Editor's note: Scott Bair reports on Bay Area draft hopefuls from the Senior Bowl all week long right here on CSNBayArea.com
MOBILE, Ala. – The Raiders need a quarterback of the present and future.
General manager Reggie McKenzie said the team wants to import a veteran passer, and would prefer a drafted quarterback gets a season at least to watch and learn.
The veteran will come once the free-agent market opens on March 11. The search for a franchise talent is already on. The Raiders have been logging reports on seniors throughout the season and started analyzing juniors once they declare for the draft.
This week at the Senior Bowl, the Raiders are getting a close eye at some passers who may be available in the second or third round. They’ve met with Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and are scheduled to meet with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr among others.
[RELATED: Raiders 2013 passing statistics]
While quarterbacks are not the Raiders’ only focus of this Senior Bowl week, they will be a point of emphasis throughout the pre-draft process that includes pro days, college all-star games and the NFL scouting combine.
Exhibitions like the Senior Bowl hold a special weight. Teams get to see players practice in pads and compete against equals.
The Raiders will rank quarterbacks they’re competing directly against at each stop, and prioritize their draft board accordingly. The farther into this process we get, the more detailed and accurate it will become.
The Raiders aren’t locked in on a specific style. Athlete or pure pocket passer, the Raiders want the best passer they can get at a particular point in the draft.
Exactly when Raiders will choose a quarterback is uncertain and could remain so until they’re on the clock.
The Raiders could take one at No. 5 overall from a cluster that currently includes Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. If they prefer another position in that slot, they could certainly wait until the second round or later.
There are some second-tier candidates to watch at the Senior Bowl, including Boyd, San Jose State’s David Fales and Eastern Illinois prospect Jimmy Garoppolo. The Raiders will meet with several, analyze more along the way and try to prioritize needs as best they can.
The tough part, as McKenzie said last week, is the Raiders “have needs. With an ‘S.’”
Is a quarterback of the future a top priority when a veteran free agent – from a razor-thin group, mind you – is likely coming to play in 2014? Should the Raiders use high draft picks to add talent to other position groups and build a team that makes a passer’s life easier? Or, Is there a quarterback the Raiders simply can’t pass up in this draft?
Questions will be answered and opinions confirmed as the NFL draft gets closer. Until then, the Raiders will continue to meet and study and try to find a franchise quarterback that has eluded them for years.
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