With the NFL Scouting Combine comes big news for the Raiders. According to Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, the Raiders have come up short with veteran stop-gap Jimmy Garoppolo as the only viable starting quarterback on the roster, meaning the Raiders will look to potentially add its quarterback of the future during the 2023 NFL Draft. A franchise quarterback is not the Raiders’ only hole though, as the team is expected to still compete for a playoff spot in the very competitive AFC.
Here are four developing stories on the Raiders:
1. Raiders aim to draft their future starting QB
After signing Garoppolo to a three-year deal worth $48.5 million, it’s clear the Raiders will need to draft a young signal caller as soon as this year’s draft to develop and eventually take over once Garoppolo’s time is up in Vegas.
“It’s a possibility,” general manager Dave Ziegler said. “I think there’s some really talented young players here. … It looks like there’s a handful of guys that have shown on film to be talented, to be diverse in their skill set. And so, that’s exciting. And then we’ve got to go through the next part of the process to really determine that.”
With only Garoppolo and something called Chase Garbers on the depth chart, it would make sense for the team to at least sign another backup veteran due to Garoppolo’s vast injury history.
“We understand what that market is,” Ziegler said. “We have a hierarchy of what that looks like in our building, and we’re prepared to execute that plan with the caveat being there’s a contract element and a cost element involved in that. … And so, I’d say, if you go in there with just Plan A, you could be scrambling if you don’t have a multistep plan in that situation.”
2. The Raiders have no QB guarantee with their first pick
While the first few quarterbacks projected to be selected in the first round do look like promising options, the Raiders might not be going all in for these options. They believe that there might be a high-quality option that extends into Day 2.
The team already has its eyes on Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker and Fresno State’s Jake Haener, who could both hear their names called on Day 2 or Day 3 for Haener.
Considering all the options available, there’s almost no chance the Raiders come out of the draft without taking a quarterback at some point.
“Could that happen? Yes, it could happen,” Ziegler said. “Do I see that happening? No, I don’t see that happening. … I would say in some form or fashion we’re always looking at the quarterbacks. … I think this year will be no different.”
3. The defense is getting a makeover
As anyone would have thought, Ziegler believes that the foundation of the defense should be the defensive line. This should address the Raider’s lackluster defense which saw the group finish 26th in scoring defense in 2022.
“I think having a strong defensive line sets the tone for the rest of the defense,” Ziegler said. “We’ve talked about drafting the best available players, but I think having a deep defensive line that can disrupt, that you can run in waves and things of that nature — we have a lot of work to do to get to that point — but if I was going to kind of lean one way, I would say that would be where I would start from a building standpoint.”
Though Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones give the Raiders an advantage, they have many other needs on the front seven to boost their defense.
4. The Raiders’ outlook might have them in a tight spot
The Raiders made a surprising splash at the open of free agency when they sent locker room favorite, Darren Waller, to the Giants for a third-round pick.
When you look at the trade in the singular aspect, we traded Darren for a third-round pick, right? Kind of taking a step away, what we ended up doing there is we ended up taking a portion of the money that Darren was making and acquiring Jakobi Meyers plus a third-round pick,” Ziegler explained.
So, that’s what ended up precipitating the trade. There was an opportunity to do it and, obviously, we thought it was the best opportunity for the football team. That’s how I really looked at is we ended up moving Darren for Jakobi and a third-round pick. Obviously, I thought that was worth the cost of doing business.”
The Raiders added Jakobi Meyers, Austin Hooper, and OJ Howard to an offense that already boasts Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, and Hunter Renfrow. So, although there is some talent in Vegas, the team still has some work to do before the offseason comes to a close.
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