The Raiders don’t need a quarterback. They still could take one in the 2020 NFL Draft.
That doesn’t mean we’re going to spend the next 650 words destroying Derek Carr or minimizing Marcus Mariota.
It does imply, accurately so, that the Raiders have quarterback freedom. They can release Carr next offseason for a $2.5 million cap hit and Mariota for free next offseason. They also could be so thrilled with Carr that they let him play out a contract that runs through 2022 and pays a roughly $19.5 million pay-as-you-go salary.
Either way, they aren’t bound to anyone.
Carr is the presumptive starter. Mariota is a luxury car backup. Nathan Peterman has received a restricted free agent contract tender worthy of the No. 3 spot or better. That’s why we shouldn’t expect Jordan Love to hear his name called. That’s why we shouldn’t expect the Raiders to trade up for Justin Herbert or Tua Tagvailoa.
We should, however, consider quarterback a draft need heading into the 2020 NFL season.
Jalen Hurts is a realistic possibility considering the team’s connection to him during the pre-draft process. The former Sooner is one of the signal-callers the Raiders could consider selecting, even if a first-round selection isn’t likely.
Let’s take a look at some NFL draft options should the Raiders consider taking a quarterback:
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
The Raiders could snag him with one of three third-round picks, though they might have to trade into the second to get him after an excellent final season in Oklahoma and a stellar performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has been connected to the Raiders at several stages and could be a solid selection should the Raiders choose to address the quarterback spot.
Hurts is a great leader with a good arm who shows poise under duress, with the athleticism required to perform well under pressure. He can function well outside the pocket, something Jon Gruden’s looking for in an NFL quarterback working in a world with Patrick Mahomes as the dominant predator.
His coverage recognition leaves something to be desired and he needs to perform better in the pocket, but Hurts is someone worth strong consideration if available when the Raiders are on the clock after the initial round.
He’s the priority on the NFL draft’s second day, though there are some other players to consider beyond that in later rounds.
Anthony Gordon, Washington State
The Pacifica native has a solid arm and nice touch on the ball and is willing to work through his progressions trying to find the right receiver. He has solid football IQ and can make throws at all three levels. His footwork needs some, well, work, and he isn’t a great scrambler outside the pocket but is a playmaker when required.
Steven Montez, Colorado
The former Buffalo has the size and strength required to be an NFL signal-caller and can get the ball out fast with accuracy. He can move well within the pocket and can make plays outside of it if required. He’s good directing traffic and making plays on the move, traits Gruden would like. He isn’t great performing under pressure and can be slow with his reads but could be a playmaker who can be taught to perform well in the right system.
J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
He has impressice athleticism and arm talent and is capable of making every throw in the NFL. He can run the zone-read offense and make plays in a pro-style system, a benefit of selecting him later in the NFL draft. He doesn’t often react to pressure and doesn’t have great decision-making ability, but that can be taught by the right coach. He’s a project, but one the Raiders could work with given their positioning at starter and backup