Season review: Raiders QBs

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Season review: Raiders QBs

The rallying cry of an overachieving 8-8 season in 2010, after seven straight years of at least 11 defeats: We're not losers anymore. So said Tom Cable, on his way out the door.The most memorable line of an underachieving 8-8 mark in 2011, after the Raiders' pratfall in the season finale when they would have won the AFC West by defeating San Diego: I'm pissed at my team. So said rookie coachde factor general manager Hue Jackson.The truth of this past season, though, was more realistically somewhere in between.
Speaking solely of the starters, it was the most talented Raiders team since the Super Bowl season of 2002. But the gap between the front-line players and the second- and third-stringers was too great. Just take a look at the toll the injuries took on the team and the challenges they brought to Jackson.One week, Jackson's boss, the iconic Al Davis died, leaving a power void atop Raider Nation. The next week, Jackson not only swung a trade for linebacker Aaron Curry but lost his quarterback when Jason Campbell's collarbone snapped. Then he made the trade for Carson Palmer and summarily lost his best player, Darren McFadden, in the next game while his most consistent specialist, placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, was hobbled with a strained hamstring.Three weeks, three franchise-turning moments.The offense was solid, ranking ninth in the NFL a year after being 10th. The defense was atrocious, ranking 29th, after being 11th, and the team gave up 433 points, third-most in franchise history.With all of that as a backdrop, we begin our season-ending position group analysesstarting with the quarterbacks...QUARTERBACKSIt is often, and correctly, said quarterbacks get too much credit when things are going well, too much blame when it all goes to pot. That was never more evident than for the Raiders this season. Yes, quarterback is the most important position on the field, but with so much drama going on around the Raiders' QBs this season, it's hard to hold them solely responsible for what what wrong -- and what went right -- for them this season. Truly, the mid-season change from Jason Campbell to Carson Palmer, with a dash of Kyle Boller and Terrelle Pryor, changed the identity of the team. For the better, though? Yes. If only injuries had not ravaged the rest of the roster. Grade: CCarson Palmer -- Really, when you consider what Palmer accomplished after being acquired out of semi-retirement and off his couch in October, it's pretty amazing. No offseason program. No familiarity. A seeming resentment from a receiver or two. Not a single snap with running back Darren McFadden. And still, Palmer had the Raiders one game away from winning the division. It took a while for the Raiders to get Palmer up and running -- he did, at times, try to do too much, hence his high number of interceptions -- but if you extrapolate his stats from his nine starts over 16 games, they come out to 4,688 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and, gulp. 23 interceptions on a 62.6 percent completion rate. Imagine what he could accomplish with an entire offseason with which to work, and a more accommodating receiving corps. At 32, he answered questions about his right elbow by making throws very few quarterbacks in the NFL could make.Jason Campbell -- The Washington Post referred to Campbell as the Wile. E. Coyote of the NFLthat every time he gets close to catching the Roadrunner, an anvil drops on his head. Such was the case this season, when Campbell, often solid if not spectacular, was off to the best start of his career, and in a contract year. Then came the anvil in the form of a broken right collarbone on Oct. 16. Two days later, Campbell's career with the Raiders essentially came to an end with the acquisition of Palmer and Campbell again became a sympathetic figure. There have been rumblings that he might want to return and Jackson said he would welcome him back, but that would only be inviting more potential divisiveness. Kyle Boller -- Chosen to be the backup over Trent Edwards following training camp, Boller was thrust into the spotlight when Campbell went down against Cleveland and he was able to hold on for the victory. But some 48 hours later, Boller had a disastrous start against Kansas City, throwing three interceptions before giving way to Palmer in the second half. Jackson trusted Boller enough to be a backup, but not enough to be the starter, which makes it hard to imagine him returning for a third season next year.Terrelle Pryor -- Perhaps Al Davis' final stand, Pryor was selected with a third-round pick in the supplemental draft, and perhaps against the wishes of Hue Jackson. Pryor's NFL career got off to an inglorious start, what with that five-game suspension the NFL said was for skirting-the-draft issues. And when he did get on the field, for one snap, it was for some Jackson trickery, going in motion from the slot and setting up under center while Boller was in the shotgun. Alas, Pryor was called for a false start. So his lone on-field contribution was in, well, contributing to the Raiders' setting single-season team penalty records. He is still a project heading forward and should be the No. 3 QB again next season.

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

The Raiders signed several members of their 2017 draft class, the team announced on Friday. Later round picks put pen to paper following the first week of OTAs, which began on Monday.

Fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee highlight this group of signings, as both players inked four-year rookie contracts.

All four seventh-round picks also signed their first professional contract. That group includes running back Elijah Hood, safety Shalom Luani, offensive lineman Jylan Ware and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

These deals aren’t hard to work out. The NFL and the league’s players union agreed on a rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement that slots salaries by draft order, which leaves little negotiating room within the set payment structure.

The team’s top picks remain unsigned, though they’ll get done in time. First round cornerback Gareon Conley, second-round safety Obi Melifonwu and third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remain unsigned.

Here’s a list of estimated contract values over a four-year rookie deal for each signed draft pick, per spotrac.com:

OT David Sharpe (No. 129 overall): $2,986,415 total; $586,415 signing bonus
LB Marquel Lee (No. 168 overall): $2,653,693 total; $253,693 signing bonus
S Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall): $2,494,414 total; $94,414 signing bonus
OT Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall): $2,484,295 total; $84,295 signing bonus
RB Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall): $2,469,750 total; $69,750 signing bonus
DT Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall): $2,468,601 total; $69,750 signing bonus

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

ALAMEDA -- Marquel Lee’s NFL draft weekend wasn’t always fun, a byproduct of high hopes unrealized. The former Wake Forest linebacker wanted to go early, but slid into Saturday and waited well into the fifth round before his phone lifted spirits.

A 510 area code brought Lee out of an emotional rut, one so deep he started wondering whether he’d get drafted at all.

“When I got the call from the Raiders, everything changed,” Lee said in the latest episode of NBC Sports California’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was so excited to play for this organization.”

Marquel Lee wasn’t the only one. His father jumped over the moon.

“He might’ve been more excited than I was,” Marquel Lee said. “He started bawling. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that.”

Corey Lee’s tears don’t come easy. He’s a no-nonsense military man who served 11 years in the Navy before entering the private sector. He was a strict but fair father and football coach who instilled the discipline and work ethic required for his son to realize great potential.

Corey Lee is also a lifelong Raiders fan. Seeing his son get drafted by his favorite team created a perfect emotional storm.

“I’m as die-hard as they get,” Corey Lee said. “When they called his name in the fifth round, it was such a great, powerful moment. There was some relief, because he worked so hard and sacrificed to reach this point. When families were on vacation, we were in summer camps and working out hard.

“Everything we did was to prepare him for the next level. I was so proud to see him achieve a goal he had.”

Corey Lee didn’t break down completely when Marquel Lee officially became the Raiders’ fifth-round selection. This proud papa let emotion overcome for a beat, and then darted for his bedroom. He returned to the party with a brand new Raiders hat and a No. 89 Amari Cooper shirt from his vast Raiders collection.

Marquel Lee threw on dad’s gear to honor his new team and the golden opportunity to play for a linebacker-starved Raiders team.

That wasn’t Marquel Lee’s first time in silver and black. He rocked a full Raiders uniform at age 2, complete with a helmet, football pants and a Tim Brown jersey.

He donned one again when rookies reported to the Raiders offseason program earlier this month. The full-circle moment wasn’t lost on Marquel, a man proud of his past and excited about an NFL future.

“There’s a picture of me in a Raiders jersey, pants and a helmet on my second birthday,” he said. “I look at it now and think, ‘Wow. It really happened.’ I’m wearing a Raiders uniform for real. My dream is becoming a reality.”

Corey Lee grew up a Raiders fan in Southern California, going to games with his family at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Pardon Marquel for not following in those footsteps. He grew up on the East Coast when Donovan McNabb was a superstar and gravitated toward the Eagles. Ray Lewis performed in Lee’s Maryland backyard and became an athletic role model.

Marquel watched tons of NFL football with his dad, complete games where father and son would talk about strategy and scheme. Marquel would watch game tape with his father at an early age and when Corey Lee deployed with the Navy, his mother Katanya – she, too, understood football -- made sure that practice continued.

Marquel Lee was armed with natural athletic gifts and cultivated knowledge of the game, allowing him play quarterback and middle linebacker as a junior at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. His dad was a guiding light as youth instructor, a JV head coach and a varsity linebackers coach, but took steps to separate family and football.

“As a father, I never would allow him to call me dad on a practice field or anywhere,” Corey Lee said. “I was always ‘Coach’ during the season, whether we were at home or at practice, because I wanted to keep him in that mindset.”

Football was a primary focus back then, when the family often traded summer vacations for skills camps. Despite buzz around Marquel’s talents, Corey was against his son doing interviews with recruiting websites or ranking services. Father wanted his son’s head on straight, and it has remained that way. 

Top schools were slow to come around, but gravitated after Marquel fully recovered from a torn patella and stood out early in his senior year. He chose Wake Forest, a commitment his father wanted upheld even with late interest from other programs.

His growth continued as a collegian, and took a real spike during the 2016 season. Wake Forest’s defensive captains graduated, leaving him to assume a leadership role and put team over stats. Lee considered his junior season at Wake Forest subpar, and vowed to do better.

“I was pressing a lot, trying to rush my time and trying to get to the NFL,” Lee said. “I was on a road where I thought I wanted to leave (school) early. I was so hard on myself, especially if I didn’t produce. That’s why I said it was subpar. I don’t think I played like a team player that year.

“(The next season) I made a decision to finish what I started and be the leader I always knew I could be. I wanted to help my team get to a bowl game. I hadn’t played in one. That was a major part of me coming back in 2016. … I grew up a lot. I feel like I gained respect as a team leader, and really understood what it took to own that responsibility.”

Lee might have major responsibilities as an NFL rookie. The Raiders don’t have many options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take a solid spring and summer to earn it and give the Raiders confidence to hand an important starting spot to a rookie. The Silver and Black could add a veteran to that position group, though they have high hopes for their fifth-round pick. Lee could well make an instant impact. 

“We definitely think he has the potential to start,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He’s a long ways away from that. We haven’t even begun to get the pads on, so a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. So far, he has looked very good.”

Lee considers himself well prepared for the challenges ahead, and believes he can compete at the professional level.

“I’ve been getting ready for this a long time,” Marquel Lee said. “My dad has been telling me that this experience will be different. It’s not like college anymore. It’s a job, and I have to be mentally prepared for everything I’m about to do. I’m here and I’m learning and I’m trying to do my best.”