INDIANAPOLIS – The Raiders met with Oklahoma's Kyler Murray and Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins Wednesday night here at the NFL Scouting Combine. Head coach Jon Gruden tried to gain some insight into the NFL draft's top quarterbacks as the Raiders evaluate every position group during the pre-draft process.
He volunteered that information in a Thursday morning press conference, when asked about the 2019 quarterback class.
Gruden was thoroughly impressed with Haskins, who he called "a calm, cool customer." He asked Murray three times about his commitment to football over baseball.
"My dad drafted Bo Jackson, so I asked him three times, ‘Are you serious? Really?' Because no one thought Bo would play baseball back in the day," Gruden said. "At least we didn't in Tampa. It is a sensitive issue. Obviously the Oakland A's drafted him, we are with the Oakland Raiders, so you want to make sure that the information you gather is correct."
Gruden was asked about draft-eligible quarterbacks five times in a 13-minute podium session, and he was forthright and earnest with each answer. Then it happened again in SiriusXM radio and ESPN interviews.
The topic came up again in a side session with local reporters, and whether his quarterback compliments mean he loves one of these QBs, Murray especially, or if they're an attempt to subtly manipulate the NFL draft.
"People try to read between the lines," Gruden said. "Somebody at the Senior Bowl asked a question about Kyler Murray and all of a sudden...Honest to God, Jiminy Christmas. People can write whatever they want. There's no gamesmanship here. No."
Grudne told SiriusXM that Murray could be gone before the Raiders select at No. 4 overall. Haskins is certainly a top 10 pick, and many consider him the best in this class. He likes them both. North Carolina State's Ryan Finley impressed him at the Senior Bowl. That's where he was became intrigued by Daniel Jones' upside and Drew Lock's quick release.
All this quarterback draft talk leads to a second day of Derek Carr questions despite Mike Mayock saying in no uncertain terms Wednesday that No. 4 is a franchise quarterback the Raiders trust.
"I think it was well said," Gruden quipped.
It also apparently wasn't good enough for the media masses. So Carr is a franchise quarterback, but is he the Raiders' quarterback?
Yeah, that's where we are now, quibbling over semantics.
"Yeah, he is our franchise quarterback, yes," Gruden said with his wry smile. "I'll try to make that clear."
As we've been writing on this website for days and weeks now, Carr is fully expected to be the Raiders starting quarterback in 2019, though there's more to prove as he grows within Gruden's system and the team upgrades his supporting cast.
Count AJ McCarron among Carr's support system expected back. Gruden and Mayock said as much in recent days. The Raiders are looking hard at receivers, and could end up with another young running back in the mix.
There's plenty of value to address offensive and defensive needs with four picks in the top 35 overall and help establish a young foundation for this Gruden era.