The Raiders' backup quarterback competition was the subject of much scrutiny last fall, as the organization's weekly appearances on HBO's "Hard Knocks" showed the world the daily battles between Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman. In a surprising move, coach Jon Gruden elected to keep both on the roster out of training camp, not wanting to let either be scooped up by another team.
In 2020, the Raiders' depth behind franchise QB Derek Carr is much stronger, as Las Vegas signed former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota in free agency. Pro Football Focus seems to agree, as it ranked Mariota the NFL's second-best backup QB, behind New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston.
Mariota's ranking seems fair, especially since he was a starting QB in the NFL for his first four seasons after being drafted by the Tennessee Titans. With 55 starts under his belt entering the 2019 season, Tennessee brought in Ryan Tannehill in the offseason and after six starts for Mariota, the Titans made a change and benched the Oregon product. Tannehill and dominant running back Derrick Henry drove Tennessee all the way to the AFC Championship Game, leading the Titans to let Mariota walk in free agency.
A former Heisman Trophy winner in college, Mariota's electrifying speed and accuracy made him one of the more intriguing top prospects at quarterback. While he's almost a polar opposite from Carr as far as their style and skillset, he could add another dimension to Gruden's offense if he takes the field.
Carr has embraced the competition from Mariota, and said the two have bonded quickly over the unique offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We've talked already," Carr told Will Compton and Taylor Lewan in April on the "Bussin' With the Boys" podcast. "He is by far one of the coolest, nicest, professional people I've ever been around. I've got nothing but good things to say about him. He's amazing."
Gruden raved about Mariota's athleticism early in Raiders training camp, not seeing any signs of Mariota's extensive injury history.
"He's interesting. He took off a couple times today and really fired me up," Gruden said after Friday's practice (h/t RaidersWire). "He's been hurt. Looked like the ankle has really turned the corner. He's a dazzling playmaker with his feet and that's the key to his game. I saw glimpses of that today and it was exciting. Started off slow in 7-on-7 but picked it up and had a really nice day."
Gruden and all of Raider Nation can rest easy knowing that if Carr ever has to miss time in 2020, the Las Vegas offense will be in very solid hands with Mariota at the helm.
Raiders' Marcus Mariota is Pro Football Focus' No. 2 backup QB in NFL originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area