Oakland Raiders Have 99 Problems, But Quarterback Isn’t (the Biggest) One
Following yet another terribly disappointing season, the Oakland Raiders headed into the offseason with more questions than answers. As we get nearer to the draft, most of the attention is focusing on the perceived need at the quarterback position. With Louisville‘s Teddy Bridgewater, UCF‘s Blake Bortles, and of course, Texas A&M‘s Johnny Manziel widely expected to be top-10 picks, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is feeling the pressure to take one of those three big name quarterbacks. Most believe that of the three, Bridgewater is the closest to being NFL-ready. But with other quarterback starved teams picking ahead of them, he likely won’t be on the board with the No. 5 overall pick. Ditto that with Bortles. Which leaves the possibility that Johnny Football will be the only one of the three “big ticket” QBs still on the board when the Raiders are on the clock. Before making that pick, though, McKenzie need only look to the Raiders’ dubious history to know that he absolutely shouldn’t make it.
Over the life of the franchise, the Raiders have drafted a lot of quarterbacks. But you have to go all the way back to 1968 to find a quarterback drafted by the Raiders who was worth a darn. That was, of course, Kenny Stabler. Since then, though, the Raiders have burned first-round picks on quarterbacks named Marc Wilson, Rusty Hilger, Todd Marinovich, and the infamous JaMarcus Russell. Just last year, McKenzie himself drafted Tyler Wilson, and he couldn’t even make the roster. Simply put, when it comes to drafting quarterbacks, the Raiders are about as inept as the Cleveland Browns. Which is all the more reason for McKenzie to avoid burning yet another first-round pick on a quarterback like Manziel who may or may not ever develop into an actual NFL talent.
The quarterback situation isn’t nearly as bleak or as desperate as some would have you believe. The team already has an NFL-ready prospect in Matt McGloin who if given the time and tools to develop can and will be a very solid quarterback in the league. If the Raiders really wanted a quarterback who runs first and passes second, they don’t need to draft Manziel because they already have that guy on the roster and his name is Terrelle Pryor. Running and gunning is all well and good if your goal is to make the ESPN highlight reel. But if you want to win, you need steady, solid quarterback play.
The point is that the quarterback situation can be addressed through free agency and by perhaps taking a prospect like Derek Carr, David Fales, Aaron Murray or even AJ McCarron in a later round. The Raiders have a capable quarterback already in McGloin, and having a veteran presence picked up through free agency to help push and groom him can only benefit the team as a whole. If a veteran like Josh Freeman or Matt Schaub wins the job coming out of camp, the team has a proven NFL starter under center. If McGloin wins the battle for the starting spot, the team has a proven NFL starter under center. It’s a win-win situation and the team doesn’t have to burn a first-round pick on a QB.
Despite what the Raider faithful say, the quarterback situation is not that dire. It’s certainly not dire enough to warrant burning a first-round pick on a player who may not ever develop into an NFL caliber quarterback. The organization has had much more success in picking quarterbacks who are considered “damaged goods” off the scrap heap and letting them revitalize the team and their career.
The Raiders have more pressing concerns at the moment. Drafting a playmaker like Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins can give a real spark to an offense that needs one. Drafting an offensive lineman like A&M’s Jake Matthews or Auburn‘s Greg Robinson can help shore up a severely leaky offensive line. McKenzie must realize that the Raiders’ biggest question mark is not at the quarterback position. Unless Andrew Luck somehow leaves the Indianapolis Colts, re-enters the draft and then falls to the No. 5 spot, the Raiders absolutely, positively should not use that pick on a QB when there are far more pressing concerns.