There are going to be several key battles during training camp this year for the Las Vegas Raiders. Chief among them will be the offensive line.
Team brass made sure to retain every offensive lineman from last year’s group, which has some fans concerned. However, new head coach Josh McDaniels has made it a point that he believes the Raiders have capable players in the trenches. More than that, earlier in the offseason, general manager Dave Ziegler stated that there were plans to acquire an offensive lineman, but those plans fell through. Instead, the Raiders’ brain trust improved other areas, including the defense and receiving corps.
What did the Raiders do regarding the offensive line?
While free agency did not offer much in the way of improvement, the team retained Jermaine Eluemunor, who played under McDaniels back in New England. The Raiders are also awaiting Denzelle Good’s return from injury after he missed last season save for 17 snaps. It’s obvious that playing time will be determined by who puts on the best display during camp. Leatherwood, who many feel should be the team’s right guard, has been busy this offseason getting into prime shape.
With the NFL draft now in the rearview mirror, we can also begin to take a look at what additions the team made last weekend. Two offensive linemen were drafted: Dylan Parham and Thayer Munford. While Munford figures to be a project at the moment, Parham could end up competing for a starting spot. He comes into the NFL as a potential guard and could figure to be in a battle with Andre James, as several scouts saw Parham as an NFL center.
The entire offensive line will be up for grabs
The fact is, other than Kolton Miller at left tackle, none of the positions should, in theory, be set in stone. Coach McDaniels has also been non-committal so far in the offseason as to who will play in which slot, particularly Leatherwood.
Pro Football Focus had the Raiders ranked 28th among all NFL offensive lines and even if you don’t care for their grades or rankings, the struggles were evident all last season. The potential combinations for the Raiders are interesting, and we really shouldn’t rule anything out. For example, you could have Parham play center and move James to left guard. He previously played left tackle at UCLA. Another lineup could feature Eluemunor at right tackle, Leatherwood at right guard, James at center, Good at left guard, and Miller in his familiar position. The benefit of this group is that you can have Parham take over Good’s role as the swing lineman as he transitions to the NFL.
Once we get closer to training camp, we’ll then see how the coaching staff feels about each player and, with that, have a better idea of a potential lineup. Be that as it may, the offensive line will be a must-see battle.
*Top Photo: Associated Press/Rick Scuteri