Raiders Draft QB Tyler Wilson, but Is He the Starter?
In the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders added former Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson, a skilled and productive quarterback his junior year, though he had some struggles in 2012, his senior season.
The drafting of Wilson begs the question: Could Wilson be the Raiders' starting signal-caller in 2013? The Raiders have only two other quarterbacks on their roster, and neither is a slam-dunk to start.
Also, the Raiders are not going to compete for the Superbowl in 2013 so getting their new rookie QB some playing time may make sense for the Oakland brass.
Next: Looking at the QB competition
The Competition: Matt Flynn
Flynn and McKenzie go back to their time together in Green Bay, and the assumption is that Flynn would be the most likely starter at QB for the Raiders this year.
Flynn does not have much starting experience, having been drafted as a backup to All Pro Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and then losing the QB battle to rookie Russell Wilson in Seattle in 2012.
Although Flynn has had a great deal of success in terms of putting up large passing stats in his limited starts, he's still a very unknown quantity behind center. We might ask if his statistical success was simply more a product of the Green Bay team around him.
Flynn has a career passer rating of 61.7 percent compiled over 37 games, but only two of those games were starts.
The Competition: Terrelle Pryor
Pryor was the last pick ever made by the late Al Davis, and he fits the mold of the type of player Davis liked—tall (6'6"), athletic and fast. When he ran the 40 at his pro day, several scouts hand-timed him at under 4.4 seconds.
With Davis' passing, the new front office and coaching staff hasn't taken the same shine to Pryor and despite the Raiders' struggles last year, head coach Dennis Allen resisted putting Pryor under center until there was pressure from higher in the organization to do so.
Pryor has only one start under his belt—week 17 of 2012—which demonstrated both his promise and his weaknesses. He passed for two TDs and ran in for a third but also completed less than half of his passes for only 150 total passing yards and an interception.
Pryor has the physical ability to be spectacular, but the biggest knock on him has always been that he is inconsistent and lacks the technical expertise to rise to the next level.
The Rookie: Tyler Wilson
Wilson has the physical skills to come into camp and compete right away. At 6'2", 215 pounds, he is solid enough to be behind center and take the hits that an NFL QB must be prepared to absorb.
He doesn't have Peyton Manning's "laser-rocket arm" but he has enough arm strength to make all of the throws an NFL QB must make.
Perhaps the biggest weakness for Wilson is his hand size. Hand size is important for a QB because it allows them to grip the ball and get good spin on throws. A QB's hand size affects the accuracy and speed of a ball, especially on deep throws where the amount of spin on a ball allows it to travel more easily through the air.
Unsurprisingly, the deep ball is one of Wilson's biggest weaknesses. While he has the arm strength to get the ball down the field, he is inconsistent with his ball placement, and sometimes his throws come out very wobbly which affects his accuracy.
He also has a tendency to put too much air under deep throws so defenders have the time to get to the receiver and stop the play.
Another knock on Wilson is that he possesses a longer wind-up on his throws than coaches would like. This is exhibited a bit in the photo but is even more pronounced on other throws when he allows his arm to dip below his waist.
This wind-up gives opposing safeties valuable time to anticipate a throw and jump routes or get into position to break up the pass.
On the positive for Wilson, he has the intangibles that coaches love. He's a natural leader, confident and charismatic. He's known for his toughness, taking hits but standing in the pocket to throw a pass at the last minute.
Again, he can make all of the necessary throws so the arm-motion mechanics, while not ideal, are not overly detrimental. He has all of the tools necessary to be a starter in the NFL.
Who Is the Raiders' Starting QB?
The Raiders believe in open competition at all positions, so the starting QB position truly can go to any of the three QBs mentioned.
However, the strong likelihood is that Matt Flynn is the starting QB on week one of the 2013 regular season.
Flynn has the most (albeit only slightly in the case of starts) NFL experience. He spent four years in Green Bay learning how to play the position behind one of the best, Aaron Rodgers.
Flynn may not be a long-term solution, but he can be the bridge QB that the Raiders need in 2013 and potentially 2014 as well. Flynn becomes a free agent in 2015.
The Raiders have the luxury of opening up the starting position in camp to see how the three quarterbacks fare before having to make their final decision.
However, unless Wilson comes in and far exceeds the more experienced Flynn, the Raiders can take their time with Wilson, allowing him to acclimate to the speed of the NFL and work on improving his mechanics so that he can be the team's franchise QB only when he's ready.