The Soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders
2019 will be the last year for the Oakland Raiders. In 2020, the team is scheduled to begin playing its home games at Las Vegas Stadium as the Las Vegas Raiders. While the distance from one stadium to the other is only an 8-hour drive away (547 miles) major changes are coming for the black and silver. Aside from the desert heat. free slots and nightlife of the Las Vegas strip, the Oakland Raiders should look completely different from a player personnel and branding standpoint when they finally take the field in their brand new stadium next year.
What new Raider players can we envision being the face of this new Las Vegas franchise? Obviously, the team made a splash this offseason, by acquiring Antonio Brown, but outside of him do we see Derek Carr remaining the face of the franchise at the quarterback position?
Will fans gambling inside the casino-like Las Vegas stadium be betting on a Carr-Brown third down conversion? Or will sports bettors be betting on the likes of a second-year quarterback who flashed his rookie season? Lucky for us, we won’t have to wait much longer as rumors have begun to circulate that the Raiders’ plan to draft at quarterback at the 2019 NFL Draft.
2019 NFL Draft
As the team enters the NFL Draft they have many roster needs that they could address. One position, in particular, does not seem to necessarily come off as a need, but new general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden seem non-committal behind current starting quarterback Derek Carr. Even after a season where Carr had a career high in yards per attempt (7.3), the Raiders’ organization has flirted with potentially taking a quarterback with one of their three first-round draft picks.
According to Mayock himself, “I’ve said before … Derek Carr is a franchise quarterback, and we believe that…Beyond that, just like at any other position, we’re going to do our due diligence. If we found somebody we liked better, or thought had a bigger upside, you’ve got to do the right thing for the organization. Also in Mayock’s first pre-draft press conference, he spoke about the delicate balance between drafting for need and the best player available. In terms of the team signing Isaiah Crowell, they want him to come in ready to go and “protect our quarterback.”
This statement sticks out in two ways. One is that he does not reference Carr by name, but just by our quarterback. And secondly, Crowell is not effective pass-blocker according to the grades given out by Pro Football Focus. Of all running backs that played on a minimum 170 pass snaps (48 total), Crowell’s efficiency as pass blocker ranked 46th behind only Devontae Booker and Kenyan Drake. Don’t let Crowell’s yards per carry last season (4.8) fool you. And don’t let Mayock fool you either. He may not be telling all the truth. But if Carr is not their future quarterback who are the realistic options at quarterback in the draft the Raiders would consider?
The Future: QB Dwayne Haskins
According to WalterFootball.com, the Raiders have met with the following rookie quarterbacks during some point during this draft process. Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State and Kyler Murray from Oklahoma. The Raiders seems to have the most interest in Haskins as they have met with him at more than one event, (Combine, Private Visit, and Private Workout). It’s also been reported that the Raiders are certainly high on Haskins according to Mike Silver of NFL Network. It’s been apparent that the Raiders would also consider taking Murray if he were to fall to them at pick number four. However, with the Arizona Cardinals so infatuated with Murray, it’s hard to envision the Raiders getting a chance to draft Murray unless the Raiders package picks to move up to the number one overall selection.
There is a strong chance that most teams are not as high on Haskins as the Raiders are. First reported by Peter King was that Haskins could be the fourth quarterback taken off the board. If that ends up being the case, the Raiders would find themselves in a situation where they not only get to draft the best available player at four but use their later first-round picks to potentially get their guy in the back half of the first round. And by doing so that does not necessarily mean that they need to start him right away either. Letting a guy with not much experience sit behind a guy like Carr for a season could make the most sense, and at the same time push Carr to play better. It draws parallels to when the Chiefs took Patrick Mahomes but sat him behind Alex Smith for his first-season to learn. But once the Raiders take on Vegas, it will be bye bye Carr, and hello to not just Sin City, but Haskins City. Or maybe What Haskins Here, Dwaynes Here?
And if that doesn’t convince you…