Will the Raiders regret not getting more aggressive at quarterback?

Will the Raiders regret not getting more aggressive at quarterback?

With OTAs over and training camps still weeks away, plenty of questions are circling the NFL. Charles McDonald is tackling them this summer.

In the lead-up to the 2024 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders were one of the many teams rumored to be interested in drafting a quarterback. As six quarterbacks went off the board in the first 12 picks, it became clear that they were not going to take a quarterback and instead drafted a player at a different position — Georgia’s star tight end Brock Bowers.

That pick was a bit of a surprise, but their overall complacency at quarterback was even less expected. As the Raiders start their first full season with Antonio Pierce running the show, they’ll be chasing the rest of the AFC, with Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell, and it’s fair to ask: Is this a mistake?

Let’s just be real here: The Raiders’ quarterback talent is going to leave them at a severe disadvantage in their own division, let alone the conference at large. Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert are always formidable opponents and the Chargers should see a boost in performance with Jim Harbaugh this season, even if they’re playing the long game in terms of their rebuild. Las Vegas has a leg up over Denver, which seems destined to start rookie quarterback Bo Nix for the upcoming season. The combination of Minshew, whom they signed on a two-year deal as a free agent, and O’Connell, a 2023 fourth-round pick, isn’t the caliber of quarterback play the Raiders would ideally like to have. Which means the rest of the team will have to be strong in order for the Raiders to ultimately make the playoffs.

There is a bit of reason for optimism that the Raiders’ offensive supporting cast and defense will be able to buoy their quarterback situation. Losing Josh Jacobs in free agency will sting, but Zamir White showed some flashes when it was his turn to carry the ball. Superstar wide receiver Davante Adams is still a Raider and they’re hoping rookie guard Jackson Powers-Johnson will provide some stability along the offensive line. They’ll have to figure out how to deploy tight ends Brock Bowers and Michael Mayer, but that could end up being a good problem as they’re both talented young players. Even though the Raiders either were unable or opted not to take a quarterback this year, it’s hard to be upset at adding Bowers to your football team — he projects to be that good.

The defense should have somewhat high expectations this year considering how they performed once Pierce took over as the interim coach. According to, the Raiders ranked 26th in EPA per play on defense prior to Pierce’s run as the head coach. Over the back half of the season with him in control, they were the second-ranked defense in terms of EPA per play. It should also be said that in that timespan, the quarterbacks they faced included Tommy Devito, Zach Wilson, Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens, Easton Stick, Gardner Minshew and Jarrett Stidham. However, they did slow down Miami’s offense and Kansas City’s offense once. There was some real improvement under Pierce.

Now, they have Christian Wilkins joining Maxx Crosby on the defensive line, giving the Raiders one of the best duos in the entire league. If those guys can wreak enough havoc, the Raiders might be able to boast a strong defense yet again, especially if they can get a breakout performance from someone in the secondary.

Not being more aggressive at quarterback is a risk for the Raiders, but they just might have enough around them to be a respectable team in 2024. The winner of the Minshew-O’Connell quarterback battle has yet to be decided and they’ll have a lot to prove immediately in the golden age of AFC quarterbacks.


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