In our last episode of "Working Toward the 53-Man Roster" we discussed the defensive line. Today we'll discuss the big guys on the other side of the ball, the offensive line. Make the jump to read the article.
In 2006, Hall of Fame offensive lineman Art Shell was brought back for a second stint as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, and promised a return to hard-nosed power football. We all hung our heads in shame at the result. The Raiders offensive line complained at having up to three different offensive line coaches (I’ve got eight bosses Bob…eight), never got into a cohesive unit, and also had to deal with the only 9-step drop offense in the modern NFL. Dark days indeed for the Oakland Raiders offensive line.
When Lane Kiffin was made the head coach prior to the 2007 season, he brought along with him offensive line coach Tom Cable, who had previously been coaching for the Atlanta Falcons. Cable intended to install a zone-blocking scheme, something Raiders fans had all been familiar with as we had watched the Denver Broncos run all over the Raiders in previous years with a similar scheme (the Raiders aren’t nearly as dirty as those Broncos lineman were though, my goodness).
Cable’s zone-blocking scheme, along with a few personnel changes – particularly
Last season the Raiders kept 10 offensive lineman on their 53-man roster. I see the Raiders keeping 9-10 on this year’s roster, depending on how many wide receivers, defensive lineman, or linebackers they are intent on keeping. Here is a breakdown of the depth chart by position.
Mario Henderson was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of
In the offseason the Raiders signed free agent Khalif Barnes to compete with
While many Raiders fans hoped Barnes would shift over to right tackle to displace incumbent starter Cornell Green, Barnes was given the opportunity to challenge Mario Henderson for the left tackle job. Barnes also told the media that he had not played right tackle since his college days at the
Wand is a journeyman left tackle who has played with the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and Oakland Raiders. Wand had been released by the Raiders, but Barnes’ injury brought him back on August 5th. Wand got most of his playing time with the Texans, making 18 starts in 45 games. Wand will need to show significant versatility in practice and the rest of preseason if he wants to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. As it stands now, he’s a long shot.
Gallery’s career with the Raiders has been well documented. Drafted #2 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft (over Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Sean Taylor, Ben Roethlisburger, etc.) due to his "safe pick" status, Gallery struggled in his first 3 seasons with the Raiders, shifting from right tackle to left tackle, then back to right tackle. Finally, in 2007, Tom Cable stopped the bleeding by moving Gallery to left guard in his zone blocking scheme. Since then Gallery has been an absolute mauler, and should reasonably have been in the Pro Bowl in 2008 had the Raiders strung together a few more wins. Gallery recently had an emergency appendectomy, but once healthy he will once again anchor the Raiders offensive line, and if the Raiders succeed, expect Gallery to make his first Pro Bowl.
Paul "McNasty" McQuistan, a 3rd round pick in the 2006 Draft, has been a primary backup for the Raiders since being drafted. McQuistan showed signs of being able to hold down the right tackle spot late in 2007 when Cornell Green was injured, but in 2008 Tom Cable and Lane Kiffin stated McQuistan was the primary backup at both LT and LG. When Kwame Harris was injured opening night against
When the Raiders allowed Jake Grove to leave via free agency, many of us assumed the Raiders would address the glaring need through the draft. Instead, the Raiders traded their 6th round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for Samson Satele, who interestingly enough had just lost his starting job to Jake Grove. The Dolphins were willing to let Satele go because they felt he was not well suited for the Dolphins’ power blocking scheme, and he had struggled against some of the larger nose tackles in the
The Raiders signed John Wade prior to the 2008 season to be the primary backup center. Due to injury to Jake Grove, Wade started 4 games for the Raiders and performed admirably, especially in the win against
Morris was drafted in the 7th round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Since then, he has played 31 games, making one start at RG vs.
If the Denver Broncos were the kings of the zone blocking scheme earlier this decade, then why not bring in someone who was a part of that? The Raiders signed
Johnson was selected by the Vikings in the 2nd round of the 2005 NFL Draft and played both right guard and right tackle for the Vikings, making 18 starts in 47 games. The Raiders signed Johnson as a free agent early in the 2009 offseason. Johnson will need to outplay
Jonathan Compas is a rookie undrafted free agent from my alma mater UC Davis (Go Aggies!). Like many of the others hoping for a backup role, Compas can play both right guard and right tackle. Still, there are a lot of people in front of him.
Cornell "Cornbread" Green was originally signed by the Raiders before the 2007 season to be a backup tackle. Somehow, he found his way into the starting lineup and except for the time he was injured, has started every game at right tackle. While Green is above average in run blocking, in 26 starts for the Raiders Green has allowed 14.5 sacks for 86 yards and committed 16 penalties for 90 yards. Green was also arrested for aggravated domestic battery earlier this year, something I thought was going to bring an end to his tenure with the Raiders, but apparently not. Green still has a hold on the starting right tackle job, but preseason will be telling to see if he can protect JaMarcus Russell any better this year.
Like Cooper Carlisle, the Raiders brought in another former Bronco with experience in the zone blocking scheme to compete for a spot on the offensive line. Of all the candidates for backup roles, Pears has the most starting experience, having started 16 games at right tackle and 10 games at left tackle for the Broncos during his tenure there. Unfortunately, reports out of training camp indicated Pears wasn’t distinguishing himself from the other candidates. As stated above, he’ll need to outplay several of these other candidates for a roster spot.
James Marten was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 3rd round of the 2007 NFL Draft and made their 53-man roster but never dressed for a game. He was released after the 2007 season and the Raiders signed him as a free agent. Marten made the 53-man roster last season and dressed for Week 3 against the Bills, but was otherwise inactive. Marten is listed on the Raiders depth chart at right tackle, but played both left tackle and guard at
ADAM'S PROJECTED LINEUP
Starters: Henderson, Gallery, Satele, Carlisle, Green. I'm still hoping Barnes can take over at RT.
Backups: Barnes, McQuistan, Morris, Johnson, Pears
Your thoughts on the Raiders' 2009 offensive line S&BP?