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Graney: Raiders need to trade up for one of draft’s best QBs

Updated February 19, 2024 - 4:22 pm

The Raiders must do everything possible to secure a top three draft pick come April.

They desperately need a quarterback. One of the top prospects at the position. One that can make world of difference. Trade up. Do what you must.

It’s imperative they try.

If the asking price is a haul of first-round picks and others in later rounds — as expected — so be it. This is far too significant a moment to stand pat at the 13th overall selection.

If it’s three first-round picks. Four. Three with a star player attached. Whatever. This is the moment the Raiders need to grasp.

The free-agent pool isn’t deep with high-level talent. Same with trade options, or at least those that have been reported as possibilities beyond Justin Fields.

Top heavy QBs

Things aren’t changing in the AFC any time soon. Things aren’t getting easier. Patrick Mahomes. Joe Burrow. Lamar Jackson. Josh Allen. Justin Herbert.

The conference is packed with young franchise quarterbacks capable of leading their teams to a Super Bowl. Some have. Others still can.

Mahomes’ three titles in five years with the AFC West rival Chiefs put his insane abilities in perspective. And he’s still not done. Far from it.

The Raiders need a serious quarterback upgrade to compete for the playoffs and make a deep run. They don’t have a top-end starter. They aren’t catching others in the division without one.

I’m not suggesting Mahomes II is part of this draft. I am suggesting there are options that could be the Raiders’ answer under center for a decade or more. Those who could win lots of games, especially if the defense continues to perform.

Aidan O’Connell had good and bad moments for the Raiders once he was handed the starting quarterback job last season as a rookie.

He isn’t a long-term answer, however. We saw enough bad to know that.

“I’ll tell you, like I just said before, I have a lot of learning to do to figure out this team from the inside, not from the outside,” said new general manager Tom Telesco, who was the Chargers’ general manager the previous 11 seasons. “Obviously, Aidan played pretty well against (the Chargers), so that’s a plus.

“But I need to get a lot more in-depth with this team as far as more than just a couple games and then talk with the staff. We’ve got to do that at every position. I have to get to know this team as well as I knew the team I just came from, which I don’t yet, but I’m going to get there pretty quick.”

Fact: There are quarterbacks at the top of the draft who could fill the role of a franchise leader. The face of an organization.

Odds against it

Look. There might not be a chance in silver and black dreams any of this occurs. The teams drafting first, second and third — Chicago, Washington and New England — also need quarterbacks. And with a top three of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels sitting there ready to be plucked, there’s no guarantee even the most attractive trade offer would sway those holding all the proverbial cards.

But if the Raiders were to strike a deal and possibly get into the top three, the future becomes so much brighter. They at least need to try to put their best foot forward to make this a reality.

These types of opportunities aren’t an annual assurance. These types of draftable quarterbacks aren’t always available. And when you’re the Raiders, and you desperately need a franchise player at the position, you do what’s necessary.

Or at least make the most concerted of efforts.

Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.

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