Raiders Listed as Heavy Favorites to Land ‘Best Pure Passing’ QB

Raiders GM Tom Telesco

Getty Raiders GM Tom Telesco

It is no secret, of course, that the Las Vegas Raiders intend to come out of this draft with a rookie who can at least compete for the starting job at quarterback, going against second-year man Aidan O’Connell and veteran signee Gardner Minshew. It’s also no secret that they’d like that quarterback to be LSU star Jayden Daniels. But increasingly, there is momentum suggesting that Michael Penix Jr. will be the guy.

In fact, at Draft Kings, they have the Raiders listed as the odds-on favorites to pick Penix later this month. They are plus-260 to pick Penix, according to the online sportsbook’s odds, ahead of Minnesota (plus-350) and Seattle (plus-450).

The betting odds say the Raiders are not out of the Daniels hunt, with odds coming in at plus-650, well behind the Commanders (minus-260) and Patriots (plus-200). But the Raiders do rank third there. They’re also third for Oregon’s Bo Nix, at plus-500.

Raiders Split on Quarterback Plans?

The big question for the Raiders, in addition to which quarterback to take, is how much capital they should use to get the guy they want. Daniels is slated to go either No. 2 or No. 3 and the Raiders would have to give up multiple first-round picks to get there. There does not seem to be an appetite for that aggressive a move, at least not on the part of GM Tom Telesco.

A report from Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline noted that there is a disconnect between Telesco and head coach Antonio Pierce over how strongly to pursue a top-shelf quarterback.

Wrote Pauline: “There’s also been talk about the Las Vegas Raiders wanting to move up for a quarterback. The latest coming from Raiders’ draft meetings is that head coach Antonio Pierce wants to trade up for a signal caller, yet general manager Tom Telesco is leaning heavily to sticking with second-year quarterback Aidan O’Connell and free-agent signing Gardner Minshew.”

Pierce would have strong reasons to want to make a move up, or at least to use the No. 13 pick to take Penix or Nix, generally assumed to be the Nos. 5 and 6 QBs in this draft. As a head coach, he would get a bit more leeway to develop the team if there was a rookie quarterback at the helm.

If the Raiders go with Minshew or O’Connell and backslide, it will likely be Pierce who shoulders the blame.

Michael Penix a Top Deep-Ball Thrower

But Penix, even as a rookie, might not struggle. He is a polished deep-ball artist who struggles somewhat in the intermediary game. Still, the Raiders are loaded with deep threats, and Penix could lead an exciting revamped offense.

There are injury concerns with Penix. Thanks to adjusted Covid-19 rules, he was a sixth-year senior last year, having transferred from Indiana for his final two years of eligibility, and has twice required season-ending surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee, in 2018 and 2020. He also has twice had his season shortened because of shoulder injuries.

Still, the upside is there. As the NFL Draft Network wrote of Penix in its scouting report:

“Penix Jr. is the best pure passing quarterback prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft class. He projects as a high-end starting quarterback in a vertical passing offense. Penix Jr.’s arm talent and football IQ are great and translate well to the league.

“A strong run game to open play-action deep shots is an ideal situation for Penix Jr. He can be a multi-contract starting quarterback with his arm talent, accuracy, and ball placement from the pocket.

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