The Las Vegas Raiders have decisions to make upfront along the offensive line, and John Simpson could be the answer at right guard moving forward.
During his time at Clemson, John Simpson was an absolute mauler for the Tigers, helping the program to two national titles. A consensus All-American in 2019, Simpson was rated as one of the better interior linemen coming out in the 2020 NFL Draft, which made it a bit of a shock when he fell to the Las Vegas Raiders in the fourth round.
Since joining the Raiders, the former first-team All-ACC player has been used in a reserve role, but with all the changes upfront in 2021, he may be the best player suited to take over at right guard. That role was occupied by Gabe Jackson this past season, and with him traded away to Seattle, Simpson has a fighting chance to step in and start in Year 3.
Simpson did get some playing time as a rookie, starting two games, and appearing in seven. He replaced Richie Incognito against New Orleans when Incognito went down due to injury, and his first NFL start came against the New England Patriots. Though he was adjusting to the NFL, Simpson looked the part, and is definitely someone who is a part of the long-term solution in Las Vegas.
Raiders counting on a shuffled deck along the offensive line
Going into the offseason, the Raiders offensive line seemed set, but after the team traded away Jackson, Trent Brown, and Rodney Hudson, new faces will have to come in and step up. Alex Leatherwood is slated to start as a rookie at right tackle, and Andre James is expected to beat out Nick Martin to be the team’s starting center.
Denzelle Good is penciled in as the starting right guard opposite Incognito right now, but Simpson is someone to keep an eye on this summer. He has the tools to be a very good player at the next level, and it would not be surprising if he broke camp as the starter at right guard.
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By starting Simpson, Good can be used in his natural role as a swing offensive lineman, as he has the ability to play both offensive guard and offensive tackle. That would give the Raiders good depth all over the offensive line, and as we saw last season, you need those kinds of movable parts, especially now that the NFL is moving towards a 17-game slate.