What happens in the trenches will determine the Raiders’ fate
Despite the well-documented focus on the Oakland Raiders’ defense this offseason, from free-agency through the NFL Draft, the Super Bowl aspirations for this team will be determined by its offensive line.
It’s this group’s job, after all, to protect quarterback Derek Carr and open up the lanes for the impressive stable of Raiders’ running backs. Had it not been for Carr’s unfortunate injury this unit would’ve led the team all the way to the Super Bowl, possibly.
That’s officially now in the past as the team has been reporting for offseason activities and with that, the focus shifts from “what might have been to what will be.” Exactly what “will be” is expected to be a Super Bowl berth as the team essentially stockpiled an entire defense in the draft.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) May 16, 2017
A look ahead
The line will have to repeat last season’s performance for the team to live up to all of this hype and more importantly, under the tutelage of line coach Mike Tice, the unit will be in prime position to do so. General manager Reggie McKenzie who also understands the importance of this group decided to add some quality depth via free agency and the draft.
Marshall Newhouse who joined the Raiders this offseason will provide depth at the right tackle position which was filled by a committee last season as the only line position that didn’t have a cornerstone player. On a side note and seemingly lost to those who wanted McKenzie to make a splash in free-agency, is that Newhouse also brings championship pedigree as he was part of Green Bay Packers’ 2011 championship team.
Raiders’ offensive tackle Donald Penn had nearly a perfect season last year protecting Derek Carr as PFF pointed yesterday and was reported on here at RaiderRamble.com. Embed from Getty Images
Along with being anchored by Pro Bowlers such as Rodney Hudson and Kelechi Osemele, the team was injected by some youth in the form of rookies of David Sharpe and Jylan Ware. Also, Raider Nation mustn’t forget about some of the other youngsters such as Vadal Alexander and Denver Kirkland who continue to be quietly developed by Tice.
Everyone knows that Khalil Mack will lead the defense as he continues to wreak havoc on opposing offenses but as always, it all starts and ends in the trenches.