Next up in our Poll Position series, we look at guard. The Raiders set out to try and fix the problems last off-season and yet still managed to have one of the worst run games in the NFL. And while the guard play is not directly equated to the run game numbers, that was the whole point to getting that area shored up. Here is what they have:
Started as a rookie last season. The Raiders could have gone with Khalif Barnes at left guard and Menelik Watson at right tackle to start the year, but they liked Jackson so much, they gave the rookie the start, started Barnes at right tackle and left Watson on the sideline. The third round rookie held his own at guard. He wasn't spectacular, but once he locked up with a defender, he excelled in controlling the his assignment through to the whistle.
Was the first big free agent the Raiders signed (outside of Rodger Saffold whose contract was voided soon thereafter due to failed physical). He moved over from tackle to play right guard and didn't live up to expectations. Some have suggested he move back to right tackle, which is not out of the realm of possibility if the Raiders needed him to do so. Keep in mind, he wasn't an outstanding right tackle either.
Stefen Wisniewski (UFA)
The longest tenured member of the Raiders offensive line. He has started at center for the team the past three seasons. Though he had some snap issues with Derek Carr last season, it is not something that has plagued him over his career. He excels in run blocking and holds his own as a pass blocker as well. He is the nephew of Raiders legendary left guard, Steve Wisniewski, but that's no guarantee he will be back with the team. His contract is up and he has already turned down offers this season from the Raiders on a contract extension so it remains to be seen what the future holds for him.
Listed among the tackles as well, he has started at left guard ten times over the past two seasons. He was re-signed to his seventh straight one-year extension this year. The 33-year-old offers insurance at guard, at least in the short term.
While Barnes is the utility backup at LG and RT, Boothe is the utility backup at RG and C. The original Raider, returned to the team last year after seven seasons in New York with the Giants. He will turn 32 in July so he can be a temporary solution this season if need be.
The very first pick by the new regime in Oakland back in 2012. Initially seen as a zone blocking specialist, the Raiders switched to power blocking in his second season and then he got injured. Lasts season he made the team out of camp, but probably shouldn't have. He spent the entire season inactive.