It may only be February, but draft season has already begun. It is that time of year when armchair GMs and scouts thrive, and Twitter becomes rife with speculation. Let’s join in on the fun! One position where the Las Vegas Raiders will certainly have interest this spring is quarterback. In fact, every day you see Raiders news involving another possibility at quarterback.
Here are five quarterbacks that the Raiders should take a long look at this spring. Remember, we are just focusing on the Raiders here. These are not necessarily the top five quarterbacks in the draft.
Raiders Target: Bryce Young
We will start with who is likely the first quarterback, and possibly the first player, to come off the board this year. Young is a former Heisman Trophy winner and had a very successful college career overall. Acquiring him would likely require the Raiders to trade up into at least the top three.
Young is listed at 6’0″ (allegedly) and 194 pounds. Both of these numbers are very much on the low end of the spectrum as far as quarterbacks go. He is relatively young at just 21 years old.
Young is the most polished quarterback in this class. He has phenomenal arm talent and can put the ball wherever he wants to. Alabama’s porous offensive line forces Young to show off his tremendous athleticism and escapability. Despite his size, he has tremendous arm strength, which allows him to make off-balance throws. However, he is very disciplined about getting his feet set first when he can. Overall, he makes excellent football decisions.
Obviously, the most glaring weakness for Young is his size. However, there is more to it than that. Height isn’t a huge deal in today’s NFL, but what really hurts him is his slight frame. On top of that, the tape shows him taking a lot of hits in college in order to make all of those tremendous plays. How is his body going to hold up taking those hits against bigger, stronger, and faster NFL defenders? Can he find ways to be as successful without putting his body on the line as much?
Ceiling:Â Russell Wilson
Floor:Â Baker Mayfield
Grade:Â Top 5
Raiders Target: C.J. Stroud
Stroud is most likely going to be the second or third quarterback off the board. After two very strong years as the starter at Ohio State, there is a lot of hype surrounding his potential.
Stroud stands at 6’3″ and 218 pounds. This is prototypical NFL quarterback size. He is also just 21 years old.
Stroud is a tremendous athlete with all of the physical tools you could ask for. He did have to make a lot of NFL-type reads in college. He made good decisions with the football. His arm talent is elite.
His mechanics were inconsistent at times, which led to inconsistent accuracy. Due to the wide receiver talent at Ohio State, Stroud did not have make a lot of tight window throws with perfect timing. This does not mean he is not capable, but it is more of an unknown.
Ceiling:Â John Elway
Floor:Â Ryan Tannehill
Grade:Â Top 10
Raiders Target: Tanner McKee
McKee started the last two years for a Stanford team that was just not very good. He has a lot more losses on his resume than many of the other top quarterback prospects, but the tape shows that he belongs in that group.
At 6’6″ and 230 pounds, McKee has the size that most coaches salivate over. He is 22 years old, which is about average for quarterback prospects.
McKee’s situation provided ample opportunity to show his ability to make throws into tight windows under duress. He had poor protection from his offensive line and his receivers often struggled to get separation. The design of Stanford’s offense was also heavily reliant on the quarterback’s ability to make reads. McKee typically made sound decisions based on those reads.
Constantly being under pressure did have some negative effects. McKee developed some bad habits with his mechanics that remained even when he did have time to throw. This also leads to inconsistent accuracy. Another flaw that the pressure revealed is McKee’s lack of athleticism. He has almost zero ability to escape from the pocket.
Ceiling:Â Matt Ryan
Floor: Mike Glennon
Grade:Â Late 2nd Round
Raiders Target: Aidan O’Connell
O’Connell has had a much longer college career than his peers. He arrived at Purdue in 2017 but did not play until the 2019 season. He was the starter in 2020 but his season was shortened by injury. So, like his peers, 2021 and 2022 were the only seasons where he started the majority of the games.
O’Connell has NFL size at 6’3″ and 210 pounds. He is 24 years old, making him a bit older than his peers.
O’Connell makes great decisions with the football. He goes through his progression well and makes the correct read most of the time. O’Connell is an accurate passer and delivers a very catchable ball.
O’Connell is not a threat to run at all. He also lacks elite arm strength. Another flaw that the tape revealed was a tendency to “burp the baby” at times. Finally, his age is not ideal. He is two or three years older than many of his peers.
Ceiling:Â Kirk Cousins
Floor:Â Andy Dalton
Grade:Â 3rd Round
Raiders Target: Hendon Hooker
Hooker had a tremendous season at Tennessee this past year that was unfortunately cut short by an ACL injury. After transferring from Virginia Tech, Hooker had a solid 2021 campaign, but really burst onto the scene in 2022.
Hooker has great size at 6’4″ and 218 pounds. However, he is one of the older quarterbacks in this class at 25 years old.
The ball jumps out of Hooker’s hand with great velocity. His throwing motion is smooth and consistent. He pairs that with great athleticism and running ability. These traits allow him to operate well both in and out of structure.
Tennessee boasts a ton of talent at wide receiver, so we did not see him have to make a lot of tough throws. We did not see him have to make a lot of reads either. When he is unsure of what he is seeing, has a habit of double-clutching at times. There are a lot of unknowns with Hooker, including his health. Coming off an ACL tear, he will likely spend the bulk of his rookie season on injured reserve. At 25, time is not exactly on his side either.
Ceiling:Â Deshaun Watson (minus the off-field concerns)
Floor:Â Sam Bradford
Grade:Â Late 3rd Round
*Top Photo: Tennessee Athletics