It’s been a long decade for the Silver and Black. There have been few if any highlights, as the top stories in regard to the Oakland Raider franchise during that time were the drafting and subsequent failure of JaMarcus Russell and the death of Al Davis.
The only positive to take from the last ten years is the fact that the Raiders did, in fact hit rock bottom. There was a period, if only a short one, where they were the laughing stock of the league. It is my firm belief that those dark days hardened the games hardest fanbase even more. You’ve been the punching bag. You’ve taken your lumps. It can only get better.
To a certain extent, it has gotten better. Over the past couple of seasons, though the Raiders are rarely the favorite heading into their games, nobody rules them out of any matchup completely. Sure there have been letdowns, but you can only have letdowns when you have expectations. We can again expect the Raiders to compete, but that’s not enough for Silver and Black nation.
The phrase “This is a Quarterback driven league” is no cliche. It is a fact. The last seven Super Bowl winning quarterbacks were selected in the first 32 picks of their respective draft classes. The guy who won the two Super Bowls before that goes by the name “Brady.” You need an elite quarterback to win a championship in today’s NFL.
Carson Palmer has been a fine stop-gap measure recently, but sooner rather than later, general manager Reggie McKenzie is going to have to take the plunge and go after a franchise quarterback of the future. He’ll need to do so with a first round pick.
Don’t let that scare you. I hear people all the time talk about how risky it is to take a quarterback in the first round. That’s just not true. Sure, when they fail (i.e. Russell), you hear about it. But the fact remains that we don’t dwell on all of the first round quarterbacks who succeed and become starters. In fact, heading into week eight, 24 of the NFL’s 32 teams list a quarterback taken in the top 32 picks of his draft class on top of their depth charts.
That list includes the Raiders and Carson Palmer. Sadly, Palmer is a shell of the player that he was two or three years into what was once a promising young career. In fact, not since the third year of his career has he sustained a quarterback rating of 90 or better throughout an entire season. Not since 2006 has Palmer posted numbers that anyone would consider elite.
The 2012 Oakland Raiders have a collection of young talent at the skill positions that is likely to peak in the next 3-4 years. When they do, they’ll need a young and talented signal caller who also has the ability to make plays on his own to win games peaking with them. Carson Palmer won’t be that guy. That guy could be waiting for the Raiders to draft him in the middle of the first round of the 2013 draft.
The Raiders will likely draft somewhere between 6 and 20 in the first round of 2013. Guys like Aaron Murray of Georgia, Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, and Landry Jones of Oklahoma could all be there when the Raiders draft. Expect Reggie McKenzie to pull the trigger on one of them. When he does, expect that player to succeed immediately as a combined result of simplified playbooks that cater to young quarterback and the raw talent on the offensive side of Oakland’s roster.
With a young and energetic head coach, a football savvy G.M., and a wealth of talent at their disposal, the Oakland Raiders are poised to take a giant leap back to relevancy. Carson Palmer cannot be part of that leap.