Trading for Matt Schaub Shouldn't Keep Raiders from Drafting QB in First Round

Dan Wilkins@@DanWilkinsNFLCorrespondent IIApril 7, 2014

Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub  gestures while speaking during a news conference Friday, March 21, 2014, at the NFL football team's practice facility in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot

Arguably the Oakland Raiders’ biggest move in what has already been a busy offseason was the trade with the Houston Texans that landed them their new starting quarterback: Matt Schaub.

Schaub instantly gives the Raiders the kind of established veteran presence that the team has lacked at the position since the early 2000s with Rich Gannon—and has been in search of ever since. 

Statistically speaking, Schaub was among the NFL’s top passers during his time in Houston, throwing for over 4,000 yards in each of the seasons he remained the starter throughout.

Of course, the move, which saw the Raiders send a sixth-round selection Houston’s way, didn’t come without criticism.

Schaub is coming off a difficult season for both him and the Texans, where the offense he led dropped off in a big way from years prior.

He has received most of the blame, but that is simply the nature of the quarterback position.

With a closer look, what we witnessed was an offense—built around the success of a running game—lose its ability to run the ball. As a result, they became increasingly predictable in their passing attack, and opposing teams capitalized in a big way.

As bad as it looked at the time, the somewhat disastrous 2013 season does little to diminish the otherwise respectable career Schaub has put together as a quarterback. It should be considered more of an outlier than anything else.

The Raiders will now have a quarterback that is experienced at the NFL level, has been a part of playoff teams and has proven capable of making every throw on the field.

Patric Schneider

Having said that, Schaub will turn 33 years old before the upcoming season, and while some consider this the age of a quarterback’s prime, the Raiders’ future at the position still needs to be addressed. 

Initially, this trade likely changed the thought processes of many in regards to what direction the Raiders will go in the first round of the upcoming draft, but it shouldn’t. 

Although the Schaub trade has potential to work out well for the Raiders in the short term, it should not deter them from selecting a quarterback in the first round should the one they most highly covet be available when they are on the clock. 

With Schaub penciled in as the starter, a popular argument will be that the Raiders are better off addressing more immediate needs and targeting a quarterback either later on or in future drafts.

While pressure from ownership has many putting Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen in “win now” mode, the Raiders would be wise to avoid that way of thinking.

When considering the future of this team, and what has been a lengthy rebuilding process finally starting to be done the right way, determining the future of the team's quarterback position should be considered an immediate need itself.

With the fifth overall selection, the Raiders have a great opportunity to take care of that need right now, but such a move is up for quite the debate. 

Now that the draft has become one of the most highly followed and anticipated events on the NFL calendar, analysis is certain to be plentiful and wide-ranging. 

Many see this year’s top quarterbacks as great options for teams with a need at that spot, while others will see them as overrated and not worthy of a top-ten or even first-round pick. 

What really matters, and what we have little to no knowledge of, is how these teams in the market for a quarterback—like the Raiders—grade that given prospect. Although there will be plenty of speculation surrounding that leading up to the draft, we just can’t know for sure how those evaluations are constructed until that time.

As such, and regardless of their offseason moves to this point, if there is a quarterback available in the first round that the Raiders think highly of, they should have no issue making the pick. 

Having a young quarterback in place that has the potential to lead your franchise for years to come is an opportunity that (as much of a steal as the Schaub trade may prove to be) the Raiders cannot afford to pass up.

Whether the Raiders end up taking Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Derek Carr or Blake Bortles at fifth overall, or anywhere else in the first round, there will certainly be many who disagree with the selection for a number of reasons.

Regardless, if the Raiders feel comfortable with one of these players and their potential as an NFL quarterback, it will be the right pick.

Some will call it a reach, but reaching is a term rendered irrelevant when we again consider that we don’t have access to the draft board of the team making the selection. As Bleacher Report’s Michael Schottey wrote this past week, there is no such thing as “reaching” when it comes to the NFL draft.

What is considered a “reach pick” by those on the outside, or even by other teams, could very well be a pick of value for the drafting team, but neither side can really be considered wrong until several years down the road.

With Schaub now in the picture, selecting a quarterback in the first would be a pick the Raiders make with those very future years in mind.

No, he may not play in his rookie season like we have grown accustomed to seeing from first-round quarterbacks, but as Reggie McKenzie said, that’s the Raiders’ ideal strategy in developing a young passer.

Of course, McKenzie was in Green Bay for the development of Aaron Rodgers, who sat and learned behind Brett Favre for several years before taking over and becoming arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. 

With first-round rookies now only signing four-year deals, such lengthy learning experiences are likely a thing of the past, but the idea of bringing a player along slowly for one season remains possible and does have value.

Considering there is no guaranteed money beyond the 2014 season in the re-structured deal Schaub signed after the trade, per Scott Bair of, such a one-year learning process is an extremely realistic situation for the Raiders and a rookie quarterback.

Overall, the Raiders taking a quarterback in the first round, and quite possibly at fifth overall, would come as a surprise to many, given both the acquisition of Matt Schaub and pressure on the current staff to win now.

Taking into account the negative reviews seeming to float around about all of this year’s top quarterbacks, such a move will certainly come with its share of scrutiny.

Sure, there is always the argument to wait until next year with an established veteran in the fold, but if you are Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders, selecting in the top ten in 2015 is the last thing in your plans. 

This is a draft where the Raiders know they have a top-five pick, and thus the draft where they have an opportunity to solidify the quarterback position for the foreseeable future.

Schaub may turn out to be a great find for the Raiders and could very well be exactly what they need in the short term, but if a quarterback they like is available at fifth overall, re-building this team with the future in mind means he should be the pick.


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