The Las Vegas Raiders are in a fluid situation as a team at the NFL Combine, in the process of exploring all options at all positions going into the 2023 season.
The one position that has garnered the majority of headlines and attention has been quarterback. When the new league year begins, the team will have one quarterback signed on their active roster in Chase Garbers, with General Manager Dave Ziegler looking to potentially upgrade the position through the 2023 NFL Draft, trade or free agency.
Many expect the Raiders to take a quarterback early in this year's draft, and for good reason. They'll be interviewing a few quarterbacks at the NFL Combine, with Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson and two-time National Champion Stetson Bennett being some of the players in attendance.
However, it's not something Ziegler will rush the process in addressing. He's more concerned with making the right decision from a longterm perspective.
"There's a lot more work to done, to be honest with you, to really say, 'Yeah I'm confident,'" Ziegler said of evaluating the position. "Where we're at now in the process is we've watched a lot of film on the players. And that's important to get an idea of what the value is, of who the player is. It's a real important part of the process. That position in particular there's such an emphasis that we put on the neck up. ... And you can't get that part on the film.
"You can see decision making and processing, there's an element of it. But until you get in the room with a guy, get him on the [play-calling] board, eventually work through installs and see how they can retain information – this is the first step of that puzzle to do that."
Outside of quarterback, the Raiders are mining for diamonds at other positions as well. After trading their first and second round pick for Davante Adams last season, Ziegler selected guard Dylan Parham from Memphis with his first pick in the third round as the Raiders GM. Parham started all 17 games as a rookie and selected to the PFWA All-Rookie Team. Going into the 2023 draft, he has nine draft selections at his disposal, not including compensatory picks.
"[J]ust a couple of the positions on the surface that look like there's some depth to it – on the defensive side of the ball, the cornerback position looks like there's some healthy depth there throughout the position," Ziegler said of this year's draft class. "The tight end position's unique this year. I think this is probably one of the deeper tight end classes that I've seen maybe since I've been in the league, again on the surface, but there's quite a few players there."
Additionally, the Raiders are in a good place to bolster the team through free agency to be more be fine tuned on areas they can improve in the draft. Last year, they made a few splashy free agent signings that included Chandler Jones, Ameer Abdullah and Mack Hollins – all of which served as productive pieces of last season's roster. The Raiders were fairly quiet on the first day of free agency last offseason, but could jump in earlier this season.
"I think you can develop your philosophy before free agency starts," added Ziegler. "Sometimes that plan doesn't work out based off how the market materializes and things of that nature. We're always going to have a group of players, I would say, in free agency that you just know based on what the market is and what conversations are. If you want to get that player, you're gonna have to do that in the first couple of days of free agency.
"And then there's going to be another pool of players that you're going to make the decision on, like this position group or this player, whatever it may be. ... There's always going to be a player or two that you know that if you're going to do a deal, you're going to have to do that on the front side of free agency."
Take a look back at current Raiders' appearances at past NFL Scouting Combines.