Tom Telesco: Raiders To Hold QB Competition Between Aidan O’Connell, Gardner Minshew

The Raiders were among the teams most frequently linked to a move up the first-round draft order aimed at securing one of the class’ top quarterbacks. Jayden Daniels in particular was a key target, and head coach Antonio Pierce was reportedly more willing than general manager Tom Telesco to put together a trade-up move on Day.

In the end, though, Vegas retained the No. 13 pick. Somewhat surprisingly, that allowed the team to add tight end Brock Bowers, one of the prospects deemed a lock to hear his name called in the top 10. Bowers – who has inked his rookie deal – will no doubt play a notable role during his rookie season, but it remains to be seen who he will be catching passes from in 2024.

The Raiders turned to Aidan O’Connell to close out the 2023 season. As a rookie, the former fourth-rounder posted a passer rating of 83.9 while registering a 12:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He drew praise from Pierce ahead of the draft, with the latter suggesting O’Connell would be in pole position for any summer QB competition. His rival for the QB1 spot, of course, is veteran Gardner Minshew.

After serving as the Colts’ starter for much of the 2023 campaign, Minshew inked a two-year, $25MM deal in free agency. The 27-year-old is far more experienced than O’Connell, and he could provide the Raiders with a higher floor during the transition to a new coaching staff this year. Both passers will have an avenue to the starting gig this summer, though.

“That’s the plan is to have both those guys really compete through the offseason program, but more so in training camp, and we’ll see how it plays out,” Telesco said of O’Connell and Minshew during an appearance on NFL Total Access. “I thought Aidan did an excellent job last year in a really difficult situation where the head coach changed, the coordinator changed, and he played really good football down the stretch.

“And then with Gardner, you know, Gardner played well last year with the Colts. I mean, he was in the Pro Bowl, so obviously had a pretty good year. He’s always performed at a high level when he’s given that opportunity, so to have both those guys here competing for the job, we’ll see how it goes.”

Six signal-callers were drafted in the first round, and at least three of them (Caleb Williams, Daniels and Bo Nix) will likely begin the season atop the depth chart. The other Day 1 selections – Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr. and J.J. McCarthy – are positioned to take over as QB1 in the relatively near future on their respective teams. That will likely lead to few genuine training camp competitions under center in 2024, but the Raiders will be a team to watch closely on that front.

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