AFC West: Tom Savage

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Minutes after selecting Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack with the fifth pick of the 2014 NFL draft, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was asked if he thought his quarterback of the future might still be available.

Mind you, this was when Blake Bortles had been the only quarterback taken.

“Yes,” McKenzie said softly, “there’s an opportunity for that. Yes.”

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesDerek Carr passed for 5,082 yards with 50 TDs and eight interceptions in 13 starts last season.
So by the time the dust cleared on the first round Thursday night, Bortles, who was taken third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, was joined by Johnny Manziel, who fell to 22nd and the Cleveland Browns, and Teddy Bridgewater, who went 32nd in the final pick of the night to the Minnesota Vikings, who traded up to get him.

Might Fresno State’s Derek Carr, who has long been linked to the Raiders, still be on the docket when Oakland is scheduled to make the fourth pick of the night, No. 36 overall, or will the Houston Texans, who badly need a quarterback and lead off the second round, make it a family affair by drafting the younger brother of the man they made the first overall pick in 2002, David Carr?

From the Raiders’ perspective, it’s no secret they believe they are set with Matt Schaub for at least the next two years, and they even feel comfortable with backups Matt McGloin and Trent Edwards. But the feeling is also they would like to draft a project in the middle rounds, someone like Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage. Currently, the Raiders’ fourth-round pick is at No. 107 overall.

One plausible scenario has the Raiders, who do not have picks in the fifth or sixth rounds but hold three in the seventh, trading back in the second round to acquire more selections, especially if they are not truly in love with a player at No. 4 in the second round today.

McKenzie, though, said “no deal was presented, only interest” for the No. 5 overall pick on Thursday. With it not clear if there will be a market today for the Raiders’ second-rounder, they have options.

Mack certainly addressed a need and was the best player available as well.

So, besides Carr, who passed for 5,082 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions and completed 68.7 percent of his passes in 13 starts last season, who is a potential target for the Raiders in the second round?

Here is a look at five possible prospects:

USC receiver Marqise Lee was the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner as a sophomore, but had a down junior year. At just under 6-foot and 192 pounds, there are questions about his durability, but he is a playmaker after the catch.

Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is massive at 6-7, 321 pounds, but there are concerns about his surgically repaied knee. He is considered an ideal fit to work in a power-blocking scheme.

Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman is a disruptive if inconsistent force at a tick under 6-6 and 310 pounds. His athleticism might force a move to defensive end.

Utah cornerback Keith McGill is big at 6-3, 213 pounds, and his long arms make him an ideal fit for press coverage. Still, he only had one interception in two seasons for the Utes.

Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is also big for the position at 6-3, 218 pounds and had seven interceptions in 19 starts for the Cornhuskers.

Jon Gruden: 'I want Manziel'

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
2:00
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Johnny Manziel might be the most polarizing quarterback in next week’s NFL draft, but he has a fan in former Oakland Raiders coach-turned-ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden.

And if Gruden was still coaching an NFL team?

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesJon Gruden on QB Johnny Manziel: "He will excel at whatever you ask him to do."
“I don’t have any concerns,” Gruden said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “I'm a Manziel -- I don’t know what the word I should use is -- advocate, proponent. I want Manziel. I realize he's under six feet tall. Maybe he can't see over the line. We blew that theory in the water last year with (Russell) Wilson and (Drew) Brees. I know he can learn. I spent two days with him, and I know he wants to learn. He had four different offensive coordinators at Texas A&M. He had two different head coaches. It didn't matter. He adapted and did extremely well.

“This is the first Heisman Trophy winner as a freshman. In two years at Texas A&M, he had the most productive back-to-back seasons in SEC history. I don't know what you want him to do. He threw for eight thousand, ran for two thousand, he has 93 touchdowns. All I know is I want Manziel.”

The Raiders hold the No. 5 overall pick, and though they did acquire Matt Schaub to be the starting quarterback for the next two years at least, their QB-of-the-future situation is murky at best.

Manziel has visited the Raiders' complex, as has Central Florida’s Blake Bortles and Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage. Oakland has also had reported meetings with Fresno State’s Derek Carr, San Jose State’s David Fales, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Clemson’s Tahj Boyd.

But taking Manziel and all that his celebrity entails would seemingly work against the Raiders’ mission after acquiring Schaub. Fans would want to see Manziel immediately, or as soon as Schaub, who needs to get his confidence back after a down year in Houston, throws his first interception.

None of that, though, matters much to Gruden, from afar. Even if Manziel is lacking in some areas.

“He has no experience coming out of the huddle really, handling the pass protections, doing some of the things that you've seen some of the conventional pro quarterbacks do,” he said of Manziel. “It's going to be a huge adjustment for him. It might not happen for him by opening day.

“But I'm convinced that he will learn it. He will excel at whatever you ask him to do. But, remember, he did redshirt at Texas A&M. Maybe he needs a redshirt year in pro football. I'm not going to say that's going to happen or that's a certainty. But it will be an adjustment for Manziel making the adjustment as a young player at this position at the next level. But I'm sure he can do it.”
The week began for the Oakland Raiders with a visit from polarizing quarterback prospect Johnny Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M.

It will end with a stopover by an intriguing draft climber in Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage, ESPN.com has learned.

[+] EnlargeTom Savage
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsTom Savage passed for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns last season for Pitt.
Savage, initially projected as a fourth or fifth-round draft choice but becoming a hot topic of late, will fly into Oakland Friday and visit with the Raiders. Oakland is impressed with his size -- he measured 6-feet-4, 228 pounds at the combine -- and arm strength -- many observers thought he had the strongest, if not necessarily the most accurate, arm at the combine as well.

He has transferred twice, starting out at Rutgers before going to Arizona, though he never played for the Wildcats, before finding his way to Pitt. His wayward ways have been a topic of conversation for teams interested in his services, Savage said at the combine.

"You see someone transfer twice, your immediate thought is probably a red flag, there is something wrong," he said. "Obviously, my journey has been a little different. It's helped me mature as a person and I wouldn't want to do it any other way."

In his lone season at Pitt, Savage passed for 2,958 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 61 percent of his passes last year. He was knocked out of the Panthers' Little Caesers Pizza Bowl victory over Bowling Green in the first half with a rib injury after completing 8 of 13 passes for 124 yards.

"I definitely want to bring toughness," he said. "You have to be that guy who can take a couple of hits and keep your eyes down the field and still make the big-time throws you need to make. Everyone here has big arms. You have to be accurate. You have to be a poised quarterback and be able to handle the pressure."

Savage, who would no doubt be a project in the making, would seemingly fit the mold for the Raiders, who are going all in with Matt Schaub under center and Matt McGloin as the primary backup (Terrelle Pryor has likely played his last down in Oakland, general manager Reggie McKenzie has intimated). Though that was also the plan last year when Oakland acquired Matt Flynn to be the franchise quarterback, targeted Matt Barkley before the draft before taking Tyler Wilson in the fourth round.

Besides, if Twitter is a barometer, a Raiders jersey with "SAVAGE" on the back of it would be immensely popular to fans.

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