Oakland Raiders: Drafting Kyler Murray or Justin Herbert would be wasted capital

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images /

The Oakland Raiders are in full rebuild mode and need to make the most of their assets, which means that expending draft capital on a QB would be a waste.

One of the reasons the Oakland Raiders – whether you want to call it Jon Gruden, Mark Davis, or anything else – moved on from GM Reggie McKenzie is that when it came to drafting talent, his track record was far below average. Though he hit on a few, most of his draft picks never amounted to much.

And in a results-based industry like the NFL, not being able to stock your roster with NFL-quality talent is going to get you shown the door faster than anything.

Oh, he had his signature class of 2014, when he locked down Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and Gabe Jackson. Other than that though, McKenzie’s draft-day decisions, by and large, didn’t ever really pan out all that well.

For every Mack, there were ten Jihad Ward‘s.

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With Gruden on a mission to build this franchise from the ground up, and having accrued a massive stockpile of draft capital and space under the cap to do it with, this should prove to be a fascinating offseason to watch unfold.

It’s also going to be arguably the most important of Gruden’s second tenure with the team.

With three first-round picks highlighting his slate of draft capital this year, it is imperative that Gruden hit on them all. Having moved some pieces this season – to the chagrin of many – it makes it that much more important that Gruden use these picks to lay a solid foundation for the team moving forward.

In other words, he’s going to have to do what McKenzie couldn’t do in his seven seasons with the team – stock the roster up and down with NFL-quality talent.

And though there are many who disagree, one area the Raiders really don’t need to address in next year’s draft is the quarterback position. To put it more bluntly, using some of the team’s acquired draft capital – especially one of those three first-rounders – would be a waste of said capital of McKenzian proportions.

A number of mock drafts, countless articles, media talking heads – and of course, thousands upon thousands of outraged voices on social media – are calling for the Raiders to use one of those first-round picks on either Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray or Oregon’s Justin Herbert to replace incumbent Derek Carr under center.

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It’s an idea that, to put it bluntly, is ridiculously stupid.

Yes, Carr has had his share of struggles this season. There’s no denying or sugarcoating it – there have been some games this year where he’s flat out sucked.

But, it should be expected that a quarterback being thrown into yet another new system – this is what, his third in his five years in the league? – is going to experience some growing pains. Especially when that system is as complex as Gruden’s and Carr has more responsibility on his shoulders than he’s had at any point over the course of his career to date.

Let’s also not forget – as many people seem to have forgotten – that the team’s struggles aren’t squarely on him. The dearth of talent both in the receiving corps and in the backfield this year, given injuries and ineffectiveness, has taken a toll on the offense’s capabilities.

And, of course, there is a defense that, although they’ve shown some signs of life of late, are still a dumpster fire that’s ranked at or near the bottom of most major statistical categories. The defense has some players beginning to play at a higher level and they’ll get there, they’ll be able to help this team win, but they’re not quite there yet.

Yet, despite his own struggles to learn the offense, as well as the struggles of the team around him, Carr is on pace to have himself a career year.

The truth of the matter is that Carr finally looks like he’s beginning to grasp the nuances of Gruden’s offense and is making far better decisions with the ball. And in one key area that’s been a growing concern – his presence and performance under pressure – Carr has been responding beautifully over the last month.

Carr’s rating when under pressure have been trending upward over the last month, hitting a high note with a stunning 120.4 against Kansas City – and more impressively, a rating of 115 on his deep passes in that game.

Consider also, the fact that over the past eight games, Carr has not thrown a single interception – after throwing eight in the first five games. Carr’s consecutive pass attempts without an interception streak currently sits at 261 straight.

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And just as a point of reference to show how significant that number is, Aaron Rodgers recently broke Tom Brady‘s streak of consecutive passes without an interception which sat at 358 straight.

With three games left in the season, it’s feasible – if Carr can keep up the high level of play over the final few games of the season, he could potentially eclipse Brady’s mark as well.

Now, let’s just hope we haven’t jinxed him by pointing that out.

Over the last eight games, Carr is completing passes at a 68 percent clip – which would be the highest of his career. He’s also thrown for 1,793 yards, giving him 3,434 on the year – which also puts him on pace to set a new career high.

Over the last eight games, Carr has tossed 11 touchdowns to ZERO interceptions, and has a QB rating of 102.7 – that puts him up among the league leaders in those categories.

All of his numbers are trending upward and put him within range of surpassing all of his career bests to this point. He’s currently residing in the middle of the NFL pack in most major metrics, but that’s a hell of a lot better than it was early in the season, and his numbers are only trending up at this point.

Despite a few rough spots here and there – the Baltimore game immediately springs to mind – over the last eight games, Carr has looked like a different quarterback than the one who started the first five. He’s been sharper, has taken some longer shots down the field, has been controlled, steady in the pocket, and he’s been very accurate.

In short, over the last eight weeks, Carr has looked a hell of a lot more like the franchise quarterback the Raiders thought they were signing for $125 million than he has at any point over the entire 2017 season plus five games this year.

For the most part, Carr has looked like a man in total control of the offense – now, he just needs more playmakers around him. He could also use a defense that can actually shut down an opposing offense, prevent them from scoring, and take some of the burden off his shoulders in that regard.

Carr is showing exactly why the Raiders need to expend their draft capital on defensive playmakers and offensive weapons for him to utilize. He’s also showing why the calls for the team to draft the likes of Murray – who may or may not even be playing pro football – or Herbert are just outrageous.

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It hasn’t been the smoothest ride, but Carr is quite obviously growing more comfortable in this offense and it’s beginning to show. The last thing the Raiders can afford to do is bollocks up the haul of draft capital they’ve got in their pocket by taking a quarterback they don’t need.

This team – Gruden and whoever McKenzie’s chosen successor is – need to expend that draft capital in the places the team needs it the most, rather than wasting capital on a position where an infusion of talent isn’t needed. The team already has a QB1.