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Raiders Might Focus on Quarterback

April 19, 1992|CHRIS DUFRESNE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Raiders will go into next week's NFL draft with the 16th pick in the first round and pressing concerns.

Quarterback, a position that seemed secure for the next decade or so after rookie Todd Marinovich's late-season emergence in 1991, now might be a time bomb.

If an ESPN report Tuesday that he tested positive for a banned substance is true--he denies it--Marinovich is one positive test from a 30-day suspension and two tests removed from a minimum year's suspension.

Even before that, the Raiders were concerned enough about the immediate future to have explored trade talks with the New York Giants' veteran quarterback, Phil Simms.

With Marinovich's long-term future now uncertain, should the Raiders swallow hard and select University of Houston quarterback David Klingler if he should fall to the 16th position?

Other needs are less glamorous, but equally important. The Raiders need a make-over at linebacker, but the only bona fide star of the first round is Texas A&M's Quentin Coryatt, who will be long gone when the Raiders pick.

The Raiders tried to bulk up at linebacker through Plan B, signing Anthony Bell, Aundray Bruce and Niko Noga. The Falcons gave up on Bruce, the former No. 1 pick in the 1988 draft, converting him to tight end last season. The Raiders will move him back to linebacker and hope they can save his career, as they did that of Ethan Horton.

Some think the Raiders will go for an offensive lineman, perhaps Virginia tackle Ray Roberts. The Raiders made a run at Cincinnati Bengal guard Bruce Reimers in Plan B and wanted to move him to tackle to play alongside his former teammate, guard Max Montoya.

When it comes to drafting, the Raiders don't go by the book, which explains the interest in Clemson defensive tackle Chester McGlockton. Defensive line is probably the Raiders' greatest area of strength.

And what about running back? The Raiders lost their leading rusher, Roger Craig, who signed with Minnesota. Marcus Allen turned 32 in March. Rookie Nick Bell showed glimpses of stardom between stints on injured reserve last season. Does Bell's brutal, straight-ahead running style make him an annual injury risk?

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