quarterback class of 2009.