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Monday, March 4, 2002
Harrington competitive, but Carr the top choice
By John Clayton

INDIANAPOLIS -- David Carr arrived in Indianapolis with the sense he was No. 1. The Houston Texans continue to insist they will take a quarterback first on their draft board, and Carr unofficially is first on their board.

Joey Harrington
Joey Harrington is setting his sights high.

Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington won't concede the perceptions. He's too competitive. That's why he worked out along with most of the quarterbacks at the combine this weekend in Indianapolis.

"I'm prepared to go out and do my best," Harrington said. "If he does well, I'm going to go out and try to beat him. That's my nature."

Harrington loves to compete. He's a 13-handicap in golf and his five-year plan is to be an 8. On the football field, he's a master of the fourth-quarter comeback.

"I hate to lose; I don't lose," Harrington said Sunday. "There is no way around it. I don't like losing in baseball, football, pickup basketball, chess and backgammon. It doesn't matter. I hate losing."

Well, this is one battle Harrington will have to handle once he gets into the NFL. Carr will beat him out as the first choice of the NFL draft. He's the choice of the Texans, who have spent the most time admiring Carr's strong right arm. Both Carr and Harrington were impressive Sunday, but Carr knows his destiny is Houston.

Harrington is waiting to find a new home.

"Everybody I talked to is very noncommittal," Harrington said. "The best statement they had was, `We've got the third pick . . . we've got the eighth pick.' Well, congratulations. What are you telling me"

What teams are telling him is that after the first choice in the draft, there is always a lot of uncertainty for a quarterback. The Panthers are committed to Chris Weinke, so Harrington won't be the second choice. The Lions are talking as though they might take Harrington, but there is no guarantee because of their needs on defense.

"Nobody has come out and made a statement on where they might like to take me," Harrington said. "But I'm going to end up far away from home in a new situation no matter what happens. I'm not going to get my hopes set. I have no choice in the matter. All I know is that I will take my snaps from a center and I'll try to do something with it."

The fun part about Sunday is that both Carr and Harrington did their best in the RCA Dome. Carr displayed his strong arm. Harrington displayed his multiple skills for mobility and accuracy.

Some observers might say Harrington did the better job. Others might favor Carr. Of course, the only ones who matter are the Houston Texans. They were sold on taking Carr before the scouting combine.

The performance Sunday made them feel better. Don't be surprised if preliminary negotiations begin this week to set the parameters for how Carr would be paid after he's selected first in the draft. The Texans certainly won't finalize a deal until close to the draft, but signability shouldn't be a problem. Carr is represented by the agent, Michael Sullivan, who did the deal for the top choice last year, Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons.

Because no trade is involved to make Carr the top choice, the Texans shouldn't have much trouble getting something done.

Even though Carr threw a little more sidearm than the Texans would have liked, the likely first choice of the draft lit it up. It was a Brett Favre-like performance that will only get better because Texans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer knows the fundamental drills to get Carr's release more upright.

There was one drill Sunday in which receivers were asked to do slant routes at roughly 11-yard depth. Carr's job was to drop back seven steps and rifle the ball. Instead, Carr stepped up an extra yard or two and added more velocity to his throws.

Crash. Bang. Boom. Clank. Receivers were dropping balls as though they were hot missiles. Carr's throws were accurate. They were just too hard too hand. The coaches who were working the receivers begged Carr for mercy. He was killing their receivers.

"Poor guys, I feel bad for them," Carr said. "They were saying you were beating up our guys."

Coaches were impressed.

"Carr's really out there, he's a freak," Rams coach Mike Martz said in praise of Carr's talents.

"Carr is just a strong-armed quarterback," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He has a little lower delivery than most ... but then it's like, find somebody that throws like Favre. No one throws like that."

Harrington impressed scouts and coaches with his accuracy, his smooth delivery and his quick release.

"I'm very impressed with Harrington," Billick said. "He's very fluid. He has a nice smooth delivery. He's accurate. His mechanics are very fluid, very smooth."

Carr showed pretty good jumping ability for a quarterback. He did a 35-inch vertical.

I'm very impressed with (Joey) Harrington. He's very fluid. He has a nice smooth delivery. He's accurate. His mechanics are very fluid, very smooth.
Brian Billick

"Pretty good for a big white kid," he joked.

He did most of the other work except the 40-yard dash, which he reserved for his workout at Fresno State. The reason he wanted the scouts to fly to Fresno to time him is so they can see the Fresno State players who didn't get invited to the combine.

Harrington ran his 40 times in the 4.9-second range, impressive enough for a 6-foot-4, 215 pounder.

Sure, Carr has the upper hand on Harrington for the moment, but Harrington won't concede anything. He never did in any game at Oregon.

"I love it in the fourth quarter and everything is on the line," Harrington said. "You look in the huddle and see 10 other guys that you trust and believe in. You never believe that you are out of a game. You have teammates that believe in you. They see the confidence of a guy who knows what to do in every situation.

"As a quarterback, you have to be able to put your team in a position to be successful. My teammates look at me, and I want those 10 sets of eyes on me, believing in me."

The Texans believe in Carr. Harrington is just looking for a new team to believe in him.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for