In 2015, the Raiders signed Rodney Hudson to a five year $44.5 million dollar contract, stealing the talented Center from their division rival, Kansas City Chiefs. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie was looking to find someone who could anchor the middle of the offensive line and he made sure he got his man.
“We felt like he was one of the best centers in the league, if not the best,” McKenzie said after the signing. “We had the opportunity to get him, we were going to get him.”
Hudson wasted no time in proving McKenzie’s assessment of his abilities was correct by tying Travis Frederick of the Dallas Cowboys as the best pass blocking Center in 2015 as Levi Damien reported here.
Not satisfied with simply tying for first, Hudson followed up his great 2015 season with and even better 2016 campaign according to PFF grades.
C: Rodney Hudson, Oakland Raiders
Hudson was one of just three centers last season to log at least 382 snaps in pass protection and not allow a single sack nor QB hit. Of those three players, Hudson pass protected on the most snaps with 629. His 98.9 pass-block efficiency rating topped all centers and was the third highest among any offensive lineman across all five positions.
Of his four years in which he has played the majority of his respective team’s snap at center, this is the first year Hudson had not allowed a sack. 2016 marked the second consecutive season in which Hudson fielded the league’s highest PBE among centers, and his third in a row in the top two.
Hudson joins the men on each side of him in having not given up a single sack last season. Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson are the only guard duo in the league to not give up a single sack in 2016. And along with Hudson, they are most certainly the only interior trio to accomplish that feat.
Offensive linemen usually only get noticed for penalties, sacks, or pancakes. Rodney Hudson brings a lot to the offense that will never get noticed by the fans or fill a stat sheet. A combination of intelligence, hard work, and attention to detail play a large role in the success of the Raiders passing attack. The hours of film study help Hudson recognize pressure packages and adjust line calls, this has really aided the development of Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr.
“Rodney is a very smart player and he makes my job a lot easier,” Carr said during the 2015 season. “Going up to the line and hearing him make the calls, we have great communication. I think our chemistry together has been really good throughout camp.”
A great example of Hudson’s intelligence and recognition came on one of the most iconic plays of the 2016 season. The Saints bring a 6 man pressure on third down while the Raiders have 6 blockers to account for them. Hudson will have to take #94 Cameron Jordan to allow Right Guard Gabe Jackson and Right Tackle Austin Howard to block the two defenders rushing from the offenses right side. Hudson gets enough of Jordan to allow Carr to pick up the first down in stunning fashion.
There is an age old saying that “A great player makes the guys around him better” and nothing could be more true of Rodney Hudson. While there are no grades or statistics for how much a player helps out another, the game film sure highlights it.
On this play Hudson gives a little assist to both Right Guard Gabe Jackson and Left Guard Kelechi Osemele. This is just one play though you can witness this on most plays throughout the season. Hudson’s ability to “feel” where his help is needed may be his best and most underrated asset.
While the Raiders have great individual offensive linemen, Hudson plays a huge role in them operating as a unit. A great offensive line coach analogy is “An offensive line is like five fingers, we have to turn them into a fist”. The Raiders are looking for that fist to punch some people in the mouth this season. Here is one more look at what this group is capable of when operating as a unit.
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