Growing buzz suggests Las Vegas Raiders could make surprise choice with 13th overall pick

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders have the 13th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft order, providing general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Antonio Pierce with an opportunity to land a blue-chip talent. With Thursday’s draft closing in, there’s building buzz on which player the Raiders will draft in Round 1.

Among the Raiders draft needs in 2024 are cornerback, edge rusher, quarterback and the offensive line. Las Vegas will have its choice of young talent at several of those positions, but the team has also made several attempts this offseason to trade up for a better pick.

Related: Top 2024 NFL Draft prospects wants to play for the Las Vegas Raiders

Realistically, the only position Las Vegas would trade up for at the current asking price of teams with top-five picks is a quarterback. It comes down to positional value, with clubs like the Arizona Cardinals (fourth overall pick) and Los Angeles Chargers (fifth overall pick) seeking three first-round picks. For the Raiders and every other team, that cost is only justifiable for a quarterback.

With a trade-up unlikely to happen for Las Vegas, it’s highly unlikely that the team will land Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, or J.J. McCarthy. Instead, Telesco and Pierce appear poised to stay put and there is reportedly more buzz hinting at who the Raiders will draft in 2024 with their first-round selection.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders HC, GM reportedly ‘split’ on QB decision

Who will the Raiders draft this year?

According to ESPN’s Matt Miller, there is ‘constant’ chatter that the Raiders love quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and he is very much in play to be selected 13th overall on Thursday night.

It’s a significant change from where things stood at the start of the pre-draft process. At that time, NFL teams had massive concerns regarding Penix Jr’s medicals following a collegiate career that included four season-ending surgeries including a pair of ACL tears.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders mock draft 2024: Building the team and finding a QB

He’s also one of the older quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft, turning 24 years old later this year. For perspective, he will be the same age in his rookie season as Trevor Lawrence in his fourth year in the NFL.

Even with Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell on the Raiders depth chart at quarterback, it appears Las Vegas wants a better option. Penix Jr. is a surefire starter with the arm strength, decision-making and experience to fit well in the Raiders’ system. While he would largely be viewed as a reached if he’s chosen 13th overall, the importance of stability at quarterback and the value of a rookie-scale contract for a starting quarterback can justify it from the Raiders’ perspective.

Related: 2024 NFL Draft quarterback rankings

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