2014 NFL Draft: Raiders poised to land coveted QB, or elite prospect
If the Oakland Raiders miss out on one of the top three quarterback prospects with the No. 5 overall pick, the silver lining could be an elite prospect like Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson falling into their lap.
The question facing the Oakland Raiders is not so much about what to do with the No. 5 overall pick in May as it is about who will be available.
Head coach Dennis Allen admitted at the Scouting Combine that quarterback is "a position we've obviously got to look at."
With Terrelle Pryor failing to show enough progression as a passer in 2013 and Matt McGloin looking like a solid career back up, the Raiders are overwhelmingly expected to target a quarterback with the No. 5 overall pick -- provided one of the top prospects is available.
Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (No. 3 overall), Central Florida's Blake Bortles (No. 5) and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (No. 7) are all top 10 prospects, according to NFLDraftScout.com. All three have had their names tied to the Houston Texans with the No. 1 overall pick at one point or another, while the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cleveland Browns picking directly in front of the Raiders also candidates to snag a quarterback.
Oakland's personnel department has been pouring over game tape, and is in Indianapolis this week to meet with dozens of prospects. The most polarizing remains Manziel, who was a popular topic for each of the teams in the top five in need of a franchise quarterback.
"He's accomplished a lot at the collegiate level. He's been a very good football player; being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy speaks for itself," Allen said. "I think he's a very talented football player; he's a multidimensional football player. He's able to throw the ball from the pocket and do things with his feet. As we get more into the evaluation process he'll be a fun one to look at."
With three quarterback-needy teams ahead of them and three potential top-four quarterbacks, the Raiders are perched in a precarious situation that could see them selecting at No. 5 without one of the elite prospects left to choose from. The good news in that scenario is the Raiders would then have one of the draft's elite prospects fall into their lap -- either South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney or Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson.
That leaves Allen balancing the tightrope between acknowledging the team's need for a young franchise arm to groom and not tossing out the futures of Pryor and McGloin. Can one of the two open next season as the starter?
"One of those things we have to determine," said Allen. "We're going to look at that position very closely. In my opinion we've got two young quarterbacks with potential. But I think that's a position we've obviously got to look at."
Pryor started off last season showing promise, but the vast majority of his big plays came courtesy of his legs, while his ability to run the passing attack remained highly inconsistent.
"You saw a young quarterback that needs time to develop," said Allen. "There was times where he went out and played exceptionally well. There was times where he didn't play as well. We need to learn from those mistakes."
Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie will continue to weight the team's options -- including the potential of moving up or down in the draft depending on how they view the top three quarterbacks, and their ability to land one they covet.
Bottom line is the Raiders prepare for the NFL Draft uncertain if their starting quarterback for next season is on the roster.
"I don't know the answer to that yet," said Allen. "The quarterback position is the backbone of your football team. We've got to make sure that when we go out there this year, we put ourselves in the best position to have success with the quarterback position."
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