It definitely never ran through my head, while watching a Carroll vs. Beloit football game in 2011, that a member of one of the teams would ever play in the National Football League, yet here I stand 4 years later, watching Derek Carrier play during the preseason.
The journeyman Tight End was traded from the 49ers to the Washington Redskins days ago, due to the attrition that the position has been hit by thus far. Niles Paul? Hurt. Logan Paulsen? Yep. Jordan Reed? Him too. The Redskins were running out of options, so they turned to a familiar face in Carrier, whom General Manager Scot McCloughan was familiar with from his time in the Seahawks organization. Carrier was originally signed as an undrafted rookie out of Beloit College, a small private Division 3 program by the Raiders in 2012. After a year there, he ended up in camp with the Eagles, but was unable to latch on there. From Philadelphia he was signed by the 49ers, who have a reputation for developing “Swiss Army Knife” type players.
Carrier possesses a unique story, and a nearly as hard to find skill set. As a Collegiate Wide Receiver, Carrier dominated the competition in the Midwest Conference to the tune of career numbers: 189 catches for 3,111 receiving yards and 29 Touchdowns, including 75 catches for 1,250 yards and 12 Touchdowns during his senior year (although Carroll held Carrier to only 60 yards on 5 catches in a 49-20 Carroll victory, that was my plug for Pioneer Football.) During his time at Beloit, Carrier displayed an innate ability to high-point the ball, utilizing his 6’4″ frame paired with a vertical jump in the high 30s.
Carrier runs a 4.61 40 yard dash, and since his collegiate days has stacked nearly 30 more pounds on his frame, as he stands in at 6’4″ and 238 pounds. He’s a much more effective option flexed out in the slot and used as a receiver than as a blocker. I’d compare his game to a mix of Aaron Hernandez and Delanie Walker. Washington has had a player succeed in this role prior, Chris Cooley. Cooley excelled as a receiving threat and mismatch vs. Linebackers and Safeties rather than attempt to be a blocker first. If depth were better, Carrier is an ideal H-back, but while likely only play Y-Tight End until some of the walking wounded get healthy again.
Likely topping the Depth Chart, even if only for the time being, Carrier will look to bring some stability to a position that has been in flux since the Preseason started. Look for Redskins Quarterbacks to target Carrier early and often in an attempt to build some chemistry leading into these last two weeks of the preseason.