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2014 NFL combine: Derek Carr not running from brother's NFL struggles

Derek Carr threw for over 5,000 yards in his final year at Fresno State.(USATSI)
Derek Carr threw for over 5,000 yards in his final year at Fresno State. (USATSI)

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr knows why his NFL prospects are better than his brother David's.

"There are no expansion teams," Carr joked to the media from an NFL combine podium Friday about David, the Texans' No. 1 overall pick in 2002.

This was a lighthearted way for Carr to address comparisons to his brother, which might be more exhausting than Carr lets on. For the next four months, Carr will embrace the man he idolized growing up while creating his own identity in front of NFL teams.

Carr isn't running from the tarnished NFL past of David, who was a backup for more than half of his 11-year career and wears his single-season-sack record of 76 like an oversized suit coat (Houston's awful offensive line deserves blame).

Derek might as well wear that coat, too. While other prospects hire quarterback gurus and train at five-star facilities, Carr is working out with his brother in their native Bakersfield, Calif. They even share the same agent, Tim Younger.

"Just having David is such an advantage," said Derek, 22. "I've been getting ready for this moment since I was 3."

But make no mistake, David's perceived bust as an NFL quarterback plays a role in Derek's NFL audition.

Not that teams will hold David's past against Derek, but Fresno State offensive coordinator Dave Schramm did find it interesting that every NFL scout visiting Fresno this season asked him about Derek and David.

Teams don't want to invest a first- or second-round pick in Carr if they think he won't surpass his brother's credentials -- one season with more than 3,000 yards.

Scouts weren't the only ones to ask Schramm about David. Derek did, too. Last year, he sought guidance about following his brother at Fresno, where David led the Bulldogs to a top-10 national ranking.

Be your own man, Schramm told him.

"You can't chase your brother's ghost," Schramm recalled telling him. "You need to be the best Derek Carr you can be."

He can be.

Try 5,082 passing yards, 50 touchdowns, a Mountain West title and completing nearly 70 percent of his passes despite 50 pass attempts per week. The only subpar game Carr had last season came at the worst possible time -- a 216-yard performance against against USC in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The gaudy stats, coupled with a strong Senior Bowl performance, have vaulted Carr into the top-five conversation for quarterbacks.

Derek's merits stand alone, but Derek still gets questions from NFL teams this week about how he and David are different or similar.

Derek says his personality is more loose and fun, but in many ways, they are the same guy. Both got married in their early 20s. Both are around 6-3, similar weight (David's listed 212, Derek at 218). Both have strong arms. Both love to break down game video.

And both experienced heartache from David's struggles in Houston. Derek was entering his teenage years when he watched his brother get blasted to the turf.

Maybe David wasn't an All-Pro, but "he went No. 1 for a reason," Carr said. In little bro's eyes, David could have done more with a stronger supporting cast.

"You're going to get praised a lot, you're going to get criticized a lot -- ignore both, because neither matters," Derek recalled as the best advice his brother gave him during the draft process.

Derek followed his brother to Fresno, so he'll follow his advice now.

That doesn't mean he won't surpass David Carr's NFL career.

"He's not going to live in someone's shadow," said Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams, who caught more than 100 passes from Carr this season. "He'll try to one-up (David's career)."

 
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