Do the Raiders have the only QB battle in the NFL?

Some teams have their quarterbacks, while others are still looking for answers.
Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders / Candice Ward/GettyImages
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True QB battles

There are only three teams that are having a true QB battle in camp this year: The Minnesota Vikings, the Denver Broncos, and the Las Vegas Raiders. These three teams are smart enough to know that they do not have a surefire starter, and with multiple competent players in the room, these teams have positioned themselves to have a quality QB battle that will produce a starter and a solid backup. 

The Vikings drafted J.J. McCarthy with the 10th pick in this year’s draft, and he is slated to compete with former top-three pick Sam Darnold. Darnold has not lived up to where he was selected in the draft, but in the last two seasons, he has performed well in spot starts. McCarthy has a lot to improve upon if he wants to be a starting QB in the NFL, so I predict that Darnold will begin the year as the starter and McCarthy will be eased in at some point later on. 

Denver chose Bo Nix with the 12th pick in this year’s draft, but also traded for Zach Wilson and held onto Jarrett Stidham. I truly believe that all three of these guys will be in the mix for the Day 1 starter, but I give Stidham the least favorable odds. He is neither the youngest nor the most experienced guy in the room, so I figure he gets lost in the shuffle. Sean Payton could go one of two ways: throw the rookie into the fire or squeeze out all you can from Zach Wilson’s experience. I figure Wilson begins the year as the starter and Nix is phased in, similar to the situation in Minnesota. 

No battle will be as close and intriguing as the Raiders’ between Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew. To me, either of these players is roughly the same caliber as the quarterbacks in the bottom tier of guaranteed starters; the Raiders just have the luxury of getting to choose. What encourages me most about these two is that both have proven that they can be inserted into the lineup midseason and come out with a winning record.

Minshew has also detailed multiple times that he feels it is part of his job to mentor younger quarterbacks, which he has done with both Jalen Hurts and Anthony Richardson. I believe the Raiders should start Aidan O’Connell on opening day because he is the younger player with more upside at this point. If he blossoms into a great player, then we have made the right choice. If he does not, we have a mature veteran waiting in the wings who has done this sort of thing before.

If Minshew starts Day 1, it could stunt AOC’s potential growth, and nobody wants to see that. With that being said, I have full faith in AP and company to make the right choice for the team, regardless of who it is.