With the fifth overall pick in the draft, the Raiders could still take a quarterback.
It’s not impossible. But now that Matt Schaub is in the Oakland house, it certainly seems improbable.
That doesn’t mean the Raiders won’t pick a quarterback at all. They surely will. But it may happen in the lower rounds. Or, from their fifth position, they could drop back, garner an extra high pick, and take a quarterback at the end of the first or high in the second round, to try to build for the future.
But with Schaub now handed the quarterback position in Oakland, the Raiders appear to be in a get-better-immediately frame of mind, so they’re much more likely to go after a playmaker with the No. 1 pick rather than invest it in a future project from a crop of available college quarterbacks that seems to have several with boom-or-bust qualities.
One NFL analyst who is convinced the acquisition of Schaub is a guarantee that the team passes on a quarterback with its top pick is Don Banks of Sports Illustrated.
“I’m here to tell you, the Raiders aren’t taking a quarterback in that slot,” Banks wrote this week. “Not when (head coach Dennis) Allen and Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie both realize the stakes this year: It’s time for the Raiders to show significant improvement, or else.”
In particular, Banks points to a quote by Allen at the NFL owners’ meetings in Florida this week in which Allen said landing Schaub settles the quarterback situation.
“Any time you’re settled at that position, it gives everybody a sense of confidence, coaches, players, fans," Allen said. "Everybody has a sense of direction of where we’re going.”
Well, yes. The Raiders are going in the direction of hoping that Schaub’s horrible season in Houston in 2013 was just a blip on what has been a pretty strong career. That it’s an aberration.
But, at 32, Schaub also could be sliding down the back slope of his career. His quarterback rating, after all, has declined for three consecutive seasons, from 96.8 to 90.7 to 73.0.
So, if Schaub does rebound in 2014, the Raiders have a solid quarterback for another season … or two … or three. But then what?
Sooner or later, the Raiders need to make a strong move for a young quarterback who can be the face and future of the franchise.
On Monday, Allen dismissed Banks’ line of thinking. He said it’s not a given that the Radiers won’t use their top pick on a quarterback.
“I still think when we get ready to pick, we’re going to take the best player available,” he said.
But would that be Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel or Derek Carr?
At this point, that would be a big surprise.