If you judge a book by its cover, the Raiders offensive line has looked pretty good. But if you opened that book, you would see there are no pages inside. At one time this offseason, the Raiders had a total of four offensive linemen under contract, three of whom were starters.
Those returning linemen were left tackle Jared Veldheer, left guard Stefen Wisniewski, right guard Cooper Carlisle and backup lineman Joseph Barksdale. And since that time, a lot has changed.
The team opted not to re-sign center, Samson Satele. This meant Wisniewski would switch to the center position. Then the team cut right guard Cooper Carlisle and signed former Texan, Mike Brisiel, to play right guard. Shortly after that, the team re-signed Carlisle with the expressed intention of moving him to left guard. The team later re-signed right tackle Khalif Barnes. They also shipped their inactive dead weight backup, Bruce Campbell, to Carolina in a trade.
The team has since added some linemen to add depth and competition with their top draft choice Tony Bergstrom, free agent Ed Wang, and undrafted free agents Lucas Nix and Dan Knapp.
The team also has former practice squad players Zach Hurd and Alex Parsons back in the mix. This gives the team a total of 12 offensive linemen heading into camp with no true backup center in the bunch. I fully expect there to more additions to this group before training camp.
UPDATE: Raiders have signed center Colin Miller who was on the Steelers' practice squad last season.
Here is the Raiders offensive line depth chart as it currently stands heading into mini camps:
LT Jared Veldheer- The only surefire returning starter at the same position from last season.
LG Cooper Carlisle- Moves over from right guard. A solid veteran of the zone blocking scheme.
C Stefen Wisniewski- Hue Jackson pegged him as the next great center for the Raiders upon his drafting. Couldn't beat out Samson Satele as a rookie. The job is now his to lose.
RG Mike Brisiel- The biggest free agent signing by the team this offseason. A very talented zone blocking lineman with whom Greg Knapp is familiar from his time in Houston. His durability is his primary concern.
RT Khalif Barnes- He was re-signed to yet another one year deal. His biggest issue last season was penalties. Without them, he had a pretty good season. The team is hoping Joseph Barksdale can supplant him but Barnes is the starter until/unless Barksdale can outplay him.
LT Ed Wang- A former round five pick by the Bills, he appeared in 8 games as a rookie and was on injured reserve through his second season. At this moment, he is the Raiders best option to backup Veldheer... which is a bit scary considered his being a relative unknown. He can also play guard but at 6-5, 321 pounds, isn't ideal for a zbs guard.
LG Tony Bergstrom- Is the Raiders' left guard of the future but for now this former college offensive tackle will learn the ropes.
C Alex Parsons- Is serviceable as a center. He can also play guard. Barring an unforeseen additional free agent signing at center, Parsons ability to play center could be his ticket into the NFL with the Raiders.
RG Zach Hurd- This practice squad player is hoping to finally earn a roster spot as the primary backup at right guard.
RG *Lucas Nix- A solid pickup in undrafted free agency. Nix was projected by some as a mid-round prospect. He and Hurd will both have a legitimate shot at making this team as a backup right guard.
RT Joseph Barksdale- The Raiders hope he can be the team's next right tackle but he has yet to show he is capable of stepping up. There is nothing to suggest he can overtake Barnes at this point. If he can prove his worth or if Barnes can't fix his penalty issues, he will be the guy. If not, he will be the backup until further notice.
C Colin Miller- has been added to the camp roster and will provide much needed depth to make second or third team snaps.
OT *Dan Knapp- Undrafted free agent who at the outset has a long way to go to breaking into the lineup. He is a converted tight end and shocked a lot of people when he went from 279 to 304 pounds (25 pound weight gain) in the two months between January and March of this year. If he shows promise, he could be a practice squad guy and would figure as depth at one of the tackle positions down the road.
*The Raiders have not yet officially announced undrafted free agent signings.