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Las Vegas Raiders did ‘extensive work’ on 2021 quarterback class, potential draft-day trade options

Las Vegas Raiders schedule, 2021 predictions
Dec 13, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden looks at quarterback Derek Carr against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr might need to start worrying about his job security again. The 2021 NFL Draft is just days away and it seems Jon Gruden is once again considering another way to replace the franchise’s starting quarterback.

Quarterback controversy is nothing new for Las Vegas. The Raiders were a rumored landing spot for Tom Brady last spring, but couldn’t land him. Then, Gruden went out and signed Marcus Mariota to provide a challenge for Carr. This offseason, Las Vegas took calls on Carr and was mentioned as a trade destination for Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson.

Carr will enter the 2021 season as the Raiders’ starting quarterback. But it appears Gruden and the Raiders’ front office are giving real consideration to finding someone to take over in the future.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Raiders have done extensive work on this year’s quarterback class. While they won’t be moving into the top-10 picks, a trade is possible if one of the top talents makes it past the Dallas Cowboys.

Las Vegas Raiders mock draft: 7-round 2021 NFL Draft projections with trades

If Las Vegas is serious about moving up from the No. 17 pick, there are a few avenues they could explore on April 29.

Potential Raiders’ draft-day trades

Las Vegas Raiders
Jan 28, 2021; American quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama (10) looks for a pass opportunity during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to rule out Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, since both are already preparing for their respective NFL teams (Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets). After that, there is plenty of debate about where Mac Jones, Trey Lance and Justin Fields will be drafted.

Jones is favored to be the No. 3 pick, the personal preference for head coach Kyle Shanahan. But the 49ers paid a staggering cost to move up to that spot and might ultimately prefer a quarterback with more physical talent. If Jones slips past San Francisco, he could be in for a draft-day slide.

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Fields reportedly won’t make it past the No. 8 pick, likely taking him out of consideration for Las Vegas. That leaves Lance, who made a strong impression on scouts and coaches who attended his second Pro Day. There are plenty of teams looking to move into the top 10 to draft him and the Denver Broncos might be the floor at No. 9.

If one of the quarterbacks falls, the Raiders’ first call will be to the New York Giants. While general manager Dave Gettleman has never traded down in the first round, he says he is open to it this year. It would take some convincing – Gettleman believes other general managers get ripped off when they trade down – but a deal might be possible.

  • Las Vegas Raiders trade: 17th overall, 48th overall pick, 167th overall pick
  • New York Giants trade: 11th pick, 116th pick

Based on Gettleman’s history, the Giants won’t be trading down. Fortunately, since the organization is committed to Daniel Jones, that would push the falling quarterback to No. 12. There’s a chance the Eagles might roll the dice, but they have bigger needs and are collecting future draft capital.

  • Philadelphia Eagles send: 12th overall pick
  • Las Vegas Raiders send: 17th overall pick, 121st pick, 2022 second- and fourth-round picks

In this scenario, the Raiders hang onto most of their 2021 draft capital. Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock can use their Day 2 selections to address the offensive and defensive lines. When their quarterback is ready to start in 2022, Carr can be flipped next spring for far more capital than they paid to move up.

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We’ll rule out the Los Angeles Chargers (No. 13 overall) as a spot to move up, given they wouldn’t want to help a divisional opponent. But the Minnesota Vikings might be willing to move down a few spots, especially given their positional needs.

  • Las Vegas Raiders trade: 17th pick, 80th pick
  • Minnesota Vikings trade: 14th pick

Ultimately, all five of the top quarterbacks will likely be off the board within the first 10 picks. So, the Raiders will either need to get overaggressive or accept that they won’t land one of this year’s coveted passers. Considering how many holes are on the roster, this team is better off staying put and keeping Carr.