We’ve said it time and again, and it’s a sentiment that proves true year after year; you can’t win much of anything in the NFL without a good offensive line.
Well, while the Oakland Raiders’ overall results weren’t exactly what they hoped for in 2017, the team’s offensive line was once again one of the most consistent groups on the roster.
As to be expected, there are a few new faces up front for the Silver and Black, but overall, the core of the group remains the same headed into 2018.
Now that we’re speeding closer to the start of training camp, it’s time to take a look at the big fellas up front, and answer the burning questions surrounding Tom Cable’s crew.
Kolton Miller (rookie)
Brandon Parker (rookie)
Position Battle: OL
Reviewing the Oakland Raiders offensive lineman going into 2018 Training Camp.
Overview: Like we said above, while the Raiders definitely didn’t find the team success they were looking for in 2017, once again, the team’s offensive line enjoyed another quality campaign.
Anchored by arguably the best interior line in all of football, the Silver and Black allowed just 24 sacks last year, tied for third-fewest in the league, and the core nucleus of that group is running it back again in 2018, minus Marshall Newhouse, who started 14 games at right tackle.
That being said, the group definitely had a shot of youth infused into it over the past few months, as General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Co., invested heavily in the big fellas up front, picking not one, but two lineman in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.
Having five, top-tier lineman to protect Derek Carr is great, but the really good teams in the league have a plethora of capable guys who can step in when need be.
Depth is the name of the game, especially in the trenches, so let’s take a look at the guys who are poised to have big seasons in Silver and Black.
Battle to Watch:
Eddie Paskal: My eyes are going to be keyed in at right tackle.
We’ve talked a lot about the interior line (Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson), and for good reason too, but let’s not forget that having dominant tackle play is also crucial.
When you have to square off against Joey Bosa and Von Miller twice a year, you have to have players who can keep that edge clean, and I’m excited to see which Raider really takes ownership of that position.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that it’ll likely start as a two-man race between Breno Giacomini and rookie Brandon Parker, but depending on how training camp shakes out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other players enter the mix.
Signed in free agency, Giacomini has nearly 100 appearances under his belt, not to mention a Super Bowl ring, but he’ll be pressed by Brandon Parker, an exciting, physically-imposing tackle the team selected on Day 2 of the draft.
It’ll be an interesting battle to watch once the team gets to Napa, and I have a feeling it’ll last through much of the preseason.
Kyle Martin: In our defensive line position battle, I noted the battle between the rookies as the one to keep your eye on, and I’m going to keep that trend going with the offensive line.
The Raiders made a concerted effort to add depth to the offensive front, selecting Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker within the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. The team has no shortage of seasoned veterans protecting Derek Carr in the pocket, with tackle Donald Penn, guards Kelechi Osemele, Gabe Jackson, and center Rodney Hudson being the incumbent starters.
Each of the aforementioned players have established themselves in the trenches, but all it takes is one injury to throw the group out of whack. I’m curious to see the development of Miller and Parker through camp, but the battle for playing time could be a storyline that unfolds throughout the season.
It’s a new season, under a new regime, so nothing is set in stone. The pair of tackles could very well make their way into the starting lineup, but you better believe Donald Penn isn’t going to forfeit his spot willingly.
We’ll see if Miller can pry the left tackle spot away.
Storyline to Follow:
EP: I’ll be watching to see how the offensive line gels throughout training camp and through the preseason.
Perhaps more than any other group on the football field, the offensive line is a true unit, and they to be completely in sync, moving as one, to handle their business.
Even though many of the same faces will along the line, that chemistry takes time to develop, and training camp is the perfect place for that very thing to happen.
It obviously helps a ton when you have Hudson, Osemele, and Jackson as stalwarts in the middle of your line, but even so, it’ll take time to really find a groove.
The offensive line never gets enough credit, but they really are the engine that makes the offensive car go; let’s see how they progress between now and Week 1.
KM: The Silver and Black have boasted one of the premiere offensive lines in the league the last few seasons, and I expect that to be the case once again in 2018.
With the same core group returning, the familiarity with one another will help given the new system. Raiders Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable has already made an impression on his unit, and I believe he’ll take them a step further this year. How he does that will be an ongoing development, and his impact throughout the season will likely coincide with the production of the offense as a whole.
The tone Cable sets during Training Camp will outline his vision going forward. I’m eager to see how he molds this group in the coming weeks.
Keep an Eye on…
EP: Yes, I’m excited to see Donald Penn and the boys start battling it out in Napa, but I’m actually really fired up to watch Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable.
Cable, who rejoins the Silver and Black after a successful tenure in Seattle, is widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, and the chance for him to work with the Raiders heavy hitters is something I can’t wait to see.
Not to mention that as a former head coach of the Raiders, Cable has a unique perspective on all things Silver and Black, so needless to say, there won’t be a lack of storylines surrounding him and his group in 2018.
Cable has said that returning to Oakland is something that means a great deal to him, and I think he’s going to be one of the more intriguing characters to watch as we march through 2018.
KM: Kolton Miller.
The former UCLA Bruin’s quiet demeanor has been well documented, but don’t let his calm nature fool you. On the field, Miller is a monster.
Towering at 6’8” and 309 pounds, Miller isn’t easily moved, and he’s shown through Rookie Minicamp and Mandatory Minicamp that he possesses a vast upside. The Raiders first-round pick will eventually become an anchor on the outside at some point in the future, but until then, his maturation should be on your radar.
If Donald Penn is unable to stay healthy, Miller could slide into his role.
MORE POSITION BATTLES: