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Raiders offensive line takes shape, expected to move mountains

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With Donald Penn having re-signed in Oakland, the final piece of the Raiders offensive line is in place. They had already added Kelechi Osemele on a big free agent contract and he will shore up the need the Raiders had at guard, giving the Raiders what is expected to be one of the better offensive lines in football.

Some believe Osemele will move to left guard with Gabe Jackson switching to right guard. Neither of them have played the right guard spot, so there is a bit of uncertainty as to whether that will be a smooth transition. As a rookie in 2014 Jackson locked down the left guard spot in Oakland and showed himself to be one of the better guards in football.

Pro Football Focus seems to think the Raiders could rival the Cowboys for the best offensive line in the league.

Bringing back Penn allows the Raiders to move one of the biggest free-agent signings of the offseason, Kelechi Osemele (79.6) back to guard—a position he is more experienced with. In 2015, his eight highest-graded performances of the season all came at left guard, while four of his worst six came in the four weeks he played left tackle.

The move gives the Raiders the best offensive line on paper heading into the 2016 season. Oakland added Rodney Hudson (84.7) at center last offseason, and he lived up to the hype. They drafted Gabe Jackson (84.4) in the third round of 2014 and he became an immediate starter. Austin Howard (80.6) was able to move to right tackle for 2015, and he had the best year of his career in pass-protection.

As high of an opinion as PFF has, they left out Menelik Watson as a potential starter. He has yet to be able to remain healthy, but prior to injuries he has twice earned a starting tackle spot with the Raiders. Either he will do it again and be named the Raiders starting right tackle again, or he will provide valuable depth at the position.

Last year's fourth round pick, Jon Feliciano also provides good depth as he is capable of playing guard or center. He stepped in as a starter at right guard late in the season to lackluster results, but he showed potential for improvement.

Even if Penn is not the long term answer, he provides the Raiders with a proven, reliable pass protector until they can find a long term solution. That could be in the draft, but they have the flexibility now to keep from having to reach at the position.