Raiders Pegged as ‘Fit’ for Star QB Compared to Ex-Raider 3-Time Pro Bowler

Drake Maye, North Carolina

Getty Drake Maye #10 of North Carolina Tar Heels.

If all goes well, we won’t long be talking about the Raiders as a team that is looking to pick up a franchise quarterback in 2024 NFL draft. Ideally, the Raiders will win all three of their upcoming winnable contests—against the Packers, Patriots and Bears—and pull themselves back over .500 and into the AFC playoff picture.

And ideally, maybe we will see a bit more of rookie Aidan O’Connell in the process, allowing him to build on his up-and-down Week 4 debut, in which he took seven sacks but did show that he has starter capability.

But as it stands, the Raiders would have one of the top picks in the NFL draft, and if things don’t improve, they could wind up with a pretty solid consolation prize: North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, widely seen as the No. 2 QB prospect behind USC’s Caleb Williams in the 2024 draft.

Bleacher Report this week declared Maye a “potential fit” for the Raiders next April. Again, they likely won’t be in position to take Maye, but if so, the site says, “In this instance, the Raiders are fortunate that North Carolina’s Drake Maye slid beyond the first four selections. Maye hasn’t been perfect this season, but the flashes of brilliance, with the type of rare throws he can make, are readily apparent.”

Drake Maye Draws Carson Palmer Comp

Indeed, Maye has thrown four interceptions this season against five touchdowns for the Tar Heels, 4-0 heading into their game against 4-1 Syracuse. He has gone 96-for-132 passing, with 1,187 yards, but facing tougher defenses this year, he has made some mistakes. Maye threw only seven picks all of last season, with 35 touchdowns, and tallied an impressive 4,321 yards in 14 games.

While B/R compared Maye to Justin Herbert of the Chargers, a better comp might be a more mobile Carson Palmer, the 14-year veteran who struggled in two seasons with the Raiders (in 2011 and 2012) but who was a three-time Pro Bowler while with the Bengals and, subsequently, the Cardinals.

Wrote former NFL scout and current draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah: “There isn’t a perfect comparison that comes to mind after studying Maye. The closest comp would probably be former Bengals, Raiders and Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. Both guys have all the desired traits: size, arm strength, mobility and accuracy.

“Palmer arrived in the NFL in 2003 with cleaner/crisper footwork, while Maye is a better overall athlete. … Palmer took a big leap in his final year at USC, winning the Heisman Trophy and leading the Trojans to an Orange Bowl victory. I’m excited to see if Maye can make a similar leap this fall.”

Raiders’ QB Picture Still Very Cloudy

Even if the Raiders do struggle enough to wind up with one of the top picks in the draft next season, it’s fair to question whether they’d focus on a quarterback, not when they are all but locked into another year with Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster and when they still need to figure out what’s next with O’Connell. The Raiders have some big needs—the offensive line comes to mind—that could be addressed in the draft.

But if the opportunity to take Maye is there, the Raiders would at least be tempted, depending on O’Connell’s development.

“The rookie being sacked seven times (with six from Khalil Mack) certainly didn’t help matters. But the game shall serve as a growing experience for O’Connell, as he learns better ball security, how to get passes out quicker and how he can help himself with protection calls,” B/R wrote.

“All of that said, there’s no reason whatsoever to look at the Raiders’ quarterback setup and think the franchise is well-served in 2024 and beyond. The exact opposite should come to mind.”


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