Cook Will Challenge McGloin For Raiders' Backup QB Role

McGloin, long a survivor, may not be able to hold off Cook, a talented former Michigan State passer who fell into the fourth round

Raiders backup quarterback Matt McGloin is only 26, but the former Penn State standout has had a remarkable NFL career.

After signing with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2013, he was a surprise of training camp. He made the opening-game roster and started six games. And, even though he lost his starting spot to rookie Derek Carr in 2014, McGloin has held on to his roster spot the past two seasons, holding off challenges against veterans and rookies brought in to compete with him.

The former Nittany Lions walk-on has proved himself to be a competitive, tough-minded quarterback who has produced in summer exhibition games and when called on during the regular season.

But McGloin will likely face his toughest challenge this spring and summer to remain No. 2 behind Carr following the Raiders’ selection of former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook in the recent NFL draft.

The Raiders were able to get Cook in the fourth round, trading up to take him when he was still available on the third day of the draft. Many draft analysts had rated Cook among the top QB prospects in the draft.

Though Cook was a winning quarterback at Michigan State – he had a 34-5 career record – and solid, physical tools (size, strong arm, ability to move in the pocket), many NFL teams reportedly shied away from Cook because of questions about his leadership abilities. Some pointed to the fact that Cook never was voted a team captain.

But Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie saw good value in Cook as a fourth-round choice and went after him when he was still available. McKenzie says Cook isn’t a challenger for Carr’s job, but a possible upgrade behind Carr.

“He’s a good player,” McKenzie told the Bay Area media after taking Cook. “We just felt like he was too good of a player not to try (to select him). We had a good grade on him and we just wanted to seize the opportunity to at least try to get a good player in here.”

At Michigan State, Cook was the winningest quarterback in school history. In his final season for the Spartans, he completed 56.1 percent of his throws for 3,131 yards and 24 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.

Said McKenzie of Cook’s potential, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN: “We’re just looking (at it like), ‘Can he help us? Can he add to the depth? Can he help out the team? That’s the only reason we went after him.”

Don Banks, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated, noted that Cook’s fall to the fourth round – and projected understudy status to Carr – could be a good thing for his career. It will give him a chance to develop, observe and be groomed as a potential future trading chip by the Raiders, he says.  So, eventually, he might become a starting quarterback elsewhere if he shows promise.

“In a league where there are enver enough starting-caliber passers, Cook could be a valuable commodity in a couple of years, earning the Raiders a return in trade that exceeds their initial fourth-round investment,” he wrote.

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