SALT LAKE CITY — Last year, one of the buzz-worthy topics surrounding the NFL scouting combine revolved around Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim calling Josh Rosen their quarterback “right now.”
That phrase “right now” proved to be as short-lived as it sounds, as the Cardinals drafted Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft and moved on from Rosen, who was traded to Miami just one year after he entered the league.
There were seeds for rumors sown Tuesday as NFL general managers met with the media at this year’s combine. This time, the vote of confidence in question came from Raiders GM Mike Mayock about his quarterback, Derek Carr.
“I’m very happy with Derek Carr. What I’ve told everybody I’ve been in touch with since the day I took this job is we’re going to evaluate every position every year, and if we can get better, we will,” Mayock said, per ESPN. “Guys get tired of me saying that, but that’s really what I told (Raiders owner) Mark Davis before I took the job and that’s my mantra.”
“You look at the Raiders, you think of the coach. Coach Gruden, being able to play for him, that’s someone else I watched growing up. You’ve got the show, you’re heard a lot about him, he’s a quarterback guru, that’s who you want to play with.” — Jordan Love
It’s the latest rumor surrounding Carr’s future with the franchise and a storyline worth watching in Utah, as Utah State quarterback Jordan Love has been linked with the Las Vegas organization. Love is one of the top quarterback prospects at this year’s combine, a potential first-round option.
Working with Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who’s known around the NFL for his ability to mold quarterbacks, would be appealing to Love, he said.
“You look at the Raiders, you think of the coach. Coach Gruden, being able to play for him, that’s someone else I watched growing up. You’ve got the show, you’re heard a lot about him, he’s a quarterback guru, that’s who you want to play with,” Love said Tuesday, per USA Today’s Doug Farrar.
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks projected Las Vegas would select Love with the 2020 draft’s 12th overall pick in his latest mock draft released Tuesday morning.
“After watching their division rivals hoist the Lombardi Trophy due to a draft day quarterback gamble that changed the course of the franchise, the Raiders could roll the dice on an ultra-talented prospect with MVP potential,” Brooks wrote.
Like Love, Carr is a Mountain West Conference product — the Fresno State star was drafted by the Raiders in the second round of the 2014 draft. He’s started 94 games for the franchise since, throwing for 22,793 yards, 143 touchdowns and 62 interceptions while earning three Pro Bowl nods.
The Raiders, though, have reached the postseason just once during the Carr era — a 27-14 loss to Houston in the 2016 wild-card round. Carr hasn’t had a winning record as the starting quarterback since leading the team to that 2016 playoffs appearance and he’s 39-55 all-time as an NFL starter.
Love is one of a handful of quarterbacks linked this offseason with Las Vegas. Perhaps the most intriguing is New England’s six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent if a contract with the Patriots — his home for all 20 of his NFL seasons — isn’t agreed upon prior to the NFL’s free agency period opening in three weeks on March 18.
The rumors and smokescreens — a staple of the NFL offseason — have led to uncertainty whether Carr will be under center for the Raiders next season. Could Love, who excelled for the Aggies at Maverik Stadium in Logan, find himself suiting up as a rookie for a franchise moving from Oakland to Las Vegas and equally as fresh Allegiant Stadium, seven and a half hours from his college home?
In two months, there will be an answer. The 2020 NFL draft takes place April 23-25, in Las Vegas.
“Every position gets evaluated every year. And if we can upgrade it, we will,” Mayock said, per ESPN.