Raiders

Texans passed on Derek Carr twice in draft: 'They never talked to me'

Texans passed on Derek Carr twice in draft: 'They never talked to me'

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.”

Jon Gruden admits Khalil Mack trade hurting Raiders in 2018

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Jon Gruden admits Khalil Mack trade hurting Raiders in 2018

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders are winless after three games, unable to finish games well enough. A thin defensive depth chart partially is to blame for fourth-quarter collapses.

Coach Jon Gruden plans to rebuild his defense from the ground up, an effort that will take time.

Gruden has a long-term vision, which the Khalil Mack trade will help facilitate. The move didn’t do the 2018 Raiders any favors, a point Gruden conceded unprompted Monday, when asked about finding balance between the big picture and trying to win each and every game.

“It’s hard. I mean, it’s hard to trade one of your best players, one of the best players on a franchise,” Gruden said. “It’s hard. It’s hard on the players. We didn’t get anything for him that’s going to help us out this year. [Injured nose tackle] Justin Ellis hasn’t played. We have a lot of guys on the defensive line that are out. We have had to replace basically the entire secondary, some of the linebackers.

“We’re in the process of putting the pieces back together. That’ll be exciting. But right now we just have to continue to get ready for each game individually. Right now it’s Cleveland. They’re a football team that’s emerging. They’ve drafted a lot of good, young players. It’s starting to show on film. [Baker] Mayfield is the real deal. This young man can play.”

It remains difficult to move on from the Mack trade, which gleaned a compensation package from Chicago that includes two first-round picks.

It doesn’t help that Mack is wrecking shop in the Windy City. He has more sacks (4), forced fumbles (3), fumble recoveries (1) and defensive touchdowns (1) than the entire Raiders defense. Oakland's front has 23 total pressures, per analytics site Pro Football Focus. Mack has 20 on his own.

Those numbers, and all the losing, has made it tougher to forget that Mack is playing elsewhere. It will get easier after Gruden uses draft picks from the trade, and if the Raiders can build positive momentum this season. That hasn’t happened just yet, with another tough test coming up against Cleveland.

Raiders notes: Jon Gruden calls Derek Carr 'too aggressive' on end-zone pick

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Raiders notes: Jon Gruden calls Derek Carr 'too aggressive' on end-zone pick

ALAMEDA -- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr launched a pass toward the end zone’s back left corner, trying to connect with Martavis Bryant on a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Xavien Howard stole possession instead. The Miami cornerback intercepted his second Carr pass of the day, and was an integral as any in the Dolphins’ 28-20 victory over the visiting Raiders.

Carr said Sunday night that it was a decision he would make again based on the matchup and Bryant’s ability to secure passes in the air.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden might not agree, especially with the pass coming on first down and other opportunities had that pass fallen incomplete or been thrown away.

“I thought we were too aggressive,” Gruden said in his Monday press conference. “I think at times he is trying too hard. We will talk about that extensively here in the next couple of hours, but I thought he played really good under some very tough circumstances. I think sometimes he needs to learn a little bit more patience, and I think he will.

“I’m really excited about the way he has played and improved and mastered this offense. We are getting closer. That was a painful turnover. We will address that, and we will make the corrections.”

Gruden believes without doubt that Carr will thrive in his system and find balance between playing it safe and pushing the ball down field.

Carr has completed 76.6 percent of his passes through three games for 936 yards. That’s good. Having five interceptions and just two touchdown passes isn’t ideal at this stage.

“I think we need to clean up the turnover ratio, No. 1,” Gruden said. “I think when you throw for 80 percent basically in three games for almost 1,000 yards, that’s as good as I’ve ever been associated with.”

Turnovers, however, are a problem in general. They sport a minus-4 turnover ratio, with one takeaway to Carr’s five picks.

“We’ve got to get more hats to the football,” Gruden said. “We’ve got to rip it out. That’s winning football, winning the turnover battle. We’re turning it over too many times. We’re not getting it back enough. That’s a big reason, if not the No. 1 reason we’re sitting where we are.”

Raiders working out kickers

Mike Nugent made every Raiders kickoff and hit two field goals, including one from 52 yards, against the Dolphins. He gutted out that game despite suffering a hip injury that could impact his ability to play next week against the Cleveland Browns.

The Raiders have to set up Plan B, and will bring several kickers in for workouts this week.

Penn doing well

Right tackle Donald Penn played just 18 offensive snaps before bowing out over concerns about a concussion. The Raiders feared the veteran had one, though Gruden said Penn was evaluated for concussion-like symptoms.

Gruden believes Penn will be fine and could play against the Browns.

Penn and replacement T.J. Clemmings struggled against Miami, combining to allow two sacks, two quarterback hits and a hurry.

In other injury news, Karl Joseph will miss a game at least with a hamstring strain.