With two first-round picks, the Las Vegas Raiders can address both an immediate and future need, the latter being offensive line. Andrew Thomas could be the mauler that dominates the Silver and Black trenches for the next decade.
In 2019, the Raiders offensive line had one of its best years in recent team history. However, this doesn’t mean the unit should be ignored in the draft. The two starting tackles are third-year player Kolton Miller and Trent Brown, who signed a massive contract before last season. So why would the Raiders use a first-round pick, the 19th in particular, on an offensive lineman? Two reasons: First, if Derek Carr’s to remain the starting quarterback, keeping him upright should be the organization’s number one priority. And second, the interior of the line has question marks.
Reinforcing the Trenches
Rodney Hudson is one of, if not, the best center in the league right now so that position doesn’t need addressing. What about he guards? That’s a different situation. Gabe Jackson, as of the publishing of this article, is still on the Raiders roster. Nonetheless, he’s been the victim of the injury bug since 2018, suffering elbow and an MCL injury since then. It doesn’t mean his career’s over but being an offensive lineman is one of the most taxing positions in football, and the shelf life can be short. On the other side, we have Richie Incognito who superseded expectations last year, but is turning 37 in July. Anyone that understands football and the punishment an offensive lineman goes thru can see this situation has the potential to become concerning.
Thomas, the 6-foot-5 and 320 pound Georgia product, could be the answer to this potential issue. Draft him and you can move him into the interior, where he can be coached by Tom Cable, who surprised many with the job he did last year. The Raiders once signed Kelechi Osemele and moved him to the guard position. As far as I recall, that worked out brilliantly. Here’s the thing, it’s possible that with Incognito and Jackson (if he stays), you could have Thomas sit behind them and adjust his game. You could also move Jackson and have Thomas start from Day One.
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As an AP First Team All-American, Thomas definitely has the potential to be an instant starter. Not only would he be an asset in protecting Carr but he could be crucial in continuing the dominant Raiders running game as well. NFL Network Analyst Lance Zierlein highlighted this notion, “Hurries to get lateral landmarks in the run game.” Albert Breer of MMQB called Thomas “unspectacular”, which isn’t necessarily a slight but rather a possible sign of him being a fit at guard. You really can’t go wrong with this pick. After all, the Raiders don’t need a franchise tackle right now but can ensure their offensive line’s continuity.
Jordan Reid of The Draft Network has Thomas as the fourth ranked tackle prospect which may indicate he could be there at 19, possibly. Raider Nation is practically begging for a wide receiver in the first round, so why not both? Select an offensive weapon at 12 and then make sure the offensive line is capable of dominating for the next decade, protecting Carr and while building on the resurgence of the running game.
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