Oakland Raiders: 5 best players entering 2017 NFL season

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 4: Quarterback Derek Carr
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 4: Quarterback Derek Carr /
3 of 5

. Left Guard. Iowa State Cyclones. Kelechi Osemele. 3. player. 28

As stated previously in the “do the Raiders have the best guard tandem in football” post on JustBlogBaby.com, you’re darn right that left guard Kelechi Osemele makes the cut. Could the dude have had a better first year with the Raiders than he did in 2016? The guy was unbelievable.

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Osemele was the fifth-best guard last year according to Pro Football Focus with a 87.4 overall grade. That puts him a tick ahead of Carr at No. 3 in terms of the Raiders’ best returning player. Osemele was seventh in pass protection at 86.3 and fifth in run blocking 85.8.

When you’re in the conversation with Baltimore Ravens guard Marshal Yanda, you know that you had an outstanding year. Yanda has been largely the best guard in football for the last several years. To think that those two were teammates from 2012 to 2015 has to make your head spin. If only Baltimore knew what it was doing at offensive coordinator and that’s why they’re the Ravens.

Looking back on the season that was, it’s hard to argue the Raiders’ signing of Osemele in 2016 free agency was anything but a top-five acquisition. It’s right up there with center Alex Mack going from the Cleveland Browns to the Atlanta Falcons and the massive overhaul Jerry Reese did to the New York Giants defense. Reese’s offseason of landing Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins and Olivier Vernon may never be replicated.

Osemele will only be in his sixth NFL season. He has played among some of the very best in the game today in Yanda and Raiders teammates Rodney Hudson and Donald Penn. Raider Nation, if you are not fired up about this Osemele guy playing guard for y’all, what are you doing? He’s not Gene Upshaw, but man, do have the Raiders got something special in Osemele. Right guard Gabe Jackson should have great 2017 as well.