Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will analyze each position group leading up to Raiders training camp, which starts on July 29. This installment focuses on quarterbacks.
The Raiders have stability at quarterback thanks to Derek Carr, an ascending talent who made his first Pro Bowl last season. The spot was warranted after throwing for 3,987 yards, 32 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 91.1 passer rating.
Carr would like a few throws back, especially fourth-quarter interceptions that cost his team. The Raiders continued adding heft to their offensive line and skill spots, trying to ease Carr’s burden. He had to carry the team at times last year, and they’d like to spread the responsibility this time around.
Matt McGloin is the primary backup at this stage, but will compete with fourth-round rookie Connor Cook for the No. 2 slot in training camp. McGloin will be an unrestricted free agent next year, so this could be his last year in silver and black. The team hopes Cook is primed to take that role over with steady development in the coming year.
Preliminary depth chart
1. Derek Carr
2. Matt McGloin
3. Connor Cook
Questions heading into camp
1. Can Carr take the next step?
Derek Carr received significant praise this offseason from national analysts and peers alike, with many expecting Carr to join the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. That’s certainly a possibility with Carr’s work ethic, arm talent and ability to tweak the scheme to his strengths. Performing better in the clutch, when quarterbacks are often judged, will define the height of his rise. If he becomes a top tier passer, the sky’s the limit for this improved franchise. The Raiders shouldn’t be as reliant on Carr this season, with a better defense and run game. That should provide as much help as any pass catcher.
2. Who wins the backup job?
The Raiders say the No. 2 quarterback job is up for grabs, with returner Matt McGloin and rookie Connor Cook as contestants. McGloin is the clear frontrunner, with starter’s experience, poise and productivity at this level. Cook had an uneven offseason program – that’s common for rookie quarterbacks – and has the talent to excel. Whether he’s in an advanced position to play this season remains uncertain, though he could be in time if development continues and McGloin bolts in 2017 as a free agent.
3. How will Cook respond after falling in the NFL Draft?
Some expected the Michigan State alum to go as high as the first round, and few expected to reach the fourth when the Raiders traded up to get him. Cook’s leadership was criticized during the pre-draft process, which may have made stock drop. The Raiders saw great value when they took him, and believe they have quality injury protection for Carr.
Cook likely expected to land in a place where he’d compete to start soon, but that’s not the case in Oakland. Will he push to progress outside the limelight, or will a minor role frustrate him? Time will tell in that regard, though the team expects Cook to fight to showcase his skill.