Draft outlook: Quarterback

One story in a series that looks ahead to the 2004 NFL draft by position and how it affects the Oakland Raiders. Today, here's a look at quarterback:

What the Raiders have: Oakland brought Rich Gannon back despite the fact that the 38-year old sustained a season-ending shoulder injury last season and is due a seven-figure salary. Reports say that Gannon has progressed well in his rehabilitation process. The fact that the Raiders brought him back shows they are clearly not comfortable with the idea of going with Marques Tuiasosopo, who enters his fourth season, just yet.

Tuiasosopo's potential still remains unknown because his season, like Gannon, ended on injured reserve. If Gannon is healthy and playing even near his 2002 NFL MVP form, he will start with Tuiasosopo as the backup and Rick Mirer likely returning as the No. 3 man.

What the Raiders might do: The tempting, and popular, thing to do is take whoever is available between Mississippi's Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger with the second pick. Those individuals could live up to their advanced billing and many zealots suggest that a franchise quarterback comes along once per decade. Keep in mind those individuals have also included names like Todd Blackledge as well as John Elway.

Oakland will probably take a quarterback at some point but it might not necessarily be with its first pick because the Raiders have so many deficiencies elsewhere that a quarterback will not mask all of them. If the Raiders decide to wait until the second day, names like Josh Harris (Bowling Green), Cody Pickett (Washington) and Rod Rutherford (Pittsburgh) will probably still be on the board.

Those three individuals fall into the category as potential bloomers in say, three years. The fact that the Raiders are likely to go with Gannon for one more year as the starter and still do not know enough about Tuiasosopo is another reason they are likely to wait until later to take a quarterback.

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