No item is more contested than the QB position. Here on S&B Pride we argue day in and day out about who we feel deserves the keys to the franchise going forward. While Raider Nation is often an educated and insightful fan base, their opinions are a non factor in this decision.
The people who must make the decision and be held accountable for it are Greg Olson and John Defilippo. As fans all you can do is try and figure out what they are thinking and which way they might go. But who is Greg Olson? What is his philosophy? It is very hard to nail down considering he morphed the offense 4 times during the season last year. From Carson Palmer to Matt Flynn to Terelle Pryor to Matt McGloin these QB's were all drastically different.
Greg Olson constantly preaches about using the players he has to the best of their ability, but he now has the ability to decide who orchestrates his offense. If he had his choice, what kind of offense would Olson run? Would it be an unpredictable offense with a mobile QB? A deep strike offense? A ground and pound West Coast system? We know Olson comes from a West Coast offensive background, but what shape will the offense take this year?
Below I have divided the QB's into 3 types -- Cannons, Pistol, and West Coast. While most of these QB's could perform in the other two systems, Greg Olson will seek to maximize their talents by putting them in a system that plays to their strengths.
Think Don Coryell offense. Throw deep to back off the defense then run and throw short once they are on their heels. This is what Hugh Jackson ran during his time here, and Al Saunders (who is still on the staff) is a disciple of. At first glance this seems to be a good fit for the Raiders personnel. Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Mychal Rivera, and Andre Holmes all excel at running deep routes. Also, once the Raiders began airing it out towards the end of last season the run game came to life.
Here are the options
Derek Carr - Possesses A+ arm strength. Can really drive the ball on deep and intermediate throws. Also gets the ball out to the sideline quickly on stop routes and WR screens. Biggest negatives on Carr are the system he ran in college and his last name. Fresno state ran primarily out of the gun and threw mostly WR screens. In the senior bowl, however, Carr worked from under center and performed well. Scouts find issue with his decision making under pressure, but they will find that with every QB in the draft. Derek cannot help that his brother was a colossal bust, but there have been a ton of sibling pairing where one fared better than the other. We should treat Carr as if his name was Jon Smith. There is a chance that Carr will slip to the second round, in which case he could be a good value.
Zach Mettenberger -One of the most attractive things about Mettenberger is that he has actually already played in the Coryell offense. Cam Cameron came to LSU last year and implemented the offense he made popular in San Diego and Baltimore. Mettenberger shined in his one season under Cameron throwing for 3,082 yards and 22 TD's. Like Carr, Mettenberger has a big league arm and can not only make every throw but he can zip it in. Mettenberger had an average of over 10 yards per attempt, and clearly likes to push the ball. Mettenbergers detractors will point out that he has some flaws. Aside from liking the taste of boogers and treating women like pieces of meat, Mettenberger is coming off a torn ACL. The LSU QB already lacked any sort of mobility so this injury is of some concern.
Blake Bortles - The jury is out on Bortles. People either think he is the next Ben Roethlisberger or the next Blaine Gabbert. The media has hyped him all the way into the top 5, and that may actually be where he belongs. Watching game film, Bortles can definitely make big throws. He has good accuracy on deep routes and always seems to come through for his team in the clutch. Bortles' accuracy can definitely use some work, but he is probably the most mobile of this group, so he will be able to stay afloat while he works to improve his game.
David Fales - Fales probably does not belong in this group at the next level, but it is how he played his game in College. With second tier arm strength Fales will struggle to make the throws he made at SJSU in the NFL. Fales averaged 12 yards per attempt in college which is actually the highest for any QB on this list. Fales trusted his arm to put balls in tight coverage in college and succeeded most of the time. He has very good accuracy, so he does have potential at the next level, but probably not in this system.
Matt McGloin - Like Fales, McGloin is not your traditional down field thrower. He doesn't have a prototypical frame and he does not drive the ball down field with the velocity of the first two QB's. Curiously enough, however, McGloin led the league in passes of 25 or more yards during his time as a starter. Furthermore, McGloin seemed to struggle with the shorter throws, tossing a number of interception in this range. McGloin has a good chance to start the season as the starter and should look to improve his decision making and completion percentages going forward.
Raider fans are not strangers to the Pistol, the formation the team ran for the majority of the season with Terelle Pryor. While this system excited us at the beginning of the season it quickly turned sour as the passing component disappeared. Pryor seemed to make strides initially but then regressed to the point of ineptitude. One of the major concerns was how long Pryor would hold the ball. Sacks racked up quickly and made a good offensive line look terrible. Many believe that the pistol is a fad that will pass as the league's defensive catch up with it. Pryor certainly seemed to be figured out towards the end of the year, and even teams like the 49ers used less and less of this system. However, as long as their are 6'5 QB's who can run sub 4.5 40 yard dashes this system will have its appeal.
Johnny Manziel - Would seem to be the perfect pistol QB. Manziel shattered most of college footballs records and did so with a swagger that is appealing to the Raider fan base. Everyone knows the book on Johnny Football he doesn't always make the smartest throws... but he is always trying to win. Maybe his gutsy brand of football will flop at this level, or maybe he will revolutionize his game. I see this pick as a huge gamble by whichever GM pulls the trigger, they will either be a genius or out of a job in two years.
Terelle Pryor - Not since Jamarcus has a player gone from idol to public enemy as quick as Pryor did this season. Opening the season Raider Nation had the expectation of being the worst team in the league, but Pryor came out of no where to hang tight with a playoff team in the Colts. For the next few games Pryor had highlight reel plays while committing few turnovers. The wheels eventually fell off and he was benched in favor of McGloin. Pryor has another off-season to work on his mechanics and will get a shot in preseason next year to prove he can be a QB, but he has hurt his stock considerably over the last few months. He is without question the most athletic QB on this list, but his throwing mechanics and pocket presence could be the worst.
Tajh Boyd - Boyd was actually not that much of a runner in college. He averaged a minuscule 2 yards a carry last year at Clemson. He is probably the least well suited QB in the pistol category. He falls here, mostly, because his throwing mechanics are horrible. He posses a huge arm, but is wildly inconsistent, because his mechanics are wildly inconsistent. Boyd will need to use his feet early on to be successful, because he will not beat teams with his arm. He does have the ability to break off big runs, as he did in his bowl game this season.
Brett Smith - Is like a more conservative version of Johnny Manziel. He has monster stats, although not in the SEC like Manziel, and has good athletic ability and arm talent. Smith has the lightest frame of the pistol QB's with a wiry 6'3 200 lbs. Smith will be a later round choice and could be a good developmental prospect if Olson plans to use the pistol down the road.
Mike Vick - The most mobile QB of the modern era would obviously be in the consideration for the pistol offense. Mike Vick has the longest track record of the FA class this year. He is still quick (rumored to have beaten LeSean McCoy in a footrace last year) and has a monster arm. He, however, has many of the same issues as Pryor. Vick holds the ball for far too long and takes sacks and makes stupid turnovers. Vick has better accuracy and arm talent than Pryor, but is surely reaching the end of his career. Vick might be a short term stop gap, but is probably not much of an upgrade over Pryor.
Josh McCown - Who would have ever thought in 2007 that we would be considering bringing back McCown? Josh looked like a solid backup and nothing more for most of his career... than Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshal revived his career. McCown had 13 TD's and only one pick in fill in duty for Cutler this year. His stats are surely inflated by his star receiver tandem, but he made some exceptional throws. McCown is probably the safest FA QB on the market and would be a great addition to the team. In this scenario Pryor would likely be sent packing and McGloin and another QB would train under McCown.
Mark Sanchez - I had to stifle my vomit while typing this... but sure enough Sanchez is one of the top FA QB's available. Whats worse is that a head coach mentioned at the senior bowl that he would start Sanchez. Was it Allen? Raider Nation hopes not, Oakland does not have the defense New York used to cover Sanchez so this would likely fail.
Teddy Bridgewater - had a 71% completion rate in college.... A 71% COMPLETION RATE! That is Rich Gannon territory. Sure he competed in a weaker conference, but Bridgewater is a polished QB. Not many QB's make checks and read defenses the way Bridgewater does. His accuracy is pin point and his work ethic is admirable. If he drops to #5 there is virtually no chance the Raiders pass on him. He is about 30lbs light of where he should play, but gaining weight is not a difficult process.
Jimmy Garoppolo - Is rising up draft boards like a bat out of hell... and for good reason. Garoppolo tore up the East West Shrine Game and followed it up with a solid Senior Bowl. Garoppolo has a good frame, surgical accuracy, and decent mobility. Garoppolo is projected for the second round, and aside from the weak competition he faced in college his only knock is his arm strength. Garoppolo's criticisms seem to be overstated at this point and may be a steal in the second round.
David Fales - As mentioned earlier Fales didn't play like a west coast QB in college, but it will probably suit him to do so in the NFL. When Fales throws deep it is usually to the middle of the field on post routes. His arm is not strong enough to push down the sidelines. Fales is accurate and fairly mobile and would be a good developmental pick for the west coast system.
AJ McCarron - Did nothing but win at Alabama. Winning two national championships is no easy task; but how much was the signal caller contributing? McCarron like most of the QB's on this list lacks elite arm strength, but has good accuracy. McCarron would bring a good leadership personality into the QB room and a winning edge.
Connor Shaw - Is the least talked about QB in this draft... for god knows what reason. Shaw threw only one pick last year in the SEC. He seems to be a great choice for this system Shaw reminds me a lot of McGloin, in that he seems underrated as a late round pick.
Matt McGloin - Seems like he would be able to play in a more traditional west coast system. With a full off-season to work, Olson and McGloin would be able to improve on the intermediate timing throws that are crucial to this system.
So this is the talent pool Olson has to pick from. Raider Nation better hope that Olson chooses wisely and implements a system that maximizes 2014's QB skill set. The fan base may not be happy with the OC, or who he decides to be his QB, but they will have little sway over the decision. All you can do is sit back and watch the process develop.