If the 2014 NFL draft had a do-over, Derek Carr would likely be drafted first overall, according to a former NFL general manager.
"He has Pro Bowl potential," said former Texans GM Charley Casserly. "He's the best quarterback to come out of the 2014 draft."
Casserly, now an NFL Network analyst, knows the Carr family well, having selected Derek's brother, David, No. 1 overall in the 2002 NFL draft.
Though David showed flashes of talent, he never lived up to that lofty draft position, completing 59.7 percent of his passes and throwing 65 touchdowns and 71 interceptions. He reached 3,000 yards passing just once during his 11-year career in which he had a 23-56 record as a starter.
"Derek may have been hurt because some of the people didn't like the way David played," said Casserly, who left the Texans in 2006.
Several quarterback-needy teams, most notably, Houston passed on Derek. He slid to the second round, where the Raiders drafted him 36th overall.
That Derek would be tied to David's performance is understandable, considering their similarities. Both played at Fresno State. Both are devout Christians who got married while still in college. David ran a 4.67 40-yard dash in 2002; Derek ran a 4.69 in February 2014. David was listed at 6-3, 215 pounds; Derek is 6-2, 214.
But Derek has several advantages over his brother. David had a strong arm but threw with a three-quarter throwing motion that was heavily scrutinized, and coaches tinkered with his delivery. Derek's is quicker and more over the top. And he has a more assertive personality.
"Derek's got a better release," Casserly said, "is a little more outgoing."
Most notably, though, Derek came into a favorable situation about 300 miles from where he grew up in Bakersfield, California.
He passes to Michael Crabtree, who just agreed to a four-year, $32 million extension, and Amari Cooper, who has 68 catches for 1,040 yards during his rookie year, among other targets.
"It's fun to throw to those guys," Derek said self-deprecatingly, "because they make me look a lot better than I am."
On the other side of the ball, the ascending Raiders may have the best young defensive player in the game. Khalil Mack, selected in the same draft as Derek, has 15 sacks in his second season.
With young commodities like Carr and Mack in tow, it made the Raiders head coaching job an attractive one for first-year Oakland coach Jack Del Rio.
"There were a couple of pieces here in place that you think we can grow around," Del Rio said, "and certainly (Derek)'s one of them."
That contrasts to David's situation when he was drafted No. 1 overall by the expansion Texans.
Before the NFL draft, Houston seemingly had taken care of the all-important tackle positions during the expansion draft. So that the Jaguars could fit under the salary cap, they agreed to let the Texans have defensive linemen Gary Walker and Seth Payne if they also took a formerly elite but aging and expensive pass protector in offensive tackle Tony Boselli.
"We knew Boselli was at the second part of his career," Casserly said, "but didn't see any reason he couldn't be an effective, pass-blocking left tackle."
After selecting Boselli the Texans chose offensive tackle Ryan Young, a talented former Jet with their second pick.
Injuries, though, would plague both players.
Although he passed the physicals, Boselli, the first pick of the expansion draft, never played a down for Texans because of a shoulder injury. A torn groin and a knee injury would limit Young to seven games, and lingering ailments ended his NFL career one year later.
"We were never able to get the offensive tackle position right," Casserly said. "That's my fault. So I think that really hampered is his career."
Behind a porous offensive line, David never became comfortable. He absorbed 249 sacks in his first five years, including an NFL-record 76 times during his rookie season. He developed happy feet, lost confidence and never fully displayed his skill set.
Entering Week 15 of the 2015 season, the Raiders had allowed only 21 sacks, the fourth lowest total in the NFL.
"The biggest difference is that Oakland's a better a football team than we were in Houston," Casserly said.
With Oakland, Derek is set up to showcase his strong arm, quick release, good mobility, steely toughness, leadership skills and deft ability to read defenses.
"He's everything you want in a young player," Del Rio said. "He's got a real good delivery, a real sharp delivery. He's accurate."
Derek has improved in every major statistical category from Year One to Year Two. During an impressive rookie campaign, he completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 3,270 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while starting all 16 games. This year he again has started every game and completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,589 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
"It doesn't matter where you come from in college as a quarterback, the speed of the game is going to be night and day, and the schemes are going to be night and day," Derek said. "You're seeing new looks, you're seeing the blitzes, you're seeing coverages you've never seen before."
Derek's increased comfort playing the position is a major reason the Raiders already have doubled their win total from last year. Next year they should be a major playoff contender.
As Derek continues to master the nuances of the pro game, he has the advantage of being able to lean on his brother.
For example, David bonded with then-Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan while serving as Eli Manning's backup. So after the Buccaneers dismissed Sullivan, he hooked Derek up with Sullivan to prep him for the draft. David also trained with Derek, peppering him with advice along the way.
Casserly tried to find a quarterback confidante for David in Houston, but veteran quarterbacks weren't anxious to play for a rebuilding expansion team or behind the No. 1 pick, who was obviously entrenched at the position.
"The big factor that Derek has over David is that he had David. He had a mentor," Casserly said. "That's something David didn't really have."
-- Follow Jeff Fedotin on Twitter @JFedotin.