Next year’s draft class might provide some long-term answers for a post-Donald Penn offensive line
With all of the recent commotion that Donald Penn has created by holding out of camp, I started to do a little digging into what the Oakland Raiders could soon do to address the left tackle position.
One thing is clear, the NFL above all else is a business, and though sometimes that fact is lost on fans, everyone from players to the people who run the organizations understand this perfectly.
Right now Penn has every right to ask for a raise yet the timing of his decision is less than optimal.
Even general manager Reggie McKenzie made this apparent with some of his recent comments: “I want him in camp, he has a deal so I want him in camp.” -Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie
At 34 years old Donald Penn ranks amongst the oldest offensive linemen in the NFL. Everyone understands that Penn’s days in the NFL are quickly coming to a close. With this in mind, Penn does not have a ton of negotiation room. However, on the flip side, Penn was ranked as the 4th best-left tackle in the entire NFL according to ProFootballFocus.com, so he knows he is worth something. That “something” however is still to be determined since no deal has been struck, yet. Penn has made it clear that he does not want “best in the NFL” money, just a little more than he is currently under contract which right now is a base salary of $5,800,000.00 in 2017.
My first thought when looking into the future of the Raider’s left tackle position is the 2018 NFL draft, and that is what we will examine here. Here are my top three picks I believe Oakland should look fill the void when Penn has moved on from the current behemoth that is the Raiders offensive line.
3) Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
Standing at 6’5″ and weighing 295 pounds, Hyatt has been the key cog in the Tiger’s machine that has rumbled into back-to-back national title appearances. With 29 career starts for Clemson Hyatt’s experience could see him transition into the NFL relatively easy.
Probable draft round: 3-4
2) Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
Standing at 6’5″ and weighing 304 pounds, Rankin may be a bit raw, but he could bring experience to Oakland having played both tackle and guard and even some center at Mississippi State. If he decided to enter the 2018 draft as a Junior, Rankin can develop into a solid tackle to protect Carr’s blind side and a jackknife for the Oakland offensive line.
Probable draft round: 2-3
1) Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Standing at a staggering 6’8″ and weighing 360 pounds, Orlando started 26 games at left tackle for the Sooners. Brown was named second-team All-Honors for the 2016 season. Many believe Brown could also be heading for the 2018 draft as a Junior if he continues his current course of development over the course of the 2017 season. Brown could be just the mountain Oakland could use to replace the aging Donald Penn.
Probable draft round: 1-2
It is more than likely that the Raiders will soon reach an agreement with Penn, in spite of this, I think in light of recent events it is clear that the Raiders may start preparations for life without their star tackle perhaps sooner than later.
While Penn is set to become a free agent in 2018, I am intrigued to see what kind of deal Oakland has to offer the 34-year-old left tackle that only surrendered one sack during the entire 2016 season. I believe the 2018 draft holds the key to Oakland’s tackle conundrum, and could very well be something they are interested in making a move on in the early rounds pending Penn’s renegotiated contract.