As the Raiders transition from the Bay Area to Las Vegas, coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are preparing for a vital offseason in their rebuild.
The Raiders have five picks in the first 92, including Nos. 12 and 19 overall, and are slated to have at least $51.8 million in cap room for free agency.
Before the Raiders can go about patching up their defense or upgrading their offensive weapons, they need to decide what to do at the quarterback position.
Derek Carr is under contract until 2022, but the Raiders can cut the quarterback for minimal loss if they deem it necessary. Rumors have swirled about the Raiders' desire to pursue Tom Brady should he become a free agent, and multiple teams reportedly sense Carr could become available.
The Raiders can go a number of different directions at quarterback as they move to Sin City. While Brady's name gets all the publicity, the Raiders do have two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft which they could package together to move up to select a top-tier quarterback in this year's class.
Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow already should be buying a house in Cincinnati, as he's all but assured to be the Bengals' selection at No. 1 overall. But what about Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon's Justin Herbert? Both signal-callers have high upside and were expected to be the first two quarterbacks off the board before Burrow went and set the country on fire while leading LSU to a national championship.
As the NFL Scouting Combine gets underway, let's take a look at the second and third best quarterbacks in the class, and whether or not the Raiders should make a move up the draft board.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
If not for the fractured hip he suffered against Mississippi State, Tagovailoa would be right there in the conversation with Burrow for the No. 1 overall pick. As is, the Alabama product got good news from surgeons a few weeks ago, as NFL Media reported his hip has healed and he has good range of motion. He is expected to resume football activities sometime next month if progress continues.
At 100 percent, Tagovailoa was one of the most electric players in college football. He came off the bench to lead Alabama to the 2018 College Football National Championship and rose to stardom not long after. In nine games this past season, Tagovailoa threw for 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 71.4 percent of his passes and leading the country with a 206.9 efficiency rating.
Tagovailoa measured at 6-foot even Monday in Indianapolis. While he lacks ideal size and has a tainted injury history, he has a quick release, great feet and a strong arm. He throws from a solid platform and is a great decision-maker in the RPO game.
To the tape!
His ball placement on slants and corner routes is a thing of beauty,
Tua was great on third downs, and third and long especially. Hits his man in stride in order to set up YAC. pic.twitter.com/hvUslqsmeD— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) November 12, 2019
Tua gets it pic.twitter.com/OJa5RhDnpp— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) November 4, 2018
Improvisation is an underrated aspect of his game.
Another pistol play action, he quickly improvises after he sees the incoming pressure, and delivers a perfect throw to the sideline. pic.twitter.com/C5fE8ZYHwk— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 1, 2019
And the deep ball ...
Great ball on the deep post. Safety clears, he takes the correct shot. pic.twitter.com/3C5Ny9jJSM— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) October 14, 2019
If Tua is healthy, a number of teams will be clamoring to pay a king's ransom to go up and get him.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
An NFL scout's dream, Herbert (6-foot-6, 236 pounds) has all the physical tools to be the prototypical NFL quarterback.
He has great mobility and a bazooka for a right arm.
Lmao Herbert has an absolute bazooka. pic.twitter.com/1HMAT8VQoa— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) February 21, 2020
Herbert's issue during his time at Oregon was a lack of consistency, which can partly be blamed on having three different head coaches, three different offensive coordinators and two offensive schemes during his four years in Eugene, Ore. Herbert needs to work on his anticipation, as sometimes he'll wait too long to rip it.
All in all, Herbert has great feet, a massive arm and can be a big factor in the RPO game. He can make some ridiculous throws on the run.
Excellent play by Herbert. Avoids the rush, rolls out with his eyes up, delivers a really good ball. That's the good stuff. pic.twitter.com/qZOjXAADNL— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 15, 2019
There aren't many guys in the NFL who can make this throw.
Justin Herbert gets a big chance today to up his stock against Washington. His ability to make ‘wow’ throws and show off impressive improvisation skills are exactly why I’m a fan of his.— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) October 19, 2019
Herbert starred at the Senior Bowl and no doubt will test through the roof at the Combine. If he nails the interviews with teams, he'll be top-six pick.
To trade or not to trade
With so many early picks, Raiders have some ammo to move up in the draft should they deem it necessary. But based on recent NFL history, they would have to pay quite the price tag to jump and take either Tagovailoa or Herbert.
The Raiders have a number of needs and would be better served by keeping their picks and stocking their roster with as much talent as possible. There's no doubt Gruden would love to see Herbert or Tua throwing darts in silver and black, yet with Tagovailoa's injury history and Herbert's inconsistency, the Raiders would be wise to hang back and address their other needs.
But if Gruden wants his QB, he just might go get him.