Oakland Raiders offensive line becoming secret weapon


Gabe Jackson leads improving Raiders offensive line. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders offensive line posses potential to be the team’s secret weapon after the bye week.

Currently, the group allows quarterback pressure on 18 percent of dropbacks. That makes them No.1 in the league compared to the entire NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Could the Raiders have the best offensive line in the league?

Overall, the group grades out as the No. 3 offensive line in pass blocking.

However, any Raider fan can tell you this group has room for improvement.

In run blocking, the group ranks in the bottom dozen of the league. There are many times the casual fan can see the group failing to push the opposing defensive line off of the ball.

A lot of that comes from the right side of the offensive line. J’Marcus Webb ranks No. 69 in running blocking for guards, and in the bottom five for players at his position.

Webb is a great story. He went from not playing in 2014, to starting this season. Clearly, the position still needs improvement.

Webb’s partner on the right side is only a bit better. Austin Howard has a -1.9 overall rating. Howard also leads the group with three allowed sacks.

Howard signed a robust free agency deal before 2014, as he was slated to be a bookend of the offensive line. Howard started last season at guard, before returning to the right tackle position this season. Howard lost his starting position to Menelik Watson in the preseason, but Watson gave the position back after an Achillies injury ended Watson’s 2015 season.

On the other side, Gabe Jackson grades as the fourth best overall blocker at the guard position. In only his second season, Jackson has a bright future in the league.

The starting left tackle, Donald Penn, rates as the No. 15 left tackle with a positive 4.4 grade. Not bad for a 2014 free agent casted-away by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Penn would probably be ranked higher if it was not for a poor performance versus the Denver Broncos.

2015 flagship free agent signer Rodney Hudson ranks as the No. 14 center with a 2.2 grade. Hudson still has a positive grade, but he must improve in the run blocking department, where he registers a negative grade.

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So what does any of this mean?

Obviously, the grades from Pro Football Focus are an opinion on the offensive line.

Derek Carr bails the group out by getting the ball out quick. Latavius Murray also helps the group with his elusiveness. However, Murray’s inconsistency also makes the group inconsistent.

Nonetheless, the group is trending in the right direction. Improvement on the right side of the line could make the Raiders group one of the best in the league.

Offensive line play comes down to individual toughness and playing as a unit.

Offensive line coach Mike Tice clearly has this group playing tough. They compete despite being over-matched. Outside of Hudson and Jackson, the group came from nowhere.

They can still improve on mental toughness by playing more discipline. Penn, Hudson and Jackson all have negative offensive penalty grades.

Collectively, they will continue meshing as a group. Outside of Penn and Jackson, these guys are still learning each other’s speed and style. Naturally, they should continue getting better as they play more snaps together.

In closing, the Raiders offensive line is are already playing better than people expected. However, there is still much room for improvement. Yet, the offensive line has potential to be the Raiders secret weapon for years to come.

All ratings and grades via Pro Football Focus (Subscription required).