Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock went into the offseason with the intent to put the Raiders in a win-now situation.
The headlining move for Oakland was acquiring wide receiver Antonio Brown in a trade with the Steelers. Even though Brown is clearly the most talented player on the roster, it’s the offensive line who will dictate the success of the offensive unit this season. After an interesting draft that added to Derek Carr’s growing arsenal of weapons, there is a growing pressure on the O-line to keep the “Carr” clean.
The anchor of the offensive line is center Rodney Hudson, a player who many argue deserves a new contract sooner rather than later. Hudson has been a steady presence along the line and as long as he stays healthy and injury-free, it should bode well for the entire offense. In fact, over the years Hudson has spent in the East Bay, he has only allowed two sacks and ranks as the top center in pass blocking per Pro Football Focus.
Along the outside of the line, the tackle spots were manned by two rookies in 2018. Kolton Miller handled duties at left tackle while Brandon Parker was the right tackle. Miller has reportedly been in the weight room consistently this offseason as he’s added more muscle to his frame. In free agency, the Raiders inked former super bowl champion and New England Patriot, Trent Brown, to the richest contract of any offensive lineman in NFL history. As such, it was expected he would continue in playing the left side of the line, however, he will shift to the right tackle position while Miller stays on the left. Each of the Raiders AFC-West foes possess formidable pass rushers on both sides of the line so having Brown switch sides does not mean he will see a lighter workload.
Early in the offseason, Kelechi Osemele was traded to the New York Jets in a cap saving move. Competition at the guard spot was soon added to the roster as the team signed Lester Cotton and the always intriguing Richie Incognito along with former seventh overall pick Jonathan Cooper. At right guard, it’s Gabe Jackson who was expected to start but a recent knee injury has him out for what could be several games of the regular season. With a two-game suspension given to Incognito, the Raiders will heavily rely on backups and newcomers at the start of the season.
As the regular season is fast approaching the Raiders offense is primed and ready for an explosive season. Just a few seasons ago when Carr was in the MVP conversation, it was in large part to the stellar protection he received. From the looks of it, this roster is more talented on paper and if the O-line can limit the hits Carr takes, Raider Nation could see this offense and team reach new heights in 2019.