Since their Super Bowl loss in the 2002 season, the Oakland Raiders have never made the playoffs, won more than eight games, or even had a quarterback who started more than 15 games. Every year, the front office and coaching staff have tried desperately to put someone out who can run the offense reasonably.
Of the 21 quarterbacks that have taken a snap as an Oakland Raider since the 2002 season, only Kerry Collins, JaMarcus Russell, and Carson Palmer have started 15 games in a season. Together they combined for 13 wins.
In 2013, Dennis Allen played musical chairs at QB, starting out with Terrelle Pryor, who played surprisingly well to start the season before hitting a serious slump. He was then replaced with undrafted free agent rookie Matt McGloin. Both had high moments, such as Pryor’s 93-yard touchdown run on the first play of a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 8, or McGloin’s three touchdown debut against Houston in week 11.
While both are good options to start in 2014, Oakland has some options with the fifth pick. While there is no consensus top quarterback, one option at the fifth pick for Oakland is local product Derek Carr of Fresno State.
In a high-volume pass offense at Fresno State, Carr put up gaudy numbers, passing for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns as a senior. While the numbers don’t translate to the NFL, he did show off impressive skills as a passer.
The big knack against Carr to most is his name. His brother David was the number one pick by Houston in 2002, and was quickly labeled a bust for poor pocket presence and poor decision making. However, Derek is nothing like David.
Derek shows enormous presence in the pocket, not folding in the face of oncoming rushers. He possesses impeccable timing of when to get the ball out to a hot receiver. Against San Diego State, when pressure was in his face all night, Carr showed tremendous ability to move around in the pocket, yet keeping his eyes downfield.
That is in addition to his amazing football intelligence. He appeared almost Peyton Manning-ish at times with pre -nap adjustments, calling out blitzers and adjusting protection. Scouts have raved about his work ethic and preparation that go into each gameplan. After the snap, he has shown to read and adapt to any changes defenses have made.
Where Carr truly shines is with his arm. Not only can he sling it 40 yards down the sideline with ease, but his control of trajectory and velocity is masterful. His gunslinger mentality has brought on comparisons to Jay Cutler and Brett Favre. His other big asset is his quick delivery, helping him beat quick oncoming rushers.
The only bad part about his passing comes from inconsistent footwork when he does not use his lower body to put more power and direction in a throw. On tape, you can see him not set his feet, which leads to high and errant passes. However, footwork is one of the most coachable things in the NFL. Terrelle Pryor’s footwork when he joined the team was atrocious, but Greg Olsen and John DeFilippo have managed to improve him to a starting job.
Unless Teddy Bridgewater is available, Carr should be the top QB on the Raiders’ draft board. A smart, athletic player with a powerful arm is a gift to most teams. While Johnny Manziel is more of a highlight player that everyone would clamor for, Reggie McKenzie needs to choose the more consistent quarterback help rebuild the franchise.