Derek Carr selected in NFL draft by Oakland Raiders at No. 36 (video)

The Fresno BeeMay 9, 2014 

From the Dog House into the Black Hole, Derek Carr has finally taken the plunge into the NFL.

One of the most decorated quarterbacks in Fresno State history is taking his superstar act over Altamont Pass to Oakland, where the Raiders made him all theirs with the 36th overall selection of the NFL draft on Friday.

Carr's mission: make the Raiders a winning franchise for the first time since their 2002 run to the Super Bowl.

"I can't tell you how happy I am to be a part of the Raider Nation," Carr said. "It happens to be it took an extra day, but I couldn't be happier.

"My brothers, growing up, they had Raider shirts, Raider jackets, all that. ... So it's been in our blood for awhile."

Now, half the Valley will seemingly bleed Silver and Black with him. Carr's fan following the past five years at Fresno State is that huge, and the Raiders' fan base is already that strong, from Bakersfield to Sacramento.

"I'm the biggest Raider fan in the world now," Carr said.

His newfound allegiance came just before 4:30 p.m. Carr was watching the draft with a host of family and friends in Bakersfield when the screen showed the Raiders were on the clock to make their pick.

Oakland coaches and scouts spent a lot of time visiting with Carr in the months leading up to the draft and the Raiders were rumored to be one of the teams most interested in making him their newest franchise quarterback. But they, and everyone else, passed on Carr in the first round.

Not the second time around. Not with owner Mark Davis enamored with Carr's talent. Not with general manager Reggie McKenzie impressed by his character. And not with teams like Tennessee, Arizona and Tampa Bay still looking for a quarterback.

Carr had been waiting for 23 hours, 29 minutes for his phone to ring with a long-distance area code flashing on the screen. Truth is, he could hardly sleep wondering where the call would come from.

"Going to sleep (Thursday) night, the next thing I could think of was, 'Man, I just want to be on a team, know who I'm playing for, know what city and community I'm going to go help,' " Carr said. "That's what bugged me; I wanted my family to know where we're going. ...

"When (Oakland's) pick came up, I was just waiting, looking at my phone, and it started ringing. I almost forgot how to answer it, I was so excited."

His dad, Rodger, ran outside and yelled, "Raiders!" Oakland fans blew up their neck of the Twitter woods, hoping Carr would be the quarterback who makes them forget a long line of busts from JaMarcus Russell in Oakland to Todd Marinovich in Los Angeles.

Older brother David Carr just smiled for joy, knowing he can still drive to all his kid brother's home games -- just as he did during Derek's senior season at Fresno State.

"Selfishly, for him to be so close to home, that's so great," said David Carr, also a former Fresno State quarterback star although he was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 draft to start an 11-year career. "He's just two hours away from where he played college ball, going to such an unbelievable franchise."

The tradition is certainly there, with the Raiders one of the most recognizable sports brands on the planet. The success hasn't been there in more than a decade, with Oakland coming off a 4-12 season -- the ninth time in 11 years the team has lost at least 10 of 16 games. The common link in all those years: struggles at quarterback, the most critical position in today's game.

Carr won't be asked to start immediately as a rookie; the Raiders traded for veteran Matt Schaub in March. Carr will be asked to be a quick understudy and become the long-term franchise quarterback, sooner always preferable to later.

Compare that to David Carr's career, with the first-year Texans starting him immediately and giving him no time to develop on the bench.

"Whenever I'm the (starting) quarterback, great," Derek Carr said. "To me, it doesn't matter what the situation is. If I'm a starter, if I'm a backup there to learn, my No. 1 goal is to help the Raiders win, and I'm going to do that."

Carr did that as a starter at Fresno State, particularly last season when he led the Bulldogs to a 10-0 start and top-15 national ranking before the perfect season ended in the regular-season finale at San Jose State.

By the end of his career, Carr was a two-time All America selection, two-time conference MVP and owner of 25 school passing records. He also led the nation in every key passing category last season to win the prestigious Sammy Baugh national quarterback award.

Five long months later, Carr can begin building his NFL portfolio.

"It feels like it took forever ... but I gotta be honest: The way it worked out, the place I'm going and the coaches and players I'll be around, I couldn't be happier.

"I am so fired up."

The columnist can be reached at bydw@sbcglobal.net and on Twitter @bydavidwhite

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