PHOENIX – General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden have been consistent in praising quarterback Derek Carr this offseason, which has largely been ignored by those viewing the Raiders from a distance.
Compliments aimed at Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock throughout the pre-NFL draft process have been heard loud and clear, fueling speculation the Raiders will take a quarterback early in the draft to either push Carr or succeed him under center.
Gruden and Mayock haven't tried to silence the screams. It's a futile effort, anyway.
Here are the facts: Carr is fully expected to start in 2019…and…it's certainly possible the Raiders will take a quarterback early in the draft. Calling it probable or expected, however, might be a stretch.
The Raiders have great faith in Carr. Getting a close look at top passing prospects doesn't change that. Nor will it prevent the Raiders from gaining a firm grasp on this year's quarterback class.
They worked with Lock, Daniel Jones and Ryan Finley at the Senior Bowl and like all three. They visited Murray and Haskins at their pro days and will conduct private workouts with both top-10 prospects. Those guys can sling it, too.
It's all part of the Raiders' evaluation process leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft.
"Information is gold, and it always will be," Mayock said Monday at the NFL owners meeting. "We all know that Jon Gruden is a quarterback guy. Jon's going to evaluate every quarterback out there every single year. That's just who he is."
The Raiders want to see Carr thrive in his second year under Gruden. After adding dynamic offensive pieces in free agency, he'll get that chance in 2019.
"He's going to be our quarterback," Gruden said in a Monday "NFL Network" interview. "I'm not going to address all of the rumors. I could care less about the rumors. He threw for 4,100 yards, threw for almost 70 percent (completions) in a very dire, tough circumstance. So I have a lot of confidence in Carr, what he can do with Antonio Brown, with Tyrell Williams, with Trent Brown coming in here to help our offensive line, with a better defense. Yeah, I'm excited about Carr."
Mayock is, too, but it's his job to explore possible upgrades across the roster and to know everything about every prospect. Quarterback will be a tough one to improve.
"Derek Carr is a franchise quarterback. I do believe that," Mayock said. "We had Drew Lock at the Senior Bowl. He's a potential first-round pick and we got to work with him for a week. We did our due diligence. We're going to see Kyler Murray and we're going to see Haskins (in private workouts). We believe they're high-level quarterbacks, and that's due diligence. You'd better know how good these guys are. You'd better know what other teams are interested in, and whether or not you can improve your own position. That's part of what a head coach and GM do, to evaluate every position on your football team. You owe it to your team to do the best job you can and upgrade where you can.
"But, and I said this back at the NFL combine: I don't think there are very many people who are better than Derek Carr."
Even if the Raiders don't choose a quarterback at all in this draft, hard evaluation work was not wasted.
"I think it pays tangential results down the road," Mayock said. "We've watched every throw these guys have made. We know their strengths and weaknesses. If we see them in the division or the conference, we feel like we'll have a leg up in the game-planning process going against that kid. All of it plays into the due diligence process down the road."