The Oakland Raiders traded a sixth round pick to the Houston Texans to obtain quarterback Matt Schaub. Not long after the trade, head coach Dennis Allen went ahead and named Schaub the presumptive starter for the 2014 season. For many, that was a signal that the Raiders would not be using their first round draft pick, the fifth overall, on a quarterback. But by most appearances, the Raiders look as though they are very seriously considering using that pick on one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft. That trend continues with Johnny Manziel in the midst of a two day visit with the team.
The Raiders have had either head coach Dennis Allen or general manager Reggie McKenzie at the pro day for each of the big name quarterbacks: Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. They also attended the pro day of Derek Carr, who many consider to be a first round talent as well. According to NFL.com, the only official workouts or visits that the Raiders have had are with these four quarterbacks. The NFL allows 30 pre-draft visits per team so the Raiders are sure to have many more visits, but by all appearances they are focusing their attention on the quarterbacks likely to go in the first round.
Unless this is all a smokescreen.
One of the few things that have not changed in Oakland since Al Davis passed away and McKenzie took over is the level of secrecy. In today’s age of technology, it is rare that a move in the NFL occurs without a big name like Ian Rapoport or Adam Schefter reporting rumors and updates of those rumors about the move in advance. But this offseason alone, McKenzie has pulled two quick ones that virtually no one saw coming with the signings of cornerback Tarell Brown and wide receiver James Jones. Leading up to last year’s draft, most experts had the Raiders taking a defensive tackle like Star Lotulelei. Not until very close to the start of the draft did mentions of the name D.J. Hayden start to be associated with the Raiders, and even then he was not seen as the most likely guy for the Raiders to take.
And it does not just sit with McKenzie; the Raiders organization has a history of being very secretive and new owner Mark Davis has also shown this tendency. He kept the media in the dark about the status of head coach Dennis Allen, providing coy answers whenever the topic was brought up, only to say there was never a question about Allen’s return after things were all said and done.
So while the evidence points to the Raiders thinking hard about taking a quarterback in the draft, one has to remember that the NFL offseason is often termed the “lying season” for good reason. Sure, the Raiders very well may be looking at one of those quarterbacks with the number five pick. They may also be trying to boost the pick’s value by signaling to teams behind them in the draft looking for a quarterback that they’d be wise to move up if they want their man. So while certain signs point to Oakland taking a quarterback, that might be the best sign that they will not draft one of these four guys.