Coming into the final day of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Raiders backup options at the sport’s most important position were 37-year old Brian Hoyer and Chase Garbers, an undrafted QB who’s never thrown a pass in a NFL regular season game.
They needed a backup.
Hoyer has started 3 games in his past 5 seasons—not a great option as a backup to their new acquisition, Jimmy Garoppolo, who himself has missed 18 games in the last 3 seasons.
Enter Aidan O’Connell, a 6’3” QB out of Purdue, who showed promise his junior season in completing over 70% of his passes with a 28-11 TD-to-INT ratio. In his senior season, O’Connell came crashing back down to earth a bit, completing less than 65% of his passes and notching 22 touchdown passes with 13 interceptions—and thus slipped to the Raiders in the 4th round.
With good size and flashes of good accuracy, the Raiders might have the backup pocket-passer they need to run head coach Josh McDaniel’s offense smoothly, if need be.
“Obviously, he’s had success with guys who aren’t the dual threat or run-options quarterbacks,” said O’Connell on McDaniels moments after being the 135th overall pick. “He’s a great offensive mind…I just love to learn football, I’m so excited to pick his brain.”
O’Connell is potentially a very important player for the Raiders this upcoming season, as Garoppolo struggles at times to remain healthy.
Late-round rookie quarterbacks, such as Brock Purdy, showcased in 2022 how effective they can perform with a good offense and game plan.
Even Skylar Thompson, a 7th-round pick for the Dolphins, won Miami a game to get them into the playoffs for the final game of last season.
Don’t be surprised if the Raiders need O’Connell to summon a similar effort at some point this upcoming season if they’re going to make the postseason.