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Raiders draft 2023: The Jimmy Garoppolo effect

Will signing thew quarterback in free agency preclude Las Vegas from drafting one in April?

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Does Jimmy Garoppolo’s acquisition in free agency mean the Las Vegas Raiders don’t draft a quarterback in the NFL Draft this April?
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo is undoubtedly the the starting quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2023. His addition checks off the biggest box on general manager Dave Ziegler’s and head coach Josh McDaniels’ to-do list.

However, does the addition of Garoppolo preclude the Silver & Black from drafting a quarterback in this April’s NFL Draft?

No. Not even close.

There’s a Garoppolo effect, to be sure. The immediate need the Raiders had at the all-important quarterback position is remedied. The 31-year-old is familiar with McDaniels’ philosophy and while it won’t be seamless — Garoppolo was immersed in the offense seven seasons ago when he the pair were New England Patriots back in 2016 — the learning curve isn’t going to be difficult to navigate.

Thus, the necessity for Ziegler to spend the No. 7 overall pick or losing more draft capital if the team wanted to move up for a quarterback, is lessened. With a new quarterback in tow — one that is not only capable of leading the team and/or serving as a bridge-type, but is a fiscally responsible addition that won’t cripple the cap — Las Vegas is afforded the opportunity to take the best player available (BPA) on its draft board.

NFL: New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler isn’t one who is adverse to adding more talent and competition to the quarterback room.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the Raiders needed to build a competent defense, the team can use the seventh overall pick to add much-needed talent to Patrick Graham’s side of the ball. At that spot, one that was turning into an awkward draft slot, the top quarterback prospects are likely to be off the board by the time Las Vegas is on then clock.

And if there’s a signal caller there for the taking, and the prospect is the Raiders’ BPA, then so be it.

But again, the “dire situation” the Raiders found themselves in before signing Garoppolo in free agency went from the red to the green.

There are two additional key reasons as to why Garoppolo’s arrival in the desert shouldn’t close the door on drafting a quarterback in April:

  1. Garoppolo’s penchant to miss games due to injury.
  2. Ziegler’s philosophy when it comes to the quarterback position.

Las Vegas has 11 draft picks at its disposal and, while that number can fluctuate before and during the draft, the Raiders have the requisite ammunition to stock a talent-depleted roster. As it stands right now, the quarterback room in Las Vegas is Garoppolo and 2022 undrafted free agent Chase Garbers.

More depth is needed. As is quality competition.

While there’s expected to be an early run on quarterbacks in the first round — Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis are the favorites — there’s going to be talented prospects beyond the initial draft stanza. Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, Stanford’s Tanner McKee, Fresno State’s Jake Haener, Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell, and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett are few names expected to be available in round two and beyond.

NFL: Combine
The Las Vegas Raiders are seemingly enamored with Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener. He could be a mid- to late-round prospect for the Silver & Black in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Adding any of them to the Raiders quarterback room would be a prudent move to ensure another young signal caller who can grow and learn the system, compete with Garbers, and be available just in case the injury bug bites Garoppolo once more.

When asked about the possibility of leaving the 2023 draft without a quarterback prospect, Ziegler noted he wasn’t keen on that notion. Even noting a post-draft free agent add may be on the horizon, too.

“I never like to talk in absolutes. Could that happen? Yes, it could happen. Do I see that happening? No, I don’t see that happening,” Ziegler noted during a pre-combine media session with team beat writers. “I think every year we’ve talked about it philosophically; I think Ron Wolf had a philosophy in Green Bay that almost every draft they wanted to come out in some form or fashion with a quarterback prospect. And I’m not going to tie myself to that, because, again, you make an absolute, and then that doesn’t happen, and then that doesn’t work out well for you.

“But I would say some form or fashion, we’re always looking at the quarterbacks. We had Chase Garbers last year in college free agency after the draft. But I think we want to always continue to add to that position. I think you know this year will be no different.”