Raiders coach Josh McDaniels not ruling out drafting quarterback: 'We'll see how the board falls'

Don't count out the Las Vegas Raiders from drafting a quarterback. Possibly even with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels told NFL Network's Steve Wyche on Monday at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix that the team is not ruling out the drafting of a quarterback following the signing of Jimmy Garoppolo.

"I think we would take the best player," McDaniels said. "We've kind of said that since we came here. I think we think that's the right way to go. (General manager Dave Ziegler) and I both believe in that: Take the best football player. It always makes your football team better."

Following a 6-11 season, the Raiders need plenty at other positions to make their team better. That record included losses to the Colts in Jeff Saturday's coaching debut and to the Rams two days after Baker Mayfield signed and played nearly the entire game. The Raiders also were giftwrapped a win thanks to a boneheaded Patriots lateral in the final seconds.

Garoppolo is expected to help. The 49ers had a 38-17 record in parts of six seasons with Garoppolo as the starting QB, and he was 2-0 as a starter before that with the Patriots with McDaniels calling plays. 

The 49ers were 13-19 in games started by all other quarterbacks from the day Garoppolo arrived in San Francisco. But as relatively impressive as that record reflects on Garoppolo, that statistic inherently shows the Raiders' need to add to the QB room. Garoppolo's injury history is lengthy, having suffered season-ending injuries in three of the past five seasons.

"So we only have one quarterback under contract, plus Chase Garbers, who's the rookie free agent last year," McDaniels said. "So there (are) only two of them total."

The upcoming draft is certainly one option, but McDaniels suggested that the Raiders aren't just counting on the draft for QB help, however.

"I'd say there's a chance we're going to end up adding to the quarterback room in free agency here, continuing to move forward," McDaniels said, "and then also we're looking at every guy in the draft, too. So we're doing our work. We're doing our due diligence. We'll see how the board falls."

But the Raiders also brought in Garoppolo for a reason. McDaniels believes he's what the team needs, especially following the offseason exits of franchise pillars Derek Carr and Darren Waller.

"I think (Garoppolo has) had a lot of important experience," McDaniels said. "He's played in a lot of big games, he's won, he's a winner, and he's been a great leader. 

"I got to see that just a little bit in New England when I was with him, but I definitely have seen it from afar when he was in San Francisco. Really proud of what he's done when he left us and went to Kyle (Shanahan) and John (Lynch) in San Francisco. Really a competitive guy. He's a guy that brings the team together. Really good leader, exceptional in that regard. Looking forward to his impact on our team."

On releasing Carr and trading Waller, McDaniels said "those decisions weren't easy to come by." Before those moves could be made, the coach said he spent Year 1 in Vegas reconnoitering the landscape, figuring out "who's there, what they do, what they don't do," which gave McDaniels "a better idea of what you need to do going forward."

If McDaniels' better idea includes the possibility of drafting Garoppolo's successor with their first-round pick, he's not saying. But he's certainly not ruling it out, either.

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