While the Raiders aren't officially eliminated from the NFL playoffs, it is, unfortunately, time for the Silver and Black to turn their attention to the future.
Head coach Jon Gruden will spend the final two weeks of the season trying to snap his team's grueling four-game losing streak, and evaluate what he has -- and what he needs -- as the Raiders move from the Bay Area to Las Vegas. Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock hit a home run with their first draft class, one that has produced at historic levels this season. They must do so again in 2020 if the Raiders are going to continue to grow.
As Gruden looks at what his team needs heading into 2020, a few key positions stick out. The Raiders have to address the wide receiver position in the upcoming draft. Preferably twice. They also must improve at linebacker and get another pass rusher.
They also might need, you guessed it, a quarterback.
Six years in, Derek Carr has shown he's an average quarterback. He can be an above-average one if given weapons and time. Without one or both of those, he wilts. Such has been the case during the Raiders' current losing streak, where Carr has been unable to make the necessary plays to stop the bleeding.
The upcoming draft class has a number of quarterbacks the Raiders could look at to take over for Carr should they be enamored with a certain prospect. Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa will be off the board by the time the Raiders pick. Oregon's Justin Herbert is an option, but if the Raiders address their other needs early in the draft, they could look at quarterback later on.
One of those Day 2 quarterbacks will play his final college football game Friday night when Utah State's Jordan Love faces Kent State in the 2019 Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl.
Love entered the season looking like a potential first-round draft pick. During his junior season with the Aggies, Love threw for 3,567 yards, 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions while completing 64 percent of his passes. But this season has been a different story for Love, who has struggled under new head coach Gary Andersen, throwing for only 3,065 yards with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. His completion percentage also dropped to 61 percent.
While Love has struggled this season, there still is a lot for NFL teams to fall in love with.
He has a rocket arm and can make all the throws. The ball explodes out of his hand and he has immense trust in his arm, even with a pass rush barrelling down on him.
Let's go to the tape.
He has the arm strength to fit balls into tight windows.
Starts with a change up, then comes back with this fastball. pic.twitter.com/EChAQNwvs1— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 10, 2019
And get it outside the numbers.
Zing! Easiest gas in college football pic.twitter.com/KkxC4hNFZS— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 10, 2019
He also throws a gorgeous deep ball.
Jordan Love at Fresno State— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 10, 2019
The things his arm is capable of are pretty ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/GRddsHIpd0
Take a look at the touch on this end-zone fade.
We’re getting 2018 Jordan Love tonight pic.twitter.com/qUiymN2QFj— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 10, 2019
His arm strength and mobility have garnered Love comparisons to Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes.
Stuff like this... this is why you fall in love with him. The defense MUST react to the run, and he’s one of two or three human beings capable of making that throw. pic.twitter.com/rwbKRM9pVj— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 10, 2019
Now, it's not all roses and daisies with Love.
He has a tendency to get jittery in the pocket and make throws off his back foot. For all the trust he shows in his arm strength, he oftentimes won't get his feet set and his accuracy suffers because of it. His 16 interceptions were tied for the most among Division I quarterbacks with Washington State's Anthony Gordon.
Love needs to be drafted by a good organization with an established veteran that he can sit behind and learn from.
All of that likely will make the Raiders stay away from Love. But he undoubtedly will dazzle at the Senior Bowl and will be an NFL Scouting Combine star.
The physical traits and potential might be too hard for Gruden and the Raiders to pass up, especially if Love slips to the second or third round.