Raiders QB Aidan O'Connell

The Aidan O’Connell Agenda Plows Ahead For The Raiders—Just Hype Or Real Potential?

It shouldn’t be all that shocking that coverage surrounding Las Vegas Raiders training camp can be dubious sometimes. Let’s face it, we all see the game differently. Still, there are factors in play when it comes to what’s distributed by media platforms. Relationships with PR teams belonging to said teams, for example. In case you didn’t realize, NFL teams very much have say in what’s getting put out for the masses. One of those conflicting topics we’re seeing pertains to rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell.

What’s going on with the Raiders’ prized rookie?

So far, there have been a ton of positives with regards to O’Connell. If you set aside the foolishness surrounding his jersey number, O’Connell’s teammates have been saying the right things. Case in point: Hunter Renfrow, who heaped tons of praise on the Purdue product, going as far as to say that the team would be ready to follow him. Praise aside, we have to get real about expectations for this promising prospect. More importantly, maybe we can come to the agreement that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Aidan O’Connell: Prodigy or something else?

Take Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, for example, who is also the primary voice of the Raiders’ flagship radio station. Bonsignore has been largely raving about O’Connell’s performances during training camp. In fact, he raved about the rookie’s prowess—his decisiveness, as Bonsignore referred to it.

“The firm grip he’s shown so far in camp is a testament to that. O’Connell has had many more good moments than bad. The decisiveness he has displayed at the line of scrimmage and when dropping back to pass is evidence that the fourth-round pick already has a solid foundation under him,” said Bonsignore. One thing to point out, O’Connell did receive recognition for his pocket presence prior to the NFL Draft. The fit for him in head coach Josh McDaniels’ system seemed like a natural fit. Still, let’s not call this the second coming of Tom Brady just yet.

In Bonsignore’s defense, he went on to say that while No. 4 has looked good, the expectation for him is to leapfrog Brian Hoyer. Let’s keep things real for just a second. If you’re having trouble surpassing Hoyer in the depth chart, that’s a red flag. That’s not a shot at Hoyer; he’s 37 years old, and at this point, more than anything, he’s filling the role of mentor more than vying for playing time. In any case, what else is Bonsignore supposed to say here?

If the team’s radio show that carries their namesake puts out a less than flattering narrative on O’Connell, what would that say about the team’s brass foregoing a quarterback in the first three rounds of the draft? Well, we can’t have that happen.

Maybe AOC4 is playing like what he is, which is a fourth-round selection.

Now, if you shift to The Athletic (owned by the New York Times), they really have no fear of calling things as they see them. Again, football is subjective, and that’s something that should be stressed. Even so, Tashan Reed (with boots on the ground in Henderson, just like Bonsignore) told a different story recently. In fact, Reed said what many folks likely feel: O’Connell is a Day 3 pick, and, well, he’s been performing like one.

While referring to a McDaniels statement from June, in which the Raiders’ coach praised his rookie in several facets of his game, Reed offered quite a retort.

“Throughout the first 11 practices of training camp, carrying that over to the field has eluded Aidan O’Connell. His accuracy has been sporadic, he has taken too many risks and he’s been unable to stretch the field vertically. His rookie growing pains have been on full display.”

Reed isn’t being unnecessarily harsh; he’s been watching practices and is giving a straightforward assessment. O’Connell has looked like a Day 3 rookie; what did people expect? The biggest conflicting issue is with regards to whether the rookie will take the QB2 mantle from Hoyer. One is telling you that the expectation is that it’ll come to fruition. On the other hand, one is telling you that isn’t close to happening.

Preseason is here, and Sunday will shed light on which side is optically closer to the truth. Considering Jimmy Garoppolo’s frail history, sitting him out makes sense. That will present an opportunity for the rookie signal caller himself to either prove or disprove the conflicting reports. One thing’s for sure: you don’t want to be a mouthpiece if O’Connell has a less than stellar performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Let’s see how all of this plays out.

*Top Photo: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

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