Raiders Projected to Add QB With Close Ties to High-Profile HC Candidate

mark davis

Getty Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis.

The Las Vegas Raiders are going to have some big decisions to make this offseason but perhaps the biggest one will have to do with the quarterback. Aidan O’Connell hasn’t shown the team enough to trust him to be the starter after the season and the team keeps moving up draft boards.

With the seventh pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, ESPN’s Matt Miller projects the Raiders to select Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

“Could the Raiders roll with Aidan O’Connell in 2024? Sure, but all signs right now point to them starting over at quarterback with a new regime in place, even after signing Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2023 offseason,” Miller wrote in a December 12 mock draft. “McCarthy is instinctive, efficient and effective as a second-effort creator outside of the pocket. The Michigan scheme does him no favors in terms of statistics, but NFL scouts continue to tell me that McCarthy will be drafted earlier than expected.”

In Miller’s mock draft, USC’s Caleb Williams, UNC’s Drake Maye and LSU’s Jayden Daniels are selected before the Raiders pick. McCarhty’s numbers at Michigan haven’t been overly impressive. He’s thrown for 2,630 yards with 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 2023. However, Michigan doesn’t ask him to do too much as they are a team that relies on great defense and running the football.

With that in mind, McCarthy could still have some untapped potential but there will be a lot of projection for a team that decides to draft him early.

Jim Harbaugh-J.J. McCarthy Ties

The Raiders will likely be in the market for a new head coach this offseason as interim head coach Antonio Pierce has gone 2-3 and lost three straight games. One name that has already been linked to the job is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh has flirted with the NFL for a few years now and with a possible suspension from the NCAA on the horizon, now could be the right time to make the move. The Raiders provided him with his first coaching job back in 2002 when he was hired as quarterbacks coach.

If he’s hired by Las Vegas, the idea of J.J. McCarthy being the quarterback the team drafts becomes much more realistic. McCarthy and Harbaugh have gone to back-to-back college football playoffs together and have a good relationship. Seeing that develop in the NFL could be a recipe for success.

Is Top 10 Too High for J.J. McCarthy?

The problem with Matt Miller’s mock draft for the Raiders is that they’d be using the No. 7 pick on the fourth quarterback in the draft. That’s a very high pick to use on a player who has been deemed fourth-best at his position.

Now, drafting quarterbacks isn’t an exact science. Even last year’s top-10 picks would likely look very different if teams could re-do things with the benefit of hindsight. J.J. McCarthy may not have gaudy stats but he’s very athletic, has a solid arm and is a good height at 6-foot-3. He’s a little light at 197 pounds but that didn’t top Bryce Young from being the No. 1 pick in 2023.

McCarthy would benefit in a big way by having some impressive outings in the college football playoffs but as of now, it’s still difficult to see him being a top-10 pick. If he’s the Raiders’ guy, they may need to trade down and add him later in the first round.

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