Raiders should be looking at young backup QBs

This article is being written in response to the outcry for Jason Campbell and also in regards to the Raiders working out rookie quarterbacks like Tim Tebow and Mike Kafka. Both of those rookies have an upside and I certainly wouldn’t mind if the Raiders brought in Jason Campbell. But my football minded self tells me that there are better options available and that Oakland should take a look at some backups who have been in the league a while before opening the door to a new rookie or Campbell. After all, Oakland’s most successful quarterbacks have been veterans who’ve been around the league a bit. Hey, if the Seahawks are willing to give up a3rd round pick for Charlie Whitehurst, the Raiders should be willing to part with a later pick for one of these guys.

It’s not that I’m convinced that trading for Jason Campbell is a bad choice; I just don’t think Campbell is any better than what Oakland already has on staff. Sure he has a good completion percentage, but he also has been throwing to Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Antwaan Randel El, and Clinton Portis for his entire career. I don’t see any wide receivers or running backs in Oakland that have led the team in rushing yards or receptions for five of the last six years. To be quite frank, Oakland doesn’t currently have anything close to that kind of stability at any position exceptperhaps Kirk Morrison, who the team is prepared to get rid of. So taking Jason Campbell out of D.C. might prove to be more of a headache than it would initially appear to be on paper. Campbell has shown very little leadership skills and obviously he is not that fantasticbeing that he could never takeWashington to the next level. How is he going to have such a fantastic turnaround in Oakland?

Another guy on the Washington roster might be a better idea for a trade. I’m speaking of Colt Brennan. This 6’3” 212 pound quarterback might actually have a future. He made a name for himself at Hawaii. Let me just say that one more time for good measure, he made a name for himself at Hawaii. Let that sink in for a second… At Hawaii, he had a distinguished three-year career, breaking 31 NCAA records. He holds the NCAA record with 131 touchdown passes in just 38 career games. He was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in both his junior and senior seasons andin 2006 he was the recipient of the Sammy Baugh Award, given to the nation’s top passer.

After the 2007 season, the #10 ranked Warriors earned a bowl bid to play in one of the major college bowl games, the Sugar Bowl, against the #5 Georgia Bulldogs. While they lost the game 41-10, it does not discount what Brennan did during his time at the school. And since they haven’t been able to obtain such success since,it seems obviousthat much ofthat successwas due to the fact that Brennan who went as far asgrowing dreadlocks to better bond with his wide receivers, and learned enough of the Samoan language that he used it to call plays and audibles from the line of scrimmage. While Brennan has yet to throw a pass in the NFL ina game that counts, he has produced some good preseason work during his time there.

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During the time of the Donovan McNabb trade rumor rumblings there were also rumors of the Raiders looking into trading for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels. There is another quarterback on the Vikings roster that is of much more interest to me if I am the Raiders. I’d be willing to bet that Tarvaris Jackson has a chip on his shoulder that just keeps growing larger at this point. I mean here is a guy who has thrown for nearly 60 percent completions during his short career, but has been tooled around by an organization that has very little faith in him. Sure he has made some knuckle head plays during his time there, but that just goes along with the growing pains of being a young NFL QB (Here’s a little bone for Al Davis, he’s really fast!)

During the 2007 season the 6’2″ 225 pound Jackson did not live up to the Vikings’ expectations despite finishing 8-4 as a starter. Makes you wonder what kind of high expectations the team set for the guy. Oakland would probably give like $60 million to a guy who could lead his team to eight wins in a season. He did have a rough season, and experts attributed the Vikings 8 wins that year to running backs Chester Taylor and rookie Adrian Peterson taking pressure off of Jackson and the defense. The next year, the Vikings made the playoffs with a wild card spot, but lost in the first round to Philadelphia. Right now, the former second round pick has been tendered by the Vikings at a third round pick status.

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The last guy I think the raiders should take a look at before Jason Campbell or another rookie project quarterback is a former protégé of new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. I’m speaking of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Troy Smith. This is a guy who Oakland fans have been calling for all offseason, but it appears that the Raiders are either not going to or not ready to make a move for this fifth round tendered, 2006 Heisman trophy winner from Ohio State.

In winning the 2006 Heisman Trophy, Smith took a record 86.7 percent of the first place votes. His tally of 2,540 votes was the third largest behind 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, Reggie Bush of the USC (2,541 votes) and 1968 Heisman winner O.J. Simpson, also from USC (2,853 votes). In 2005, the Buckeyes only lost one game with Smith starting as their QB. They played the BCS National Championship game against Texas that year, but Smith did not start for them and Texas won the game. The following year, Smith did start in the National Championship games against the Florida Gators, but the Buckeyes were rolled up by the Florida Gators 41-14. Smith completed just four of 14 passes for 35 yards along with an interception, a fumble, and was sacked 5 times. It is believed that because of that performance, his NFL draft stock dropped significantly. Also at 6’0″ his height was also considered a liability.

But Smith has come a long way since those days under the tutelage of Hue Jackson. He was scheduled to start the 2008 season before he got sick with tonsillitis prior to the third preseason game. Joe Flacco won the job due to Smiths illness and the rest is history. Smith can currently be had in Oakland in exchange for a fifth round draft pick. For his small size, he has a laser of an arm. He also makes a ton of plays with his feet and showed great speed, elusiveness, and QB vision during his time with the Buckeyes.

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Now don’t get me wrong; I am among those who think that Bruce Gradkowski can actually be a long term solution for Oakland and so far nobody has given me any legitimate reason to think otherwise. But if Oakland is looking for a guy to be their future, I think they should go with one of these guys. Or perhaps, just perhaps, there is someone else who I am overlooking. What do you think Raider Nation…is there a guy in the league already who is ready to take over as a number one quarterback of the future tomorrow?

– Bret Armstrong, TFDS Guest Contributor

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

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