In our ongoing series exploring the current state of the Raiders roster, Hayden Nadolny looks at the interior lineman on the offensive side of the ball for Oakland.
When the trio of Osemele, Hudson and Jackson and all in sync and firing on all cylinders, they are the best interior trio in the NFL. Given Jon Gruden‘s love to play power football and ram the ball down the defense’s throats, the interior offensive line are going to play a huge role in setting the tone of the entire offense.
Hudson keeps going from strength to strength with the Raiders. He was the best performer on offense in 2017, receiving Pro Bowl honours. Hudson is better in pass protection than as a run blocker, but still excels in both facets of the game. Gruden recently described the Hudson and Carr battery, “…as good as I’ve ever had in football,”some praise given that he had Rich Gannon and Barret Robbins during his past tenure with the Raiders. Hudson will once again be leaned on to lead the offensive line in 2018, a job that he will no doubt do with excellence.
Jackson had a down year at right guard in 2017. He started off the season poorly but got better as it went on. His run blocking really let him down, a suggestion that he struggled a lot with the outside zone runs Todd Downing and Mike Tice were emphasising in the gameplans. Jackson’s talent in undeniable, but he will need to bounce back in 2018. Otherwise, he could be a cap casualty next off-season given that he would not accrue any dead money on the salary cap if he were to be released.
In 2016, KO was the most dominant guard in football. He was throwing guys around like rag dolls every game. It was a beautiful sight to see. But in 2017, we didn’t see these feats of physicality nearly enough. Donald Penn’s holdout really hindered the chemistry between him and KO, and they struggled to execute their combination blocks all season. He did receive Pro Bowl honours, though it could be argued his reputation played a big role in this. An integral part of the offense, KO back at his best will no doubt result in the offense humming in 2018.
Feliciano has fared well the past few years as a backup guard and center. He played well this past pre-season, cementing himself as Rodney Hudson’s backup at the center spot going into the 2017 season. In the two games he saw significant snaps on offense at right guard, he was solid, especially in pass protection. His run blocking against the Broncos however left much to be desired, though he excelled in this area against the Ravens earlier in the year. Feliciano is in a contract year in 2018 and will be counting on a big year to get a starting opportunity somewhere in 2019.
Kirkland was a pre-season injury casualty and spent the past season on IR. He contributed as an extra lineman when the Raiders used an unbalanced line in 2016, with his best game against Von Miller and the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. If healthy, Kirkland will have a great chance to make the 53-man roster. Just a thought, but if Gruden wants to get creative with his personnel, he could even use Kirkland as a lead blocker in some short yardage sets out of a 2 back (I-formation or split) set.
Silberman was a pre-season standout, and the Raiders had a real conundrum on their hands: either keep him on the 53-man roster, or try to stash him on the practice squad. They went with the latter, but he was picked up off the waiver wire by the Colts. After short stints with Indianapolis and Cleveland, he returned to the Raiders late in the season. At this stage, Silberman’s best hope of making the 53-man roster come the fall is to beat out one of Feliciano or Kirkland for a backup role.
Free agency targets:
This is the one position on the Raiders roster that is well balanced from top to bottom. There really is not a need to find any free agents to plug holes in this spot. If the Raiders really wanted to beef up their line, they could consider splurging on Andrew Norwell and moving Osemele to LT (subsequently releasing Donald Penn), though this is more a move for a Madden franchise than actual reality.