It has been less than a month since the Oakland Raiders upgraded their left tackle position by signing Trent Brown away from the New England Patriots, but the team is likely far from done making changes along the front five this offseason. Prior to signing Brown the team had traded Kelechi Osemele to the New York Jets in a late round pick swap, and now the Raiders look to the draft in order to fill the void at guard.
As we don’t know the dynamic between head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Mike Mayock and offensive line coach Tom Cable, it certainly bears watching this year in order to begin to understand the type of linemen the team may be looking for in future seasons.
How much input Cable has on personnel selection remains to be seen, but we do know that back in 2015 he laid out the criteria that he looked for in a lineman at a town hall style meeting. Further, that is exactly the athletic profile of 2018 first round pick Kolton Miller, and as such it would seem that these are the type of linemen the team is likely to target going forward.
With the substantial investments the Raiders have made at tackle over the past twelve months, including making Brown the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history along with the use of two picks in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft, it seems more prudent to focus on the interior of the line. Filling the void at guard is obviously the top priority, but with Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson only under contract for 2019 and top reserve Jon Feliciano leaving in free agency, that is another position that will need to be addressed, and the sooner the better.
Thus, without wasting any more of your time, keep an eye on these linemen when the draft arrives in a couple of weeks.
Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State - Round 1-2
Bradbury is a physical specimen along the lines of what Cable has loved from his linemen, with a track record as a multi-year starter. He converted from tight end to offensive line while at NC State, which is another common trait among former Cable linemen, including both Garry Gilliam and George Fant. He is a tiny bit undersized, weighing in at just 306 at the combine, but that falls well within the range of players that Cable has put on the field, such as Mark Glowinski and Ethan Pocic.
As a senior in 2018 Bradbury was both first team All-ACC and first team Associated Press All-American, so his skillset is more developed than some of the athletically gifted, but fundamentally raw, linemen like Miller and Germain Ifedi that Cable has worked with in the past. In addition, he started all 13 games at left guard as a sophomore, so could spend this season replacing Osemele and gaining experience before moving to center in the future. Thus, if the Raiders are set on replacing Hudson through the draft, Bradbury would be the type of player on which it is not a stretch to imagine they might try.
Erik McCoy, G/C, Texas A&M - Round 2
Again focusing on the fact Hudson is a free agent after 2019, McCoy is another potential name to watch. At A&M McCoy started all 39 games from his sophomore through senior seasons and is rated as one of the top centers available in the draft. His tape shows some issues when playing in space, which could be a non-starter in Cable’s zone scheme that requires linemen to play in space and engage second level defenders.
In spite of those limitations, as a three year starter in the SEC he regularly played against top tier competition such as Clemson, Alabama and Mississippi State. He fared well against players that are likely to be taken on day 1 or early on day 2, and his tape against quality foes like this shows the upside potential.
Connor McGovern, G/C, Penn State - Round 3-4
McGovern was a fixture on the Penn State offensive line during his three years there, starting 35 games at center and right guard after getting to see the field as a true freshman in 2016. McGovern has the requisite size and strength to step in and contribute as a rookie, which helps explain why the Raiders brought McGovern in for a visit Friday.
Hjalte Froholdt, G, Arkansas - Round 5-6
Froholdt is yet another player who was a multi-year starter at left guard during his college career. That includes 34 games started at left guard from his sophomore season through his senior season, with an additional three starts at center during that time. Froholdt is also expected to be a day 3 selection or an undrafted free agent, meaning that it is unlikely significant draft capital would have to be spent to bring him into the fold.
Phil Haynes, G, Wake Forest - Round 7
Haynes started 47 games during his time at Wake Forest, including 25 at left guard during his junior and senior seasons (he started 13 at RG as a sophomore and 9 at RT as a freshman). That is consistent with many of the mid to late round draft choices Seattle used on offensive linemen during Cable’s time there, including Mark Glowinski, Ethan Pocic and Joey Hunt.
In addition, while Haynes’ athletic profile fits Cable’s criteria, he is not highly rated. DraftScout.com has him as the number 33 available guard this year, meaning if he does get added to the Oakland roster, it likely comes as a late round selection or undrafted free agent.
Obviously the key question will be working to understand the dynamic dynamic between Mayock, Gruden and Cable in order to attempt to discern what these three will be looking for from offensive linemen in the coming years. However, these five names fit what Cable looked for during his time with the Seattle Seahawks, as well as the linemen the Raiders drafted in 2018, so it seems like a logical starting point.
Editor’s note: Yes, we know the Raiders don’t currently have a pick in the third round. The round of the player(s) taken there would be dependent upon them making a trade to get back into that round.