Despite drafting four offensive linemen in the past two NFL drafts, the Oakland Raiders are still looking sort of like chokeland faiders along the offensive front five. Perhaps their best overall lineman, 2004 second overall pick Robert Gallery, is all but gone assuming there is a free agency period this year. The Raiders have certainly put themselves in a good position for tomorrow, but who would be the starters if the NFL resumed regularly scheduled business today?
Really, the only surefire bet this year is that Stefen Wisniewski is going to be the opening day center. “Wiz Kid” – as he has appropriately been dubbed – could be one of the smartest linemen ever to dawn the Silver and Black. This guy was born and bred with the sole purpose of one day being drafted by the Raiders. While some seemed to think he might end up elsewhere, like Kansas City or New England, there was never any doubt in the mind of Al Davis that he was going to be an Oakland Raider. Earlier this offseason, Hue Jackson was asked if the Raiders were looking at Wisniewski as a potential second round draft choice; Jackson responded simply, “We know exactly who Stefen Wisniewski is.”
Certainly one of the lingering questions hanging over the line this year is going to be finding out whether or not 2010 third-round draft choice, Jared Veldheer, is up to the task of handling quarterback Jason Campbell’s blindside in 2011. Veldheer gave up ten sacks in his rookie season, but also made several “All-Rookie” teams as a left tackle at the conclusion of the season. I think the Raiders are going to have to move forward with Veldheer as their left side starter for lack of a better fit as well as his high potential. Veldheer showed signs that he is capable of becoming the left tackle that Gallery never turned out to be. After obtaining major repetitions against several NFL veteran defensive ends in 2010, he could very well prove to be worthy in his sophomore NFL season.
During the Raiders “OTA’s” in Atlanta at the end of May, Bruce Campbell came to play. Campbell reportedly lined up at both the interior guard position he was assigned to as a rookie as well as the right tackle position. Campbell later said that he has no intentions of moving back to the outside this year, but wanted to be prepared and get re-acclimated to being on the exterior of the line just in case the staff wanted him to. You know what they say, where opportunity meets preparation, that is where you find success. However, I think Campbell needs to start at one of the two guard spots for the Raiders this year. Personally, I'd put him on the oppopsite side of Veldheer. Last year, although Bruce is a physical specimen, he was never really mentally prepared to step into game-day action for his team. Al Davis made a big stink about Tom Cable not having him ready to get some reps by the end of the season also. After a year just watching and learning from veterans Cooper Carlisle and Robert Gallery, there is a huge opportunity here for Campbell to make his presence known.
Okay, so to recap, so far I have my left tackle Jared Veldheer, my center Stefen Wisniewski, and my right guard Bruce Campbell. Essentially, two rookies and an unproven second year player.That is simple enough but it could hurt the Raiders until the three mates get acclimated to each other. Now for the hard part.
A lingering dilemma following the 2010 season is who is going to fill the shoes of the guy that used to be arguably the Raiders best lineman, Robert Gallery. Some say that Langston Walker did an admirable job of filling in for Gallery when he missed the final nine games of the 2009 season. Others contend that Daniel Loper was not mentioned while filling in for him the first four games of 2010. They tell me that is a good thing if you're an offensive lineman. Loper was re-signed, and Walker is considering retirement after just nine NFL seasons.
Last year, in the right tackle position, Langston Walker pretty much proved to the world why the Buffalo Bills let him walk after signing him to a lucrative contract. He just looked lazy and slow at times. My wife actually pointed out that they needed a new right tackle during the one half of football she watched last season. Loper, on the other hand, looked like a guy that was looking to prove himself as worthy of a starting job after being ditched by the Tennessee Titans and the Detroit Lions. Neither of those teams is known for their offensive lines, but it’s still highly unlikely that two NFL clubs underrated Loper. The left guard position, to me, is going to be the highest area of need when the free agency period begins this year. Look for the Raiders to consider runs at the Falcons Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock as well as Baltimore Ravens guard Chris Chester to possibly come in and compete on the line.
Perhaps some of you think that the Raiders still need help at right tackle. I, however, am confident that the starter at this position is already on the roster. After the Raiders re-sign offensive tackle Mario Henderson -- which will be shortly after they re-sign Zach Miller -- they will have a good preseason competition between Henderson and incoming rookie, Joseph Barksdale for this position. If there is atually is a preseason this year, we will find out who the starter is just prior to the regular season. If there is a shortened or no preseason, look for Henderson to start right away. Henderson played right tackle at Florida State and started for approximately two years on the left side for the Raiders. After all of that experience, you have to figure he is a good candidate to make the switch for the Raiders and be the guy on the right side. Last season, in a fill-in role while Walker was briefly out with an injury, Henderson looked like a natural on that side of the line and for a moment made you forget about his woes on the other side of the ball. According to Henderson, one of the things that helped him was having a quarterback that knew how to take the proper drop for each play as opposed to JaWalruss -- who could barely lace his cleats. When Henderson knew where his quarterback was going to be in the pocket it helped him shield his assignement. Still, there is an outside chance that LSU rookie Joe Barksdale gives him a run for his money.
So there you have it. If the season starts tomorrow, the Oakland Raiders offensive line will be Veldheer-Loper-Wisniewski-Campbell-Henderson. It’s not fantastic, but this unit has the potential to grow and become a lot better over time. And no matter what the Raiders do in the future, nothing will ever compare to the atrocity that was the 2006 offensive line so you can take solice in the fact that's over.
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Veldheer and Campbell on the Left to make an agile side. Imagine the screens to this side of the field. Barksdale and Henderson on right to make a power side. Ahhh, I can hear it now, "Campbell hands off right side to McFadden, BIG hole between the guard and tackle! He's at the 30, the 20, 10...Touchdoooowwwnnnn, Raaaaaaaidersss" says Papa. Dmac so fast he can't count the fives. If the Wiz Kid can handle NTs by himself, we in business.
But look who Veldheer is facing this year Bret. tell me that isn't way more scary than the 2010 opponents. i dont trust him one bit at LT... he's going to be great, i just think at RT. bringing in Colon or Matt Light will solidify this line. him on the left and Veldheer on the right would leave the guard positions a great training camp battle between the rest of the bunch. THATS WHAT THIS TEAM TRULY NEEDS!! that would be my most desired wishlist. grab Matt Light. he would be a perfect stop gap and veteran presence like Seymour was last year for our DL.
GALLERY WAS NEVER HEALTHY. i don't understand how he's "our best lineman" ... he saw the field half the season every year. im done with him. Loper will fill the void until we get a suitable replacement.
From day one, my biggest Raider priorites were to resign Robert Gallery and Zach Miller. Losing Gallery was a huge mistake, in my opinion, as he was the unquestioned leader of the oline, and the Raiders spent a fortune making him into the player he is today.... Yeah I know, people will talk about the injury issues, and that he is not worth the money he wants because of his missed time on the field..Very valid point... However, Gallery's leadership, presence, and experience all make up for that in a big way, and it is very hard to replace a guy with all those intangibles that Gallery had......
That being said, if the Raiders sign a guy like Jared Gaither, a mammoth of a person with unlimited potential that will dominate in the power blocking scheme, losing Gallery will not be as painful....
@Spartacus It could be costly.. however, (I could be extremely wrong here) but I believe Logan Mankins, Pats outstanding LG, maybe available on FA.
Would it be out of the question to move Veldheer (Same size/weight) as Gallery to the vacant LT slot and try and sign Mankins to sit in the LG position?
This would mean the OL would line up Valdeer, Mankins, Wiz, Campbell, Henderson.
Mankins is a Californian kid, born in Catheys Valley, went to his local Frenso State! (I would like to thank Wiki for this information). How about bringing Mankins home for the last 4/5 years of his career! I am sure Seymour could pursuade him that the move from the Patriots to the Raiders is a good one!
For me this would be the best FA signing we could make in the short off season, my only concern is moving Valdeer to LT? Could this work?
@ukraider78 Veldheer played LT last year, so bringing in Mankins to take over for Gallery at LG would not effect his role on the line - despite making it easier when playing besides a ProBowler!
But Mankins has been Franchised, so a new CBA would need to change the current rules and make him UFA for it to happen - if it is possible, he might become a Raider if we can afford it! Big Al has reportedly been interested in getting Logan last year, and as he is a native, he might want to come home!
No doubt - a Mankins signing would be the best possible move to soldify our interior line, and would add leadership and a quality player!
Veldheer has potential and could become a solid player if he keeps developing, but last year Gallery saved him several times - that's how it is supposed to be, but if we dont bring in a quality replacement (Loper is not a starter, just re-watch the games), he will have serious issues! He might be a better fit at G though, but seem slated to keep developing at LT, so we'll see how good he can become soon enough!
Mankins, Gaither, Yanda - three linemen that would help create depth and options, and all fits the power scheme! Getting two of those would be great imo! Mankins and Gaither - G and T, that would greatly improve the quality and the depth of the line!
Colon or Doug Free could be great additions as well, but more expensive than Gaither or Yanda!
Tyson Clabo as well, but his price will be inflated due to his pro bowl and seems out of reach for us..
Although a starting lineup including Veldheer, Wiz, Beast Campbell and Big Barks (or even Mario) have immense potential, it greatly lacks routine and veteran leadership - we need to add at least one quality starter, otherwise we will experience serious growing pains and many rookie mistakes that has to be expected! And again - Loper is NOT the answer! Adequate backup, but not at all a starter!
Still wondering whether Satele can play G or if they even intent to try it out, guess we will find out soon enough..
Interesting subject and article, and we have all thrown in our opinions on the matter - good to talk football with Raidernation, always is! Gonna look at Bleacher from now on, seems that there is definately enough articles to read! Thanks!
Yeah, Dark brought it, Rocky could be a great addition! He has all the tools we need!
I was actually looking at Manny Lawson from the 49'ers as he fits the 'we convert DE's and 34 OLBs to 43 OLBs' thing we have going with Kam, Q and Scott- he is crazy fast, athletic and good in coverage, and needs to go to another team than the 49'ers! He could be a potential target and it wouldnt be too surprising i think, but i would definately prefer to get solid Rocky who could step right in and improve the team!
I think we could use one more DE as well in order to keep rotating Shaugh and Houston to keep the pressure coming! Kiwanuka and Charles Johnson would be the two main targets to me, but i would add Gholston at vet minimum as well as a project (played 43 in college, might be able to play that scheme in NFL as well, worth a speculative pick up to me).. Getting a solid DE to supplement Shaugh and Houston and Rocky to the OLB would give us a very solid front 7 imo, with quality starters and depth..
@DARKKUSH @Harder2000 Loving the love being shown between you 2! I personally love both of your inputs! Really insightful. So sending the love to the both of you! I do not think I could get the word 'love' into this paragraph anymore than I already have.
I have to be honest not thought of the idea of Rocky . It is a great one! we are so so so close to having an outstanding defense and would actually improve it. Good thinking!
I regularly read bleacher report... second to this as my fave Raiders blog!
yea Barksdale may just be our next mauler RG if Veldheer were to tryout for the RT position. I think that would just solidify things bigtime. we don't have to settle with anyone at any position. it's all up for grabs!
Yea Rocky would be fabulous! Goethel may be a good player, but hasn't proved to stay healthy yet. hopefully his back issue was a short lived one. back problems usually aren't. Groves is a situational guy that's best suited on special teams. I know that Hue and Al know he'll never be the right guy at OLB. McIntosh would be a very good idea.
yea as DARK KUSH ... i've been on there for a couple of years. join the Raider community! there's a lot of material and every position covered.
@DARKKUSH I very much agree - looking forward to see which Oline positions will be brought in through FA, and as you say, Veldheer is a utility guy which gives us a little wiggle room when choosing positions! A lot of good options available if the new CBA is anything like 2009 level, and a couple complements would make the line a very solid one..
I think Big Barks is better suited at RT than other positions, but he needs to play with intensity and a mean streak till the whistle before he can become a starter imo! At least he should be pushed by a veteran (think Mario will be back and B Campbell might be in the RT mix) and win the job before starting, but he has the potential if he works hard at it!
Like your take on Rocky - he would be a perfect fit and would really upgrade the WLB! Not sure they will seriously pursue him though - they seem to like Goethel, and Groves was traded for and has become a part of the squad while Scott is there as well..
Hope they will pursue him, and because he was miscast in the 3-4, he might come at a discount and would provide a very dependable and solid player for us! Kam, Death RO and Rocky would be a good trio! And the depth would be decent as well!
Thanks - just looked through bleacherreport, some interesting takes there! Do you post on there?
yea i'll take that line any day. Veldheer is an utility guy. we have the luxury of having his smarts on the field. he could learn RT no problem. he did well at Center when asked to. he was a better pass blocker than Satele,
You need a MAULER at RT for the run game. much like Tyson Clabo does for Atlanta ... who also might be available in FA.
I like your take on him being at LG. it is certainly possible. yes, if he has a veteran LT next to him, he would INSTANTLY be better than Gallery could even dream up. much more durable. at that point, it's Robert who?
yea i don't like the idea of Barksdale being depended on as a starter at either position. if the guy is the real deal coming out of the gate, he needs true veteran competition.
The fact of the matter is this. Nnamdi is as good as GONE. Al Davis will make it up elsewhere. he said it himself, although you can't fully believe what the man says, obviously... it still stands to reason that Al will BREAK THE BANK on a few players out there to solidify this OL and fix the OLB issue. we need one more piece to our front 7. Rocky McIntosh would be that piece... i hope Al is willing to break the bank on an OLB like him. this man belongs in a 4-3, not a 3-4 like he is in in WAS.
Harder ... i like your insights. you should come to bleacherreport.com ... lots of good articles there.
@DARKKUSH So true, they sadly almost always comes away the winners! Well, at least we got them in the Burgess trade, made up for some of the times they have ripped us!
They had a dispute with Mankins who said he didnt want to return, he wanted out through trade - he has been franchished, but if it is possible and the CBA doesnt let them franchise him, he could potentially be a possibility, especially as he could return home which he has talked about before.
He is the best G potentially available in FA, and many teams could go for him, so regardless of his availability, he could be a difficult landing. Although he really fits what Big Al would go for - Big Sey for the D, Mankins for the O..
Campbell - Wiz - Big Barks .. Potential to say the least, but personally i would prefer a veteran G to help inside! Getting Light to man the outside could be a good move, as Mankins he has the attitude and dedication that we could use, albeit he is in the wake of his career.. He could man the LT for a year, maybe two as you point out, while we add some experience to the young linemen.
Dont see Veldheer moving to RT though - wasnt he strictly a LT in college? Changing sides can be difficult, Big Barks was faster on RT than he was when moved to LT, Bruce had troubles too, so it would take some time in an already short offseason.. Could see him move to LG though - the short arms would not be a problem inside and he bends well enough that his height isnt that big of a disadvantage!
Would still add an experienced G though! Mankins (at best) or Yanda (most realistic) could do the trick. Coupling one of them with Light (or Gaither if HJ think he can do what is needed) could be great!
Light/Gaither - Veldheer - Wiz - Mankins/Yanda - Barksdale/Campbell
Dont know who would be available and a real option of the four, but ties and quality could make them all possible targets.. Getting a T and a G would definately be a good couple of moves and would help soldify the line, keeping JC upright and opening holes for D-Mac, Bush and TJ..
good point there.
that's why Matt Light would be perfect!!
Light-Campbell/Loper-Wis II-Barksdale-Veldheer ... that is a contending OL in the AFC.
1. a veteran that knows how to play against the AFC East?! that's valuable enough for at least one year.
2. he's the perfect stop gap that will allow Campbell's shirt to stay clean. He's the same type of pocket passer as Brady is, only at a much lower level than him, obviously. Light knows how to block for that type of passer... this much is certain.
3. he would have the same effect as Richard Seymour did for us.. our OL needs it. going with rookies and 2nd year players will GET JASON CAMPBELL KILLED.
4. He wouldn't cost a whole lot since he probably has 2 good years left in him ... so it would allow for us to put big money into other needed positions like OLB, WR, or Guard like Bret touched on. Dahl would be incredibly awesome for this line. Bringing in 2 key FA OL would make this OL the best in the AFC West IMO. we would run the ball down the throats of the best front 7's in the NFL.
Mankins isn't going anywhere man. your scenario would be AMAZING ... especially if the Raiders are going to stick with Veldheer LT ... but Belecheat and Craft know just how valuable he is to Brady's success. they aren't stupid. as much as i HATE them, they know exactly what they're doing with their team.
A more valuable player, to me, from the Patriots is Matt Light.
The benefits from beinging in Matt Light are:
1. he would NO DOUBT push Veldheer out of the starting position(this year anyway) and solidify the left side as long as he's healthy. bringing in a veteran that knows how to block all the DE's in the AFC East is very much needed. Wake and the NYJ leftside blitz comes to mind, and makes me worry for Jason Campbell.
2. Veldheer would undoubtedly solidify the RT spot for years to come as a MAULER in the run game and dominate in pass protection... this would make this OL VERY DEEP. All we would need to do is stick with what we have plus a couple of UDFA depth like O'Dowd and Kirkpatrick... one of which could back up Wisniewski at Center.
3. Matt Light serves his purpose for 1 or 2 years as a stop gap until we draft or trade for someone young and great.
Light-Campbell-Wis II-Barksdale-Veldheer. <--- a contending OL
that line is much better looking to me. this with Loper backing up the Guard positions and Henderson backing up RT since Veldheer backs up LT as our utility guy.
@ukraider78 Not so sure it comes down to #21 vs. FA Olinemen, but it is definately true that we need to protect JC and keep him upright, and that it is priority # 1!
- in order to get down field to the speedy WR's is one thing, but as of right now we don't even have a decent backup QB on the roster that could get us a W if JC goes down!
When Boller was thrown in last year they didn't even trust him enough to make him pass, so it was all keeps and run which was shut down easily. Personally i think we go get Troy or make a run at Pryor, but keeping JC in the games will be a priority regardless.
Tougher games with better pass rush emphasizes the need as you both point out, so let's hope they are able to bring someone in to shore up the talent on the line! And it is essential in the rungame as well - no passing game leads to a difficult runninggame, so it all needs to gel - as well as the runblocking it self! The staff knows this, so it will be interesting to see which direction they go, although it mey come down to what is possible to get! Mankins and a quality Tackle would go a long way!
Thank you for clearing that up for me... I think one thing we all agree on is the fact we need an upgrade on the OL and this can be settled with FA... maybe not having Nnamdi and signing two of Mankins, Yanda or Gaither will be better for the team in the long run!
We let our QB's be hit 44 times last year, this is the worst in the AFC. This is terrible!! It is amazing that Campbell got through the season without serious harm and more over how well he played considering this serious lack of protection! Giving Campbell more time in the pocket is essential to any success... what is the point in having these speed kings if Jason is getting put the the floor all the time.
@DARKKUSH makes a seriously good point in saying that 2011 is scarier! Packers, Lions, Bears, Jets, Phins and Pats (not to mention Chargers and Chiefs) all an have unbelievable pass rush and the Broncos have drafted Von Miller so despite having the worse sack count in the NFL last year, I expect this to improve.
I have personally come to the conclusion that protecting our QBs is more important that keeping Nnamdi. When was the last time a cornerback took a team through the regular, post season and to a Superbowl victory? Never... strong offensive lines do every year. Protect Jason and we will get to the playoffs... no question!