With the No. 135 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders selected Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell. A fourth-round pick, O'Connell was not seen as much of a selection by Raider Nation when the pick was called, but he soon earned the love and respect of the fan base during the summer.
O'Connell was one of the best players in the entire NFL during the preseason, lighting up defenses and showing he had the poise, and arm to possibly be the team's starting quarterback down the road. In fact, his play garnered national attention, and there were some fans who were clamoring for the team to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo before the veteran even took a snap in the Silver and Black.
While that was way premature, the truth is, O'Connell showed he has what it takes to be a legitimate NFL quarterback, even if it is only as a backup. This season, O'Connell has not gotten a chance to show much, but that could change in a hurry if Garoppolo continues to play the way he did on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Raiders need to elevate O'Connell to QB2
O'Connell has been inactive through the first two games of the season, sitting and watching Garoppolo struggle, and Brian Hoyer do absolutely nothing. That has to change in a hurry, as Hoyer brings nothing to this team, and at best is just holding a roster spot that could be given to a player who can actually help the team win games.
While Hoyer is a good veteran to have on the roster, he needs to become the emergency quarterback for the Raiders moving forward, and the team needs to ascend O'Connell into the QB2 role. If Garoppolo goes down to injury, which history tells could certainly happen this season, the fan base would rather see what the rookie can do.
Las Vegas did not look competitive against a legitimate AFC Playoff contender on Sunday, and that is worrisome for a fan base who thought they could turn the corner a bit this season. If the Raiders are going to only win a handful of games this season, O'Connell needs to get a chance to prove what he can do, and that opportunity will never come if he is inactive every week.