Raiders should look hard at Love, Hurts

Both will be eval­u­ated as po­ten­tial QBs of the fu­ture be­yond Carr

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - SPORTS - By Jerry McDon­ald

Coach Jon Gru­den and gen­eral man­ager Mike May­ock have set them­selves up nicely for Derek Carr to re­turn as the Raiders quar­ter­back.

They all but said it dur­ing the NFL scout­ing com­bine in In­di­anapo­lis, with­out ac­tu­ally com­ing out and say­ing it.

No rea­son for them to say it as fact, be­cause if some team de­ter­mines Carr is worth a first-round draft pick or a first and more, they have given them­selves some wig­gle room.

Let’s pause for a mo­ment to al­low Carr’s de­trac­tors to clear their throats after gag­ging on the con­cept than any­one else would want Carr. They have a hard time be­liev­ing any­one would be in­ter­ested, de­spite a lot of qual­i­ties that Gru­den and May­ock have es­poused in In­di­anapo­lis.

Gru­den isn’t in­ter­ested in start­ing a rookie quar­ter­back. Never has been. But he did con­cede Thurs­day they need some young blood in the quar­ter­back room, and the smart move has al­ways been to keep Carr for at least an­other year and groom his suc­ces­sor.

If Tom Brady were to de­scend from the heavens at age 42, bring­ing in a quar­ter­back of the fu­ture be­comes even more of a pri­or­ity.

With an eye to­ward the Kansas City Chiefs at the top of the di­vi­sion, the ideal move would be to bring in Jor­dan Love of Utah State

— a pack­age of skills that most per­son­nel peo­ple think is the clos­est thing to Pa­trick Ma­homes in the NFL draft.

Asked by re­porters at the com­bine who he’d com­pare him­self to, Love played the Ma­homes card.

“I get asked that a lot,” Love said. “I’d say Pa­trick Ma­homes, based on arm tal­ent and what he can do. I’m not say­ing I’m Pa­trick Ma­homes — calm down — but Pa­trick Ma­homes, De­shaun Wat­son, guys who can make plays.”

Love (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) would prob­a­bly mean us­ing the 12th or 19th pick, which the Raiders cur­rently own in the first round. Maybe even mov­ing up, if NFL Net­work and ESPN pan­els at the com­bine are to be be­lieved.

A more re­al­is­tic op­tion would be Jalen Hurts, from Ok­la­homa by way of Alabama, with one of three third-round picks.

In both cases, the quar­ter­backs would be bet­ter served by sit­ting for at least a year other than spe­cialty pack­ages with Carr run­ning the show in the third year of a five-year con­tract. Nei­ther Love nor Hurts has done much work un­der cen­ter, a sta­ple of the of­fense Gru­den still con­sid­ers sacro­sanct, or run a team out of a hud­dle.

Nor have they waded through the ver­biage May­ock called “mind-bog­gling” in terms of Gru­den’s of­fen­sive sys­tem.

Hav­ing ei­ther player aboard, or any other quar­ter­back with de­signs on be­ing a starter sooner rather than later, would serve as a study in char­ac­ter for Carr, who has never been any­thing but the main guy since ar­riv­ing as a rookie. If he’s the team guy, he says he is. Carr would do what Matt Schaub did in 2014 — ev­ery­thing in his power to bring the young buck up to speed.

In any re­gard, keep­ing Carr aboard while look­ing for his even­tual re­place­ment is the smart move for a team try­ing to build for the fu­ture.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid pro­vided the per­fect illustrati­on when he traded up to get Ma­homes out of Texas Tech in 2018 with Alex Smith as the starter. Smith played for a year, and as he ad­mirably did when pushed aside for Colin Kaeper­nick, did ev­ery­thing he could to help the guy who took his job.

There is no way to look at Love and not think of Ma­homes, not in a copy­cat league, al­though the Raiders may not be able to af­ford the lux­ury of a first-round pick who doesn’t play im­me­di­ately as the Chiefs were.

May­ock loved Love’s skill, but noted his propen­sity for in­ter­cep­tions (20 touch­downs, 17 picks) and con­ceded he has a long way to go.

Un­like the Chiefs, who had an es­tab­lished ros­ter and could af­ford to burn a first-round pick on a quar­ter­back of the fu­ture even if he wasn’t go­ing to play im­me­di­ately, the Raiders are com­ing off 7-9 and likely need an im­pact player right away. That pretty much rules out Love.

Hurts, who clocked in at 4.59 sec­onds Thurs­day in the 40-yard dash and has the kind of run­ning-pass­ing skills pop­u­lar in the mod­ern NFL, could be at­tain­able. He rushed for 1,298 yards and 13 touch­downs for the Soon­ers and passed for 3,851 yards and 32 touch­downs with eight in­ter­cep­tions, so the run­pass skills are ev­i­dent.

Hurts (6-2, 218) also did some­thing Gru­den has long ad­mired in Seat­tle quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son. Wil­son played at North Carolina State un­til he was a through his ju­nior year, and then seam­lessly tran­si­tioned in a sin­gle year at Wis­con­sin as a se­nior.

It hap­pened in a sim­i­lar way for Hurts go­ing from Alabama to Ok­la­homa. And while Ok­la­homa’s sys­tem wouldn’t seem to be an in­stant step into the NFL with no hud­dles or snaps un­der cen­ter, that hasn’t stopped Baker May­field or Kyler Murray from be­ing in­stant starters after be­ing the No. 1 over­all pick.

CHAR­LIE NEIBER­GALL — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Utah State QB Jor­dan Love throws a pass at the NFL scout­ing com­bine on Thurs­day in In­di­anapo­lis.

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