Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock took Kyler Murray to a fancy Dallas steakhouse around this time last year. They wined and dined the former Oklahoma quarterback (and Athletics draft pick) at Al Bernat, knowing full well everyone was only getting an awesome meal and some intel out of the deal.
Murray was going No. 1 overall to Arizona. The whole world knew that. The Raiders were not trading up to get him. Odds are they would’ve taken Nick Bosa first anyway, with a supreme talent and pressing need melding well.
It still didn’t stop the Raiders brass from buying Murray a great steak putting him through the paces.
The Raiders did almost the same thing with Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. They worked him out and challenged him on the whiteboard.
They generated a bunch of quarterback buzz and a good smokescreen for those outside the know, and then stayed put (despite efforts to trade down) and took Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall. The quarterback meetings probably would’ve made for some great TV, on Gruden’s QB Camp or Mayock’s NFL Network segments.
They ultimately didn’t matter. Flirting doesn’t mean you'll ask someone on a date.
That’s especially true with Gruden, who often professes love for quarterbacks while rarely taking them.
Gruden has made the final call on eight NFL drafts and has selected three quarterbacks. He has never drafted one before the third round. He certainly had some influence when the Raiders took Marques Tuiasosopo in the second round back in 2001, but that ultimately was Al Davis’ call.
He took Chris Simms (1999) in the third round, Bruce Gradkowski (2006) in the sixth and Josh Johnson (2008) in the fifth.
Simms saw significant time in his second year and Gradkowski started as a rookie, largely because of Simms’ struggles.
Gruden’s preference for veteran quarterbacks is well known, with the Raiders and Buccaneers doing best under Gruden with Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson at the helm.
Why, therefore, should we raise a Chucky-style eyebrow every time the Raiders interact with an NFL-draft eligible quarterback?
The fan base is increasingly skeptical that Derek Carr’s the quarterback of Gruden’s future despite the Fresno State alum setting statistical milestones in each of his first two years under the Raiders head coach.
He’s the Raiders’ presumptive starting quarterback next season, despite the Raiders making Marcus Mariota the NFL’s highest-paid backup quarterback.
All that evidence doesn’t eliminate the possibility of the Raiders taking a quarterback at some point, a topic we’ll delve into extensively on Tuesday on the website and the Raiders Insider Podcast. Gruden likes to develop young arms and enjoys reclamation projects with raw talent, as we’re seeing with Mariota and Nathan Peterman.
He also likes smart, battle-tested quarterbacks. Carr is one and surrounding him with talent seems the best course of action.
While connecting the Raiders to this year’s top quarterbacks in 2020 has decreased over last year, the Raiders have still done due diligence and spoken to Oregon’s Justin Herbert via video conference. They have analyzed Tua Tagovailoa and Jordan Love to be sure.
They have been connected with Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, though he may have elevated his draft stock too high for the Raiders to take him.
Whether the Raiders take a quarterback or not remains uncertain, but Gruden’s draft history suggests a selection isn’t always as obvious and imminent as it seems.