After passing on QBs in the draft, the Raiders will stick with Gardner Minshew and Aidan O'Connell

Updated Apr. 27, 2024 8:22 p.m. ET

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — When six quarterbacks went off the NFL draft board in the first 12 picks Thursday and Las Vegas hadn't traded up to become one of those clubs, it was clear the Raiders already had the QBs they plan to take into next season.

Free agent signee Gardner Minshew and returning starter Aidan O'Connell will compete for the job as Raiders first-year general manager Tom Telesco opted to prioritize building the roster around them.

He used the 13th overall pick on Georgia tight end Brock Bowers and on the second day selected offensive linemen Jackson Powers-Johnson from Oregon and Delmar Glaze from Maryland. Using the same strategy on the other side of the ball during free agency, Telesco boosted the interior defensive line by signing tackle Christian Wilkins.

“We just kind of felt as we build this football team out, it really has to start on both sides of the ball — offense and defensive line,” Telesco said. “That was my thought when I originally arrived here. ... This is not like a total rebuild, but we do feel like it really has to start on the offensive line and defensive line, fully knowing even on the offensive line you really can’t do it all in one year.”


The Raiders have made two playoff appearances in 21 years, and they come off an 8-9 season, which explains why Telesco isn't searching for a quick fix.

But it's still a gamble not to take a potential franchise quarterback, especially since next year's draft class isn't expected to be nearly as good as this one. Telesco and the Raiders, though, also could keep their eyes on possible free agents next year, such as Dallas' Dak Prescott.

For now, it's Minshew and O'Connell, and Telesco said he looked forward to seeing them on the practice fields.

“They’ve been lifting and running, and I’ve been getting ready for the draft," Telesco said. “So I just haven’t seen enough other than them interacting with their teammates and interacting with each other, which has been really positive.”


Before selecting Powers-Johnson on Friday night, the Raiders let Andre James know he was still the starting center.

James, who re-signed with the club this offseason, has started 50 games at center. Powers-Johnson received the Rimington Trophy last season as college football's top center, but will play guard for Las Vegas.

“I just think the more clarity you can give players, the better,” Telesco said. “I’ve always been kind of sensitive to everybody we’re drafting coming in here. There’s already somebody here, so they’re coming in to compete for somebody’s job. It’s always kind of a stressful week, and I think for everybody.”

Powers-Johnson is known for more than being an outstanding offensive lineman. He also has burger named after him called the “Big Jax” at a brewery in Eugene, Oregon.

“I always took my offensive linemen there and I always took all my teammates and recruits there to go eat and just developed a really great relationship with them,” Powers-Johnson said. “It’s my go-to order there and they turned that into a burger.”


Telesco was the Los Angeles Chargers’ GM the past 11 years, and he usually kept the picks he had going into the draft, trading up three times and never down.

That didn’t change in his first go-round with the Raiders, though he said there were attempts to trade up in the second and fourth rounds. Telesco also said he has some philosophical reasons for largely standing pat, but wasn't opposed to executing trades.

“But the one thing we do, we really strip the board down pretty heavily in trying to increase the odds of the player we take," Telesco said. "Most times, when our pick was up, we felt good about the player who was there.”

With the Chargers, Telesco twice traded up in the first round. He moved up two spots in 2016 to select running back Melvin Gordon and in 2020 traded into the first round to pick up linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. Also, Telesco moved up seven spots in the second round in 2013 to choose linebacker Manti Te’o.


About 15 minutes after being chosen in the sixth round on Saturday, New Hampshire running back Dylan Laube met the media on a Zoom call wearing a Raiders cap.

How did he get a hat so quickly?

“My dad bought all 32 teams,” Laube said. “Tomorrow, he's got to return 31 caps.”

Laube's best chance to make the roster is through special teams, and at New Hampshire last season, he averaged 31.1 yards per kickoff return and 11.2 yards on punt returns. He led the nation with 209.5 all-purpose yards per game.


The Raiders used four of their five picks Saturday on defensive players, choosing two cornerbacks, a safety and a linebacker. Laube was the only exception.

Telesco said the draft happened to play out that way, but there was a concerted effort to add speed in the fourth round “no matter what position.” The Raiders drafted Mississippi State cornerback Decamerion Richardson, who ran the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in 4.34 seconds.