The Las Vegas Raiders are in serious need of improving their wide receiver corps and the linebacker position. They can use the draft to address those holes, but they can’t make their offensive line an afterthought in the process of doing so.
In 2019, the Raiders offensive line performed well and paved way for last year’s rookie Josh Jacobs and also kept quarterback Derek Carr on his feet. It can be said it was a position of strength, probably the second best group, behind only tight end.
However, Las Vegas can’t take their offensive line for granted, they must reload it. If they start doing it a year too late, they’re going to go back to 2018 form, when they allowed 51 sacks. There are warning signs and even though they might not be as loud at this moment, if they aren’t taken care of, it’s going to bite them back.
Trent Brown was an offensive line pillar… when he was healthy. Injury can take its toll on players and derail careers from one year to another, It’s too early to say that will be the tackle’s case, but it’s worth monitoring. Richie Incognito isn’t getting any younger and it’s uncertain how many years he has left.
Age and injury and aren’t the only reasons teams see their offensive lines fall apart. Free agency has separated and will divide players from teams. The Raiders currently have a healthy amount of cap space; they can afford to keep their players without making any cuts and even sign a pair of premiere difference makers. That might not be the case in a couple years. If Las Vegas makes the leap and turns into a perineal contender, it will be because of the talent they have on their roster.
When any given team has many superb players, they have to make tough choices, select some and let others go. Not having cap space because they need to sign players from leaving is a good problem to have, one Raider Nation would love to have, but if that scenario becomes the norm, the Raiders need to plan ahead, which means drafting and developing future building blocks.
Mike Freeman recently said he sees the Raiders taking a tackle with the 12th overall pick, which is far-fetched as there are more pressing needs, but then again, there were better players and roster holes and they ended up drafting Kolton Miller, so more shocking things have happened. One reason Las Vegas won’t take that route is they have Miller and offered Trent Brown a blockbuster deal to be their right tackle for four years.
On the other hand, they could pick a guard and because there aren’t many worth drafting in the first round, the Raiders could use one or a couple of their three third-round picks to select a guard.
Again, linebacker and receiver should be addressed in the draft, but the Raiders can’t let attrition tear their offensive line apart.
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