Alright, it’s time for the big fellas up front to get a little bit of love.
Our position review series soldiers on today as we take a look at the Oakland Raiders offensive line.
Arguably the deepest unit on the Silver and Black’s roster, the linemen once again did a solid job of keeping quarterback Derek Carr upright, as well as paving the way for the team’s rushing attack.
Time to review how they did in 2017.
*Overview: *Headed into last season, there wasn’t much question about which players would make up the team’s starting offensive line.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie signed veteran lineman Marshall Newhouse in the offseason to compete for the right tackle position, and after he won the job the line was set with Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson filling out the unit from left to right.
It was, in essence, the same starting five the Raiders fielded the year previous, just with Newhouse replacing the tandem of Austin Howard and Menelik Watson at right tackle.
Depth is the name of the game in the NFL, and the Raiders offensive line was arguably the deepest unit on the team. The interior line was one of the best, if not the best, in the NFL, and all across the line, the Raiders had a bevy of players who were capable of stepping in and delivering quality play.
Second-year lineman Vadal Alexander played in 15 games, making four starts, and Jon Feliciano – who would probably start on many other teams in the league – played in 13 games before his season was cut short and he was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
Reggie McKenzie also infused some young blood into the position group as well, adding a pair of rookie tackles in David Sharpe and Jylan Ware in the latter stages of the 2017 Draft.
Ware’s rookie season essentially turned into a redshirt year for the rookie from Alabama State, while Sharpe appeared in five games, making two starts at left tackle in relief after Donald Penn went down.
James Stone and Ian Silberman joined the Silver and Black towards the tail end of the 2017 campaign, while second-year lineman Denver Kirkland lost his season after being placed on the Reserve/Injured list September 5.
*The Number To Know: *24
The Silver and Black’s offensive line surrendered just 24 sacks in 2017, a mark that was good for third best in the NFL.
*Going Forward: *Excluding Denver Kirkland, who will be an exclusive-rights free agent this year, the entirety of the Silver and Black’s offensive line is under contract for 2018.
Now, just because each of the big guys up front are under contract for next year doesn’t mean there is a lack of intrigue surrounding the position group.
Like the other players on the Raiders roster, the offensive line will have a new position coach leading them in 2018, and in the case of Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele and Co., that man will be former Raiders head coach Tom Cable.
In addition to seeing how things up front change with Cable at the helm, make sure you keep an eye on players coming back from injury in 2018 as well.
After missing the final two games of 2017, Donald Penn will look to return healthy in 2018 and once again solidify Derek Carrr’s blindside, and as big of a boost as the return of No. 72 will be for the Raiders offense as a whole, don’t forget about Denver Kirkland.
Yes, I know we haven’t seen him since 2016, but when he got the chance, he played pretty well. Let’s see what the new staff thinks of him.
*MVP Of The Position Group: *The Raiders had three Pro Bowlers on the offensive line in 2017, and truthfully, they should have had four with Gabe Jackson, so there aren’t a lack of candidates to take home the honor here.
That being said, while Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn once again delivered outstanding seasons, I’m going to go with the man in the middle, Rodney Hudson.
Hudson was the only Raider to play every single offensive snap last year, and not only that, he played through kidney stones the final few weeks of the regular season.
Let me repeat myself; he played through an ailment that hospitalizes most normal folks.
Rodney was a monster in 2017, and he’s your offensive line MVP.
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