Anonymous Execs Believe Raiders QB Aidan O’Connell Would Be a First-Round Pick in 2024 NFL Draft

Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell is looking to retain the starting job in Las Vegas this season. Where would O'Connell rank in this year's draft class?

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O’Connell finished up his rookie campaign as the starting quarterback and will look to keep the gig in 2024.

In a recent episode of the “Las Vegas Raiders Insider Podcast,” Hondo Carpenter Sr. talked about quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft class and discussed an interesting question about O’Connell.

Where Would Aidan O’Connell Rank in This Year’s NFL Draft Class?

Carpenter shared the following question he was asked by a listener with four NFL executives: “Where would Aidan O’Connell rate in this class if you were drafting today?”

“I liked Aidan O’Connell last year. I liked him better the year before when we had a first-round grade on him,” one executive said. “But I understood last year he didn’t have the talent around him, Purdue had a harder schedule, the death of his brother, there were a lot of things.

“After what I saw last year, I would have Aidan O’Connell worthy of a top-10 pick this year. I understand there were some things that he didn’t do. But I have heard you use the analogy before: ‘A quarter horse would blow away a thoroughbred in a quarter-mile race. But a thoroughbred would destroy a quarter horse in a mile-and-a-half race.’

“It’s two different horses for two different lengths. A lot of people would be critical of Aidan O’Connell for several things he didn’t do last year, and I would agree he didn’t do them.”

O’Connell started 10 games as a rookie, tossing for 2,218 yards and 12 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Following the dismissal of Josh McDaniels midway through the season, O’Connell took over the starting gig permanently from Jimmy Garoppolo. The rookie started the final nine games as the Raiders went 5-4, including winning three of their final four.

The 25-year-old showed flashes but also struggled at times — including in the Christmas Day win over the Kansas City Chiefs when he completed just nine of 21 passes for 62 yards.

Will O’Connell Be the Starter This Season?

O’Connell is set to battle free-agent addition Gardner Minshew II this offseason for the starting job, and Vegas could also add a rookie to the equation during next week’s draft.

“I think especially at this level, and I thought the same thing at Purdue, but especially at this level, there’s going to be competition,” O’Connell said via the team’s official website. “I mean, it’s the best of the best. The coaches and administration want to bring in the best players possible to try to make the team better, and the best guys are going to play, so I’m just trying to do my job.”

KEEP READING: Strength of Schedule

Minshew proved last season in Indy he’s a reliable starter. He made 13 starts in 2023, setting a career-high in passing yards with 3,305 and limiting himself to nine interceptions.

The Raiders are one of several teams that could pick a first-round quarterback next Thursday. Sitting at No. 13, the question is whether new general manager Tom Telesco would trade assets to move up or whether Vegas’ preferred QB might fall to it. The Raiders could also add a rookie signal-caller to the mix on Day 2 or 3.

Regardless of how it all plays out, O’Connell is ready to fight for the job.

“It’s new at this level for me, but it’s nothing new in terms of the competition,” O’Connell said. “It’s been even since high school, what I’ve been dealing with and working through. That’s just part of the game. It’s not unique to any one position, it’s how it is at every position.”

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