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Top quarterback prospects speak highly of Antonio Pierce, Raiders at NFL Combine

While it's near certain the Raiders will acquire another quarterback soon, what's not yet set in stone is how the team will get him.

General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Antonio Pierce have both spoken recently about the quarterback position, claiming no stone will be unturned in the search. In the midst of this process, they could look at what options are available in the free agent market or select one of the quarterbacks they've spoken with so far in Indianapolis.

"The two for me are probably leadership and toughness. I think you have to start with that," Telesco said, describing the traits he's looking for in a QB. "He's got to be somebody that when you're in the huddle and those 10 other players are looking you in the eyes, that you can lead that group and you've got to have that."

In what's considered a deep quarterback class, the Silver and Black have reportedly had formal or informal interviews with nearly all of the prospects at that position group. Currently holding the No. 13 pick in the first round, a prime example of a prospect they could draft in that spot is Washington's Michael Penix, who was the 2023 Heisman Trophy runner-up and led the nation in passing yards.

"A lot of guys speak highly about Coach AP [Antonio Pierce] and the things he's able to do," said Penix. "I was able to see him and meet him, pretty cool guy."

J.J. McCarthy, coming off winning a national championship at Michigan, is another player who could be sitting for the Raiders at No. 13. The All-Big-12 quarterback pointed out Friday during media availability that he has familiarity with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who's previously coached with McCarthy's quarterback coach, Kirk Campbell, at Michigan.

"It went great," McCarthy said of his meeting with the Raiders. "They asked great questions, great interactions and Coach Pierce was awesome. Great energy."

The possibilities of trading up in the draft are also still on the table, with North Carolina's Drake Maye and Heisman Trophy winners Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels projected to be selected with the top three picks. Maye, the 2022 ACC Player of the Year, commended Pierce for the job he's done with the Raiders since taking over initially as interim head coach.

"I have so much respect for him for earning the right of the guys, and getting the nod from the program is pretty cool," Maye said. "It went well in [the interview], getting to meet some of those guys. They watched some film with me, some good plays, some bad plays, we got it all."

Jayden Daniels has arguably been the quarterback most linked to the Raiders through the pre-draft period considering his relationship with Antonio Pierce. While Pierce was the linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator at Arizona State, he recruited Daniels who instantly became the starter for the Sun Devils as a true freshman. In three seasons, Daniels showed flashes of greatness with 32 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns.

"I'm just proud of him," Pierce said of Daniels. "When I was recruiting Jayden, he was 150 pounds wet. They were like, 'Why you getting this little skinny kid from San Bernardino?' But what I saw is a winner. I saw a guy that was really competitive, always out to prove people wrong. Been doubted his whole life because of size or certain attributes about himself physically or mentally. I think all he's done is prove people wrong."

As Pierce left Arizona State to become the linebackers coach for the Raiders in 2022, Daniels made a change of his own and transferred to LSU. It was in Baton Rouge he became a household name, leading the way for the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation and leading the NCAA in total yards and passer efficiency rating. He was the second LSU quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy in the past five seasons, and media experts are high on the hypothetical situation of Daniels and Pierce reuniting in the pros.

"AP is a great guy. He's the right guy for the job," Daniels told CBS Sports. "If I hear my name called on draft day, I hear my phone call ring and it's AP, I don' know what I'll do. We'll see, but right now I'm just blessed. I'm taking it day by day and I'll let everybody else handle that. ... I'm focused on being the best player, the best version of myself."

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Take a look back at current Raiders' appearances at past NFL Scouting Combines.

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