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Senior Bowl winners and losers: Raiders quarterback situation gets murkier

Breaking down how the first major NFL Draft event impacts Las Vegas’ roster

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice
Michael Penix Jr.
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

MOBILE, Ala. — While the game has yet to be played, the Las Vegas Raiders have plenty of new information on the NFL Draft prospects from this week’s Senior Bowl as most scouts head back home after Thursday’s practice session. So, let’s take a look at how the practices/showcases can impact the Raiders’ roster with a few winners and losers.

WINNER: Aidan O’Connell

Michael Penix Jr. deserved to be the National Team’s quarterback of the week as he out-played Bo Nix and Sam Hartman. However, Penix Jr. did have some accuracy and pocket management issues that kept him from having a performance where I really felt like he solidified his status as a top-15 pick.

That benefits Aidan O’Connell to potentially remain the starting quarterback next season. Granted, the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury as offensive coordinator leads to a few fit questions for O’Connell.

WINNER: Spencer Rattler

Spencer Rattler was named the American quarterback of the week and rightfully so as he was the most consistent passer all week. This is part of what can murky the Raiders quarterback situation as Rattler might become a sneaky option. He did play for Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma, who Kingsbury worked for this past season at USC.

LOSER: Impending Free-Agent Offensive Linemen

Offensive line was one of the strongest position groups heading into the Senior Bowl and the unit proved it during the week. Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson was one of the most-impressive players overall until he suffered an injury halfway through Wednesday. Also Kansas’ Dominic Puni showed versatility by playing several positions and proving to be a good Day 2 target, while Christian Haynes from UConn looked strong as well.

Additionally, a handful of potential right tackle options stood out with Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga and Houston’s Patrick Paul all having impressive outings this week.

That’s bad news for impending free agents Andre Jamaes, Greg Van Roten and Jermaine Elumunor as the Raiders will have plenty of options to replace them.

LOSER: Linebacker prospects

I’m still waiting for a linebacker in this year’s draft class to break out and really impress me, and I don’t think it’s going to happen. The crew in Mobile didn’t have much star power beyond Butkus Award Winner Payton Wilson out of NC State, but even he was a little disappointing. In a way, one could consider a guy like Divine Deablo a winner as a result of this.

WINNER: Quinyon Mitchell

I raved about the Toledo product all week and he was voted as the top corner on the National Team despite not practicing on Thursday. He didn’t suffer an injury or anything, he was just that good and was easily the best cornerback on the field. The 13th overall pick still is a steep price for Mitchell but his stock is on the rise and if the Raiders want a cornerback with excellent ball skills, they could trade back and land the former Rocket.

LOSER: John Jenkins

John Jenkins is an impending free agent who I might have considered bringing back ahead of this week even though he’s about to turn 35 years old. There aren’t a ton of gap-plugging nose tackles in the draft, but Texas’ T’Vondre Sweat ended up having impressive outings last two practices to prove worthy of a Day 2 selection. Sweat offers value as a boulder against the run and has pass rush upside with a bull rush that’s hard to stop when his motor runs hot.

WINNER: Darius Robinson

Voted on by a panel of NFL scouts and front office executives, Darius Robinson from Missouri was named the “Overall Best Practice Player of the Week”. He showed a ton of growth as a pass-rusher, winning with power from multiple alignments which is exactly what he needed to show. Robinson has a great frame where he has room to add some weight and play inside for the Raiders, taking over the Bilal Nichols and/or Jerry Tillery role.