Raiders Predicted to Add ‘Special Talent’ With Surprise QB Pick

Raiders potential draftee Spencer Rattler

Getty Raiders potential draftee Spencer Rattler

If the Raiders come out of the upcoming NFL draft with a highly touted quarterback who has made a late push up the NFL draft boards, no one will be surprised. All signs point to the Raiders adding another body—preferably young and talented—to a quarterback room in need of an upgrade.

But if that quarterback is South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, a former 5-star recruit who never really established himself in five college seasons with Oklahoma and the Gamecocks, well, the reception might be a bit more lukewarm.

In their seven-round mock draft projection for the Raiders this week, the folks at The Athletic are foreseeing the Raiders passing on taking the big names to which they’ve been connected—a trade up for LSU star Jayden Daniels or a reach for Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.—and instead targeting Rattler with a late move-up trade.

According to Bleacher Report’s scouting report, Rattler is a, “Special arm talent. Loose, explosive throwing motion with high-end velocity and control.”

As The Athletic sees it, the Raiders would potentially move up to No. 70 overall in the third round, dealing away Nos. 77 and 148 (fifth-rounder), to nab Rattler from the Giants.

Spencer Rattler Could Compete for Job

In a joint article by Vic Tafur and Tashon Reed, all seven Raiders picks were outlined, with some major holes filled early on in the draft. The need for a starting cornerback was addressed with Quinyon Mitchell out of Toledo in the first round, No. 13 overall. In the second round, the Raiders were projected to beef up the offensive line with Kingsley Suamataia out of BYU.

No doubt, those are needs to fill. But most Raiders fans would be armed with torches and pitchforks if we arrive at Round 3 with no new QB in tow. Here’s where Tafur and Reed go for Rattler to join incumbent starter Aidan O’Connell and veteran signee Gardner Minshew.

Wrote Tafur: “Boom. A quarterback. Everybody happy? The tape is not great, let’s be honest, but Rattler does have a quick release, outperformed Penix and Bo Nix at the Senior Bowl and was solid at the NFL Scouting Combine. He would get a year to learn from Minshew and O’Connell.”

Indeed, Reed highlighted the fact that Rattler has some positives to build on. “He has special arm talent, improved his decision-making later in his college career and has starting upside in the NFL. Rattler could join Minshew and Aidan O’Connell in the competition to become the starter as soon as this season,” Reed wrote.

Raiders Need to Add a QB in This Draft, Somehow

Still, it would be a surprise if the Raiders did not use a first- or second-round pick on a quarterback in the draft. But if they feel Rattler is an undervalued talent and can use their first two picks elsewhere, it makes some sense for the Raiders to wait.

Having O’Connell and Minshew on hand allows the team to play the new guy sparingly, unless he wins the job right away. It also allows the Raiders, who will be stuck with the dead cap hit of Jimmy Garoppolo next season, to fill the QB void cheaply.

O’Connell will carry a cap hit of just about $1 million next season. The Raiders shelled out $12 million for Minshew, which was perhaps an overpay but could put him in a position to be the initial starter.

A third-rounder like Rattler in this case would sign a four-year deal worth less than $6 million total. That means the Raiders would be paying less than $15 million for their active quarterbacks.

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