Only a quarter of the 2018 NFL season has passed and the Raiders have already sustained their first major injury.
Starting right tackle and former Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn has been placed IR with a groin injury. This will throw rookie third-round pick Brandon Parker into the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. The Raiders will now be starting two rookie tackles along the o-line, with Kolton Miller off to a respectable start on the blind side. The rest of the offensive line has also been dealing with nagging injuries as well. Let’s take a look at how the o-line has performed thus far and take a look at the depth and expectations for the rest of the year.
Left Tackle, Kolton Miller
Few among Raider Nation were pleased when the Raiders traded back in the first round to select Kolton Miller in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Raiders passed on many notable players who had fallen in the draft such as linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and safety Derwin James. Nonetheless, Miller is off to a solid start in the Silver and Black.
Pro Football Focus has Miller listed as ‘average’ but the Raiders have played some quality edge defenders through 4 weeks with guys like Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Cameron Wake, and Myles Garrett. Expect Miller to improve as the season continues and the opposition gets a little easier.
Depth at Left Tackle: T.J. Clemmings, Justin Murray, and Ian Silberman
An injury to Miller could cripple the Raiders. Clemmings, Murray, and Silberman have all bounced around the league and none have extensive experience. Clemmings would be the most likely to step in, as he did in Week 3 at right tackle when Penn suffered a mild concussion.
Left Guard, Kelechi Osemele
Kelechi Osemele is the most decorated member of this offensive line with two Pro Bowl appearances, one All-Pro selection and a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens. In previous years Osemele has been an absolute animal. However, he is off to a bit of a slow start in 2018. Osemele also grades out as average with a 55.0 grade, according to PFF. KO is clearly better than average. The former All-Pro will bounce back and has earned some patience even with his early season struggles. Unfortunately, Osemele is also questionable to play in Week 5 with a knee injury and he did not practice Friday. For the Raiders to even threaten to do damage in 2018, Osemele needs to be healthy and in top form.
Depth at Left Guard: Jon Feliciano and Ian Silberman
If Osemele can’t go at left guard, Feliciano will start and his place. Feliciano is no ordinary backup interior lineman either. He is a quality player, who would likely start on any other team. Feliciano has proven this in the past with random starts along the o-line.
Center, Rodney Hudson
Hudson is one of the best if not the best center in the NFL today. Hudson is doing what he does every year, playing like one of the top-rated centers in football. Hudson is one of the most underrated players in football. It is near criminal he’s only been voted to two Pro Bowls. The main concern with Hudson the rest of the year could be an ankle injury that limited him in practice on Friday. However, Hudson will surely play on Sunday and likely play well.
Depth at Center: Jon Feliciano
The same thing as mentioned above for Feliciano. He is good enough to start, he just isn’t Rodney Hudson.
Right Guard, Gabe Jackson
Gabe Jackson rounds out the Raiders’ exceptional interior offensive line. Jackson has received a PFF Grade of 67.6 in the “good” range thus far. Jackson rarely receives the love that KO and Hudson do from Raider Nation. This, however, shouldn’t take away from the fact that Jackson is an above average Guard with the ability to play left and right guard. Jackson is also dealing with a pectoral injury that kept him limited at practice on Friday.
Depth at Right Guard: Jon Feliciano and Ian Silberman
Same as the left guard position. Hopefully, we never have to see these depth guys, but we almost certainly will at some point.
Right Tackle, Brandon Parker
The biggest question on offense for the remainder of the year: Can Brandon Parker start at right tackle and remain effective? In an ideal world, Parker wouldn’t see the field this year. Penn’s groin injury ended any chance of that happening. Parker will be starting his first non-preseason game since his North Carolina A&T Aggie days. Luckily for him and the Raiders, Joey Bosa will miss another game with his foot injury. Parker has played enough to get a sense of how he will fare on Sunday. Perhaps it is time to have some faith in Jon Gruden’s drafting and Tom Cable’s teaching. If Parker can’t handle it, the Raiders will be in quite the predicament.
Depth at Right Tackle: T.J. Clemmings, Justin Murray, and Ian Silberman
Same as the left tackle position. It will be interesting to see how the Raiders keep active for game day. The Raiders have inactivated two offensive linemen every game thus far.