There has been a shakeup on the Raiders offensive line this offseason. The biggest signing this offseason was the addition of center Rodney Hudson. Combine that with the strong play from Donald Penn at left tackle and Gabe Jackson at left guard, and three of the five offensive linemen are set. The Raiders also have decided to move 2014 top free agent addition Austin Howard from right guard to right tackle.
What we are left with is right guard as the major position which needed addressing in the draft. And after addressing wide receiver, defensive end, and tight end with their first three picks, the Raiders grabbed Miami offensive guard Jon Feliciano with their first pick on Day 3.
Raiders offensive line coach Mike Tice said Saturday that the right side of the line is "wide open". And one would assume that goes especially for the right guard spot.
Coming into a situation where the position at which he plays is up for grabs is ideal for any drafted player. It presents Feliciano with a great opportunity to start right away as a rookie.
"That's all you want coming in is an opportunity to compete and get better," said Felciano after being drafted by the Raiders. "We have that there at the Raiders and I know everyone is going to go in there and compete and try to get better and that's going to be awesome."
The Raiders' original 4th round selection was at 102 overall but after two times trading down in the round, they eventually landed at pick 128 - picking up a fifth rounder and two seventh round picks in the process.
It's hard to know for sure if they traded down explicitly with Feliciano in mind, but Mike Tice had a strong connection with him from the moment they first met.
"We hit it off right away," Tice said of his meeting with Felciano at the combine. "He's from, born in New York so I know a little bit about guys from New York. We chatted a little bit and loosened him up a little bit and when you can get those guys to loosen up at the combine you know they let their guard down you get a true feel of what they're about. This guy's tough, he's smart."
"I like his story. I like how close he is with his mom, his mom's been through some things and so she raised him which is good and I hear from talking to Jethro [Franklin] who was around the family down in Miami that they're very close and he gets his toughness from her, so that's good."
As for his play on the field, Feliciano certainly has a lot of experience. He started 46 games at Miami, 39 of which came at left guard. He also fits the power run game, which is what the Raiders are running this season.
"We wanna move mountains," said Tice. "We're more concerned with lateral quickness and change of direction, that's what we work diligently on. Jon pulls well already, that's good, so I'm excited to add him to the mix. It's gonna be good for our room. I'm sure there'll be some guys' feelings hurt but that's ok."
Those in the running for the right guard spot are several utility lineman, headed up by Khalif Barnes. Others who have lined up there are Kevin Boothe, Matt McCants, and Tony Bergstrom.
Barnes has played at every offensive line position but center. He is on his seventh consecutive one-year contract with the team as the guy who can step in at any guard or tackle position in case of injury. He is valuable for that role, but not ideal as the starter. Which is the main reason there was a need for an upgrade. The Raiders are looking to Feliciano as that upgrade.