With the 2019 NFL Draft in the books, it’s already time to start looking to the future. While Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden scored solid grades for their 2019 draft, there is still much work to be done for the Silver & Black as they prepare for their move to Las Vegas in 2020. With the 2020 NFL Draft also being held in Las Vegas, the next first pick from the Raiders could be the team’s biggest in years.
While Gruden has publicly supported quarterback Derek Carr, it has become more and more obvious the Raiders’ head coach is eyeing the future under center. A man who takes pride in handpicking his roster could be looking for his next franchise quarterback, especially as Carr — and his contract — become easier to trade after the 2020 season. ESPN took an early look at the 2020 draft class, and predicts the Raiders will take Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.
Using a draft order based on projected win totals generated by Football Outsiders, ESPN’s Todd McShay wrote he believes the Raiders will go after the talented signal caller as Carr’s heir apparent. In fact, he believes Herbert would’ve been a high pick in 2019, had he left college earlier.
“If he had declared for the 2019 draft, he might have been a top-10 pick — and for good reason,” McShay wrote. “The 6-foot-6, 233-pound quarterback has a good combination of arm strength and touch, and he threw for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns for the Ducks last season. He is also mobile and can run when he needs to. But he does have some room for development in decision-making.”
With Gruden and Mayock slowly building out the defense through the draft and free agency, a move like this would signal the beginning of the end for Carr, whose contract ends after the 2022 season. It is a perfect amount of time for Herbert to carry a clipboard and learn from Carr for his first season, before taking the reigns of the offense in 2021. With just two years left on his contract, Carr would be easily tradable to a team hungry for a veteran signal caller.
He’ll be 30 when that times comes, and it could land the Raiders a few extra picks while allowing Carr to continue his career elsewhere.
Fans of Carr may not like this idea but Herbert seems like a quarterback for the modern NFL. He’s mobile, has good size, has shown solid accuracy and has garnered strong reviews when it comes to leadership. He is also in the Top 10 all-time best statistical quarterbacks in Oregon history.
If the Raiders are going to begin the process of developing their next franchise quarterback, Herbert isn’t a bad start. What truly benefits the franchise will be the professionalism and class Carr shows. While I’m sure he’ll feel a tinge of pride in the Raiders drafting his future replacement, it could also motivate him to play his best football.
In the end, it could be a win-win for the Raiders. They either get their future franchise quarterback or their current franchise quarterback proves why he should continue to be the namesake. Either way, it means the Raiders have continued to evolve into the pride of the AFC West as they head into Las Vegas in 2020.