Raiders Quarterback: Anthony Brown Jr. and Carter Bradley have a fighting chance

The 2024 NFL Draft came and went and the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t deem it fit to select a quarterback prospect with any of their selections over the course of the three-day event.COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 31 Reese’s Senior Bowl

After witnessing the free-for-all and run of six quarterbacks taken before they could even pick at No. 13 overall, perhaps that was a wise overall choice by the Silver & Black. Even though the team did scout the upper echelon signal callers leading up to the draft extensively, the Raiders just weren’t in reach to snag one.

Instead of trading draft capital away to move up and select a highly touted quarterback prospect and without one falling to Las Vegas, general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Antonio Pierce went the best player available (BPA) route and went about their merry way adding more talent to the Raiders roster.

As the draft went it’s course, the Raiders didn’t deem any other draftable signal caller worthy of one of their selections, as the team didn’t believe any of the other prospects could push any of the quarterbacks currently on the roster. And while none of Las Vegas’ eight draft picks were a signal caller, the team did add one rookie to the crew after the draft — South Alabama’s Carter Bradley.

By The Numbers: Carter Bradley

  • School: South Alabama
  • Position: Quarterback
  • Height: 6-foot-3
  • Weight: 218 pounds
  • 2023 Stats: 221 of 326 (67.8 completion percentage), 2,660 yards, 19 touchdowns, 7 interceptions; 43 carries, -44 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Career Stats: 679 of 1,079 (62.9 completion percentage), 8,373 yards, 61 touchdowns, 27 interceptions; 182 carries, 82 yards, 4 touchdowns

With the son of former Raiders defensive coordinator and current defensive boss for the Indianapolis Colts Gus Bradley in tow, the Raiders have four signal callers in the quarterback room: Aidan O’Connell, Gardner Minshew, Anthony Brown Jr., and Carter Bradley.

O’Connell — a 2023 fourth-round pick that started 10 games for Las Vegas this past season — and Minshew — a free agent addition who started 13 games for Indianapolis in 2023 — are expected to duke it out for the starting quarterback role in camp. The winner becomes QB1 while the runner-up gets QB2 duties. And that gives both Brown and Bradley a fighting chance to make a go of becoming QB3 for the Raiders.

Why the hubbub over a spot that doesn’t tend to have an impact?

I hear you.

Third-string quarterbacks tend to be inactive on game days and often earmarked with the emergency designation that allows them to dress and enter the game if either the starter or direct backup become unavailable to play. And neither Brown or Bradley appear to be imminent challengers to either O’Connell and Minshew, thus reserve quarterback is the duo’s likely destination — either on active roster or on practice squad.

But the third-string quarterback can play the role of scout team signal caller that runs the opponent’s plays leading up to game day. And while O’Connell and Minshew showed they’re both durable in 2023, a team never knows what happens any given game or week and having depth at the all-important quarterback position is a necessity.

The quality of depth will emerge as the Raiders engage in offseason team activities (OTAs) and camps as they prep for 2024.

On the surface, of the four quarterbacks, Brown brings athleticism to the table that O’Connell, Minshew, and Bradley don’t offer — functional mobility. While Brown did clock an unofficial 4.71-second 40-yard dash at Oregon’s Pro Day, he is the only “true” dual-threat in Las Vegas. O’Connell may have clocked in a tick faster in his 40 at Purdue’s Pro Day — 4.70 — he’s more of the pure pocket passer/cement shoes status. Minshew offers movability but not to the level of Brown, and Bradley is an immobile type like O’Connell.

In terms of throwing arm, however, both Brown and Bradley are trailing O’Connell and Minshew — big time. And it’s due largely to being wildly inconsistent.

Brown can thread and zip the ball in there with velocity, ditto for Bradley, but the pair have maddening instances where their throws are pro-quality on some throws, then junior varsity-quality during other passes. Bradley in particular, is an intelligent prospect and knows where the ball should go, getting it there is in question. His arm limitations will dampen his production in the NFL. Against bigger, experienced, and faster pro athletes, Bradley’s accuracy and lack of throwing his receivers open will jump out very quickly.

Take out this dart from Bradley at the Senior Bowl below. It’s a very nice thread-the-need dart, but at the next level, that’s either broken up or taken the other direction.

Of course, the Raiders could add more talent to the quarterback room like a veteran who can make both Brown and Bradley moot. Especially come June 1 when the designation for Jimmy Garoppolo hits the team’s books and an additional $24 million or so of cap space becomes available to Las Vegas.

Yet, the work-in-progress nature of Brown and Bradley isn’t detrimental to the Raiders at this point. That’s the type of quarterback that makes sense as a third stringer. That’s how O’Connell began his career in Las Vegas before ascending to starter when Antonio Piece was given the reins over Josh McDaniels as head coach. The Raiders’ current coaching staff — offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, primarily — will get to develop and tinker with not only Brown and Bradley, but also O’Connell and Minshew.

In Brown’s case, the 25 year old does have NFL games under his belt starting a single contest while playing in another during his stint with the Baltimore Ravens in 2022. For Bradley, the 24 year old is a coach’s kid and got insight and knowledge from veteran QB Philip Rivers.

The battle for QB1 will take the spotlight and rightfully so. But the overall pecking order at signal caller is important. And may the best claim jobs.

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