I know there is plenty of time for NFL Draft conjecture, but now that we know the Oakland Raiders have the top pick in the 2007 Draft, let me just say that Oakland absolutely has to take Brady Quinn.
They passed on Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler last year because they supposedly had quarterbacks for the present (Aaron Brooks) and the future (Andrew Walter). The guy they took instead — safety Michael Huff — had an up-and-down season (at best) and while he might wind up being worth the No. 7 pick, I don’t see how Oakland can remain convinced that they are set at the quarterback position. Even an organization as out of touch as the Raiders has to realize they need a new signal caller.
Brooks is clearly done as an NFL quarterback, but it was the play of Walter in 2006 that made for the bigger story. While it is true that the former Sun Devil played for a very bad coach, had an offensive coordinator fresh off a bed-and-breakfast stint, was armed with a No. 1 wide receiver that rarely tried, and dropped back behind the worst offensive line in football, that still doesn’t excuse just how awful he was. Walter completed 53.3% of his passes, threw 13 picks with just three touchdowns, and compiled a horrific 55.8 QB rating. Plus, he mouthed off a couple of times and showed very few leadership qualities. Oh yeah, and he was also injury prone. Pretty solid all the way around.
Fortunately for the Raiders, Quinn looks like the real deal. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Quinn’s biggest weakness is the pass rush. When he has time to throw he can dice up any defense, but when the rush is on (see: the UCLA and Michigan games), he has a rough go of it. This means that if Oakland is to draft Quinn, they will need to spend the rest of their offseason fixing that miserable o-line. They need a new … well, pretty much everything, including left tackle (Robert Gallery isn’t very good, folks).
In fact, the offensive line is so bad that the Raiders may be tempted to go that way on draft day, especially with Wisconsin’s Joe Thomas available. To me this, would be a mistake, as would the selection of Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson, because while you need to give a quarterback blocking and a guy to throw to (and with Moss on his way out, Johnson could slide right in), you need the quarterback first and foremost.
And the Raiders definitely don’t have that.