The Las Vegas Raiders made wholesale changes along the offensive line, but it is a unit to be excited about this upcoming season.
Going into this offseason, many felt that the offensive line was a group that was set heading into the 2021 NFL season, not one that needed to be revamped. Sure, Trent Brown had his issues in the Silver and Black, never really be available for a long period of time, but he was under contract, and very good when healthy.
However, when all was said and done, Brown was traded away, as was Gabe Jackson, who was one of the longer-tenured Raiders on the roster. The biggest blow, though, was Rodney Hudson, the premier center in all of football, and one who had become a leader for this franchise on the field, and in the locker room.
Suddenly, the offensive line had major holes, and the Raiders were quick to fix them. They gave Andre James a bunch of money to be the new starting center, adding Nick Martin behind him, and drafted Alabama star offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
To replace Jackson, a familiar face steps into a full-time starting role in Denzelle Good, so overall, this is a new group to be excited about.
Raiders offensive line should gel into a dominant unit
Richie Incognito returns after an injury-riddled 2020 season, and the hope is that he can stay healthy enough to lead this team on the field. Left tackle Kolton Miller has rounded into a legitimate top-tier player at his position since his shaky 2018 rookie season and will be relied upon to help the rookie, Leatherwood, in Year 1.
Martin is a solid backup to James and has a ton of starting experience, and we saw that Brandon Parker can be really effective when they use him as a swing tackle. Another player that I am really excited about is John Simpson, who was an absolute mauler at Clemson, and I believe will be a long-term starter for this organization when all is said and done.
The Las Vegas Raiders have question marks on both sides of the ball, but quarterback Derek Carr has more options than ever in 2021.
The Raiders may have lost some key players along the offensive line this offseason, but the talent that remains is good enough to win them football games. Sure, they have first-time starters, but they also have some outstanding players at guard and tackle, and enough leadership to bring the younger players along.
So while it is a new group, get excited about what they could become.