NFL Nation: Terrelle Pryor

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- In stark contrast to Ray Rice's awkward news conference in May, the Baltimore Ravens running back showed Thursday that he finally understood the weight of his actions from the alleged altercation with his then-fiancée in February.

He delivered the correct message, one the NFL failed to do last week with the two-game suspension, by not only apologizing to his wife, Janay Palmer, but also expressing a desire to become an advocate for domestic-violence causes.

Rice was compelling in his contrition, calling it the biggest mistake of his life. He stood in front of the microphone alone, without his wife standing by his side, and took full responsibility for the incident. Perhaps more importantly, Rice actually said the words "domestic violence," which weren't heard in his statement two months ago.

"My actions were inexcusable," Rice said. "That's something I have to live with the rest of my life."

Before anyone pats Rice on the back, this is what he should have said the first time when he broke his silence in May. Instead, Rice nervously fumbled through notes on his phone and apologized to team officials and his sponsors. That debacle of a news conference came across as damage control to his image.

His 17-minute news conference Thursday hit the right tones. He apologized to all women affected by domestic violence. He accepted the blame for losing the respect of fans. Rice came across as genuinely sorry.

"I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife's parents down, I let the whole Baltimore community down," Rice said.

Rice's biggest misstep was not talking about what happened in the elevator. He was asked twice about it and declined to answer both times. His stance against domestic violence would have resonated stronger if he had explained his transgressions.

"I'll be honest: Like I said, I own my actions," Rice said. "I just don't want to keep reliving the incident. It doesn't bring any good to me. I'm just trying to move forward from it. I don't condone it. I take full responsibility for my actions. What happened that night is something that I'm going to pay for the rest of my life."

The only way Rice can move forward from this incident and show he's truly sincere is through his actions. It's not by his words. It's not by a hefty donation, which is merely a gesture. It's by proving this will remain a "one-time incident" and by supporting domestic-violence causes.

Thursday represented a small step forward for Rice. But it was an important one.
Reggie McKenzieBob Stanton/USA TODAY SportsOakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie needs to find a playmaker with his first-round pick.
And with the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select ...

Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins? Reggie McKenzie can only hope.

Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack? McKenzie can only dream.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney? Let's not get crazy now.

This much is true, though: In advance of the draft getting underway Thursday at Radio City Music Hall in New York, McKenzie needs to get his first pick right, and the Raiders general manager has no excuses this time around.

McKenzie's initial draft in Oakland saw him without a selection until the end of the third round, No. 95 overall, which he used on offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, who has played in nine games. Total.

Last year, McKenzie had the No. 3 overall pick and was so enamored by injured cornerback D.J. Hayden that he would have taken him third had he not found a willing trade partner in the Miami Dolphins to move back to No. 12, where Hayden was still available. Forget for a second, if you can, that Hayden had undergone heart surgery the previous November after a practice collision nearly killed him. In pure football terms, the Raiders' biggest need was seemingly on the interior of the defensive line and Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd were available.

Hayden played catch-up all season and appeared in just eight games before going on injured reserve with a groin injury. But even if Hayden turns into the second coming of Mike Haynes and the Raiders figured Season 1 of Hayden's four-year rookie contract was a wash when they drafted him, it would be a strange philosophy for a franchise in Year 2 of a two-year "deconstruction," no? Think of it this way: What team would essentially surrender the first quarter of a football game, banking on the final three quarters?

Now, this is not to suggest that McKenzie’s job is on the line with this draft -- coach Dennis Allen's seat figures to get warmer first -- but he has a lot of work to do to re-establish trust from a leery fan base after a pair of 4-12 seasons. Even if owner Mark Davis knew how tough the first two years were going to be.

If the Raiders are to get a jump-start on Year 1 of their "reconstruction," it begins with their first pick in this draft.

So, yeah, if either Watkins or Mack is still on the board when the Raiders' turn comes up at No. 5, the choice is obvious -- it's whichever playmaker is there. Oakland has so many holes on defense, and with both McKenzie and Allen being defense-minded guys, Mack probably would be the call.

But if Mack is gone and Watkins is still there, the Raiders would be ecstatic with a game-changing receiver who would help make new quarterback Matt Schaub's transition smoother.

But what if both are gone in the first four picks?

That decision should be just as easy -- trade back; even if one of the top offensive tackles is still there, as they should be. Because while either Auburn's Greg Robinson (physical freak), Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews (product of a pro lineage) or Michigan’s Taylor Lewan (nasty disposition but with potential legal baggage) would add to the O-line mix to help deal with the departure of Jared Veldheer, McKenzie did enough to address the offensive line in free agency. At least for the immediate future.

Of course, trading back is easier said than done.

Consider: The Raiders are not all that interested in Johnny Manziel the football player. The ticket-selling circus? Maybe. But drafting Manziel at No. 5 would torpedo the Schaub move. While Oakland has gone all-in with the former Houston Texans Pro Bowler, the first time Schaub throws an interception, the fans would don their silver and black apparel, pitchforks and torches and march to the Coliseum for Johnny Football and Schaub, in need of a fresh start and renewed confidence, would be looking over his shoulder. The Raiders just endured that last season with the Matt Flynn-Terrelle Pryor-Matt McGloin-Tyler Wilson fiasco.

McKenzie and his staff may not have garnered a lot of trust in their QB evaluating abilities, but at least McKenzie’s vision is clear. He wants a veteran at quarterback and should draft another drama-free old soul who was a college winner in, say, the fourth round, because the Raiders are currently without picks in the fifth and sixth rounds to learn at the knee of Schaub. Not a polarizing rock star. So think Alabama's AJ McCarron. Or Pitt's Tom Savage. Or even San Jose State's David Fales. Unless Fresno State's Derek Carr is still there in the second round when the Raiders go at No. 36 overall, pending any trades, of course. Then all bets would be off.

Now, the Raiders can't trade that far back from No. 5, not if they still want an immediate difference-maker.

The Detroit Lions at No. 10 could be motivated to move up in front of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who draft seventh, in a race to get Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. And at 10, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald should still be on the board for the Raiders.

Then again, the 6-foot-5, 231-pound Evans might make a solid value pick for the Raiders as an Andre Johnson 2.0 for Schaub.

"It's," McKenzie said slowly last week, "a chess match."

For his sake, you just hope he's the one yelling, "checkmate."
The most poignant Oakland Raiders plea leading up to the new league year last month?

No doubt it was Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece saying the weekend before free agency began that he wanted general manager Reggie McKenzie to make “Raider-ass moves” in signing players. As in, bold moves.

Reece
So, after signing 12 free agents, acquiring a new quarterback in Matt Schaub and jettisoning QB Terrelle Pryor, does Reece, the new voice of the Raiders, think McKenzie has followed through on his, ahem, advice?

“I do feel he did that,” Reece said Tuesday, the first day of voluntary offseason workouts for the Raiders.

“We weren’t looking for any saviors to come here and get in this locker room. We were looking for help. We were looking for help to bring this tradition, the winning attitude and a championship pedigree back to this organization and to the locker room and I think we did that.”

Consider: Defensive end Justin Tuck, offensive lineman Kevin Boothe, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, defensive lineman C.J. Wilson and receiver James Jones are toting a combined seven Super Bowl rings to Oakland from their time with the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.

Surely that has to rub off on the Raiders, no? That’s the plan.

“Like I said, it’s a certain stature and pedigree that you have, only by winning a championship,” Reece said. “Things that even leaders like myself don’t have yet. I haven’t been able to experience the playoffs or a championship, and when guys like Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, when you bring guys like that in here, especially on the defensive side of the ball, it really helps. It brings a different aspect of leadership into a locker room and into a team.”

Reece served as a recruiter for the Raiders and said left tackle Donald Penn told him Tuesday he was “tired of me texting him two or three times a day” before he eventually signed.

“Obviously, we lost out on a few guys that we wanted to keep,” Reece said, likely referring to left tackle Jared Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston and running back Rashad Jennings. “But I think other than that, we were fairly successful.”

As was the turnout for the first day of workouts, even if there was no official tally.

“Very close to 100 percent,” Reece said. “A couple of guys that aren’t here, I know why they’re not here and when they’re going to show up. There’s always things that come up, it’s life. It is 100 percent in my eyes. It means a lot to me, especially the veteran guys.”

And Reece’s thoughts on Pryor being traded a day earlier to the Seattle Seahawks?

“Nothing surprises me at this point in time in my career,” Reece said. “I’ve seen a lot happen in my seven years here in the organization. Nothing surprises me. As a team, we just wish him the best and thank him for what he did here and wish him the best.”

NFL Nation TV back for seconds

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
1:00
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Join us today at 2 p.m. ET, 11 a.m. PT, as ESPN’s NFL Nation TV’s second Spreecast airs live. Hosts Paul Gutierrez (Oakland Raiders reporter), Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and guest Pat McManamon (Cleveland Browns reporter) take on topics ranging from Terrelle Pryor to Johnny Manziel to Donald Trump to Vernon Davis to Chad Johnson's attempted CFL comeback. Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.
 
The Oakland Raiders' trade of quarterback Terrelle Pryor on Monday to the Seattle Seahawks for the Super Bowl champions’ seventh-round draft pick garnered the Raiders a total of seven selections in May’s NFL draft.

It also gave Oakland three seventh-round choices. Following is where the Raiders currently sit:
  • First round (No. 5 overall)
  • Second round (No. 36)
  • Third round (No. 67).
  • Fourth round (No. 107)
  • Fifth round (No. 146 sent to Seattle for QB Matt Flynn in 2013)
  • Sixth round (No. 181 sent to Houston Texans for QB Matt Schaub on March 21)
  • Seventh round (No. 219, No. 235, from Arizona Cardinals for QB Carson Palmer in 2013, No. 247, from Seattle for Pryor)

And to answer the question, no, Pryor was not traded for the pick that will become the NFL’s Mr. Irrelevant, or, the final pick in the draft. Rather, there are nine compensation picks that follow the pick the Raiders now own.
Surprised that Terrelle Pryor has been let go by the Oakland Raiders? You shouldn’t be. Not if you were reading the Silver and Black tea leaves.

At least the Raiders were able to get something in return by working out a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. Otherwise, Oakland faced the prospect of merely cutting Pryor loose with no return on Al Davis’ final draft pick.

Or, as one league source wondered Monday afternoon, “Would you want him?”

[+] EnlargeOakland's Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor
AP Photo/Tony AvelarThe Raiders replaced quarterback Terrelle Pryor with Matt McGloin once teams began to figure out Pryor.
The Raiders will receive a seventh-round pick from Seattle and now have seven picks again -- Nos. 5, 36, 67, 107, 219, 235 and 247 -- in the upcoming NFL draft.

Now, this is not meant as a slam on Pryor. Not at all. You cannot question his work ethic. His decision-making on the field? Sure. His blonde locks of late that tweaked the Raiders, even if he was merely following through on a lost bet? Absolutely.

But it has been painfully obvious since last summer that the Raiders, for lack of a better term, have not liked Pryor as a quarterback. At least, not as their quarterback.

Not even after he started nine of 11 games and finished with 1,798 passing yards in completing 57.4 percent of his passes. He had seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions while setting a franchise rushing record for a quarterback with 576 yards. His total QB rating of 30.5 was third-lowest in the NFL among qualified quarterbacks last season.

Sure, Pryor won the starting gig last preseason over Matt Flynn, but with Flynn’s arm hurting and Oakland’s offensive line leaking like a sieve at the time, the more mobile Pryor simply gave the Raiders their best chance at success.

And he was more than exciting, his NFL record-for-a-quarterback 93-yard touchdown run in Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers serving as his apex for the Raiders.

But when opponents began figuring him out -- he likes to roll out to his right -- his success quickly diminished. A sprained knee and what many in the organization saw as a pouting act following a loss at the New York Giants sent Pryor to the bench in favor of an undrafted rookie whose skillset -- a more polished, pure dropback passer -- better fit the type of offense the Raiders wanted to run.

Matt McGloin is not the answer, either. That’s why the Raiders traded for a veteran, Matt Schaub, to run their offense.

It was just another sign that Pryor was on the Raiders’ backburner -- if they were keeping him warm at all. He is liked in the organization well enough, but he would frustrate many with his improvisational ways and how he would often take to social media and the traditional media to get his message across as a pseudo QB of the People.

He works hard. He’s giving away a coffee machine and, well, he works hard.

From Day 1, I compared Pryor to Tim Tebow, rather than the likes of Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson.

You have to wonder, though, if Pryor will have a similar NFL fate to Tebow's.

Now, though, he’ll ostensibly learn at the knee of Wilson. And, oh yes, the Raiders play at Seattle this coming season.

Will Terrelle Pryor be a quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, or will they try to convince him to play another spot?

The Seahawks made one of their surprising moves (are any of their moves surprising anymore?) Monday evening by making a trade with the Oakland Raiders to acquire Pryor, who was about to be released by the Oakland Raiders. Seattle general manager John Schneider gave up a seventh-round draft pick to get Pryor.

In that case, he's worth it. Pryor is scheduled to make $705,000 in 2014. At 6-foot-6, 235 pounds with 4.4 speed, Pryor is an exceptional athlete. But is his future at quarterback or somewhere else on the field?

“Terrelle is an incredibly explosive athlete and we're excited for him to come in and compete," Schneider said in a Seahawks news release.

[+] EnlargeTerrelle Pryor
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezWill Terrelle Pryor play quarterback or will the Seahawks move him to another position?
A running quarterback certainly fits into the Seahawks' offensive scheme, as fans have seen with Russell Wilson. Pryor, 24, is similar to Wilson as far as running read-option plays. Maybe the Seahawks see Pryor as a long-range answer as a backup.

Backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who turned 31 on Monday, was a free agent before signing a new one-year deal at $1.25 million for 2014. The Seahawks players love Jackson. He knows the offense and he is the ultimate team guy.

So could the Seahawks talk Pryor into considering a move? Pryor could be sort of a hybrid tight end/receiver that the Seahawks are looking for, something the team sought in its interest in former Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley.

Maybe, but I'm guessing Pryor is coming to Seattle to compete at quarterback for the backup spot behind Wilson. Reportedly, the 49ers also were interested in signing Pryor.

Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback, started nine games last season and passed for 1,798 yards. He completed 57 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His total QB rating of 30.5 was third-lowest in the NFL last season, but he set a franchise rushing record for a quarterback with 576 yards while playing behind Oakland's porous offensive line.

Interesting side note: Wilson now is the third-highest paid quarterback on the team, making a base salary of $662,000 this year. Obviously, that's about to change dramatically.

It's also interesting that Oakland and Seattle have made two quarterback deals in the past year. The Seahawks traded Matt Flynn to Oakland last April.

This is what the Seahawks do, bring in talented athletes and find a place for them where they can help the team and excel as individuals. Maybe that's still at quarterback for Pryor, maybe it's elsewhere. For Seattle, it certainly is worth the cost of a seventh-round pick.
So, you already knew that the recently acquired Matt Schaub was earmarked to be the Oakland Raiders' starting quarterback this season. And while neither Terrelle Pryor nor his fans should be happy about that development, what coach Dennis Allen told reporters Tuesday will perk up more than a few ears.

Schaub
Schaub
"We have a quarterback now," Allen said at the NFL owners meetings, per the Bay Area News Group, "that's on par with the quarterbacks in the division."

Got it?

Shaub = Kansas City's Alex Smith. Sure.

Shaub = San Diego's Philip Rivers. Meh.

Shaub = Denver's Peyton Manning. Um ...

If nothing else, Allen is a glass-half-full kind of guy. He has to be. After consecutive 4-12 seasons in which his teams folded spectacularly down the stretch both times, Allen knows this is a make-or-break type of year in which the Raiders need to show improvement.

And for the purposes of this discussion, it all begins under center ... with a new quarterback who is a two-time Pro Bowler coming off a nightmarish season. So what kind of quarterback does Allen prefer, exactly?

"Guys that can move the team down the field, guys who can put points on the board," Allen said. "I think there's certain qualities you look at in the quarterbacks that have been able to be successful over the years. I'm talking about guys like Drew Brees, who I was with [in New Orleans]. I'm talking about guys like Peyton Manning. I'm talking about guys like Tom Brady. Guys [whose] work ethic is unmatched; they're the first ones in the building, they're the last one to leave.

"They have the ability to process information quickly and they can throw the ball with timing and accuracy. And those are the things you have to be able to do to play the quarterback position."

And water is wet.

Of course, that's the goal of every team -- to find a franchise quarterback. It's been a tortuous journey for the Raiders the past three years as they've used first- and second-round picks (Carson Palmer), a third-round supplemental pick (Pryor), a fourth-round pick (Tyler Wilson) a fifth-round pick (Matt Flynn) and now a sixth-rounder (Schaub) in their search for a savior.

The new regime of Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie is responsible for the last three on the list.

"It's pretty obvious that we feel good about Matt Schaub as our starting quarterback," Allen said. "We feel comfortable with Matt McGloin as a back up. But we'll see what happens in the next few days, next couple weeks.

"Everybody has down seasons. Everybody has down years. It's not a shame to get knocked down; it's a shame to not get back up. [Schaub] is a guy that's been a two-time Pro Bowl player, he's been a top 10 quarterback in the National Football League over the last five years and we believe, and he believes, that he's still that. And I don't think that changes overnight, I really don't."

Schaub had a career-worst total quarterback rating of 43.65 last season, losing his starting job midway through the season and throwing 14 interceptions, including a stretch of four straight games with a pick-6, with 10 touchdowns and a 61.1 completion percentage rate.

"Do I think he's going to have a little bit of a chip on his shoulder? Yeah, I really do," Allen said. "I think there's going to be a little bit of added incentive for him to kind of prove what he can do? Yeah, I think there will be, and I think that's a good thing."
OK, this is what I don’t want to hear: Matt Schaub is going to be the next Rich Gannon.

Yeah, yeah, we know the tale: Older guy comes to Oakland with his career on life support. He revitalizes it, along with the entire franchise, goes on to win an MVP and takes Raider Nation to the Super Bowl. It’s an awesome story, and that’s why it doesn’t happen very often.

Vick
Vick
Schaub
Schaub
Instead, what Schaub is likely to become is the next Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer or Matt Flynn. Another so-so, more-problems-than-qualities quarterback who the Raiders traded for in a desperate attempt to find that Gannon magic.

When is this going to end?

Hey Oakland, another Gannon is not walking through those doors. Stop thinking he will in the form of another beat-down old dude.

Schaub was a shell of himself last season in Houston. Why would Oakland, which is trying to build an offense and is far from a ready product, think it can fix him at the age of 32?

If the Raiders were fixated on continuing to get older all over the field -- a weird approach with a team with a ton of salary-cap room that hasn’t had a winning record since George W. Bush’s first administration -- I guess an argument could be made for Michael Vick. He’d be completely free (I know Schaub cost just a late-round pick, but the Raiders need the chance to develop every kid they can get their hands on) and Vick has some ability to make plays happen.

Schaub is a less-talented Palmer. He will occasionally tease, but is more likely to throw a pick-six than a touchdown.

I really hope the Raiders don’t think this is the guy who is going to lead them back to the playoffs. All he is going to do it get cut in a couple of years, and then the Raiders will have to start over. Again.

I’d give the the Raiders props if they took a chance on Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles. The only way this woebegone franchise is going to be relevant again is if it finds the right young quarterback. Yes, maybe the Raiders will draft one of those youngsters and Schaub will be the backup. But I’m not sure this trade was made for Schaub to be the backup.

Oh, and this deal, also tells you what the Raiders think of Terrelle Pryor. Yep, he’s not the answer. Still, the ultimate question in Oakland after this trade: Who is the answer at quarterback?

It wasn’t solved Friday morning. Matt Schaub is not Rich Gannon.

Offseason Blueprint: Raiders

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
12:00
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Looking for a blueprint for the Raiders’ offseason as they try to turn the corner after consecutive 4-12 seasons under general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen?

Our ESPN.com NFL Insiders have you covered Insider. With more than $60 million in salary cap space, to 18 scheduled unrestricted free agents, the Raiders have more than a few franchise-altering decisions to make. From finding a franchise quarterback (neither Terrelle Pryor nor Matt McGloin seem to be the answer) to looking at a potential starting lineup (is Mychal Rivera the truth at tight end?) to who the Raiders should target in free agency (Jared Allen, anyone?) to what they should do with the No. 5 overall pick (QB or DE, DE or QB?) to McKenzie’s top picks from a year ago needing to step up (are you listening, D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson?). It’s all here.
Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen was asked Thursday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis if his 2014 starting quarterback was already on Oakland’s roster.

Manziel
Keep in mind, the Raiders currently have Terrelle Pryor, who started nine games last season, Matt McGloin, who started six, and veteran Trent Edwards, who last started an NFL game in 2010, under contract.

Allen’s response? “I don’t know the answer to that yet, you know what I mean? I think that’s obviously a position we’re going to look at to try to improve as well as any other position. But that’s obviously a position we have to [evaluate].

“The quarterback position is the backbone of your football team, and so we have to make sure that when we go out there this year that we’ve put ourselves in the best position to have success with the quarterback position.”

Then after reading between the lines and going over the silver and black tea leaves, the answer would be … no.

Which of course, brings us to this year’s crop of quarterbacks. You’ve got the big guns in Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, the intriguing guys in Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Alabama’s AJ McCarron and, of course, the biggest and most intriguing figure of all in the polarizing Johnny Manziel, by way of Texas A&M.

Now, the fact that Allen is a Texas A&M alum should give the Raiders a leg up in scouting Manziel to see if he’s worth the hype, let alone the No. 5 overall pick, right?

Yes, Allen was asked about his fellow Aggie.

“Obviously, he’s accomplished a lot at the collegiate level and has been a very good football player, being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy,” Allen said. “I think that speaks in and of itself about how good a football player he is, so I think he’s a very talented football player. I think he is a multi-dimensional football player. I think he’s able to throw the ball. I think he’s able to throw the ball from the pocket, but he’s also able to create things with his feet.

“As we get more into the evaluation process, I think he’ll be a fun guy to really evaluate.”

Raiders Twitter mailbag

February, 8, 2014
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The Super Bowl is done so the season is officially over. Let's get our Twitter mailbag going ...

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders traded away Carson Palmer after a 4,018-yard passing season in 2012 ... and he threw for a career-high 4,274 yards with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013.

The Raiders traded for Matt Flynn in hopes he would become a franchise quarterback ... and he washed out and was cut in October, after one start.

Oakland used a fourth-round draft pick to select Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson ... only to waive him twice, sign him to the practice squad twice and watch him leave when the Tennessee Titans picked him up.

[+] EnlargeOakland's Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor
AP Photo/Tony AvelarNeither Oakland coach Dennis Allen nor GM Reggie McKenzie is sure if the Raiders' QB of the future is on the roster.
With so much QB carnage in such a short amount of time, is general manager Reggie McKenzie confident in his staff's ability to identify and properly scout a quarterback?

"Yes I am," McKenzie said Thursday in a 45-minute sit down with six reporters who cover the team regularly.

The differing skill sets of Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin essentially split the season, and in his final media conference of the season coach Dennis Allen said he was not sure if the quarterback of the future was in the building.

I asked McKenzie if he shared Allen's view and, if so, how he attacks that shortcoming.

McKenzie nodded.

"I'm not sure either," he said. "We've got two young players who played this year (and) from an experience standpoint there wasn't any, so neither one of them stepped up and said, ‘I'm the franchise quarterback.' So absolutely, we're going to always continue to upgrade and find that guy. Now how we find them, we'll figure that out in the next few months, to what's available to us."

McKenzie allowed that with so much youth and inexperience under center last season, the Raiders need a veteran presence. And, perhaps, that is why they recently signed Trent Edwards to a reserve/future contract.

"He's a senior guy that's been there, done that," McKenzie said. "You're talking about what we have in place now, even around the building here in the next month or so, you've got a guy that our young guys can bounce stuff off of. And starting that process ASAP, I think, is important for the young guys."

That does not mean, however, that the Raiders are done tinkering with the position. Far from it. Not when the Raiders still have the No. 5 overall pick in May's draft.

Yes, McKenzie was asked about Texas A&M's polarizing Johnny Manziel.

"He's a playmaker," McKenzie said with a smile. "Whether it's him or whether it's any one of these other guys, when you can add a playmaker to your team that's what you're shooting for. Be it the draft, be it (a) free agent. It doesn't matter. And Johnny is a playmaker."

Still, McKenzie said he'd be reluctant to start a rookie quarterback again and would rather build the team up around one until he was ready to play.

"You have to make sure you surround those young players like that with good football players, whether it's weapons, protection from an offensive line standpoint, run game," McKenzie said. "If you're going to talk about playing a rookie, I think the fair way to do it is surround him (with talent), not just ride his shoulders. It's hard. I don't care how good the rookie is.

"To make him do everything his first year is not an easy task. You'd rather not. You'd rather have a guy in place who can get you through the season, especially the early part of the season."

Hence the addition of someone like an Edwards. And McKenzie said he has no true preference for a style of quarterback, be it a runner like Pryor, who rushed for a franchise single-season record 527 yards, including a 93-yard TD run that set an NFL record, or a pocket passer like McGloin, who had a QB rating of 76.1.

Still, neither Pryor, who started nine games and threw for 1,7,98 yards on 57.4 percent passing with 7 TDs and 11 INTs, nor McGloin, who was 1-5 as the starter, truly commandeering the job last season left room for introspection.

"With Terrelle I thought he started out pretty good," McKenzie said. "But it was the inconsistency and making the decisions, whether to throw, whether to run, avoid (the pass rush) and get rid of the ball. Whatever it is, that needs to continue to improve and he was too inconsistent there.

"Terrelle's got a ways to go with the decision making and the timing of throwing (to) guys (who are) open in that regard."

And McGloin, who completed 55.9 percent of his passes for 1,547 yards with 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in seven games?

"I thought he came in and I thought he did a pretty good job for what he was asked to do," McKenzie said. "He was confident in where he could throw the ball, his timing, his decision-making. Kind of sputtered a little bit, trying to throw the football when he shouldn't have.

"I thought McGloin showed some positive things that looked like a real quarterback from a standpoint of getting the ball out of his hands and, not being the greatest of mobile, moving, running guys, he didn't take a lot of sacks. So ... to be looked at as one of the non-athletic quarterbacks, per se, he did a good job of getting the ball out of his hand and not putting us in a negative yard-situation. So, you like some of the things there. If you can build on it and get better with the throws and the timing and all that, he should be solid."

Vick presents conundrum for Eagles

January, 13, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Michael Vick situation provides a conundrum for the Philadelphia Eagles, bringing a couple of coach Chip Kelly’s priorities into conflict.

All season, Kelly talked about the importance of having two quarterbacks capable of winning NFL games on the roster. The Eagles were living proof of the value of having Vick and Nick Foles. The Green Bay Packers, meanwhile, were an object lesson in what happens when your depth chart drops from Aaron Rodgers to Seneca Wallace.

Vick
Vick
“I think you can never have enough quarterbacks,” Kelly said. “I've said that no matter where I was. In this league, we were fortunate that we had two this year, and that was a huge benefit to us that we had two, and we'll continue to always look at quarterbacks, and I think anybody that's any good in this league always does that.”

Vick will be a free agent on March 11 and says he wants to go somewhere he can be a starter. And while he has said he would be willing to return to the Eagles as a backup “if all else fails,” there is a very real possibility the Eagles won’t be interested.

That’s because, for all the praise Kelly heaped on Vick for handling his in-season demotion, the coach also had good things to say about rookie Matt Barkley.

“Matt was awesome,” Kelly said. “I'm excited to get a full offseason with Matt in here to really get a chance to work with him, because I think he's got a skill set that's exciting when you see him, how the ball comes out of his hands, the decisions that he makes, and that's part of this whole deal.”

Barkley
Kelly wanted Barkley enough for the Eagles to trade up a couple spots in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor spent hours of extra time working with Barkley. He saw action in three games, but was thrown into some pretty unfortunate situations.

The guess here is that Barkley is tagged to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Foles. His style is closer to Foles’ than Vick’s is, which theoretically makes for a smoother transition if he has to play. It also wouldn’t shock me if the Eagles draft a quarterback again this year, maybe even higher than they took Barkley.

As for Vick, he is probably the best of a mediocre batch of free-agent quarterbacks this year. He will be 34, but still has a couple years left in him.

Some possible fits:

• Oakland, where coach Dennis Allen is going to be feeling some heat. Vick could be a good option to Terrelle Pryor as the younger quarterback gets up to speed.

• The New York Jets, where there will be intense pressure on head coach Rex Ryan in 2014, and where the offensive coordinator is former Eagles assistant Marty Mornhinweg. If the Jets stick with the combination of Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez for another year, chances are they’ll be looking for a new head coach in 2015.

• Jacksonville, where the Jaguars slid from the No. 1 overall pick to No. 3 by winning a few late-season games. If they aren’t in love with the quarterbacks available, or if they need a veteran to serve as a bridge to the rookie, Vick could be a fit.

• Cleveland is interesting. It’s hard to say whether the presence of former Eagles president Joe Banner would be good or bad for Vick in Cleveland.

• Tampa Bay, which has a lot to like in Mike Glennon. But new coach Lovie Smith may want real competition for the starting job in training camp, and Vick just proved himself a solid locker room citizen through one of those.

• Buffalo is similar to Tampa Bay. E.J. Manuel is going to get every chance to be the quarterback, but coach Doug Marrone may want a veteran to compete, and Kevin Kolb’s status may force the Bills to bring someone in.

• Kansas City. OK, OK, Andy Reid just had a very good year with Alex Smith. But Reid has fallen hard for Vick and scuttled his quarterback plans before. A long shot, yes, but there’s a sliver of a chance.
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders need a quarterback, a certifiable quarterback of the future, as they say.

No disrespect to the Terrelle Pryor disciples or the Matt McGloin acolytes, but even coach Dennis Allen said he was not sure if said franchise QB was “in the building right now.”

And with Allen now assured of returning to Oakland for his third season, might he look to his alma mater for salvation in the form of a polarizing figure known simply as Johnny Football?

Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, as maddening as he is talented, has officially declared for the NFL draft, and the Raiders hold the No. 5 overall pick. And with Allen’s connections to College Station running deep, the Raiders probably have an upper hand in scouting the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. Which means the Raiders either making a run at Manziel or steering clear of him will say all you need to know about an Oakland background check.

Look, the 2014 win-now season in Oakland promises to be a fascinating study in survival. The Raiders have $60-plus million in salary-cap room to chase free agents, a full complement of draft choices to re-stock the roster, the assistants on Allen’s staff possibly on one-year contracts, with Allen most likely on a very short leash, and the pressure on general manager Reggie McKenzie to deliver a solid roster.

So what would Manziel, who had his share of off-the-field issues in college, add to the Raiders’ potentially volatile mix, besides his own brand of drama?

In two years at Texas A&M, he threw for a combined 7,820 yards and 63 touchdowns and rushed for 2,169 yards and 30 TDs and was the first freshman to win the Heisman, when he set the Southeastern Conference total offense record with 5,116 yards.

And this past season, he established a new Aggies single-season mark with 4,114 passing yards, falling just 11 yards short of becoming the first sophomore on any college campus to have 10,000 career yards.

Still, generously listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, he’s a bit small to play the brand of reckless abandon football in the NFL he excelled at in college.

“He possesses unique improvisational skills (his closest resemblance in that regard, at least in my lifetime, is to Doug Flutie) and has the quickness, speed and instincts as a runner/scrambler that make him a nightmare to bring down, both in the pocket and in the open field when he takes off,” wrote ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, who had Manziel going to the Cleveland Browns at No. 4 in a recent mock draft.

McShay also had Manziel as his third-rated college QB, behind Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles.

“Manziel has also shown significant improvement as a passer this season, displaying more of a comfort level when throwing from the pocket, improved arm strength as a result of better mechanics and more consistency with his ball placement and accuracy,” McShay added. “Also, it's worth noting that despite all the comments about his character and leadership ability ... it really does seem as though his teammates feed off the passion and energy with which he plays.”

Should the Raiders, then, go all in with Manziel, if he’s still on the board at No. 5, or should they sign a veteran quarterback, other than recently inked Trent Edwards, and build the rest of the team first?

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