Depth Chart Check (QB)

With the start of Oakland Raiders’ training camp only a week away I thought I’d spend the next few days breaking down their current depth chart. 

No.1 JaMarcus Russell

After an offseason full of speculation over his weight, Russell came into last months mini-camps in great shape.  JaMarcus threw the ball well enough throughout May and June to warrant recognition from his head coach.  “The way that the team is responding to him as you talk to different players, their feelings about him, they’re ready to get behind him and go.”   Considering it wasn’t training camp it’s hard to have a great deal of excitement for Russell right now, but you can’t ask for a better start.  Next up: Training Camp on July 23rd, first exhibition on August 8th against the 49ers.

No.2 Andrew Walter

He’s still with the team mainly because he’s the only other remaining quarterback from last season; but I don’t think he’ll hold onto his current spot for very long.  Considering that JaMarcus Russell didn’t join the Raiders until after Week 1 last year, no one has had more time in Lane Kiffin’s offense than Walter.  But the Raiders offense asks of a lot movement from their quarterback, and although Walter knows where to go, he doesn’t get to his spots as fast as the other Raider quarterbacks.  Walter has not progressed the way the Raiders hoped.  He was once thought to have the talent to start in this league, but now I think he might not be worthy of being a head coaches’ first resort when going to the bench.  Next Up: he reports on July 23rd to the Napa Marriott for possibly his last training camp with the Raiders.  Pressure from the other Raider backups should force him off the roster, but since it’s more expensive to cut him than to keep him, he’ll probably remain a Raider.

“Walter remains in Marques Tuiasosopo-style limbo, under contract and unable to successfully compete for a job which doesn’t suit his skill set.” – A quote from an assessment done by Jerry McDonald of Inside Bay Area at the end of last season.

No.3 Marques Tuiasosopo

Staying with the theme of the quote above, Tui’s first stint in Oakland was a tough one.  The former heir to Rich Gannon lost his spot when the Raiders went back to the deep ball when they signed Norv Turner as their head coach.  When Marques left Oakland for the Jets he got lumped into a talent laden quarterback situation, to rich for him to emerge as the 2nd stringer.  Back in Oakland he rejoins an offense more similar to the one Jon Gruden ran than the one Turner did; and he’s looked good so far.  “He’s done a real good job, especially in the move-the-ball situations, moving the ball around and getting it to the right people,” Kiffin said (on June 18th)Next Up: prove that he can be an efficient passer and dependable backup in the NFL.  Reports on July 23rd for training camp (practice begins the following day).  This writer’s always liked him, so it’s hard for me to imagine him not emerging as the Raiders No.2 quarterback.

No.4 Sam Keller (Cut to make room for Asomugha, Trevor Scott, and Arman Shields)

The Bay Area product wasn’t the local undrafted quarterback I wanted (Kyle Wright, 49ers), but Keller does know the west-coast offense better than any other former collegian QB entering the league this season.  He did well during OTA’s and mini-camps.  And although he signed a contract with the L.A. Avengers of the Arena League, he’d obviously take a backup job in the NFL over a starting job in the AFL.  Unless Keller wows the coaching staff enough that they think he’ll be an asset on an everyday basis (even as a backup), they won’t take the cap hit that would ensue after cutting Walter.  Keller is more likely to make the practice squad, but that might not be the worst thing.  If he applies himself in practice and possibly gets experience in another league during the offseason, he should know by the start of the ’09 season whether he belongs in the NFL or AFL. (after being cut Keller will have to hope for success in the AFL)

No.5 Jeff Otis – Sorry Jeff, but like last year you’ll be cut before the season starts.  (didn’t even make it that long, cut for same reasons as Keller)

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