Raiders GM Dave Ziegler has high praise for new QB Aidan O'Connell

It Came Down To Intangibles For Raiders GM Dave Ziegler On Aidan O’Connell Pick

The Las Vegas Raiders did indeed draft a quarterback; however, it wasn’t one that many had predicted. No C.J. Stroud or Will Levis; general manager Dave Ziegler went with Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell. On that note, Ziegler spoke with the media this weekend, sharing some insight into what went into the pick.

No surprise here, but some picks by the Raiders from this weekend have gotten less than stellar reviews. While the Raiders needed a quarterback following Jarrett Stidham’s departure, O’Connell was not a name many had in mind. In today’s modern NFL, a signal-caller who’s mobile and who can extend plays with his legs is becoming a perquisite. Still, this is obviously not something head coach Josh McDaniels wants. In O’Connell, McDaniels is getting his prototypical pocket passer—accurate and not afraid to take chances downfield.

In fact, Ziegler points to more than just O’Connell’s physical abilities as the reason for his selection.

“The one thing about quarterbacks that you don’t get to see if you’re just watching tape or games is that over 50 percent of their success rate is really about what they’re made of from the neck up. Intelligence, ability to process, and those types of intangibles—leadership. We felt he has a lot of those intangible qualities that we think are important to have any chance of being successful in the league at the quarterback [position]. Also, I liked the tape, to be honest with you.”

Did Raiders GM Dave Ziegler get his future starting quarterback in Aidan O’Connell?

Truth be told, if you look at McDaniels’ track record in terms of quarterback development, O’Connell makes sense. McDaniels wants quarterbacks that are not only accurate but can process the game as the coach sees fit. One that’ll run the offense as designed, keep mistakes to a minimum, and also show leadership. Say what you will about Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jarrett Stidham, they were beloved by their locker rooms.

“A lot of the things he did at Purdue, some of the things he showed, are areas to grow into. But he showed a lot of the things we wanted from the quarterback position, and then we got to meet him and spend time with him, and he confirmed a lot of the ‘neck-up’ traits that we look for.”

Look, O’Donnell isn’t mobile; that’s not a state secret. However, that’s not what Ziegler and McDaniels are really prioritizing at the moment. The latter wants a quarterback he can develop while confidently handing over the keys to someone he trusts (Garoppolo) in hopes that the team is competitive while laying down a long-term foundation. At the end of the day, you need more than just speed to be an NFL quarterback; it was the “intangibles” that made O’Connell the pick. Let’s see what McDaniels can do with him before we rush to judgment.

*Top Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

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