2012 was a dismal year to say the least for the Oakland Raiders Offensive Line. Who could blame them though, they were forced to switch from a productive power running scheme to a zone blocking scheme that was an abomination. ProFootballFocus.com ranked the Raiders front five in the bottom third among pass blocking units. As far as the run blocking ranking, only two other teams were ranked lower than the Raiders.
This is in the past. It is a new year, and new Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson understands what type of players he is working with. He is building the offense around his weapons. Along with Olson, the Raiders hired Offensive Line Coach Tony Sparano. Sparano is widely known as a great offensive line coach. He has the ability to make mediocre players great.
The Raiders offensive line is not mediocre. As a matter of fact, the offensive line holds some excellent talent whose potential has not been tapped yet. Here is the current roster of linemen along with off-season acquisitions:
– Free Agent Acquisitions: T-Alex Barron (Free Agent from Seattle Seahawks), and T-Khalif Barnes (On 2012 Oakland Raiders).
– Rookie Acquisitions: C-Andrew Robiskie (Undrafted out of Western Illinois), G-Lamar Mady (Undrafted out of Youngstown State), G-Jason Foster (Undrafted out of Rhode Island), T-John Wetzel (Undrafted out of Boston College), and T-Menelik Watson (Drafted in the 2nd round of NFL Draft out of Florida State).
– From 2012 to Current Roster: C-Stefen Wisniewski, G-Mike Brisiel, G-Lucas Nix, G-Tony Bergstrom, G-Alex Parsons, T-Willie Smith, and T-Jared Veldheer.
There is a lot of depth on the offensive line. The standouts and top 6 players that will be on the 2013 roster are Wisniewski, Brisiel, Bergstrom, Veldheer, Watson, and Barnes. Barnes was the starting right tackle in 2012, but Watson was drafted to be the right tackle. The starter is going to be determined during training camp.
Wisniewski proved himself as a good solid center in 2012 and he will keep his job for the 2013 season. Bergstrom started at left guard and will continue to do so. Veldheer has been very solid at left tackle and he doesn’t have to worry about anybody unseating him. Brisiel, however, didn’t have the best year at right guard, and he suffered an injury that took him out of the lineup. Parsons, Mady, and Foster will battle with Brisiel for the starting guard position. Brisiel is the favorite, but he has to prove himself in order to impress the coaches.
This unit is going to improve due to the coaching staff and power blocking scheme that is being implemented. The starters have a couple of years together, and this is very important in building a productive offensive line. It creates cohesiveness and allows the line to gel. The line has a lot to prove this year. Look for them to come out firing in 2013.