The Oakland Raiders’ quarterback position has been a work in progress over the last several seasons. The names Andrew Walter, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell, Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer, and Terrelle Pryor have been the Raiders’ passing leaders over the last eight seasons. Those names do not exactly provide the fan base with warm fuzzy feelings of memorable moments. Only of those players eclipsed 3,000 yards passing and that was Carson Palmer last with over 4,000 yards, but that team had all but abandoned the running and put it all on Palmer’s shoulders. Overall, quarterback has been a position that the Raiders have been looking to solidify for quite awhile.
Last offseason, the Raiders felt they maybe have finally solved their quarterback position by trading for Matt Flynn. Flynn’s tenure as a Raider was tumultuous at best, as he lost out his starting spot to Pryor following the preseason and then found himself on the street by the midway point of the season. Flynn’s fall was disastrous, as he went from being the presumed opening day starter to released after being passed up by undrafted rookie Matt McGloin.
The other train wreck move the Raiders’ front office made regarding the position was the drafting of Tyler Wilson. Wilson was a promising prospect entering the NFL Draft, but a rough senior season damaged his stock and the Raiders snatched him up in the fourth round. Wilson was seen as a potential quarterback of the future, as he possessed solid physical skills and needed to be groomed for a couple seasons. That opportunity would never materialize, as Wilson would have an uninspiring training camp and would be among the final cuts at the end of the preseason. Wilson would be placed on the teams practice squad for most of the year, before being signed by the Tennessee Titans on their 53-man roster. The Raiders’ wasted a fourth round pick on a player that could not even last one season on their poor roster.
As for players that were able to make impact on the season, Pryor and McGloin showed flashes. Pryor was given the starting position coming out of training camp and preseason. He looked much more developed as a passer and many people thought the Raiders may have finally found a potential answer to their quarterback question. Then injuries struck, as Pryor would miss a couple games due to various injuries, and he was never able to regain that momentum that he had at the beginning of the season.
The most worrisome aspect of Pryor’s season is the regression that he showed. Pryor had a quarterback rating above 70 in his first four starts, but he only surpassed 56 in every other game he played in other than the season finale against the Broncos. In that game against Denver, Pryor played a half against mainly second and third-team players, which upped his rating for the game. Pryor has one year remaining on his deal, but you could see the team cutting ties with him in the offseason to prevent any sort of problems with the locker room.
McGloin was the major surprise of the season, as he rose from being a relative unknown as an undrafted free agent to being the starting quarterback for six games in the second half of the season. McGloin lived up to the hype of his scouting report in that he is a fiery competitor with limited physical attribute, but his intangibles are off the charts. McGloin looked more impressive than Pryor as a passer and should completely surpass him, if he continues to develop. Ultimately, McGloin is still limited by his lack of elite arm strength and lack of accuracy and should develop into a borderline starter or solid backup.
With the lack of a quarterback to build around, the Raiders will probably have to look at potentially using their first round pick on quarterback. It would be their first quarterback selected in the first round since they took Russell with the first overall pick in 2007. If the Raiders decide to take a quarterback in the draft, who should they look at with the fifth overall pick?
There are several quarterbacks in the upcoming draft that could be worth taking with the fifth overall pick, unless a player such as Jadeveon Clowney or Sammy Watkins is available.
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville – Bridgewater would be the quarterback that the Raiders would want to fall to them. Despite the mention of some other names potentially going higher, Bridgewater is the top quarterback in the draft and arguably one of the top three players in the draft. Bridgewater is the most complete quarterback in the draft with elite physical tools and a great feel for the nuances of the position. His transition to the pro game should be the shortest of all the quarterbacks. The front office would do back flips if the talented signal caller from Louisville was available at their selection.
2. Blake Bortles, Central Florida – Bortles seems to be the fastest rising player in the draft. Bortles has the frame that scouts love and his brings plenty in intangibles. As for physical tools, Bortles has good, but not quite elite, arm strength and shows a good feel in the pocket. Bortles is also a great athlete with good speed and mobility. His accuracy can be an issue at time, especially on the deep throws. He needs to work on his feel for intricacies of the position, such as, using his eyes to manipulate coverage and feeling the pressure in the pocket. He might start with the lower floor than Bridgewater, but his ceiling should be in the same area.
3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M – Manziel is the most polarizing prospect in the draft with no person being sure if his game translates to the NFL. Manziel is a play-maker with the ball in hands and has the ability to make a play that takes your breath away. He is an exceptional athlete that can make plenty of plays with his feet and seems to possess eyes in the back of his head with elite spatial awareness. He has enough arm strength to make NFL type throws, but it is not elite. He has a tendency to force throws or throw off balance to make a play. He lacks traditional height for the position and could need to be put into a system that utilizes his unique talents, instead of trying to force him into a traditional system.
4. Derek Carr, Fresno State – The dark horse of the group is Carr. Carr had the most productive season with 5,038 yards and 50 touchdowns through the air. He possesses elite size and arm talent with the ability to make every throw on the field. He shows good accuracy and anticipation on his throws, while showing a feel for reading coverages. He shows sneaky athleticism, with the ability to move around in the pocket to elude the pass rush or picking up a few yards if the defense vacates the line. He is the one traditional drop back quarterback in the top portion of the draft. He has shown a tendency to struggled when facing a strong pass rush and is not allowed to set his feet to throw. He also did not face elite competition with Fresno State in the Western Athletic Conference and the Mountain West Conference.