Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell will start his first game for the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 4, relieving Jimmy Garoppolo against the Los Angeles Chargers. Where did O’Connell play college football, and how much did he produce at the collegiate level?
Where Did Aidan O’Connell Play College Football?
O’Connell spent his entire four-year college football playing career with the Purdue Boilermakers. He was on Purdue’s roster as far back as 2017 but was a preferred walk-on who didn’t see any game action until 2019.
In 2019, O’Connell started three games and played well enough to retain the starting job heading into 2020. However, midway through the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he suffered a season-ending injury, and Jack Plummer took over as starter for the remaining three games.
Plummer played well enough to return as the initial starter in 2021. But after a loss to Notre Dame and an ineffective showing against Illinois, Plummer was benched for O’Connell, who took the job and kept it all the way to the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.
Aidan O’Connell’s College Stats
O’Connell is a 25-year-old NFL rookie, but he didn’t have an extended stint as Purdue’s full-time starter until the 2021 campaign. Nevertheless, O’Connell managed to put up massive numbers for the Boilermakers, and he etched his name into several all-time passing categories with the program.
All totaled, O’Connell completed 826 of 1,238 attempts (66.7%) for 9,219 yards, 65 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions in his four-year playing career.
O’Connell earned consecutive second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2021 and 2022, led Purdue to a Music City Bowl victory against Josh Heupel’s Tennessee Volunteers in 2021, and made a Big Ten Championship game appearance in 2022.
Drew Brees still holds the first-place spot in all of Purdue’s career passing metrics, but O’Connell put himself on the list. Despite playing only two full seasons, O’Connell is sixth all-time among Boilermakers in passing yards (9,219) and fifth in passing touchdowns (65).
O’Connell’s yardage total of 3,712 in 2021 is Purdue’s fifth-highest season mark. In that storied 2021 campaign, O’Connell also put up two of the top-four highest single-game yardage outputs in Purdue history. Against Michigan State, he racked up 536 passing yards. And in the Music City Bowl victory versus Tennessee, he hit 534 passing yards.
When Was Aidan O’Connell Drafted?
O’Connell was drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, with the 135th overall pick. He was the eighth signal-caller selected in the draft.
O’Connell’s production at Purdue helped earn him a spot on the East-West Shrine Bowl roster in February 2023 as one of the premier NFL Draft prospects on the 2023 circuit.
O’Connell competed for the East team, and his practice week showing — throwing with consistent accuracy, serving as a leader, and building quick chemistry with his receivers — may have influenced the Raiders’ decision to draft him in April.
To see O’Connell’s full pre-draft evaluation, you can view his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report here at Pro Football Network.