NFL enters Combine Week, Raiders continue to evaluate QBs

Source: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL Combine is set to take place in Indianapolis this week, beginning on Thursday and running through Sunday. The Raiders’ Derek Carr era is officially over, and their all-time leading passer remains a free agent who is free to sign with any team. With Carr’s departure, the Raiders are one of several teams in the league with a glaring need at quarterback as the incoming 2023 rookie class takes center stage at the NFL Combine this weekend. After a disappointing 2022 season, the Raiders hold the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, putting themselves in position to select their quarterback of the future if they so choose.

Former Heisman Trophy winning QB Bryce Young out of Alabama continues to be the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Young, in his first year as a starter, took Alabama all the way to the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship before losing to Georgia. His stock as one of the top prospects of the 2023 draft class has held steady ever since. Multiple sources reported Monday that Young will not throw at the combine. Unless the Raiders make a big move to get all the way up to No. 1 or 2, Young will likely not be the Raiders next QB.

After Young, however, the Raiders have three realistic options in the class. Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, and Kentucky’s Will Levis will all throw at the combine, and all have hopes to go top-10 in April’s draft. Of the group, Stroud and Levis’ stock has remained consistently high (Levis, however, has more than his fair share of critics), but it is Florida QB Anthony Richardson who is currently flying up mock draft boards.

Richardson, listed at 6-foot-4, 232 pounds on, has the best physical traits of the bunch. Former MVP QB Cam Newton is among Richardson’s player comps. All of the stereotypical draft labels – raw, project, “boom-or-bust” – could be placed on Richardson, but there is no doubt that more and more prospects with elite physical traits are becoming top quarterbacks in the league. And with leashes getting shorter and shorter for struggling head coaches and general managers around the NFL, Richardson could seem just tempting enough for Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler to take a big risk.

One way or another, the Raiders will need to address the quarterback position this spring. The draft may not be their preferred choice as veteran quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Garoppolo, and others may be more to McDaniels and Ziegler’s liking, but the path to a potential Super Bowl could open for the Raiders if they are able to find the league’s next superstar through the draft.

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