Ex-Fresno State star Derek Carr completed a promising rookie season for the Oakland Raiders in 2014, passing for 3,270 yards with 21 touchdowns.
But the Raiders also finished 3-13, went through two coaches and hired a third for 2015, dipped into free agency this offseason for center Rodney Hudson, linebacker Curtis Lofton, safety Nate Allen and a host of others and added wide receiver Amari Cooper in the first round of the 2015 draft to give Carr a potential big-time target.
The Bee caught up with the QB to get his thoughts on the draft, the post-draft acquistion of a former Bulldogs teammate and more.
The Bee: The NFL Draft came and went. How satisfied are you with what your team has done in the selection process?
Harper: I knew all of our guys would make the best decision possible for our team. So I knew whichever way they were going to go in the draft, whether it was receiver, defensive line, or whatever, I knew they were going to do what’s best for us. Honestly, it didn’t matter to me what they did because I trust them so much. You have to have trust, you know, from the top down. I trusted knew they would do what’s best for us. They felt going in this direction was the best way and I’m obviously very excited, just as our whole team was. You saw everyone on Twitter, congratulating and welcoming (the nw okaters to the football team and you can see the excitement from our team because we got better and all the way through the draft. We were fired up and we were excited to have them all.
Now you’re reunited once again with Josh Harper. Take me back to that day when you found out Harper was joining the Raiders.
I was so excited because me being in Fresno and obviously the scouts and other people that ask me about Josh, Derron (Smith), Cody Wichmann, Tyeler Davison. They asked me questions and things about them. They want to make sure they check every end and everything they can to see, to find out, about people. I knew how they felt about them. I knew how our people felt about him as a player and as a person and when the free agency time came and when I didn’t see Josh’s name picked …. My first thought was, ‘Well he’s coming here.’ And as soon as I found out, we were all excited. It’s going to be nice to be reunited with him. It’ll be fun. I think he’ll be able to do some good things for us.
Did you have a say-so in what the Raiders should do about Harper?
I don’t step on toes or do anything like that. I have received calls about Josh and certain things leading up to all that. I’ve never called and said to bring him here. Everyone in the building knew how I felt about him.
You had some great times at Fresno State and had three good receivers to share the wealth with. Take me back to that time when you played with those guys.
With all of those guys. No one can play us man coverage. When they did one guy was always in. We were hoping they would play us man and as long we protected up front we felt that we can always win outside. That was a great feeling to have as a quarterback to know your guys can always win out there. Josh was the guy that had over 70 catches and had over 1,000 yards, and you sit back and look at it and say, ‘Wow that’s a really great season’ … for any receiver. Had over 10 touchdowns. If you told any receiver that, they would take those stats from day one of any year. He just so happened to be the third-leading receiver on the (2013) team, which is crazy. When you look at that production and you look at his production from last year, they didn’t have the win-loss record that they wanted but he was still able to produce and make plays. It’s crazy he didn’t get drafted. I still don’t get it. That’s one of the things I don’t get sometimes, personally speaking, but it is what it is and he’s with us and I couldn’t be happier.
Does it help to know what type of player Harper is? If so, why?
You know strength and weaknesses and you can help him learn faster. I know how to talk to him. I can relate to him because we’ve been on the same team and we can make jokes. That relationship is already there. We’re already good friends. He’s already been my receiver and I’m his quarterback. That hasn’t changed. The only thing that changed is we’re wearing a different jersey … (but) we can relate because I know how to talk to him, teach him and if something is going wrong in the game I know how to speak to him and in what tone. How does he learn? How does he handle things and change something? I already know how to deal with Josh. I’ve been doing that really for his whole career except for last year.