Raiders

Older brother provided 'blueprint' for Raiders QB Derek Carr

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Older brother provided 'blueprint' for Raiders QB Derek Carr

Programming note: The "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards" -- featuring Bay Area stars Stephen Vogt, Stephen Curry, Hunter Pence, Derek Carr, Torrey Smith and Tara VanDerveer -- will air on Jan. 31 at 7:30pm on CSN Bay Area and at 11pm on CSN California.

David and Derek Carr were born roughly 12 years apart. That’s a huge gap, a generational divide that could strain the bonds of brotherhood. In this case, football made them stronger than oak.

Derek wanted to be an NFL quarterback when he grew up. David was a living, breathing example of how to realize that dream.

“David was successful in high school and college and made it to the pros,” family patriarch Rodger Carr said. “There was no better example of what to do than someone who lived it. I would simply point to David tell Derek, ‘There’s your blueprint.’”

David wasn’t just a leader by example. He took great interest in Derek’s ambitions, and taught a master class in becoming a top-flight quarterback. David blazed that trail, parlaying an excellent Fresno State career into status as 2002’s No. 1 overall draft pick. He was chosen by the Houston Texans, and played a decade in the NFL.

“David was Derek’s idol,” Rodger Carr said. “Derek felt like he lived in a house with Peyton Manning. Even at an early age, Derek was fully committed to following in his brother’s footsteps. I think he knew the golden opportunity he had to learn from David and took full advantage of it. He had the drive, and David was more than willing to teach him.”

Stories of David’s lessons have been well documented. We know that David used to let Derek watch NFL game tape at age 12. David would help Derek break down opponents when younger brother was in high school, and review sessions after games. Derek would throw on the side after Texans practice, often with All-Pro Andre Johnson as his receiver.

Derek Carr grew up with advantages others would only dream of, and he used those tools to maximize immense talent. Derek rose through the ranks from preps to a standout career at Fresno State that prompted the Raiders to draft him No. 36 overall in the 2014 draft. Carr found rookie success, but took a greater leap in his second season that ended up with him in the Pro Bowl.

Derek Carr is thankful for his lot and all the help David afforded along the way, but older brother gave him one thing more valuable than anything else.

“The greatest gift David gave me was confidence,” Derek Carr said. “He always involved his little brother, and made sure I believed in myself and what I could become. I was always around people his age, and that can be intimidating unless you’re used to it. I grew up really fast. I was not scared of anything. No situation was too big for me because the confidence was instilled.”

That confidence was built, and became the foundation for Derek’s success as a player and a leader of men.

“He would force me to take charge, even when I was playing with pickup games with guys so much older than me,” Derek Carr said. “He would simply say, ‘Tell them what you want.’ That’s required of a quarterback, of a leader. I got used to doing that at an early age because he taught me what was required to earn respect.

“He would watch the decisions I made, ask me about them and force me to think critically about my choices. His key was always to do it in a positive way. That was a learning process for me, and now I feel comfortable and confident in my ability to get through to any type of personality. I’m definitely in debt to him for those life lessons.”

David Carr was hands-on for most of Derek’s development, but he has taken a huge step back these days. David will answer questions but not offer advice, trusting that Derek is well prepared for whatever comes next in his professional career.

“The progression changed from him being a teacher to a counselor and now he’s like my Yoda,” Derek Carr said. “All joking aside, I really am thankful for everything David did to help me realize my dream of playing football at the highest level.”

Raiders' Rodney Hudson ranked among best interior linemen in ESPN poll

Raiders' Rodney Hudson ranked among best interior linemen in ESPN poll

The Raiders have seen massive roster turnover over the past few seasons since coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock took over control of the organization.

But one stalwart throughout the adapting lineup has been veteran center Rodney Hudson. And with good reason, as ESPN recently ranked Hudson as the sixth-best interior offensive lineman in the NFL.

Anyone who has followed the Raiders over the past half-decade can tell you that Hudson has been an impeccable leader of the team's entire offensive linemen, helping run the offense along with quarterback Derek Carr.

[RELATED: Bill Callahan's 'dumbest team in America' rant sealed his Raiders fate]

Hudson has been especially proficient in pass protection, where he ranked either first or second every season in Pro Football Focus' pass-blocking grades from 2014-19. The Florida State product also came in at No. 99 on PFF's All-Decade top 101.

Hudson signed a three-year, $33.75 million extension with the Raiders in Aug. of 2019, making him the highest-paid center in the NFL. Given all the evidence above, Hudson clearly has earned it with his play for the Silver and Black.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Raiders' Henry Ruggs had lowest drop rate among first-round receivers

Raiders' Henry Ruggs had lowest drop rate among first-round receivers

Henry Ruggs had plenty of qualities that warranted being the first wide receiver off the board in April's draft.

Top-of-the-line speed, eye-popping athleticism and solid production at one of the nation's best collegiate programs made Ruggs an easy choice for Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden.

Pro Football Focus provided more evidence to support Ruggs' case, as he ended his time at Alabama with the lowest drop rate among the six wideouts taken in this year's first round.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The speedster averaged 19.5 yards per touch over his junior season, making the most of every opportunity with the Crimson Tide in 2019. Although he caught just 40 passes last season, seven went for touchdowns, with Ruggs adding a 75-yard touchdown run (pass was caught behind the line of scrimmage) during a win over New Mexico State.

[RELATED: Would Raiders have won SB XXXVII if Robbins had played?]

Over his entire career in Tuscaloosa, 24 of his 98 receptions resulted in touchdowns.

The Raiders will need Ruggs' sure hands right away, as quarterback Derek Carr hopes to get the Raiders off to a strong start in the franchise's inaugural season in Las Vegas.