The Oakland Raiders offensive line is better than it showed in 2013. Injuries played a massive part in how ordinary and sometimes flat out bad the unit performed last season. Going into this offseason, the offensive line is an area the Raiders would like to address starting by re-signing franchise left tackle Jared Veldheer and adding another piece to solidify the line.
When Veldheer tore his triceps in training camp, the Raiders season took a hit it could not rebound from. No matter how much depth a team has it can rarely absorb the loss of their left tackle and best offensive linemen. The Raiders were unable to do so, but the injury did allow the team to try several different combinations. Oakland moved pieces all over the line with only center Stefen Wisniewski remaining stationary. Khalif Barnes moved inside and outside throughout the season with limited effectiveness. They used a number of right tackles and played guard roulette depending on health.
With a surplus of salary cap space, the Raiders can make a play on any potential offensive linemen to hit the free agent market. The best linemen who will likely test free agency is Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack. The former first round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft has started every game including his rookie season. He made the Pro Bowl this season and in 2010. He would give the Raiders a massive upgrade, allowing the team to push Wisniewski out to guard. Even with the money to throw at Mack, he will give the Browns a chance to meet any offer.
The Raiders used a second round pick on Menelik Watson in the 2013 NFL Draft. The year before they used a third round selection on Tony Bergstrom. Neither has proven anything but that they are often injured. Watson battled knee and calf injuries throughout training camp an the entire regular season. He missed valuable time as a rookie and was a raw prospect to begin with playing only one year of football at Florida State. Bergstrom missed the entire season with a foot injury. Not the type of production general manager Reggie McKenzie expected from two high draft choices.
Oakland could go the route of using the 2014 NFL Draft to bolster the offensive line, but from what Watson and Bergstrom have done it might be safer to get a proven player via free agency. The Raiders will add offensive line help. A re-tooled line of Veldheer, Wisniewski, Mack, Barnes, Watson would be a massive upgrade.
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