If the season ended today, the Raiders would pick third overall in the NFL draft in April.
And with a wealth of quarterback talent possibly available – such as Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Derek Carr and A.J. McCarron – Oakland would be able to get one of the gems of the draft.
But based on the Raiders’ track record, can Oakland be counted on to make the right choice?
Of course, any Raiders fan immediately thinks of JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick of the draft by the Raiders in 2007 and the poster child (along with Ryan Leaf) for quarterback bust. But Russell was taken by a previous administration.
This past year, general manager Reggie McKenzie has had his own whiffs, trading for Matt Flynn and essentially giving him the No. 1 role. Flynn, of course, tanked and was released. McKenzie also took Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson in the fourth round, but Wilson couldn’t beat out undrafted free agent Matt McGloin in training camp and was stuck on the Raiders’ practice squad until he was signed by the Titans this week.
Meanwhile, the Raiders started the year with Terrelle Pryor as their starter – a holdover from the Al Davis era – and then switched to McGloin after Pryor was injured. Now, McGloin is struggling, putting up equal parts good and bad, while Pryor remains in the wings.
As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur wrote this past Sunday, Oakland’s No. 1 quarterback in 2014 is not now on the team’s roster. This offseason, the Raiders will either dive into the draft or free agency to get a starting quarterback.
But given McKenzie’s mistakes on Flynn and Wilson, can the Raiders make the right choice? An error with the No. 3 pick of the draft would be enormously painful for a franchise in the midst of deconstruction and rebuilding.
In head coach Dennis Allen’s Monday news conference with Bay Area reporters, Allen was asked, “How good are you guys at evaluating quarterbacks?”
“Sometimes things don’t work out,” Allen said. “Sometimes mistakes are made. But, I’m very confident in Reggie McKenzie and the personnel staff of being able to evaluate football players – quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defensive linemen. I’m very confident in his ability to do that. I’m very confident in our ability as a coaching staff to do that. Obviously we’ve seen something in Matt McGloin that we like and we see something there as a quarterback and I think he’s proven that. I also think he’s proven that he’s still a young player and he’s going to make some mistakes. But, I’m very confident in our ability to evaluate all positions.”
Allen already has named McGloin the starter for this Sunday’s game against the Chargers in San Diego. The Raiders (4-10) beat the Chargers (7-7) earlier this season, but San Diego is coming off consecutive victories over the Broncos and Chiefs.
Columnist Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group noted Monday that the Raiders have many problems, but quarterback is “the thorniest.” Kawakami also wrote that in a recent conversation with Raiders owner Mark Davis, he asked Davis if he is confident in McKenzie’s ability to judge quarterbacks, given the trade for Flynn.
“All I’ll say is that, yes, the quarterback is very, very important,” Davis told Kawakami. “I’ll agree on that part. I’m not going to say anything else right now.”