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Raiders’ quarterback decision: Trying to end dismal draft history

Over the next six days, the Review-Journal will profile the quarterbacks the Raiders will consider selecting in this year’s draft.

Each has inevitable strengths and weaknesses. All bring a level of certainty and question marks.

The Raiders are as aware as anyone of the risk involved.

For whatever reason, they have never been able to get it right when drafting quarterbacks in the first round, and they have a spotty record, at best, at taking a quarterback in any other round.

As the Raiders assess a quarterback draft class considered one of the deepest in years, they have a chance to set their franchise up for prolonged success. The key is selecting the right one, whether by holding onto their pick at No. 13, moving up through a trade or waiting until the second or third day.

General manager Tom Telesco, who took over in January after spending the last 10 seasons with the Chargers, and first-year coach Antonio Pierce are tasked with making that decision.

They have a murky history to overcome.

Of the 44 quarterbacks the club has drafted since 1959, only Kenny Stabler (76-30) and Marc Wilson (31-19) have winning records as prolonged starters with the club. Aidan O’Connell, selected in the fourth round in 2023, is 5-5 as the Raiders’ starting quarterback.

Stabler, a second-round pick in 1968, is the only homegrown Raiders quarterback to lead them to a Super Bowl. Their three other Super Bowl quarterbacks were added through trades or free agency.

The Raiders’ decision is even more pronounced this year, with an otherwise sound roster that could be the right quarterback away from challenging for a playoff spot.

Getting it right is paramount.

Can the Raiders complete a trade to move up to select Louisiana State’s Jayden Daniels, North Carolina’s Drake Maye or Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy? Do they stick and pick at No. 13 and take Washington’s Michael Penix or Oregon’s Bo Nix?

Can they count on either being available in the second round? If not, do they invest a second- or third-day pick in a development project like South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler?

Decisions, decisions.

Adding to the angst is the dismal track record.

Throughout their history, the Raiders have invested only five first-round draft picks in quarterbacks. To say they didn’t take advantage of those selections is an understatement.

Only Brigham Young’s Wilson, taken with the 15th overall pick in 1980, reached 50 starts with the Raiders, and his 31-19 record is by far the best mark among the quarterbacks they drafted in the first round.

North Carolina State’s Roman Gabriel, drafted in 1962, never played a down with the club after signing with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. Tennessee State’s Eldridge Dickey (No. 25 overall in 1968) was moved to wide receiver, and Southern California’s Todd Marinovich (No. 24 in 1991) and LSU’s JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 in 2007) never panned out.

The two best homegrown Raiders quarterbacks were drafted in the second round — Alabama’s Stabler and Fresno State’s Derek Carr in 2014.

Stabler played 10 seasons with the Raiders, seven as the starter, and reached the conference championship game in every postseason he participated in with the team.

He also led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl win, a 32-14 victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl XI.

Only two other homegrown Raiders quarterbacks reached the playoffs with the Silver and Black.

Carr, the best statistical quarterback in club history, helped get the Raiders to two postseasons in his nine years with the team. A broken leg knocked him out of the 2016 playoffs, though, and the Raiders lost to the Bengals in the wild-card round in the 2021 postseason.

Wilson was 11-2 as the Raiders’ starter in 1985 when they won the AFC West. However, he was dismal in the playoff opener against the Patriots, completing just 11 of 27 passes for 135 yards and three interceptions in a 27-20 loss. He started just 15 more games for the Raiders between 1986 and 1987 before moving on to the Patriots.

Of the 44 quarterbacks the Raiders have drafted over the years, just 13 started games for them. Only Stabler, Wilson, Steve Beuerlein (8-7) and Mike Rae (3-0) have winning records.

Billy Joe Hobert (0-5), Marques Tuiasosopo (0-2) and Connor Cook (0-1) never won a game, and Andrew Walter (2-7), Rusty Hilger (2-3), Terrelle Pryor (3-7), Marinovich (3-6), Russell (7-18) and Carr (63-80) had losing records.

Can the Raiders finally land their long-term, face-of-the-franchise quarterback? That will be up to Telesco and Pierce.

It would help if Telesco could bring some of his quarterback magic. He worked in the Colts’ front office when they drafted Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, and as the general manager of the Chargers, he drafted Justin Herbert immediately after parting ways with Philip Rivers.

After decades of mainly draft misses, maybe Telesco can help the Raiders finally get it right.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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