It may be the 4th of July but that doesn't mean you take a day off from getting your Raiders fix and therefore neither do I. So, let's continue with our comparisons between last season and the way the team currently is shaping up at the offensive tackle position.
2012: Jared Veldheer, Khalif Barnes, Tony Bergstrom, Willie Smith
2013: Jared Veldheer, Khalif Barnes, Alex Barron, Menelik Watson, Willie Smith, John Wetzel
The top of this group remains the same with Jared Veldheer locking down the left tackle spot and Khalif Barnes as the favorite to keep the job at right tackle. Everything else is an upgrade.
Backing up Veldheer last season was Tony Bergstrom. Though he never had to actually play at left tackle, he came in games as an extra tackle in jumbo packages and was listed as Veldheer's backup. If Bergstrom ever had to actually step in and play left tackle, it would likely not have been good. He is a guard for this team and though he played tackle in college, it was right tackle. He is still on the team but will now work solely as a guard.
Now there are two possible players who could step in to back up Veldheer - Alex Barren and John Wetzel - both of whom are actual offensive tackles by trade which is a plus.
Right tackle Willie Smith is also still on the team... for now. The team used their second round pick this year which they acquired in trade with the Dolphins to move down in the first round to select Menelik Watson. While Watson may not be considered ready to start right now, he is still thought to be an upgrade to Smith. That wouldn't take much considering Smith was plain terrible last season filling in for Barnes for seven games.
The infusion of actual competition for the backup roles at each tackle position and perhaps even the starting right tackle position is a definite upgrade from last season.