Editor’s note: CSNBayArea.com will provide daily content previewing the NFL draft, including position breakdowns, news stories, mock drafts and more. Right now, we’ll analyze draft prospects at quarterback, and whether the Raiders should select one.
The Raiders are set at quarterback. That’s true for a second straight season, something weird to say after the Raiders spent so many years looking for a franchise quarterback.
Derek Carr is a lock to start after making significant strides in his second NFL season. He’s ranked high among the league’s up-and-coming quarterbacks, following a strong statistical campaign that still showed room for growth.
Matt McGloin is a valued backup with a few starts to his credit, and is capable of taking over in a pinch. The Raiders valued his presence, offering the restricted free agent a second-round contract tender.
Who’s here: Derek Carr, Matt McGloin.
Draft needs: The Raiders only carried two quarterbacks last season, but that number could increase to develop a backup in the future. McGloin will be an unrestricted free agent after 2016, and might want to see if he can find an open quarterback competition somewhere else. Even if he’s viewed as a career backup, he might earn more in a different uniform. The Raiders could use a lower-round pick to draft and develop a backup quarterback. Even if that isn’t the case, the team will need a camp arm at least to get through the preseason without taxing their top two passers.
Good fits: The Raiders won’t use a high pick on a passer, but USC’s Cody Kessler might be a quality option if available way down the line. He comes from the pro-style system and can play well under pressure following a myriad of big games at Southern California. He’s also from Bakersfield, which doubles as Derek Carr’s hometown. That could help the pair jell in future seasons. He could be a late pick. If not, the Raiders could aim for an undrafted free agent and hope to strike silver as they did with McGloin in 2013. Alabama’s Jake Coker could be a late third-day prospect or a priority free agent after the draft.
The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.
They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.
Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.
“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”
While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.
The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.
“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.
"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”
Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.
Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.
Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.
“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”
Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.
“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”