Raiders Predicted to Land ‘Most Popular Non-First-Round’ QB

josh mcdaniels

Getty Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.

The Las Vegas Raiders are likely to leave the draft with a quarterback but it remains to be seen when they might select one. Jimmy Garoppolo is injury prone and Brian Hoyer hasn’t won a start since 2016. The team needs a quarterback with some upside in the event that Garoppolo gets hurt.

That’s why it’s expected for the team to draft a quarterback. There’s been talk of the Raiders drafting one in the top 10. They are currently sitting at No. 7, which could put them in a position to select one of the top quarterbacks. They could also consider trading up to ensure they land the one they like. However, Las Vegas has so many holes all over the roster that they may prefer to use the first-round pick on a defensive player who can have an impact this season.

This would lead to them looking further down the draft to find a quarterback. In Dane Brugler’s latest mock draft for The Athletic, he’s predicting the Raiders wait until the fourth round to select Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who is quickly rising up draft boards.

“Arguably the most popular non-first-round quarterback among teams this year, O’Connell is far above average in three key areas that NFL coaches covet: accuracy, intelligence and intangibles,” Brugler wrote.

Draft Profile on O’Connell

O’Connell’s profile isn’t much different than Garoppolo’s. He’s got an average arm and lack of mobility but he’s a strong pocket passer who is accurate.’s Lance Zierlein gave some insight into the young quarterback.

“O’Connell’s 2021 tape is better than what we saw from him in 2022, but there were still flashes last season,” Zierlein wrote. “He’s a pocket passer who can throw with solid accuracy over the first two levels but struggles with trajectory and rhythm on deep targets. O’Connell has below-average mobility inside and outside the pocket.”

Zierlein believes that O’Connell could be a high-end backup but doesn’t see a lot of upside as a starter. In Brugler’s mock draft, the Raiders wait until the fourth round to snag him so it wouldn’t be a big investment for a backup quarterback. Having a player like O’Connell on the roster would mean the team wouldn’t need to change much if Garoppolo got hurt. He could be a logical addition for a late-round pick.

O’Connell Wouldn’t Be QB of the Future

While O’Connell could be a solid quarterback who has a long career as a backup, it’s highly unlikely he develops into a franchise quarterback. Garoppolo is under contract for three years but his injury history makes it impossible to rely on him to be the starter for a long time.

O’Connell doesn’t have a ton of athletic upside so it’s difficult to envision a future where he eventually takes over for Garoppolo and becomes a capable starter. Eventually, the Raiders do need to find a long-term answer at quarterback. That could be this year but the team will need to use an early draft pick to find one. They could wait until next year to figure things out but there’s no guarantee they’re going to have a pick as high as No. 7. This year might be their best chance to find a quarterback in the first round but it doesn’t seem like they’re going to force the issue.

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