ALAMEDA – The Houston Texans had two chances to take Derek Carr in the 2014 NFL draft. They took a hard pass both times.
The first one was somewhat understandable. They went for a top defensive player with the first overall, choosing Jadeveon Clowney over Khalil Mack. The Raiders took Mack four selections later.
Quarterbacks Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel were selected in the first round, leaving Carr available for selection in the second. Houston had that round’s top pick, and went with guard Xavier Su’a-Filo.
Carr wasn’t surprised.
“They never talked to me,” he said Thursday. “I never spoke one word to a Houston scout, GM, coach, anything. I’m just happy to be here, I can tell you that.”
Oakland became home when Raiders took Carr at No. 36 overall, securing a top edge rusher and a franchise quarterback in two picks.
Carr is the centerpiece of a Raiders renaissance. He made the Pro Bowl last year and is a legitimate MVP contender just beyond this season’s halfway point. The Raiders are 7-2 heading into Monday night’s showdown with the Texans in Mexico City.
Back in 2014, the Texans could’ve used a quarterback. They formally moved on from Matt Schaub, and signed veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to a two-year deal. He lost the starting job midway through that season, and was the first of seven quarterbacks to start for the Texans since that time.
Carr started his first game as a rookie and every contest since.
While Carr is clearly more valuable than a young guard still finding his way, the Texans stand by their draft pick.
“We evaluated all the quarterbacks in that draft and we felt like he was definitely one of the better quarterbacks," O'Brien said of Carr, via the Houston Chronicle. "When it comes to the draft, (general manager Rick Smith) and I, we just try to make the decision for the team and that's what we did. We chose who we chose and we're happy with who we chose, but Derek is having a good year."
Some believed Houston wouldn’t consider Carr because of his last name. Derek’s older brother David Carr was the Texans’ first-ever pick as an expansion franchise in 2002, with uneven results in that role. He was 22-53 as a Houston starter, and taking another member of the family may have been a difficult prospect.
Carr grew up rooting for the Texans, and lived in Texas a spell when his family moved closer to David. Playing against the Texans remains an odd prospect given his history with the franchise.
“That’ll be weird. It was my rookie year, seeing that helmet without thinking that my brother should be playing. It’ll be cool, though. I have nothing but respect and love for (Houston owner Bob) McNair. That is one of the nicest, most genuine people. My brother would say the same. That city was good to my family, and for that we’re always thankful.
“I’m happy I’m not there, but I still have love for them.”