The first big splash the Oakland Raiders made this offseason in free agency was to sign former New England Patriots’ left tackle, Trent Brown. Receiving a four year 66 million dollar contract which is the most lucrative in NFL history for an offensive lineman, Brown needs to be the player that fans saw in the playoffs. If he is the player that could not seem to put it all together with the 49ers, then the Raiders will be moving on from him after two seasons when his guarantees are paid out.
In 2018 the offensive line was objectively bad. The question that creates debate is why the group was bad. Having two rookie offensive tackles is part of that, but even a veteran left guard like Kelechi Osemele struggled significantly. Ironically, the Raiders gave up less sacks in 2018 than the Seahawks did, offensive line coach Tom Cable’s former team.
What we know about the offensive line in 2018 is before his Week 4 injury Kolton Miller was showing serious chops in pass protection on the left side. At the end of the season rookie right tackle Brandon Parker was doing well in the run game and can be a decent swing tackle. We also know that center Rodney Hudson is an absolute stud, and guard Gabe Jackson is an ideal fit for Tom Cable.
The biggest hole remaining for the Raiders on the offensive line is at right guard if we assume Gabe Jackson is moved back to the left side with Osemele gone. Denzel Good is a decent player, but he should be a swing guard and relying on him as a full time starter at guard is dangerous. With that in mind, the focus of this piece is to highlight the top options for the Raiders to fill in the open guard spot, which they will likely do early in the draft.
Cody Ford, UO
One of the reasons why Kyler Murray was able to be as successful as he was in college was due to his style of play, but also due to the monsters he had in front of him creating tons of throwing lanes. Cody Ford is a mountain of a man and has some similar physical characteristics to Gabe Jackson. Some fans may view Ford as a tackle, but in a more zone oriented scheme where he would be isolated on an island outside, Ford looks like a perfect option to slide inside.
Standing at 6’4 and weighing in at 329 pounds with 34” arms, Ford is able to punish anyone in the phone booth. By sliding in at guard Ford would be able to limit how far he needs to kick out side to side and thus can get his mass moving in a direction and develop large quantities of inertia to generate running lanes. His low bench press reps are a little concerning, but guys with long arms tend to tire out more quickly in that drill. Overall, he would be a fantastic addition and day one starter.
Chris Lindstrom, BC
Boston College occasionally will produce a player with a massive chip on their shoulder and a feisty attitude that creates a cold blooded killer. They have two such players in this draft and one is Chris Lindstrom. His family is a bit of royalty at Boston College, but that did not prevent Lindstrom from working his tail off to be a very good player.
Similarly to Ford, Lindstrom is a top notch athlete for the position with a great combination of size and arm length to give him some distinct advantages inside. One of the most impressive aspects of Lindstrom’s game is his punch. When he connects with it, he looks like he is connecting with a tree trunk in a player’s chest. The biggest concern for Linstrom is his tendency to occasionally get too high and lose leverage, but this can be corrected at the pro level by keeping him inside and not having him take reps at tackle.
Erik McCoy, UTAM
Here is a slight bit of projection. McCoy was a center at Texas A&M but he has the physical build of a guy who can play guard. Where McCoy got the attention of everyone was at the combine where he produced a fantastic workout along with his quality tape. After his redshirt season in 2015, McCoy became the starting center in 2016 and started nearly every game for three season.
Along with a great workout and athletic profile, McCoy is loose hipped and a low center of gravity gives him the ability to deal with powerful bull rushes inside. His ability to control his body is top notch and also makes him a quality mirror which is a desired trait with inside linemen. He will occasionally be overzealous with his blocks and get over his skies, but for the most part he is very sound and has significant upside.
Michael Deiter, UW
It has to be the cheese, but Wisconsin always seems to produce fundamentally sound, quality offensive lineman. That very storied tradition is being carried on with Deiter who was one of the early front runners for top inside offensive line prospect. Since the pre draft process has started, his hype has slowed down considerably, but he remains a very good prospect who can become an instant starter.
What stands out most with Deiter is the pop he has in his lower body. For a guy who played in a versatile scheme with lots of professional looks, Deiter shows more than just being a refined technician. The strength in his lower body was evident in his testing and his ability to finish on tape. There is a lot of drive in those legs and when he feels like he has the beat on a guy he will wreck him.
The Toss Up: Jonah Williams, Bama
Some may wonder why Williams is listed as a “toss up”. That is due to the fact that Williams, although a tad short, is really best built to play tackle. However, the Raiders have shown they like their tackles to be over 6’7 and have at least 34 inch arms. New Raider tackle Trent Brown has 36 inch arms. Jonah Williams stand 6’4 with 33 ⅝ inch arms which is very comparable to Cody Ford. All in all, he may float like a tackle, but he sure looks like a guard.
A former five star recruit, Williams checks all of the boxes. He has the athleticism, pedigree, played at a top school, and has a great work either. Plus for Raider fans, he is a local product playing his high school ball at Folsom High School. In 2016 Williams was the starting right tackle and earned Freshman All American honors. He then earned third team All American honors in 2017 taking over at left tackle, and in 2018 he earned first team All American honors. In every respect Jonah Williams is the real deal and would start day one at one of the Raider starting guard spots. He very well could be a target for the Raiders at 4.