AFC West: Derek carr

No nerves for Carr in NFL debut

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
What, Derek Carr worry?

 The Oakland Raiders’ future franchise quarterback has been around the NFL since he was a pre-teen, going over game film with his older brother David, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft. So yeah, even if the rookie was making his NFL debut in the Raiders’ exhibition opener Friday night in Minnesota, the younger Carr insisted there was no anxiety.

“It was everything I thought it would be,” Carr said after the Raiders’ 10-6 loss, in which he releieved starter Matt Schaub in Oakland’s fourth series. “It was a lot of fun.

“Oh no, there weren’t any nerves. The nerves stopped a long time ago.”

Carr, the Raiders’ second-round pick, played five series. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 74 yards and was picked off once. His roll-out pass to the left was thrown a bit too hard off the tip of fullback Jamize Olawale’s outstretched fingertips and into the arms of safety Kurt Coleman. Carr’s passer rating was 47.4, compared to the 56.2 authored by Minnesota rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater, who was taken four picks ahead of Carr and also relieved his team’s starter.

“I just try to challenge myself a lot, too,” Carr said. “I want to continue to get better at those little things. Those things matter. The quicker you can get in and out of the huddle, the more time you have on the clock to see what’s going on.

“Like I said, I have a lot to work on, but from that aspect, I liked what we did, and I just got to keep growing and getting better at it.”

And in case you were wondering if the Raiders had any designs on getting Carr some reps with the first-team offense in any of the three remaining exhibition games, coach Dennis Allen had a sobering answer.

“Yeah, it’s not really part of the plan right now,” Allen said. “We’ll obviously evaluate everything as we move along, but the plan is to work Matt Schaub as the starting quarterback, and I think he’s done a good job in doing that.”

Raiders Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
NAPA, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming of of Oakland Raiders training camp:
  • Charles Woodson has always been a fan favorite of Raider Nation and he endeared himself further on Thursday. First, he celebrated mightily an interception of Matt Schaub along the left sideline by running into the stands to revel in the pick with the fans. It was a high-arcing floater that was easily Schaub's worst throw of camp, granted, in real time he would have been sacked by Khalil Mack so he threw up a duck instead. One play later, Woodson picked off Schaub again, stepping in front of a bullet to the left flat, and, yes, taking it to the house for a , wait for it, pick-six. "I know how this whole thing is going to work," bristled Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "Anytime Schaub throws an interception, everybody's going to want to try to hit the panic button and act like the sky is falling ... I'll let you guys push the panic button. I'm not going to. He's still doing a great job." So there.
  • It was the third straight practice in pads -- the Raiders were off Tuesday -- and it was also the chippiest and hardest-hitting practice of camp thus far. No, there have not been any fights ... yet, but we finally got a glimpse of rookie linebacker Khalil Mack's power. Tight end Mychal Rivera had the task of blocking Mack on a handoff to Darren McFadden, but Mack popped Rivera so hard he ran into McFadden in the backfield.
  • Austin Howard returned to practice a day after leaving early with a tight back and showed no ill effects. In fact, the 6-foot-7, 330-pounder looked the part of an absolute beast as a pulling right guard. In one drill, he swallowed up Mack and cleared space for Maurice Jones-Drew to pick up a sizeable gain.
  • A day after LaMarr Woodley gave right tackle Menelik Watson the business, fellow defensive end Justin Tuck was putting on an exhibition against left tackle Donald Penn. Yes, you could say the defense won the day, because besides Woodson's two picks of Schaub, safety Brandian Ross also had an interception of rookie Derek Carr. And rookie Jonathan Dowling had an interception in individual drills. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was more than pleased following practice.
  • Linebacker Kaelin Burnett called his hard hit on running back George Atkinson III a "get-back shot" for a blow the rookie delivered to Burnett a few days earlier on what was supposed to be a slower walkthrough kickoff return drill. "I said, ‘I'm going to get him back,'" Burnett said with a smile. "Nah, we're all just out here competing to make us all better."
  • Receiver Juron Criner (hamstring), linebackers Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) and Marshall McFadden (hip) and safety Usama Young (quad) worked on the side with a trainer before practice. Receiver Greg Little (hamstring) did not participate, nor did defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who underwent sports hernia surgery this offseason and tweaked his groin on Wednesday. Defensive lineman C.J. Wilson (hamstring) came off the non-football injury list and practiced for the first time.
  • The Raiders practice again Friday at 3 p.m. PT
NAPA, Calif. -- From the moment he landed with the Oakland Raiders in a trade with the Houston Texans on March 21, Matt Schaub has insisted confidence, or lack thereof, will not be an issue for him going forward.

Not even after a nightmarish 2013 in Houston in which he threw 14 interceptions in 10 games, including pick-sixes in four straight games, and lost his job.

Surely the Raiders' coaching staff must have some questions about whether Schaub has any mental hurdles to overcome in camp, no?

Well, no.

"I don't have any problems with Matt Schaub's confidence," coach Dennis Allen said Thursday.

"I think he's in a good frame of mind. I think he's very hungry. I think he's excited about the new opportunity."

Schaub, a third-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2004 before heading to Houston in 2007 and going to two Pro Bowls, should benefit from a change of scenery, Allen said.

"I think anytime you go into something new, there's a little bit of, maybe it's an increased focus, an increased intensity level, because it is new," Allen said. "You kind of force yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit.

"I think he's done that. I think he's been very focused and very driven this offseason and I don't think there's any question that he's got something that he wants to go out and prove."

This much is true, though: If Schaub struggles early, fans will be calling loudly for second-round draft pick Derek Carr out of Fresno State, and Schaub does not need that kind of distraction or distress as he's trying to establish himself in Oakland.

That process begins in earnest Friday with the Raiders' first training camp practice of 2014. Sunday, they go at it in pads for the first time.
NAPA, Calif. -- What was the first question Oakland Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr had for veterans as time grew short to report for training camp?

“Where do I park when I get there?” Carr sheepishly admitted.

Carr, the Raiders’ second-round draft pick out of Fresno State and QB of the future, found the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa’s players-only lot on Wednesday -- yes, he drove himself rather than ride the “rookie” bus from Alameda -- and, just like that, his future was kickstarted.

“I’m starting to learn how to be an NFL quarterback,” Carr told a cluster of reporters after checking in. “But I’ve still got a long way to go. So I’m just going to rely on my coaches and the team to help me get through my first camp.”

Carr has first-hand experience, so to speak, what with older brother David spending 11 years in the NFL after the Houston Texans made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2002.

In minicamp, Carr was elevated to second-string on Oakland’s depth chart, ahead of Matt McGloin and behind new starter Matt Schaub.

Ironically, it was Schaub who replaced the elder Carr in Houston and, if all goes according to plan in Oakland, the younger Carr will replace Schaub in the near future.

Schaub has been an accommodating mentor.

“Hopefully, Matt doesn’t get too annoyed at me for asking too many questions,” Carr said with a laugh. “Because I’m going to ask even more now. I’m going to try and pick his brain as much as I can.”

Camp preview: Oakland Raiders

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation's Paul Gutierrez examines the three biggest issues facing the Oakland Raiders heading into training camp.

Matt Schaub: Dennis Allen told anyone who would listen this offseason that Schaub, a two-time Pro Bowler who once passed for 4,770 yards but is coming off a nightmarish final season in Houston, is a top-10 quarterback. And even if a project by found that NFL insiders ranked Schaub 25th in the 32-team NFL, that will not dissuade Allen. Far from it. Schaub is his guy. Still, the question of Schaub's confidence after he threw 14 interceptions (with four pick-sixes in four straight games) and lost his job with the Texans will continue to hound Schaub and the Raiders until he proves it is not an issue. To his credit, Schaub, who looked impressive in the offseason non-padded practices open to the media, insists it's in the past. Besides, a change of scenery might do wonders for him. It's not like the Raiders are putting everything on the 10-year veteran; a running attack spearheaded by Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew should get the play-action passing game going … unless Schaub is shot. Which brings us to the intriguing figure that is Derek Carr, Oakland's second-round draft pick who was elevated to second string in minicamp. But Allen appears ready to ride or die with Schaub, for better or worse.

Khalil Mack: You could say that Mack, whom many saw as the most versatile defensive player in the draft, simply fell into the Raiders' lap at No. 5 overall. And that would be just fine with Oakland. Because in remaking the defense, Allen has compared Mack to Denver Broncos All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, whom Allen coached as a rookie. If Mack, who has stepped in at strongside linebacker, shows a smidgen of Miller's pass rushing acumen -- 35 sacks in 40 career games -- the Raiders have a cornerstone. Mack's blend of size, speed and athleticism were evident in the offseason workouts as he appeared to be a physical marvel with quick feet and balance. Alas, the game will change in camp when the pads come on. No, he's not nervous; Mack is looking forward to knocking heads with the pros. Or did you miss his declaration that he is most looking forward to sacking the Broncos' Peyton Manning? Mack has impressed the staff and teammates alike by constantly being in veterans' ears, picking the brain of players such as Justin Tuck. Mack is a sponge. Yes, similar praise was heaped upon Rolando McClain when the middle linebacker was drafted in 2010. This just feels different.

D.J. Hayden: The Raiders were impressed enough with Hayden to make him their top pick last year, even though he was still recovering from the practice injury to his heart at the University of Houston that nearly killed him. After an up-and-down rookie season that ended with a trip to injured reserve, Hayden again hit a speed bump. This time, he missed the second and third organized team activities (OTAs) sessions as well as minicamp due to a sprained ankle. Allen has said that the only player he expects to be a question mark health-wise entering camp is offensive lineman Lucas Nix. But with so many hopes tied into Hayden -- he was penciled in to start at right cornerback -- his injury history has to have Oakland worried. Even if he is a full go at the start of camp, he missed valuable reps in the offseason. Sure, Hayden got mental reps, but they are not nearly as important or effective, especially for a player who many in the organization see as a bonus draft pick since he appeared in only eight games (two starts) last season.
The Oakland Raiders' offseason roster is at its limit of 90 players.

After a few fits and starts to begin free agency, the Raiders rebuilt their offensive and defensive lines and addressed the secondary and offensive backfield while adding veterans with championship pedigrees.

In the draft, Oakland scooped up the best player available in linebacker Khalil Mack, who has been nothing short of impressive in the offseason workouts, while picking up the franchise's quarterback of the future in Derek Carr (who has been elevated to second string) and a potential starter at left guard in Gabe Jackson.

[+] EnlargeReggie McKenzie
Bob Stanton/USA TODAY SportsRaiders GM Reggie McKenzie still has $10 million in salary-cap space to use for roster upgrades.
All draft picks are signed, so there will be no training camp holdout drama.

But if you think the Raiders are done tinkering with the 90-man roster, think again. General manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen have said all along they expect to make moves that, in their estimation, make the Raiders a better football team.

Plus, they have money to play with when entertaining such ideas. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Raiders still have more than $10.7 million in salary-cap space. But again, to paraphrase McKenzie's refrain, just because he has money in his pocket does not mean he's going to spend it … on junk.

Sure, $10 million may sound like a lot, and the Raiders are far from a perfect unit -- Allen himself equated his roster situation to a kid sitting on Santa's lap and not getting everything he asked for -- but Oakland's cap surplus pales in comparison to the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have more than $27 million in cap space. Yet it's enough to make the New Orleans Saints and their relatively meager $1.9 million in cap space squint with jealousy.

Still, are there any free agents still out there who would put the Raiders -- coming off consecutive 4-12 seasons and with the NFL's toughest strength of schedule in 2014 -- over the top?


Yes, the Raiders could still use a true No. 1 receiver. They could also use some veteran help at tight end. And sure, with D.J. Hayden's injury, another tried and tested cornerback would seemingly fit the bill, which is why the Raiders non-pursuit of Brandon Flowers was a head-scratcher of sorts. Instead, Flowers went from one division rival (the Kansas City Chiefs) to another (the San Diego Chargers).

McKenzie has already made an assortment of minor roster moves this offseason, and with more than $10 million still at his disposal, what he decides to do with it will tell you all you need to know about how he feels about the current roster.

Should McKenzie stand pat, or are there players out there he should target? Would it be more prudent to possibly use that salary-cap space on camp cuts?
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders' offseason workouts began on April 22. They concluded Thursday with the end of a mandatory three-day minicamp.

So what did Dennis Allen, entering his third season as the Raiders' head coach, glean from nearly two months of being around his team as it begins its reconstruction in earnest, especially with training camp about five weeks away?

Consider: Every Raiders draft pick is signed and every Raiders player under contract was in attendance for the minicamp. No contract haggling, squabbling or unnecessary drama.

"I like the direction we're headed as a football team," Allen said. "I think we've got a group of guys that are committed to winning. I think they're committed to this organization, and I think we have a lot of guys who have a lot to prove. That's an exciting thing for a football coach. That's an exciting thing for these football players.

"So I like our direction, I like our commitment and we've just got to keep working."

An infusion of veteran talent with past success, especially on the defensive side of the ball, such as Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith -- as well as Oakland taking linebacker Khalil Mack with the No. 5 overall draft pick -- has given the team a new identity.

And on offense, the Raiders have a seasoned, new quarterback in Matt Schaub and a hot prospect in second-round draft pick Derek Carr, who has overtaken Matt McGloin as Oakland's second-string signal-caller.

Injury-wise, guard Lucas Nix (knee) is the only player Allen sees as potentially missing the start of training camp, even though cornerback D.J. Hayden (foot) participated in just one organized team activities (OTAs) session and linebacker Kevin Burnett (ankle) and Smith (undisclosed) missed them all while recovering from injuries.

Allen was asked if there was a palpable feel on the practice field that this was, indeed, a better team than he had the previous two years.

"I don't think there's any question you can feel that," Allen said. "You guys have been around here too, so I think you've seen these practices around here for a while.

"I think we've had an outstanding offseason and I think our team from the day that we started the offseason program to where we're at now, we've improved tremendously. But we've still got to go out there and do it when we get to training camp and do it when we get to the regular season."

Raiders offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
May 23
» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Oakland Raiders' offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeKhalil Mack
AP Photo/Michael ConroThe Raiders were happy to land versatile linebacker Khalil Mack in the first round.
Best move: Letting the NFL draft come to them. By sitting tight in the first round, the Raiders saw playmaking linebacker Khalil Mack fall into their laps at No. 5 overall. By sitting tight in the second round, the Raiders saw their quarterback of the future fall into their laps at No. 36 overall. General manager Reggie McKenzie gets high marks for not overthinking things and staying true to his gut and drafting for need as well as snagging the best player available a year after trading down and taking injured cornerback D.J. Hayden.

Riskiest move: Call it semantics or claim that someone -- either McKenzie or the player’s mom -- was not telling the whole truth as to whether the Raiders presented a respectable offer, but the Raiders allowing left tackle Jared Veldheer to leave and reunite with quarterback Carson Palmer in Arizona was not a good way to begin free agency. In Veldheer, the Raiders had a known commodity. In his wake Oakland had to rebuild the offensive line. Replacing Veldheer was seemingly an unnecessary distraction, and though Donald Penn seems a suitable replacement, left tackle will be a need again soon enough.

Most surprising move: Getting an established, respected and accomplished veteran like two-time Super Bowl-winning defensive end Justin Tuck to buy in early and sign with a rebuilding team in the Raiders. The signing of Tuck, who put pen to paper a day after Austin Howard was signed, gave legitimacy to Oakland’s efforts in free agency and opened the doors for the likes of other vets LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, James Jones and Maurice Jones-Drew to also choose Oakland as their destination ... without Oakland overpaying. They are all on the back ends of their careers, but they should have enough left in the tank.

About face? Early in his tenure, McKenzie spoke of signing “high character” players with little to no baggage. So it was a surprise when he spent the third day of the draft taking players with questionable pasts, be it legal spats or getting kicked out of school or off a team. It reached a crescendo with this week’s signing of oft-troubled receiver Greg Little. But McKenzie believes he has built a strong enough locker room to withstand a wild card or two. Besides, if a guy can contribute and has convinced McKenzie he has changed, he deserves another shot, right?
The Oakland Raiders announced Wednesday afternoon that second-round draft pick Derek Carr, who was taken 36th overall out of Fresno State, had signed his contract with the team.

According to the NFL Network, it is worth just over $5.3 million over four years.

“I feel great,” Carr said in a team-issued release. “I’m excited. I’m excited that this part of it is over and now we can just get to work and focus on winning games and getting better every day.”

The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Carr, who passed for 5,082 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year for the Bulldogs, is slated to sit behind starter Matt Schaub for at least a year. The two do have a history, so to speak, as Schaub replaced Carr’s older brother David with the Houston Texans and, if all goes according to the Raiders’ plan, Carr will one day supplant Schaub in Oakland. The Raiders hope for an Aaron Rodgers-waiting-in-the-wings-behind-Brett Favre scenario.

Carr is the fifth of the Raiders' eight draft picks to sign, joining first-round linebacker Khalil Mack and the three seventh-rounders, cornerback T.J. Carrie, defensive end Shelby Harris and safety Jonathan Dowling.

The Raiders’ unsigned draft picks are left guard Gabe Jackson (third round), defensive tackle Justin Ellis (fourth round) and cornerback Keith McGill (fifth round).
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Matt Schaub replaced David Carr as the Houston Texans' quarterback and, if all goes according to the Oakland Raiders' plan, Derek Carr will end Schaub's run with the Raiders.

Funny how things work out, even if it might take a few years to come to fruition.

Because make no mistake about it, the Raiders acquired Schaub this offseason to be their franchise quarterback for the now, and they drafted Carr to be their franchise quarterback of the future.

"Matt Schaub is our starting quarterback," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said last week at the team's rookie minicamp. "We feel very good about that. I've said this before -- he's been a top 10 quarterback in this league and he's performed at a very high level.

[+] EnlargeSchaub
AP Photo/Ben MargotMatt Schaub reached out to his heir apparent, Derek Carr, after he was drafted, telling Carr, "Whatever you need, I'm here to help you."
“But yeah, we like Derek Carr, and we're going to let him go out and compete and see how things work out. You can't have enough good quarterbacks in this league. You never know when injuries are going to occur, and you've got to be prepared for that, so when you have an opportunity to get a guy like Derek Carr that you feel good about, you go and get him."

One of the first messages Carr received after the Raiders used their second-round pick (No. 36 overall) on the record-setting Fresno State signal-caller came from Schaub himself.

"He just said he's here to help me with whatever I needed," Carr said. "He said, 'Hey, man, I know you have your brother, who has played 13 years ... [but] we're teammates. I'm here for you every day. Whatever you need, I'm here to help you.'

"That meant a lot."

At Fresno State, Carr was the BMOC in throwing for 5,083 yards last season, on 68.9 percent passing, with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In Oakland, he is a rookie biding his time, albeit with a serious pedigree. He was breaking down NFL tape with older brother David when he was 12 years old.

But that doesn't mean Carr, who will continue to wear the No. 4 he wore in Fresno in honor of Brett Favre, is being brash or outspoken ... yet.

"I'm just trying to encourage guys," Carr said. "This is a stressful environment. You're in the NFL. There's a lot of guys out here just trying to make the team. All of us, we're trying to make the team and trying to prove ourselves and these things. I'm just here to encourage guys, try to make it easy on them.

"If a guy dropped the ball, tell them, 'Great route,' those kinds of things. That's something I've done since I've been little. That's how I was brought up. I just try to encourage people."

Besides, Carr has his own things to work on as a newbie. He fumbled his first snap as a pro under center in Friday's practice.

"The main thing is throwing it to the right spot," he said. "There's so much that goes into one play, more so at this level than college or high school. I can't believe it. It's been fun to learn. It's something I enjoy. Absolutely I threw it to the right spot and again I have a lot to work on. I'm learning ... hopefully, there's a lot more after this."
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders began their three-day rookie minicamp at their compound on Friday with the helmets and shorts practice open to the media. Here are 10 observations from the sidelines:

1. Linebacker Khalil Mack, the No. 5 overall pick of last week’s NFL draft, is huge … and fast. And serious about playing football from a number of positions. True, there’s no real wiggle room for negotiating contracts with the NFL’s slotting system, but the fact that he signed his contract the day before his first practice speaks volumes about his maturity. “I’m focused on football and being the best player I can be,” he said. “That process is done, and I’m ready to go play football.

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezDerek Carr's accuracy showed during rookie minicamp on Friday.
2. Quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders’ second-round draft pick, throws a ball not quite as pretty as, say, Matt Leinart, or as violent as Tyler Wilson, but he was accurate -- throwing in a helmet and shorts and without a true pass rush. Carr also showed some quicks in turning the corner on a couple of bootlegs (paging Terrelle Pryor?). The only negative? Carr, who spent the past two years in the shotgun, fumbled his first snap of the day, under center. “Any time a play doesn’t work,” he said, “I’m not happy.”

3. Left guard Gabe Jackson is a beast, in the most complementary way possible. Again, no pads were used, and thus there was no hitting, but the 6-foot-3, 336-pounder’s mere presence demonstrated why he’s been referred to as a road grader. Yes, it’s just one practice in May, but the prediction here is he will compete to start at left guard.

4. Defensive end Shelby Harris, who did not play organized football last year and was, instead, waiting on tables in a high-end Italian restaurant after being kicked off the team at Illinois State, had much rust and had to take a rest mid-practice. Having been drafted 14 spots ahead of fellow DE and SEC co-defensive player of the year Michael Sam, on-field comparisons are inevitable.

5. Safety Jonathan Dowling, referred to as the potential steal of the draft by longtime NFL executive Gil Brandt after the Raiders grabbed him in the seventh round, with the pick acquired in the Pryor trade, struck a resemblance to Merton Hanks thanks not only to playing in the secondary but with a long neck. There was no funky chicken dance, though, after Dowling dropped a sure interception.

6. Receiver Noel Grigsby is small. Much smaller than anticipated. Though, that might not be a bad thing. Could the undrafted rookie from nearby San Jose State be the slot receiver the Raiders are looking for so badly? Grigsby seemed to make an instant connection with Carr, who joked about the development given Fresno State’s rivalry with the Spartans. “It’s hard throwing to Grigsby,” Carr laughed. “I’m going to have to learn how.”

7. Mack wants to wear the “shredder-style” facemask he rocked in college, the same that defensive end Justin Tuck has worn. “There was a reason I wore it in college, to keep hands out of your face and keep you from getting neck injuries from getting pulled around,” Mack said.

8. Tight end Brian Leonhardt, who spent all of last season on the Raiders’ practice squad, looked like a veteran among the rookies and first-year players. He was Carr and tryout QB Joe Southwick’s most dependable target all day long. Might he push Nick Kasa for the third tight end spot come training camp?

9. Coach Dennis Allen had some “swag” about him. No, not in a cocky way, but in a much-needed way. Allen cannot bear any resemblance to a lame duck in what many see as a must-win season for him in Year 4. He even sent a letter this week to season-ticket holders. “I think we’ve changed our team and I’m excited about it,” Allen said.

10. Raiders owner Mark Davis took it all in, from stretch through the final horn. He was a solitary figure on one side of the field, beneath his white cap while tossing around a football. This is what Year 1 of the Raiders’ Reconstruction looks like.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A wrap-up of the Oakland Raiders' draft. Click here for a full list of Raiders' draftees.

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesDrafting Derek Carr could be a risky move for the Raiders, as the team sees the quarterback taking more of a back-seat role in 2014.
Best move: Sitting tight the first two rounds. OK, so, I’m cheating a little bit here but given general manager Reggie McKenzie’s proclivity for wheeling and dealing, no one would have been surprised had the Raiders traded down for more picks. But with the way the draft unfolded, they merely had to let linebacker Khalil Mack fall into their laps at No. 5 overall and quarterback Derek Carr at No. 36 overall. In Mack, the Raiders got an instant difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball, a player who many observers saw as being the potential No. 1 overall pick. In Carr, the Raiders made a gutsy move in taking a player who, if all goes well for them, will not see the field next year, but could be the team’s franchise quarterback.

Riskiest move: Let’s go with the Carr selection. No, not because it shoudn’t pan out; it should. But because as the Raiders embark upon Year 1 of their reconstruction, they needed as many immediate impact players as possible in this draft. And Carr, by the Raiders’ own plan and admission, will not contribute much -- if anything -- in 2014. From an immediate on-field impact standpoint, there were other players at other positions available. The risk here, then, is McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen drafting the QB of the future for a future that, if the bottom falls out this year, they will not be a part of in Oakland.

Most surprising move: Since taking over as Raiders GM, McKenzie has made a point to bring in what he terms high-character, low-maintenance players. Last year, he stuck his neck out for defensive tackle Stacy McGee, who had DUI and marijuana incidents, but he stayed out of trouble and began to make an on-field impact late in the season. This year, McKenzie used a fourth-rounder (No. 116 overall) to draft Utah defensive back Keith McGill, a huge cornerback at 6-feet-3, 213 pounds who has some personal baggage besides giving up 29 completions on 59 passes his way, per STATS, and getting just one interception in two years at Utah after being converted from free safety. In 2012, McGill was arrested for DUI and possession of stolen property and missed nearly the entire season with a shoulder injury. McGill, 25, was all-Pac 12 last season with 12 pass deflections. “I’ve been trying to stay clean and trying to show everybody that that was the past and that’s exactly what it was,” McGill said in a conference call Saturday. “All the teams that passed on me, they’re going to realize it was a big mistake and the Oakland Raiders are going to realize that it was a really good draft pick.”

File it away: McKenzie likes to keep things close to his vest, but judging by the size and power of the linemen he’s taken in this, his third draft, he showed his hand, especially with the selections of left guard Gabe Jackson (6-foot-3, 336 pounds) in the third round and defensive tackle Justin Ellis (6-2, 334) in the fourth. The Raiders are returning to a grind-it-out mantra on both sides of the ball. And keep this in mind -- rather than take defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, the Raiders used the second of their three seventh-round picks on a defensive end who did not play last season after being dismissed from his team for detrimental conduct in Illinois State’s Shelby Harris.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The conundrum, for lack of a better word, facing the Oakland Raiders as they considered their second-round pick, the fourth choice of the day, went something like this:

Take a player who, if all actually goes well, does not play a down next season, even if he is the presumptive franchise quarterback of the future.

Or ...

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
AP Photo/Eugene TannerIf everything goes according to plan, Derek Carr will play little if at all for the Raiders this season.
Select a player who can presumably make an instant impact for the Raiders as they enter Year 1 of their reconstruction.

Oakland went with the former and it makes all the sense in the world, unless it doesn't.

Confused? Don't be, because while tabbing of Fresno State's Derek Carr was met with confusion in some corners at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, he is part of a long-term plan by the Raiders. It's one that Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie witnessed firsthand in Green Bay.

Think Aaron Rodgers biding his time behind Brett Favre for three years with the Packers. Now, I'm not suggesting Matt Schaub is Favre, but you get the gist. The Raiders want Carr, who ran a high-octane spread offense his last two years almost exclusively out of the shotgun, to learn the intricacies of an NFL offense at the knee of Schaub.

And with the Raiders going all-in with Schaub as their starter for at least two years -- then again, they also seemed sold on Matt Flynn last year -- it gives Carr time to marinate in the NFL game.

“Right, we stayed true to our board,” Raiders director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales said. “We think Matt Schaub is our starter. We're confident with that and Derek will come in and he'll learn, and wherever he fits in he'll fit in. We're comfortable with the pick and knowing that he will come in and develop the way we would like to see him develop.

“He's a very mature kid. He's had a lot of life experiences that the regular 22-year-old hasn't had. He has a family, he's married, he has a child also. We're excited to get a guy like that in the program.”

The question, then, is this: Is Carr prepared to sit, or does he anticipate competing for the starting gig?

"That's for the coaches to decide," Carr said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Friday afternoon. “The coaches know who they're getting, and I told them, I appreciate your calling, you know what you're getting. I'm going to come in and work, I'm going to come in and compete and I'm going to try and make the team better. I'm not a selfish guy, that's for sure, and I can't wait to get coached by those coaches.”

At Fresno State last season, Carr passed for 5,082 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions in completing 68.7 percent of his passes. And while his 74 completions of at least 20 yards led the FBS, 237 of his 659 passes were either at or behind the line of scrimmage, with an FBS-high 143 screen passes, per ESPN Stats & Info. “As a result, Carr's average pass attempt traveled 7 yards past the line of scrimmage, the fewest air yards per attempt of any top QB prospect,” per ESPN Stats & Info.

Plus, his completion percentage of 30.9 percent while under duress was the lowest of any top QB prospect, per ESPN Stats & Info. It all adds to the notion that Carr could stand to have a redshirt year, so to speak, in the NFL.

Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, Carr is the sixth quarterback taken in the first two rounds of the draft by the Raiders, following Jeb Blount (second round, 1976), Marc Wilson (first round, 1980), Todd Marinovich (first, 1991), Marques Tuiasosopo (second, 2001) and JaMarcus Russell (first, 2007).

Carr, meanwhile, said the Raiders have always been in his family's blood. His uncle Lon Boyett was a training camp tight end with Oakland in 1978.

And watching the trials and tribulations of his brother David, the No. 1 pick of the 2002 NFL draft by the Houston Texans, should only help him.

“Oh, my goodness, it's such a blessing,” the younger Carr said. “I learned everything that he did right and everything that he did wrong. He's told me. He told me that if he could do anything, he hopes he made the path smoother for me as I transition into the NFL.”

Watching from the sideline is probably the best path, at least early in his career.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The pick: Derek Carr, quarterback, Fresno State

The Oakland Raiders liked Carr from the start, and many saw them jumping into the first round to draft the record-setting quarterback from Fresno State, who passed for 5,082 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 68.7 percent of his passes last season. But, like their first-round pick in linebacker Khalil Mack, the player fell into their lap, to their surprise and giddiness. Carr’s 74 completions of 20 yards or longer last season led the FBS. He is just the sixth quarterback taken by the Raiders in the first two rounds of the draft since the 1970 merger, along with JaMarcus Russell (2007), Marques Tuiasosopo (2001), Todd Marinovich (1991), Marc Wilson (1980) and Jeb Blount (1976).

My take: The Raiders are already all-in with Matt Schaub under center, but they also want, and need, a blue-chip prospect to learn at Schaub's knee. Think Aaron Rodgers waiting three seasons behind Brett Favre … kind of. It makes all the sense in the world, unless Oakland needed an instant-impact player in the second round more. Carr fits the new-regime Raiders' profile of a high-character player with a high football IQ and desire. Still, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Carr had a completion percentage of just 30.9 percent when under duress, the lowest percentage of any top quarterback prospect. And when not under pressure, his completion percentage jumped to 72 percent. By the way, Raiders quarterbacks were under pressure on 32 percent of their dropbacks in 2013, fourth highest in the league.

Wild-card category: The backup quarterback is always the most popular guy on the team, and if the Raiders had drafted, say, Johnny Manziel, the call to play him right away would have been deafening. Instead, with a patient Carr learning from Schaub, there is no real need to rush Carr on the field -- unless Schaub totally bombs out. Carr is not a mad bomber in old-school Raider fashion, as 237 of his 659 passes were either at or behind the line of scrimmage last season, leading the FBS with 143 screen passes, per ESPN Stats & Information. As such, his average pass traveled a mere 7 yards past the line of scrimmage, the lowest air yards per attempt of any top quarterback prospect. So yeah, he’ll fit right in with this vision of a West Coast offense, so to speak.

What's next: Barring any trades, the Raiders hold the third pick of the third round at No. 67 overall. The Raiders still have needs on both the offensive and defensive lines, as well as in the secondary.

What should the Raiders do with their 2nd-round pick (No. 36 overall)?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,379)

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have the fourth selection Friday (No. 36 overall) to begin the second round of the NFL draft and many see them striking with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr.

It would make sense in that he could use a year or two to learn at the knee of starter Matt Schaub, but with the Raiders liking their current QB room of Schaub, Matt McGloin and Trent Edwards, it might even be more sensible to draft for immediate need. Or, to simply trade back for more picks since the Raiders are barren in the fifth and sixth rounds.

The Raiders seemingly nailed it with an impact player in drafting linebacker Khalil Mack in the first round at No. 5 overall. Might there be another such immediate impact player to be unearthed at No. 36?

Since Oakland did take a defensive player first, we’ve constructed a fan poll with solely offensive positions/players for you to vote on. But there are also some potential difference-makers on the defensive side of the ball the Raiders could eye early today, such as defensive tackles Louis Nix III, Ra’Shede Hageman and Timmy Jernigan, and cornerbacks Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Keith McGill and Phillip Gaines.

Vote for which position group you think the Raiders should target with their second-round pick.