How Has The Offensive Line Fared At Raiders Training Camp?

How Has The Offensive Line Fared At Raiders Training Camp?

Ask a hundred people what they think about the Raiders’ offensive line, and there’s a solid chance it’s a 50/50 split. Horrible. Lackluster. Subpar. These would be the adjectives that half of the people use to describe the unit. Underrated. Ascending. Talented. These are words that summarize the other side of the argument. The truth, as is typically the case, falls somewhere in between.

Assessing the offensive line as the pads come out at Raiders training camp

Left tackle Kolton Miller has blossomed into a premier blindside blocker in the NFL. The former first-round pick had a relatively slow start to his professional career but has improved his PFF grade across the board every season. He failed to fetch a run-blocking or pass-blocking grade north of 53 as a rookie. In comparison, Miller put up a 76.6 run-blocking grade and 84.8 pass-blocking grade in 2022.

The bookend to the offensive line is Jermaine Eluemunor. Once a fifth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens, the former Aggie found his way to the Patriots in 2019. This is where his path first crossed with Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels. Eluemunor saw the most action of his career in 2020 in New England.

Ironically enough, the young lineman arrived in Vegas before the front office duo. He appeared in 14 games for the Silver and Black in 2021, albeit in limited fashion. When Ziegler and McDaniels arrived to Sin City, Eluemunor seized a starting role on the offense and never looked back. He posted PFF grades above 75 in the following categories: overall offense, pass-blocking, and run-blocking.

The interior of the offensive line boasts two undrafted free agents and a third-rounder. Alex Bars and Andre James both started, and neither was particularly impressive. Bars allowed five sacks and often looked overmatched against the big bodies in the trenches.

James has been an iron man for the unit over the past two years. In over 2,000 snaps in that span, the undrafted free agent posted respectable PFF grades. However, watching the tape tells a different story. James is routinely walked back and lacks the anchor to root himself into the ground. He possesses remarkable strength but consistently fails to leverage it correctly off the snap.

Could Parham see a jump in development in 2023? Or is the dreaded “sophomore slump” awaiting him?

The most promising piece on the interior is Dylan Parham. The Memphis alum has work to do in the pass-blocking department, but he has the chops to be an elite run blocker. The six sacks he allowed as a rookie are inexcusable. He must clean things up on this front if Parham wants to stick on the unit long term.

The remaining names include Thayer Munford Jr., Justin Herron, Brandon Parker, Greg Van Roten, Netane Muti, Dalton Wagner, and McClendon Curtis. Of this group, Munford and Curtis are the most intriguing. Both players have extensive college experience under their belt and the talent to push for starting reps in 2023.

Now that we know how things stood entering Raiders training camp, how have things fared since the team arrived in Henderson?

Thus far, the Raiders have trotted out the exact same starting lineup they ended last season with. Miller, Parham, James, Bars, Eluemunor. Much like in 2022, the tackles have stood above the rest of the group. It would be a major curveball if Miller or Eluemunor get benched at any point in the near future.

The interior, on the other hand, is still a work in progress. The coaching staff and his peers have talked at length about Parham’s growth this offseason. Miller hyped up his teammate by speaking in depth about the second-year player’s development, primarily in the strength category.

James has been gushing over the addition of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the offense. The center-quarterback relationship is amongst the most important on a football field, and all signs point to a strong connection between the two. But James’ play must remain steady to hold on to his gig.

Reports say the starting center added nearly 10 pounds in weight this offseason. Hopefully, that allows James to sink into the field more as he anchors down in pass protection. This added strength should help on running downs as well.

The final member is less likely to retain his starting role in 2023. Bars is having a rough start to training camp, but with padded practices just now beginning, it is still too early to gauge the right guard position.

Right guard remains the biggest question mark on the offensive line

However, keep a close eye on Munford, Curtis, and Muti. They have all performed well this offseason and provide significantly higher upside than Bars. I had an early Day 3 grade on Curtis entering the 2023 NFL Draft, but he somehow went the entire event without hearing his name called. Ziegler has a clear affinity for undrafted free agents, so don’t sleep on the UT-Chattanooga star supplanting Bars.

All in all, I would say four starting positions are locked. Miller and Eluemunor are clearly the best options at tackle. James, for all his faults, is a reliable option at center and a respected voice. The Raiders are hoping Parham takes a second-year leap. If this occurs, it will only make them a better unit compared to 2022.

The odd man out is — and should be — Bars. He has had a slow start to camp and suffered through horrific play for much of his lone season in Vegas. With some hungry players behind him, it could be a heated battle for the right guard spot. Expect it to drag on for most of Raiders training camp before McDaniels and Co. select a starter.

*Top Photo: Rick Scuteri/AP Photos

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