1 of 1
By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian
BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
Forget, for a moment, the big stage and the riches and the NFL glory.
What Derek Carr really wants is an address.
"I'm ready to get to work," he said. "I want to go to work and have a job, know where I'm living, know where to send my stuff to."
He will figure that out this weekend, either in the first round of the NFL draft tonight, or later in the weekend if teams who have courted him relentlessly over the past five months decide to make him wait until Friday's second round.
Either way, Carr is ready for the show to go on.
"The whole process, I'm ready for that to be over," he said. "I've flown into places so much. One time I literally landed and said, 'Where am I, and where am I about to go?' I had to look at my ticket to figure it out."
For any other guidance Carr has needed since he played his final game of a record-breaking career at Fresno State in December, he has turned to his big brother, David. It's at David's house in southwest Bakersfield where the Carrs will gather tonight to watch the draft and celebrate, whatever may happen.
"There's nothing quiet about our house," David said. "It'll be a good celebration. We'll have fun. The draft will be on, and I'm sure we'll know when he gets picked, but it's not the most important thing. People who know our family know we're rooted in our faith, something far deeper than the NFL Draft."
Derek passed up an invitation from the NFL to attend the draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York so that he could be close to home -- a decision not many top players make.
Then again, most players haven't been there, done that.
Twelve years and 18 days ago, Derek was a wide-eyed 11-year-old in an oversized white Houston Texans cap on the stage at the theater at Madison Square Garden in New York as David shook hands with then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
The expansion Houston Texans had just taken David with the top overall pick, and Derek was soaking it in. He didn't stop that night. He shadowed David whenever he could, playing catch at the Texans' facility, watching film and generally picking the brain of a brother who went through many ups and downs in his 11-year (so far) career.
David was 23-56 as a starter, mostly for the Texans. He was sacked 249 times in five years with Houston, which was trying to build a roster from scratch around him. Carr has thrown 65 touchdown passes and 71 interceptions in his career, and his name pops up when pundits talk about the draft's biggest busts.
Of course, David also won a Super Bowl as a Giants reserve in 2012, and he has drawn interest from multiple teams to continue his career as a backup -- possibly with whichever team picks Derek.
"You get to a point where you're like, 'God had a plan for this whole thing,'" David said. "Let's roll with it and see what happens. Keep a smile on your face and joy in your heart and hopefully it's smoother for the next person who comes after you.
"It just so happens the next person is my brother."
And therein lies the value. Derek was with David every step of the way, and by the time the Carrs moved back to Bakersfield, in time for Derek's senior season at Bakersfield Christian, the younger brother was a more polished version of David.
"It was the scenario that he's been put in in our family -- he's been in it," David said. "He says all the time, 'I wouldn't know anything different but to be an NFL quarterback.'"
Plus, Derek had a built-in coach for the draft. David has worked out alongside Derek and local trainer Eric Mahanke since Fresno State's season ended. Almost every workout has been in Bakersfield.
"He kinda told me everything," Derek said. "He told me all the secrets, he told me one day they're going to wake you up early at the (NFL scouting) combine, so I was ready for all that stuff."
The result is that Derek's stock seems to be rising in the inexact science of draft projections, even as scouts seem wary that his tools (a rocket arm, accuracy, maturity) might only produce a repeat of his brother's career, a worry voiced by anonymous NFL sources in a recent ESPN The Magazine story.
"The problem," the story quoted one executive, "is his genetics."
Derek, for his part, doesn't worry about what people are saying.
"It's funny how that happens," he said. "You hear the stock is going up, but the film didn't change. That's 98 percent of it. The other 2 percent is the build-up and the combine and stuff. The coaches just want to meet you as a person.
"I guess they want to learn how you are off the field. and I'm the same guy to you as I am to everybody. I'm an open book. There's not much hidden agenda to me."
General consensus is that the Browns (who own the fourth and 26th picks in the first round), the Raiders (fifth), Cardinals (20th), Jaguars (third) and Titans (11th) seem most likely to select Carr.
"He's crazy talented and whatever team he goes to is going to be super blessed to have him," David said. "The fun part is going to be watching to see where he goes."
The fun part, in other words, starts at 5 o'clock this afternoon.
"You hear some people say it, but it doesn't matter where I get drafted," Derek said. "I love football. I can't wait to see where I go. I'm more interested in where than when. I'm excited for that part of it."