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Raiders expected to watch pro day, meet privately with QB prospect

Updated March 27, 2024 - 10:51 am

ORLANDO, Fla. — Raiders coach Antonio Pierce’s experience as an NFL linebacker gives him a keen sense of what type of quarterback poses the most problems for a defense.

“A damn runner,” Pierce said.

The answer may have offered a window into the kind of quarterback the Raiders are looking for. The quest to find their franchise passer took Pierce to Louisiana State quarterback Jayden Daniels’ pro day Wednesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Raiders, who also had offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello in attendance, were scheduled to meet with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner privately after his workout.

Daniels is the embodiment of the quarterback Pierce hated to defend but would love to build around in Las Vegas.

Daniels threw for 3,812 yards and 40 touchdowns last year. He also ran for 1,134 yards and 10 scores.

He’s considered the second- or third-best quarterback prospect in April’s draft.

The Raiders, who hold the 13th overall pick, would likely need to move up to draft Daniels. Pierce has expressed a willingness to do what it takes to make that happen. There was also talk at the NFL’s annual league meetings this week that the Commanders and Patriots, who hold the second and third picks, respectively, are open to trading down.

General manager Tom Telesco and Pierce will work together to see if a deal makes sense.

“I’m going to lean on him and his expertise on what we should do,” Pierce said. “And if it’s the right fit and that guy there that we want is a Raider and he fits the Raider culture in our way, then we’ll go get him.”

Pierce has a deep connection to Daniels.

Pierce recruited Daniels out of Southern California’s Cajon High School five years ago to play at Arizona State, where Pierce was the recruiting coordinator.

Daniels was a slender, big-armed quarterback with electrifying speed at the time. Pierce saw past the frame and envisioned greatness.

“I thought he’d be a Heisman winner. I did,” Pierce said. “That was my recruiting pitch to him.”

Daniels’ ability to be a dual threat is what Pierce is looking for in a quarterback.

Mobile passers such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Jalen Hurts have given teams fits in recent years because they need to be respected as a thrower and a runner.

“Those guys are always difficult, the guys that move around,” Pierce said. “Patrick Mahomes, just a thorn, right, because he extends the play. Now it goes from (the play being over in) 2.2 seconds to 2.6, 2.7, sometimes three and four. That’s never good for a defense.”

The Raiders have lacked that kind of element for years. It’s what makes Daniels so intriguing.

There are still some concerns about his slight build at 210 pounds. Pierce, who thinks Daniels’ body will continue to fill out, is not worried.

“I think you should just let nature take its course,” Pierce said. “Obviously he’s been doing it as a slim athlete throughout his whole career, so I think just (naturally) you’ll get bigger as you go along.”

Pierce is enjoying the evaluation process in his first offseason in charge of the Raiders. He gets to go on the road to meet players in person, giving him a chance to size prospects up.

“Totally different sense of how I view the player,” Pierce said. “And at the end of the day, as you asked me about the culture and the fit, I’ve got to look you in the eyes and say, ‘I’m comfortable with dealing with you 16 hours a day.’ Not 16 minutes, 16 hours for 365 (days) for the year, and that’s big for me, right? Because if you don’t like who you’re around and like who you’re working with, it’s not going to work out.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore atvbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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