Austin Howard vs Marshall Newhouse vs David Sharpe
The right tackle job for the Raiders is looking like a three-horse race these days. That’s not necessarily a good thing, either.
Howard started at right tackle much of the past two seasons, though by default due to injuries to former second round pick, Menelik Watson. After four seasons plagued by injuries, Watson was allowed to leave as a free agent, signing with the Broncos. So, for the first time in three years, he won’t head into training camp as the Raiders’ starting right tackle.
In 2015, Howard seemed to hold his own after moving over from the right guard spot, back to right tackle where he had played with the Jets prior to signing with the Raiders as a free agent in 2014.
In years past he left behind far too much dead money for Reggie McKenzie’s liking, making it better to have a $6 million insurance plan rather than pay him to play elsewhere. That could change this year as for the first time, his cap savings ($3.6 million) outweighs the dead money he leaves ($2.8 million) should he be cut. But he would have to recover from offseason shoulder surgery first.
In offseason workouts Howard was working with the first team, but once OTA’s began, he hasn’t seen the practice field as he rehabs that shoulder.
Newhouse has taken first team reps in OTA’s. He was signed this offseason to a two-year free agent deal. The 6-year veteran started 20 games for the New York Giants over the past two seasons.
He went from full time starter in 2015 to part time in 2016, bouncing between right tackle and left guard. Newhouse’s ability to play multiple position on the line is what Jack Del Rio said he likes about the 6-3, 326-pounder.
“Marshall can play anywhere on the O-line except for center, so he’s very versatile,” said Del Rio during week one of OTA’s. “He’s played a lot of football, too. We know what we got there. We know we’ve got a solid guy that can play any down.”
It’s certainly in Newhouse’s favor in this battle to be getting the reps with the first team while Howard recovers. Should he impress, Del Rio could make it his job to lose.
David Sharpe could also make some noise in this competition. He was the team’s fourth round pick out of Florida. Should neither Newhouse nor Howard lay claim to the starting job, Sharpe could be given a shot.
At 6-6, 343 pounds, Sharpe is a monster of a man. He played left tackle primarily for the Gators and that ultimately where he could land, but that’s at least a year down the road. In OTA’s he has been working primarily at right tackle with the second team behind Newhouse.
If Sharpe plays well enough to earn the confidence of the team as at least the primary backup and Newhouse were to remain as the first team tackle, the team could seriously consider letting go of Austin Howard rather than pay him $6.4 million to be a backup.
Wildcard: Vadal Alexander
Coming up the rear with a depth chart to climb is last year’s seventh round pick, Vadal Alexander. Heading into last year’s draft, he was considered by many to be a day two pick. He ended up falling into the seventh round before the Raiders made him their last pick of the draft.
Some draft predictions had him pegged as a guard, not a tackle. He played some guard last year for the Raiders, but with the injuries at right tackle, he saw time there as well.
In OTA’s thus far, he has been the primary backup at left guard behind Kelechi Osemele and the third team right tackle. One would assume that would be fourth team if Austin Howard were healthy and practicing.
He gets a mention in this battle because of the overall uncertainty at the position.
All in all, it’s good to have options, but how solid those options are is a concern. Just as it has been the past few years at the right tackle position.
Who wins this position battle?
This poll is closed