Dickey: QB is the answer — but which one? 

The question nobody is asking: Can the Raiders afford to draft a quarterback No. 1 overall?

There’s no question they need to draft a quarterback. Yes, they have many needs, but a team goes nowhere in the NFL without a quality quarterback. The Raiders don’t have one now.

When Marques Tuiasosopo leaves as a free agent, Andrew Walter will be the only quarterback left, and he’s not good enough. He has a strong arm but not an accurate one on the deep throws the Raiders like. He’s immobile and prone to fumble when he’s hit. He’s probably going to be less successful in his career than Kerry Collins.

Free agency? Jeff Garcia, who’s well past his prime, and David Carr, a bust at Houston, will probably be the best available. Neither one is the answer for the Raiders.

Trading down in the draft to get an additionalchoice in the first round is tempting. But when you have a chance to get the very best player in the draft, it’s better to go for him, especially when that player is a quarterback. It’s a risk, but the potential reward is great.

There have been quarterbacks such as Carr who have been busts at No. 1 overall, but John Elway and Troy Aikman were also picked there. Elway kept the Denver Broncos in contention for years, until they built a team around him that could win the Super Bowl. Aikman was the key as the Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowls in four years in the ’90s. Peyton Manning was also a No. 1 pick, and his team just won the Super Bowl.

There’s an intriguing debate this year over the best quarterback. JaMarcus Russell has awesome size, 6-foot-6 and about 260 pounds, and an equally awesome potential. But he’s far from a finished product.

Brady Quinn is a much more polished quarterback. He played in a pro system at Notre Dame but his falloff late in the season has some scouts worried that he might be another Rick Mirer.

If the Raiders draft a quarterback, they should first talk with Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. As a former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, Weis knows what it takes for a quarterback to make it in the NFL.

It would be very helpful to hear his evaluation of Quinn — if he’d be willing to give it.

But again, the question is whether the Raiders can afford a quarterback, who always gets a more valuable contract. The Raiders and 49ers are at the bottom rung in revenues among NFL teams. Both teams are getting money from the NFL’s unpublicized revenue-sharing pool. Both clubs have bought up tickets to get "sellouts" so home games can be televised. The Raiders probably had only two legitimate sellouts last season, their opener against San Diego and the Denver game. I’m not sure the 49ers had any.

Many Raiders decisions are influenced by their lack of money. Most likely, passing on Matt Leinart in last year’s draft was one. So was passing over Drew Brees in free agency to sign Aaron Brooks, who has since been released.

So, they’re between a rock and a hard place now. Drafting a quarterback will be very costly, but it will also be their only chance to start building the team to get out of this deep, deep hole.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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Glenn Dickey

Glenn Dickey

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